Since September 2012, Portugal along with Brazil, has been celebrating the year of Portugal in Brazil and Brazil in Portugal.  The celebration “Year” has involved a range of artistic and scientific exchanges between both Countries.  The aim of the year is to showcase a young, modern and innovative country, in which the economy, the arts, science and business play a central role.  The celebrations continue until Portugal Day, on 10th June.

Copacabana

To mark this important “Year”, Tavira has been chosen to host a very special, indeed unique exhibition.  In an interview last week, at the Consulate in Faro, Consul General of Brazil in Faro, Ambassador Manuel Innocencio de Lacerda Santos Jr, explained the significance of this year and the Consular involvement.  “The Palácio da Galeria in Tavira will be hosting an exhibition called “Copacabana – Rio de Janeiro Panoramas”.  As a career diplomat who has represented Brazil in Prague, Baghdad, Toronto, São Tomé and now Faro, he believes involvement in the local community is important in building peaceful relationships between Countries and one way of doing this is through art and culture.  He said “The diplomatic life in general is a life of sacrifice.  We live outside of our own Country, so that we can represent it to other people and other cultures.  We live with our loved ones, in distant lands and ask our own family members to also live the same life of sacrifice, especially our children, who are required to periodically say goodbye to their friends and enter new schools and find new friends.
But this life also provides many joys, like this one, where we are able to represent our Country in charming places, such as the Algarve.  For my wife and I, who came here from a Country, exotic and distant, it is indescribable the immense happiness we feel as Portugal is so close to home – and I do not mean the geographical distance.  It is powerful, after so many years, to return, to speak the same language, and be able to taste delicious dishes so close to the kinds of food we know so well.
Amongst these pleasures there also occasionally come golden opportunities and the “Copacabana”, exhibition about Rio de Janeiro, which is my hometown, is just such an opportunity.  We are very happy that our new friends in the Algarve can view these pictures of my “Marvelous City”.
Since we officially opened the Consulate in Faro a year ago, we have been busy.  We have promoted the Year of Brazil in Portugal.  We have met the Brazilian community and also shared some of our culture and our art with the wider community.  I am sure this exhibition will demonstrate the beauty of Rio, so much so, that people will want to visit “my city”.  It is a fairly accurate picture of how Rio de Janeiro affectionately embraces nature and how because of this, in turn, the city rewards everyone with warm caresses”.

This exhibition has been on display in Brazil and is now making its way to Tavira for the launch on May 18.  The exhibition explores Rio de Janeiro´s urban development as a city that first ignored the sea.  Until the late nineteenth century, Rio de Janeiro was a city set within nature, with buildings facing away from the sea.  Its beaches, when used, welcomed only those seeking the water as a remedy for various ailments.  Rio, although capital of an empire, was a city of provincial habits, which had not yet awakened to the possibilities of a modern era.

In the late 19th century, the city, as the capital of the newest Republic, proclaimed that it would change its “presentation and habits” and “become presentable in the community of developed nations”.  This was an attempt to “civilise” the city. It was the Belle Époque of Rio, when the Rio de Janeiro became the showcase of Brazil.

Homem olhando a paisagem. Praia de Botafogo. Morro do Corcovado ao fundo. 1890.
Homem olhando a paisagem. Praia de Botafogo. Morro do Corcovado ao fundo. 1890.

Urban reforms were implemented.  The city was modernized with sanitation being introduced.  The port was cleared and cleaned and Central Avenue was opened up (1904), which was all part of the “new times” where consumption patterns and behaviours began to change. Fashion and sport were popular pastimes, and the city provided space for both.

The centre of the town with its wide straight avenues that led down to the waterfront and beaches had previously been unoccupied.  Now crowds began to come to first watch races and competitions and then to adopt the beaches as extensions of their living rooms.

Copacabana established itself as the heart of this tropical paradise, and Rio de Janeiro established itself as the city-resort, radiating fashions and customs, and a showcase of Brazil.

The exhibition

The narrative of the exhibition begins with the exhibit called “Contemplation”, which brings together 17 observers contemplating various angles of the city.

The panorama of the city stretches to the horizon – geographic, urban and human.  Many of the photos and images were created by great photographers, both Brazilians and foreigners, such as Ferrez Marc, Marcel Gautherot, Thomas Farkas and Joseph Medeiros, amongst others.

There are 10 images of Guanabara Bay and Sugar Loaf Mountain which together comprise a cutting edge iconic panorama of Rio de Janeiro, where beaches were still not the meeting point of the city’s inhabitants. It is a Panorama of Nature, almost deserted, the city being contemplated.

A miniature model has been reproduced from drawings and photographs, taken from the Album Central Avenue (now Avenida Rio Branco), authored by Marc Ferrez.

A video installation of Copacabana reveals aspects of the neighborhood, which tract the development of how it became famous for its beach and its customs and ways, that have always dictated and affected the rest of the country and the world.

Two other series of photographs make up the “Panoramas of Life at the Beach” and “Carnival in the city of Rio de Janeiro”.

Curated by Claudia Fares, people will also be able to see a rare collection from the National Library of Rio de Janeiro:  This collection is made up of ten lithograph watercolours, panoramas of the nineteenth century, which reiterate the physical and symbolic links with Portugal.  One image in particular has been specially chosen as it is a panorama of Tavira, made by the engineer José de Sande Vasconcelos, believed to have been created somewhere between 1786 and 1790.

The official opening takes place on May 18th   2013 and continues till September 15th.  The Consul General of Brazil in Faro, Ambassador Manuel Innocencio de Lacerda Santos Jr will attend the launch and it is also hoped that the Brazilian Ambassador to Portugal based in Lisbon, will also be able to attend.  The launch takes place at Palácio da Galeria in Tavira/ Tavira Municipal Museum.

Another opportunity to experience Brazilian culture will be taking place in Tavira in July.  A dance performance to the sound of Villa Lobos’ music for classic guitar is currently being rehearsed and more details will be provided nearer the time.