CityX - Eu, São Paulo
Art Project 2014-2015, São Paulo, Brazil
The pictograms on the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo are marked by the uniform, geometric pattern of many housing blocks. In varying shades of grey, the flat facades are to be found in almost every one of the 16 pictograms. Only rarely is the redundant pattern of housing blocks and windows missing here – the visualisation of this nodal point of Brazil’s most important economic, financial and cultural centre seems very apt. The formal severity is enhanced by the ribbon that surrounds the images, with its red-white-red lines representing the city flag.
In this ocean of facades, houses and housing complexes, on closer inspection many different aspects of a lively and diverse city can be found. The first aspect to note is the “diversity” pictured through the flags on the different kinds of houses. The more dominant aspect – life and wellbeing in the city – is found, for example, in the green football field and the oasis amidst the housing blocks. What may come as a surprise to tourists is that the love of this city and identification with one’s own neighbourhood also exists in the city’s largest favela. In this pictogram, “Grajaú”, large lettering spelling out “Love” is emblazoned next to a uniform set of huts and dominates the scene. These positive aspects of the developed city of Sao Paulo are contrasted by violence and corruption, which are part of daily life and which already affect even children.
Overall, it is astounding how objective the individual project participants’ view of their individual life in the city seems. The individual hardly takes up any space in the pictograms. It is swallowed up by the size of the city and the enormous number of inhabitants, or even destroyed as in “City Monster”. Compared to the metropolis, the individual is “so small” – accordingly, the significance of a subjective survey of inhabitants and visitors of the city of Sao Paulo as well as the work of creating these multi-facetted pictograms for the CityX project by Doris Graf cannot be rated highly enough for the city and its people.
According to a so-called artistic appropriation process, Doris Graf used the drawings produced in São Paulo to develop an image of the city in the form of pictographic visualisations.