You are here: Home / NEWS / A video to amplify the voice of the cultural collectives in São Paulo

A video to amplify the voice of the cultural collectives in São Paulo

by Richard Meckien - published Jun 07, 2017 05:40 PM - - last modified Jun 29, 2017 05:57 PM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Mauro Bellesa.

Imagem do filme "Dinâmicas, Flutuações e Pontos Cegos"
Scene from the video "Dynamics, Fluctuations and Blindspots"

One of the enriching results of the first edition of the IEA Sabbatical Year Program is the performance of the video 'Dynamics, Fluctuations and Blindspots,' by cultural policy expert Lúcia Maciel Barbosa de Oliveira, a professor at USP's School of Communications and Arts (ECA), and filmmaker Priscila Lima.

Available on YouTube, the video is based on the research 'Contemporary Cultural Dynamics: Overlapping of Singularities, Collectives, Technologies and Cultural Institutions in the Common Perspective', developed by Oliveira at the IEA from March 2016 to February 2017.

The 24-minute long video synthesizes six hours of recorded interviews with artists, cultural producers, managers and researchers. The interviews were part of the work carried out by the researcher in the places of action of the cultural collectives, where she participated in discussions with their members and accompanied performances.

The realization of the video was made possible thanks to the scholarship of the Sabbatical Year Program granted to researchers by USP's Dean of Research. The production also had the support of ECA.

Related material


Oliveira has worked with cultural policy for many years, having even worked in film production before becoming a professor at USP. Producing something different from the usual writing of scientific articles has always been an aspiration: 'My desire was to produce a video to give voice to the people of the cultural collectives and to make the power of their work appear, which would be difficult in an article, which is something more descriptive.'

Given the academic compartmentalisation in the evaluation of projects by development agencies, however, she realized that this idea would be difficult to achieve: 'If I asked the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) for resources to produce a video, I could hardly do it because it is not within the audiovisual area. I saw the sabbatical program at the IEA as was a very good chance to combine the realization of the video with my research proposal, which is a cut from a bigger project that I develop.'


The title of the video refers to the dynamics of the emergence of the cultural collectives and also to two aspects: "The term 'fluctuations' is due to the fact that culture itself is fluctuating, fugitive, procedural; and 'blindspots' is related to the quote in the beginning of video, by British researcher Terry Eagleton, taken from the book The Idea of Culture": 'Every culture has an internal blindspot where it fails to grasp or be at one with itself, and to discern this... is to understand that culture more fully.'

This statement by Eagleton, according to Oliveira, means that culture has aspects that are incomprehensible, untranslatable, non-verbalizable, that we must conform to the total misunderstanding of this universe. For her, certain aspects of the relationship between the dynamics of the cultural collectives and formal cultural policies are examples of blindspots, including the use of cultural equipment that embodies these policies.

Lúcia Maciel Barbosa de Oliveira - 23/9/2015
Lúcia Maciel Barbosa de Oliveira was a sabbatical researcher at the IEA in 2016

'My intention was to balance the speech of some of the managers of cultural equipment in São Paulo with the words of some collectives. I wanted to understand this dynamics in a municipal administration [that of former mayor Fernando Haddad] that opened for a more active participation of the cultural collectives in the equipment and in which a certain disjunction between the discourses persisted."


Oliveira explains that the cultural collectives do not claim a complete autonomy in the management and use of cultural equipment: "The groups that have created the House of Culture of the Ermelino Matarazzo neighbourhood have occupied a property of that subprefecture that was abandoned, and proposed a co-management contract, which was accepted by the Municipal Secretariat of Culture. Resources were passed on to a cultural collective with legal inscription in charge of management and accountability. "

At the time, the secretariat pointed to this co-management agreement as the embryo of a model for the São Paulo's culture houses, according to the researcher. 'This is not strange in other countries.'

The emergence of the cultural collectives

The cultural collectives are the result of the very public cultural policies, according to Lucia. "Many of these young people have been motivated by the programs and pageants that tried to expand the scope of the Municipal Secretariat of Culture to encompass the peripheries."

The cultural collectives have nothing of amateur or improvisational, according to Oliveira. 'They have clarity about what their work is, and their actions are very much discussed and elaborated.' Many of these people went to college, benefited from recent educational policies. They use whatever is possible, such as pageants, funding, media insertion and working with digital resources, all without giving up their references and the principles that govern the groups."

Oliveira's biggest project is to think of cultural policies for the 21st century from the demands of a civil society that has been expanding its participation. 'Culture is a field that allows certain flexibilities in experimentation, which can be broadened to other areas thanks to these co-management processes through participatory budgeting.'

Photos (from the top): 1. Taken from 'Dynamics, Fluctuations and Blind Spots'; 2. Leonor Calasans/IEA-USP