Years ago in the Turin Photo Festival we created a work entitled “Use and reuse”, which investigated the status of industrial archaeology and the new destinations of old buildings. Later in Turin, we used the former tobacco factory for two editions of the festival, a beautiful semi-abandoned and unused space. The prisons of Turin are another example. The difference, in the case that I am going to describe, lies in the fact that the use is permanent and not limited to specific events.
It consists in the former chocolate factory Bhering of Rio de Janeiro. The location is nothing short of stunning and evocative. The owner of the factory, rather than let it go to hell, began to rent space for several artists and craftsmen. Thus was born a creative community that is reviving the place with artistic production, marketing initiatives, exhibitions and events, inside a highly theatrical space. 70 artists and 52 studios that have created an association with the aim to strengthen the work of contemporary artists, create opportunities for national and international trade, and organize group events. A new project that allows cooperative actions for both purchases and production, but also in the relations with the surrounding environment, where slums and other social realities prevail. Everyone can participate in exchanges and collaborations.
The city, institutions, artists, and the Brazilians sponsors are very open to make cultural exchanges, with the World Cup and the Olympics around the corner. We are therefore continuing to weave the fabric for collaboration with the Brazilians. The biggest problem is of course the distance and cost of transportation of people and works. Ateliers, galleries and exhibitions in Rio are extremely open both to welcome Italian artists and to export their own. The Big Show ArtRio is home to many foreign galleries. Of Italians not a trace so far, despite the Brazilian market of art is at this time quite powerful.
With our spaces, we can offer very affordable artist residencies. The possibilities are real. The direction of ArtRio has mentioned the possibility of setting up a shuttle to transport visitors from the trade fair grounds in the port area to ours, which is located on the slopes that give passage to the National Park of Tijuca.
We visited the old chocolate factory with its workshops and interviewed some artists. There are many painters, photographers, artisans, even a publishing house, graffiti artists, and sculptors. There are also large spaces for plenary events: the last took place in September 2012 in collaboration with ArtRio.
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