February 28, 2009

Radio Art

Things come slowly to Brazil. Not just flat screen TV’s and social change, but ideas too. I think it takes a while for international concepts to filter down through the tropical haze. But once they do and are given time to be “devoured” (as the Tropicalistas say) and assimilated by the cultural machine, they are spun back out on the world with a distinctive style – and frequently as a befuddling non-sequitur.

On the flag it is written "Order and Progress." But it doesn’t make mention of any timeline. Brazil seems to move along according to its own internal measure not unlike the unclassifiable samba whose subtle rhythmic bending makes it impossible to program into a computerized drum machine. Ideas in the rest of the world may fly by at the speed of a sound bite while Brazil’s response seems much more looping and intuitive than reactionary.

Modernism is a perfect example of this. It came relatively late to Brazil and came all at once so that it was essentially swallowed whole. The result was the country gave birth to its own fully-formed movement that has never entirely gone out of style.

I found these wonderful postcards in a junk shop. They are announcement cards for AM radio stations. I love their populist mid-century look so I was surprised when I saw the dates on the reverse that put them in the early 80’s. In the final years of the dictatorship whoever designed these was still having fun with the look of Soviet style propaganda. Perhaps it was intentional, trying to convey the onward march of progress. Or perhaps it was subversive, using a style that was popularized as a way of promoting labor unions and workers rights.

Radio station advertisment

Radio station advertisment

Radio Station advertisment


Danielle said...

This is well-written. :) You make Brazil's slow progress sound so poetic and academic. I'm usually just like "GOD DAMNIT I NEED A F*^(*%G Target!"
Nice postcards :)

Ballerina Girl said...

target would be nice....
but it is fun to experince things as a South American does...
every country here seems to move at it's own beat!
sometimes it can be frustrating, (like almost 7 weeks now without a properly working washing machine because we are still waiting for the fabrica to send the piece :), but you figure out that you can just complain or like I do...
feel lucky to be experiencing these phenomenon!
great writing Dharma...

Laural Out Loud said...

I can deal with the way things are here for about the length of a vacation, but I just simply lack the patience needed to deal with it on an ongoing basis. I'm going to be in a lot of trouble when I move here!

Progress wise, I do find it humorous that it's still frowned on for men to do any type of housework, but Brasilians have fully embraced modern styled furniture. It's a country of juxtapositions.

Mrs. S said...

hahaha everyone comments has made me laugh...but hold the phones...no housework for the men in Brazil?? This should not surprise me seeing as Sidnei told me (when asked what I'd be doing during the day) that I could stay home with his mom and learn to cook and clean. HAHAHAHA, really I laughed. He did do things for his own apartment here in the states...lets hope he hasn't forgotten!!

I love the postcards, it really is so interesting how every country progresses with their thoughts and ideals..

GingerV said...

I also would love finding these cards, but don't know if I would have associated the way you have with politics and such. Camillo and I lived together in the USA for 11 years and he never once fussed because I did housework - now I want very much to clean the hall outside our apartment cause the porterios clean it with cold dirty water and is horrible - but Camillo was so shocked and appalled that I haven't brought it up again. good blog.

lovelydharma said...

Wow! That's great that some old postcards could inspire a conversation about housework! Yes, Mrs. S! Hold the phones! It's not just husbands who don't participate in the housework in Brazil, but in most middle class families the kids don't either. I asked some teen-aged students about what their chores where once and they looked at me like I was crazy. Not in my house though, I lay down the law in the division of labor. Of course if the husband is working his fanny off, I feel it is my responsibility to pull my weight on the homefront, btu if he's sitting around all weekend in his underwear, I have a whole list of things to get him going on!

And most of the time Danielle -- I loooooooong for an Ikea! Or a Starbucks (so jealous of Rio Gringa!)

Hope your part arrives soon BG! 7 weeks is a lot of laundry!!

Corinne said...

I found I could relate much more to lower class than middle class in terms of chores and such. Household help is cheap enough that even the middle class has maids 6 days a week. Most of my middle class Brazilian friends are like "you cook?". I am fortunate that my husband can cook, clean, wash and iron, although he still gives me flack about not doing the housework (even though I have a full-time job, hard to get those Amelia images out of the Brazilian male pyche). It remains a mystery to me how my mother-in-law, a migrant from Ceara, living in a favela and with a husband who never lifted a finger to do housework, raised 4 boys and 3girls and ALL the boys can cook, clean, wash and iron! I guess I just count myself lucky.

I too long for Target and such, but that just makes my trips to the US that much mre fun!