Season 2 Ep 1
The Scream of the Streets
with Eder Muniz (Calangoss)
TRANSLATION IN ENGLISH
Jamie Lee Andreson Welcome to the bilingual podcast, Brazil Culture Connections. On this platform, we discuss Brazilian cultural manifestations and their extensions into the world. My name is Jamie Lee Andreson, and I am the facilitator of these conversations. With this episode, we are launching our second season, Art and Culture on the Peripheries. In this series, we are concentrating on urban contexts through conversations with cultural agents acting in the Brazilian peripheries. For this first episode, “The Scream of the Streets,” I spoke in person with visual artist Eder Muniz, known as Calangoss in the streets of Salvador, Bahia.
"So, to be a young Black man from the peripheries and to be able to live off my work, off my art, it’s like a political act. And I only became aware of this long after reaching a certain level of maturity. But it was also through this art form that led me to this maturity. And now I am most proud to be from the periphery."
- Eder Muniz (Calangoss)
Eder Muniz (Calangoss) does daily works of grafitti in his hometown of Salvador, Bahia.
C We can’t talk about the periphery, the community, the favela if we don’t talk about the enslavement of Black people. It is where we were thrown. We don’t like to use the word “ghetto” because it’s a word we know was used for the place where Jews were thrown, to exclude the population, the people, as an ethnicity. But the favela wasn’t even created, we were the ones who created the periphery. It was what was left for us. So, there is chaos in this, because there isn’t an organization, there isn’t a construction, a study, a project for this. So, we end up having a very large environmental impact on a city, the periphery must be aware of this. As well as the way the neighborhood was organized. There is beauty in this as well because it is an organic thing. Various architectural projects are born from there. So, you can only imagine how people find solutions to build. This is also a challenge, another part of it—that duality of actually living in the periphery. And the people from the periphery want to escape that situation because their children are more vulnerable in the periphery. Like my family, for example, as my mother didn’t want us playing in the streets so we wouldn’t get caught up in drug trafficking, in crime, right, so we stayed on the margin. Normally, the periphery, well no…the very definition of “periphery” means you are on the margin of the center. We are on the margin of education, the margin of the institutions of city culture, which are always in the center, the margin of parks for you to have an hour of leisure with your family. We don’t have that. So, the periphery is used, it continues being slavery, because it is just used for labor. So, to be a young Black man from the peripheries and to be able to live off my work, off my art, it’s like a political act. And I only became aware of this long after reaching a certain level of maturity. But it was also through this art form that led me to this maturity. And now I am most proud to be from the periphery. I live in the periphery of Salvador, from Vila Canária, by choice. Because I don’t want to be far from that reality. Because I can’t sing about what I don’t experience. You know? So, I want to have this awareness. It is also the place where I grew up. I am 30… I’m actually older than 30, I’m 39, and I have lived in the same neighborhood for over 34 years. So, the people here know me. I know during this transition that many people have already died, people have moved to another neighborhood, but most know me. So, there is respect, and they also know I care for my neighborhood. I’ve been painting in my neighborhood for a long time. I’ve been painting in my neighborhood for practically 20 years. So, my neighborhood is like a crew as well. I make a big impact by holding events, by inviting other artists, even outsiders from exchanges, ranging from New York to Angola, as other artists have already painted in the neighborhood, people from other states as well, and other artists also paint in the neighborhood. So, I think the periphery has a lot of potential, like super potential. The periphery feeds the entire city, but it is still awaiting recognition by the government and the elite. They just want to use the periphery. They just want to use the people living there, and they don’t want to recognize the art that these people have to give. They are worth something. It’s…doing graffiti in the periphery is also to give an example for the new generation that you can make a living off your dream. You know, you don’t need to join the workforce. I am not saying it will be easy, this is not a romance novel or anything. It’s tough, but you can live off of what you believe in.
C Let’s give a clear example of this: the Carnival. The Carnival is this manifestation, the biggest in the world. Salvador has the biggest celebration in the world, after Rio, I think, then Recife. And who makes money with the Carnival?
Eder Muniz stands in front of one of his murals in Salvador.
"If you respect other beings, you will respect yourself, you will love yourself, and I saw that human beings are not actually victims, they are victimizing other beings. So, that was when it clicked for me, I thought that it transcended the message of the work."
- Eder Muniz (Calangoss)
J Yes, with rivers as well, right?
J Yes, you paint over it yourself and do it again, right?
C Yes, I remember them, because I photograph everything as well and I try to get to know my city well, and graffiti facilitated that because it gives me an excuse to go to different neighborhoods I wouldn’t usually go to. And we are experiencing a delicate moment in Salvador. I think it was on a national level, honestly, the [gang] factions of a neighborhood not being able to enter another neighborhood because they are rival factions. And now more than ever, graffiti gives you this moral authority to enter [into other neighborhoods] for the art, in other words, even in this [dangerous] situation, you have a passport. But of course, you have to be alert because someone might want to use you to strike at the other faction. Like what happened with music here in Brazil and in São Paulo. They killed them just to cause pain in the community because they knew he was very important for the community. So, you have to keep playing. But graffiti facilitates that; it provides this for you.
C Exactly. You know? This discussion, this reparation, isn’t talked about. If I open my mouth today to talk with the Pope and ask him to apologize today for [what’s been done to] the indiginous and Black people, does he know how to apologize? [It would be] by opening your safe and paying for children to go to college, to atone for what you did, for what you took from them. That’s how. It’s not just blahblahblah and demagogy, no. Do you get it? Because that’s all fake. You know? Because if it were real, now that there was a flood in the south of Bahia. You don’t see the church opening its safe to bank something. We have to pray for them. Screw praying, brother! Open your safes and the ones who have to pay aren’t the faithful who are already in need, no. We have been in a pandemic for two years. People already have a rope around their necks and still have to pay up, pay alms. Regarding the church, it’s rich, man. But people are so ignorant that they still think it’s their responsibility. And that’s what they take advantage of, that purposeful ignorance, because they talk about the public organization of schools, the wording of the schools, because studying today—at least in Salvador—is a lie. It’s a lie to study in public school today. It’s just about numbers. They want numbers to be able to prove [themselves], as they said, for the English to see. You know? They want people to get a basic technical training, for them to be able to use the machine. Not to know how to use the machine and understand what the machine is. That’s what they are doing to you. So, that’s what they are doing to Brazil today.
"I also aim for this essence that I spoke about earlier, this afro-indigenous essence, to be present and that the spiritual matter also be present in my works, because I want that work to be alive and like a being, any other being is not just a physical thing, there is the spiritual part as well to have life, to have magic, to have enchantment."
- Eder Muniz (Calangoss)
J And you are so creative and you expand your art in so many ways, so many forms, to be accessible, but also to have the global recognition you deserve. And so, to wrap up, I wanted to know, how do you act in this international scene? How do you bring this context from Salvador to the world?