Rural.Scapes, a rural lab for artists, cows and chicken in Brazil
Published 22 June 2015 by Isabelle Arvers
Rural.Scapes is a farm in Brazil but also a lab that defends “Rural Intermedia”, i.e. the confrontation of artists with local territory and know-how. For Makery, the specialist in machinimas Isabelle Arvers tells us about her first artistic residence experience.
(São José do Barreiro, Brazil)
The artist residence Santa Teresa Rural.Scapes is located 2 and 1/2 hours north of São Paulo and 10 km from the village of São Jose do Barreiro. Invited by the artists Rachel Rosalen and Rafael Marchetti (who also have a common website), I came to host machinima workshops and use video games as a means of social emancipation. At rural.scapes, artists come to work for weeks in relation to the territory, rural technologies and electronics.
Starting from the bus drive to Santa Teresa, I discover the joys of not speaking Spanish nor Brazilian. What I mostly understand, surrounded by Chileans, Columbians, Argentineans and Brazilians, is that Europe is far away from the Latin-American world and that this residence is likely to be rich in discoveries and openings on a new world.
Very rapidly, I realise that the notion of DIY is a life principle here and a means of social relations. It took several years for the two artists to learn to manage this farm. Their encounter with Zé Mineiro, in charge of the farm, was decisive. Zé Mineiro has great knowledge and understanding of the territory which allowed them to think about the creation of an artistic residence, not based on the input of technical or technological means but more on a dialogue with the environment and its resources.
A residence for taste buds
Being in residence at Santa Teresa is also appreciating another key person of the place: “dona” (Mrs) Cida. Well know in the region for her cooking skills, Dona Cida is the queen of the kitchen where everything is prepared over a wood fire. Everything that is cooked comes from the vegetable garden or from the farm animals. I must admit I had never eaten fresh butter of milk, nor cheese prepared the day before. All the fruit, juices and jams come from the trees that surround us. And everything is incredibly delicious.
The first days are dedicated to meeting the inhabitants of de São José do Barreiro and presenting our artistic projects and our workshops to different schools, to the Syndicate of rural young workers, to an old people’s association. During the residence, the farm is open to the population on two Saturdays to discover the work being created, meet the artists and take part in informal workshops.
Plants and electromechanical engineering
These different encounters with the local population are extremely important for me. This residence isn’t only a meeting venue for international artists, but strives to generate encounters between artists, inhabitants, a territory and its resources. It is what rural.scapes present as “Rural Intermedia”: research and artistic creations are based on the knowledge of the territory, its topography, its technologies and arts and crafts, such as the design of baskets, the use of bamboo shoots to build water circulation systems, and the knowledge of plants and electromechanical engineering.
Five other artistic projects are developing around me. First of all, the project of the Columbian choreographer Aniara Rodado. Aniara’s research is based on a choreography beyond dancing and on a dance beyond the human body. For rural.scapes, she settles under a mango tree with an apparatus made of a circuit of distillers and plunges us in a space of odours that work with an “alien species”, the eucalyptus (a plant foreign to the American continent, often considered as a capitalist plant)…
Aniara rethinks the notion of interactivity beyond the man/machine connection: breathing in these odorous particles has an effect on our body. She also develops a notion of plant transformation, as if the plant carried out micro-performances (a concept of the critic Jens Hauser) when the molecule moves from the vegetable state to a volatile state, then from a liquid state, from water to oil. In a climate crisis context, she wishes to “plantamorphose” herself – become a plant by re-transcribing their micromovements–and adds: “It is in fact the odorous particles that dance best!”
Above the farm, the set up of the duo of Brazilian artists Duo B (Diferença de potencial) uses the topography of the place and as it happens the spring coming from the mountain to create a resounding sculpture that mixes the sound of rivers nearby with the sounds from the towns close to the farm. The sculpture represents the exact topography of the surrounding territory, analysed from GoogleEarth and local maps. It is created with bamboo shoots cut in the forests around the farm. They act as water circulation circuits. Sensors placed inside generate random sounds. Sound is transmitted by means of small emitters placed in ten strategic spots of the sculpture.
Below the farm, Jorge Crowe, artist trained in electronics applied to visual arts, musician and creator of the Laboratory of toys in Buenos Aires presents the N.A.E.M. (non amplified electronic music), a musical project from objects found on the farm, bamboo shoots and electromechanical circuits. His wish? Rethink the rave party so that it is more in harmony with nature, on a more intimate scale: sounds and rhythms are created from natural elements and the Vjing turns itself into spotlights on leaves and branches to generate shadows hustling and bustling.
Around the farm, Cristian Espinoza, a Chilean trained as an architect, applies to the territory an organic and poetic vision with his installation/performance Esculpir los sonidos (Sculpt sounds). Before coming to rural.scapes, he studied the territory using GoogleEarth and extracted “moments” like as many organs of a topographic body (mountains, springs, forest, etc.).
From these acupuncture points on the territory, he wants to extract the soul of the river to send it elsewhere. On these sensitive points, he creates aerials—prostheses that are transmitter receivers where sound is only a means to perceive other things. Radio waves have a natural background noise that creates grain, interferences between the different communication points. This background noise is a glitch of the territory that informs us of what we do not see at first glance: a reprogramming of the territory for the purposes of industry, religious instances or power.
As for my machinima residence, the four days of workshops with the young of São José do Barreiro allowed them to make two films on the legends of São José. Espirito brings up the spirit of a poet and Mataduro that of a cow having killed the Matador which comes to haunt the inhabitants. We roamed the streets to discover and take photos of the places, then we integrated these pictures and the interviews of the young in the films.
“Mataduro”, machinima produced in a workshop by Brazilians from São José do Barreiro, 2015:
I am otherwise carrying out my first experimentations (it is my first artist residence!) and working on glitches of the representation of the farm and its surroundings in 3D with Santa Teresa Reloaded.
Santa Teresa Reloaded, by Isabelle Arvers, 2015:
Here, Manoela Cardoso’s pictures, who documents the residencies