Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Favela Painting. Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn, a.k.a. Haas&Hahn, have helped reshape the publics perception of Rio's notorious favela communities by transforming the favela into a landmark, a tourist attraction, and most of all, an inspirational monument for Rio, rich and poor alike. Favelas are integrated throughout Rio, nestled into the surrounding hillsides and suburbs. They formed in the 1970s, due to a rural exodus when many people moved to the city in search of work. They are notorious for their gangs and drug trafficking, but amongst all the negative realities there is a community of hard working beautiful people, diverse in ethnicity, bound by the socio-economic chains of Rio's twisted distribution of wealth. Dre and Jeroen first experienced this highly unpublicized side of Rio in 2005, when they filmed a documentary about hip hop in the favelas of Rio and São Paolo for MTV, and have been involved in the community ever since. Inspired by this visit, they embarked on a journey to bring outrageous works of art to unexpected places, starting with painting enormous murals in the slums of Brazil together with the local youth.

This is their most resent project, 'O Morro'(Santa Marta), which involves employing the inhabitants of a favela to paint their own houses according to a pre-arranged pattern. Transforming their community into an artwork of epic scale, producing an explosion of color which radiates from the hillside. Visible from the center of Rio, 'O Morro' will draw attention to the city's deplorable social situation, while instilling pride and joy in the hearts and minds of those at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Brilliant! One day governments will realize the importance of the community, and rich and poor will be treated as equals. There is strength in unity, don't let them divide you. I will post some of Dre and Jeroen's earlier work next week. I'm out. -Dread Perry-

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