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Southbank Favela

I went down to Southank today, to meet swisstone for lunch. As a result, I have experienced the singing lift in Royal Festival Hall, in which a recorded choir mark the rising and falling of the elevator with steady increases or decreases in their notes, singing the name of the floor at the same pitch when the doors open. They could barely squeak out "level 6".

Down around level 2, on the first balcony level, outside Royal Festival Hall, was an art installation drawing attention to Brazil's favelas. On the one hand, it's important that such a massive situation as Brazil's enormous slums have attention paid to them. On the other, it was a little unexpected as part of a festival of Brazil in London. Is it helpful? Is it a cultural statement? Is it appropriative? Is it useful to draw parallels between London and favelas in the form of an art installation, that there is poverty at home as well as abroad? Does this trivialize the mind-boggling scale of the favelas? That there is a standard word for the slums in a particular country which I have known for years shows just how endemic the problem is.

I'm still not sure what to think, but here are some photos.

London Eye and Big Ben Clock Tower in the Southbank Favela
The real London Eye towers over the Southbank favela

Bonus: Finally trying out Canteen, the up-and-coming little restaurant chain aiming to serve good classic British food. The fennel, tomato, and basil pie special was good, especially because I like fennel and the mashed potatoes very smooth, but very much real potato. It's a semi-fast food concept, as was evident by how much we needed to fit into their ordering process. After turning down dessert, our placemat/menus were taken away so we wouldn't have a chance to change our minds.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2010 08:57 am (UTC)
I never really appreciated the favella thing until I went to Rio. Even then I avoided going on a tour (although they are money generating for the favellas and as tasteful as such things could ever be). Still, I walked past the outside of the largest every day for a week and the experience darkened my view of the visit (staying in wealthy Ipanema would otherwise have given me a very different experience). Almost as shocking was the hours of journeying through desparate slums on the outskirts of Rio when leaving in a coach. Mile after mile of run down housing decaying concrete with only plastic for roofs -- each area worse than anything I've ever seen in the UK but continuing for many miles.
Aug. 7th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Your observation about the singing elevators reminds me of this unfortunate gentleman.
Aug. 7th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
I kept misreading this as sWinging lift. This gave me a mental image of something akin to those platforms window-washers use for skyscrapers. Since some of the ceilings are quite high in that building I'm sure it would work, but don't wear heels!
Aug. 8th, 2010 09:38 pm (UTC)
I believe this is another version of the installation that was done at the Venice Biennale, either the last Biennale or the one two years before. A call went out to artists in Venice to help build it at the Giardini. Some of my friends worked on it there.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )