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Uma Praça

wood palettes, cobblestones (petit pavé), sand, white pillows with black print
Commissioned by the 6th Biennial of Curitiba,
Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Brazil 2011

Excertp from "Possess to Repossess"
by Valerie Smith

"Uma Praça, The Square, (2011), created for the 6th Biennial of Curitiba. Uma Praça also reclaims space for the communal by literally transposing a slice of calçadas or pavement inside the Museu Oscar Niemeyer where the Biennial was held. The elements of street sounds and sidewalks truly belong to the boundless and unpredictable world outside. They are spaces unchecked by the social constraints that attend private lawns and bourgeois customs. The use of paving stones, an ancient Mesopotamian invention, eventually migrated throughout Europe. Like the patterns that made them famous, in particular the “Mar Largo” or “the wide sea”[1], the calçadas were brought to Brazil as a post-colonial import, i.e. after Portuguese occupation, and flourished as a means of “Europeanizing” (read: “civilizing”) its suburban and urban centers. By the 1960s, in a bold turn of events, modernist architects re-appropriated and adapted calçada patterns, reasserting them as indigenous Brazilian design. In this way the pillows, bearing those radical “Samba-esque” designs so popularized by Roberto Burle Marx, cushion the hard minimalist fragment of Lohmüller’s Uma Praça. Uma Praça becomes the symbol of all commons, a place to protest and to rest, perhaps, while listening to the revolutionary songs of Elis Regina. Burle Marx and Niemeyer drafted a “critical regionalism” out of European modernism. One would argue that they succeeded, at least, in their public projects. But Lohmüller develops a margin for skepticism when he toys with the ever-present potential for social disparity in spaces of exclusivity, like museums and first class waiting rooms."

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Wall Text, Curitiba Biennial

Between 1999 - 2000, Adrian Lohmüller worked for 15 months with street children in São Paulo. During this time, he experienced, that the structures of home and family life are extremely difficult to apply to children who are used to roam the city streets free of any obligations. As little as the chore of washing dishes could be enough for a child to leave the social project and return to the liberties of the streets. 'Uma Praça da Liberdade' poses questions about outside versus inside,
adopting the logic of nomadic lifestyle of those to whom the street is home. The pillows suggest a place of comfort, sleep and safety. Furthermore, Lohmüller is interested in the street worker's profession of laying petit pavé stones as the combination of both a trade and an art of incredible precision. These beautiful sidewalks and plazas are always both a project of urban beautification as well as the place of city life including the reality of crime, drugs and prostitution.

Lohmüller focused on the designs of Curitiba's Paço da Liberdade as a cultural center and market place. The ancient market places signify the beginning of democracy and the freedom of speech. Each pillow features one part of this design. On the turnside each pillow shows part of the famous design 'Ondas do Mar' with it's long history from Portugal which became most famous through the Burle Marx signature design at the Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. Rio's beaches are yet another space of equality where all classes of Brazils' society meet no matter if they live in a Favela or upper class neighborhoods.The design of the floor itself can be understood as a fragment of any 'calçada' in Brazil. It is a blank slate open to the liberties of interpretation and participation.