by Paulo Miyada and Priscyla Gomes
It is difficult to predict the future of Vila Anglo Brasileira. The neighborhood occupies such an extreme geographic context that it seems virtually invisible even to some residents of the adjacent neighborhoods. The steep slope transforms a privileged view into a niche that would probably be occupied only by vegetation in towns with a more rigorous urban tradition. The age and the mixed use of their buildings, ranging from sprouting houses to workshops, suggest possible real estate speculation processes in the near future, but it may also be that the neighborhood continues to own its own pace regardless of what happens in the neighbors Vila Romana and Pompeia.
This relative dissonance between the urban dynamics of Vila Anglo and its surroundings can both be read as a side effect of the ambitious occupation of an area that should have remained unoccupied as a gift given in front of the voracity of the processes of verticalization and standardization of the landscape of São Paulo. In this case, the isolation in relation to the urban flow - usually interpreted as scars of the contemporary cities - works like guarantee of autonomy of a given city.
The places that, by metonymy, dramatize this isolation are the access to the neighborhood, especially the dizzying and long staircase of Bica de Pedra street, which connects it with Pedro Soares de Almeida street in Pompeia. Its almost two hundred steps give rise to an urban reference full of stories, affections and disagreements. It was precisely at the top of the staircase that Jaime Lauriano decided to install his piece: a bronze plaque made in like those which identify of civic monuments. Instead of names of political figures, however, it states: A HISTÓRIA SE ENCERRA EM MIM (HISTORY IS ENCASED IN ME).
What is this history that comes out in who? Does the history of the neighborhood coincide with its peculiar geography? The history of the residents is restricted to the outlines of the neighborhood? The history of the artist to the materiality of the plate? The history of the passer-by the moment he reads this inscription?
All these possibilities of reading coexist in the same phrase. Even contradictory, they do not eliminate each other due to the extreme reflexivity of the original sentence. A kind of affective tautology, the closure of history in itself can be seen as a trace of autonomy by self-determination or as a mark and isolation.
History, in fact, cannot self-determine, for it is in its nature to result from dynamics that happen justly "between" agents, subjects and diverse objects. History, like language, does not belong to anyone specifically and can not be enclosed in one place. Nevertheless, it is also natural that there should be those with the will and power to control the historical milestones, making private use of collective memory, which leads to the creation of monuments.
It is symptomatic, therefore, that Jaime Lauriano has chosen a phrase that seems to offer a private notion of history to create his own urban framework. His plaque functions as a monument in reverse, defending the disjunction of the public sphere instead of its simple universalizing continuity. One would have imagined that an artist concerned with criticizing the exploratory dynamics of capital would defend public space at all costs - but that would be naive. Today, it is precisely the mechanisms of speculation or real estate that are most interested in the homogenization of the rules and values of the whole city, so that its initiatives of propaganda and speculative valorization can circulate without friction. The idea that history needs to be compartmentalized then becomes surprisingly critical.