“What have you done to the garden entrusted to you?” [i]
Our concern in Rio de Janeiro begins around the Guanabara Bay and its surroundings: where there exists a serious environmental decline such as landfills, siltation, destruction of mangroves, industrial pollution, environmental accidents (oil spills that occur with certain frequency by refineries, ports, shipyards and fuel tankers), the building of luxury condominiums and the growth of favelas that have developed since colonization and since after the slavery abolition in the 19th century.
It is estimated that when the Portuguese arrived in Brazil, Mata Atlântica covered 98% of Rio de Janeiro territory and now the forest covers less than 17% of the State.
Now in Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan area the deforestation has doubled. The native forest total extinction number is 205 hectares in the last three years, against 94 previously informed between the years 2000 to 2005. Itaboraí and Nova Iguaçu municipalities are more critical, with deforestations around the Tinguá’s Biological Reservoir. The annual rate of deforestation from 2005 to 2008 raised 3.6 compared to 2000-2005.
From another point of view, The ‘Programa de Despoluição da Baía de Guanabara’ [ii] is a program installed by the Government in 1995 by Rio de Janeiro State in partnership with international organizations arose as a means to tackle this environment problem in this specific area.
Unfortunately all of the species of fauna and flora are in constant threat of extinction. The challenge of preserving the Mata Atlântica by NGOs and reforestation groups for example is further implicated by the lack of urban planning the development of the suburban cities have historically grown under.
Nowadays there are 19 Federal units, within national parks, biological reserves, environment protection etc. administrated by IBAMA, and 26 units from the State administrated by IEF/RJ, FEEMA and the Secretary of Culture of Rio de Janeiro State.[iii]
“ … now that this has actually happened and is not some catastrophe that can still be staved off if we ignore it and it goes away, the question arises, what are we supposed to do now? How are we to face the situation? What are we, as artists, or if we’re not artists, as gardeners, or if we’re not that either, as citizens of the world, meant to do? How should we react?” [iv]
Grupo Experimental Multidisciplinar Autônomo = G.E.M.A. is directed by Ivan Henriques and Silvia Leal. Established in December 2007, GEMA is an artist-led conceptual framework that acts as an open interdisciplinary interface to explore the city of Rio de Janeiro and its environs with the support of international research partners of arts, sciences and technology. GEMA’s aim is to engage the public in the urban and natural environment through site-specific public and live arts interventions and education programs.
“The museum is the world; it is the everyday experience.” [v]
Estúdio Móvel Experimental =E.M.E. is an experimental mobile studio where the arts and sciences meet within a mobile multi-media facility. Scheduled to begin its operation of individual artist residencies around the Guanabara Bay in September 2009. EME’s mission is to encourage the public’s engagement with the environment through contemporary arts: observation, negotiation, participation and play. EME is a customized campervan equipped with audio/video production equipment and mobile/remote technologies. It is also a space where artist-led workshops take place aimed at young people from the local communities it reaches. It begins its operation around the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, in 6 municipalities of the state; Rio de Janeiro (6.161.047 habitants), Duque de Caxias (864,392 habitants), Magé (240.940 habitants), Itaboraí (255.309 habitants), São Gonçalo (982.832 habitants) and Niterói (477.912 habitants), creating a circle over the map of the state where the Guanabara Bay’s landscape is the central axle and artists using imagination and memory to re-interpret the landscape, looking at climate change from a personal level and experience to amplify for the audience. Partnerships with local schools, NGO's, universities and institutions are an important part of the assembly. These partners are key contributors who can sustain continuity of the projects realized and further research and activity both locally and globally.
Our proposal with the Experimental Mobile Studio is to highlight this substance data with technological artistic practice in the 6 most populated cities around Guanabara Bay.
Sergio Buarque de Hollanda, Visao do Paraíso, 1959.
[i]Antonio Machado quote at Art & Ecology lecture, Iniva, London July 2009
[iv] Art in the Landscape, The Chinati Foundation 2000/ Nature, landscape and Land Art by Michael Charlesworth
[v] Hélio Oiticica, Parangolés 1964