O Largo de Sao Francisco da Prainha was chosen as a stage of homage to the sambista Hilario Jovino, who lived in Beco João Inácio, close to the site. The most recent project by artist John Souza is a five-meter mosaic of the samba artist. Opened in August, John’s mural seeks to rescue the history of an important figure for samba and Rio de Janeiro. The recent popularization of the Port Region of Rio awakened in the local community the desire to emphasize the cultural load of the region and exalt characters of African origin who contributed to Brazilian culture.
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This is not the only project by John Souza, historian and resident of Morro da Conceição. The artist created the Ateliê Nave Cosmonauta, where together with his partner, Natália Reyes, they developed workshops and urban interventions with mosaics. The objective is to represent, through murals, workshops and urban interventions, the history of relevant characters that marked Brazilian culture.
On the stairs leading to the Morro da Conceição is located the intervention of the project “I take care of my destiny”, created by Cisco in partnership with the Rio 2016 Committee. The mosaic created by the couple of artists colors the steps of the staircase with the representation of figures like the Tia Lúcia, Hilário Jovino, Malandro, Cacique Aimberê, Images of Capoeira and others. During the run and installation process, 130 residents of the region had the opportunity to do workshops and contribute to the work with their own hands.
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For Souza, despite the representation of Jovino on the stairs, the character still deserved his own mural, in the Alley João Inácio. According to the historian, the life of the samba singer from Pernambuco who arrived in Rio in 1892 determined the course of the Carioca Carnival, especially with regard to the representation of elements of African culture. “I understand, according to everything I’ve studied, that Hilário Jovino found a gap amid the repression of elements of African culture, to be able to put his cultural manifestations on the street.”, he said.
This gap would be represented in Jovino’s move to insert the Ranch at the street carnival. The presence of this figure in the carnival celebrations began with the participation in ranches that appeared in the Beco João Inácio, on the part of neighbors and roommates. The building where Jovino lived, according to John, was shared with other people who arrived from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro in search of better living conditions, under the shelter of the Father of Santo João Pequeno.
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after becoming aga (who beats the atabaque) in a Candomblé terreiro in the region, Jovino begins to participate in ranches that celebrated the Three Kings’ Day until he founds the king of gold, your own ranch. From that moment on, he introduced the practice of parading the King of Gold in carnival, and innovated in the sense of representing African culture in order to circumvent the resistance on the part of the bourgeoisie of the time.
“There was a very strong resistance on the part of the elite to cultural manifestations of African origin. But the carnival manifestations, in the eyes of this bourgeoisie, still had much stronger elements of African culture than this manifestation of the ranch. There was Maracatu, Zé Pereira, and a series of manifestations that brought the traces of African culture more strongly”, said John Souza.
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While the elite reacted with repression to the aforementioned demonstrations, Rancho de Jovino brought an organization closer to what was accepted by these layers of Rio’s society. proposed a different instrumentation, not only with percussion, but added the guitar, cavaquinho and wind instruments to the melody. From this change, the Rancho gains stage at Carnival and new others are emerging.
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Another innovation brought by Hilário Jovino was the unique plot, since until then, each Wing had a plot. It also introduced the figure of Master roomwhich was later done by other groups and is now an essential part of the samba school parades, carrying, next to the Porta-Bandeira, the flags of the samba schools during the parade.
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“Some groups are making parades in the format of the Rancho and Hilário Jovino himself begins to found several others, being a great agitator of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. So we realized that the rancho was the embryo of the samba schools, and Hilário Jovino’s performance was super important. He is a figure that we value a lot around here and is not talked about much. Our idea is to bring these stories up for discussion”, said the artist.
Ricardo Sarmento, who founded the Block Escravos da Mauá together with co-workers, he considers Rio’s Port Zone to be a space that goes through a paradoxical situation of conservation and abandonment. Due to the lack of attention to the place, the structures were preserved, they did not become the object of real estate speculation.
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“In Praça XV there was a Parisian architecture that was destroyed in the 50s by a vision of a big city, based on American cities. While in Praça Mauá, things stayed there, because no attention was paid to them, it is a paradox,” he said.
The block, which announced its end at the end of August to make room for new initiatives in the region, was created to rescue and value the history of the streets. And in this thirty-year trajectory, the group managed to contribute to several positive changes in the region.
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“Since the 1980s there was talk of renovating that place. When I was cultural director, I tried to include a project to use public spaces and auditoriums. And in this process of defending the space, people from work got together, we set up a block here, rescuing that idea from the 80s, of talking about the region”, he said. For Ricardo, it is not a past history, but a present history.
*Amanda Mussi, Journalism student at PUC-Rio, with guidance from university professors and final review by Veja Rio.
This content is part of the transmedia set that brings together productions in text, audio and video on memory. They were made by Communication students at PUC-Rio, with the guidance of professors Alexandre Carauta, Creso Soares Jr., Chico Otavio, Felipe Gomberg, Luís Nachbin and Mauro Silveira.
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