Cultural centre: Bangkok to Sao Paulo

6 05 2017


Thailand’s Creative and Design Centre (TCDC ), whose exhibitions I have really enjoyed in the past, has reopened in a much larger new premises by the river along the Charoen Krung. It is now housed in a building attached to the brutal 1930s old General Post Office. The centre will spearhead a cultural rennaissance of one of Bangkok’s oldest neighbourhoods, already home to galleries Speedy Mama and Soy Sauce factory and some interesting street art, and to be joined later this month by a massive new warehouse cultural development spearheaded by architect Duangrit Bunnag. He successfully helmed the Jam Factory project on the other side of the river.

In Sao Paulo meanwhile, the Japan House opened this weekend, part of a next generation push by the Japanese government to expand its “soft power” around the globe. Brazil’s centre was the first to open, highlighting the strong links created by generations of Japanese immigration to Brazil and more lately, Brazilian immigration to Japan. The cultural centre opened with an installation by artist Azuma Makoto who sent 30 cyclists through the city to pass out flowers to “spread beauty” and mark the centre’s opening.

Modern loneliness

25 04 2017



I saw two films at the International Film Festival which, by coincidence, both explored the theme of loneliness. Oliver Assayas’s “Personal Shopper” stars my new fave Kristen Stewart, as a searcher, a psychic, looking for something more than the unwanted life she has found herself in at the periphery of the fame machine, as a Paris celebrity’s personal shopper. Its a strange, meandering little film, full of moments of stillness but also little revelations, not the least of which is Stewart’s great central performance or her effortless normcore lesbo-chic styling. I saw it on a rainy day, the last day of my holidays, at Kowloon’s eighties-tastic Cultural Centre with the director himself in attendance.

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A few days later, the Monday night of my return to work to be precise – I journeyed out to Kowloon Tong, to see “Corpo Electrico” – the Body Electric. It is the first film from Marcelo Caetano, who previously worked on Neon Bull, and that film’s tone is evident again here: an almost plotless (and some might find, pointless) slice-of-life drama, but filled with beautifully observed scenes of every day life, almost like an anthropological documentary, and human warmth. We watch the handsome main character Elias as he daydreams at work, drinks with friends, smokes and does his laundry. Elias, played beautifully by Kelner Macêdo, works as a pattern maker in a Sao Paulo garment factory, passing his time with semi-flings with friends and ex-boyfriends.  At the time, I was charmed but slightly bored by his life, but now the day after I find the film lingering in my thoughts for its loving and very real portrayal of gay life in the early twenties : its intense and flirty friendships,  camaraderie and cliquishness, non-career job boredom and hedonistic weekends, all floating under an unformed and seemingly ominous future.

Summer sounds

24 12 2016

I missed the fourth album by Brazilian singer Ceu when it first came out in July, but thanks to a fashion magazine’s ” best of 2016″ list (see below) I discovered it just in time to crown “Tropix” the album of ( my) Summer, with its winning formula – evident in the single above – of glacial bossa nova vocals, electronic tropical rhythms and just enough surprises to keep it out of the pleasant coffee table music that MPB can sometime slump into.

FFW>> Brazil 2016

24 12 2016

It’s been a while now since I was in Brazil and I have lost touch a bit with the rich thread of Brazilian pop culture, but luckily São Paulo fashion mag FFW has published this end-of-year music listicle of Brazilian rappers, soul singers and drag queen superstars to help get me back on track.

Brazil, by Tomer Ifrah

5 12 2016

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Sao Paulo’s Cinema of Sanctuary

17 10 2016


The Cine Morocco opened in 1951 as South America’s most luxurious movie palace according to this article in Brazilian magazine Trip. The theatre had been left empty for decades before being seized by a movement for homeless rights, and shelters 100 families including refugees and immigrants from Africa, Haiti and Hispanic America.

Cultura de verao

20 07 2016


With the long, lazy days of Summer I’ve been catching up on my reading and viewing: it has been a Summer of culture! And given that my brief hope of playing Pokemon Go has been quashed by the delay in its Asian release, I have been reading instead. As well as some students’ novels that I had to read for school, my eclectic June/July beach-and-cafe book list has consisted of:

The Quran. I figured it was time to get myself educated! Although its not a comfortable read for a Western liberal (not to mention rambling and repetitive) I was surprised to find room for interpretation that could lead to positive change…amid plenty of ammunition for those who would oppose it. It is a book full of contradictions.

Dancing with the Devil in the City of God by Juliana Barbassa. This book, an investigation of the many problems faced by Rio de Janeiro, is a primer for the upcoming Olympics in my beloved former playground. The city is seemingly reeling from an insurmountable list of problems at the moment, just as it should be taking its bow in the world’s limelight. Will a recession, the virtual coup against Dilma, pollution, rising crime and the zika virus dampen the finest moment for the cidade maravilhosa or will Rio manage, characteristically, to rise above its demons, just as it does every Carnaval, if only for a night or two?

Ways of Going Home, by Alejandra Zambra. Haven’t started yet.

A Dean Koontz thriller the boyfriend picked up for me at the second hand store.

Plus a viewing list of:

Orange is the New Black.

Magnifico 70 – a Brazil HBO miniseries on censorship in 1970s Sao Paulo, kind of Mad Men in Sampa.

And music:

Still Roisin Murphy.

Still Leah Dou.

Plus the new album from Japanese alt-chanteuse UA, titled JaPo (short for “Japonesia”), another album of lush harmonies, lo-fi bleeps, raw jazzy vocals and tribal beats. It doesn’t all work, but when it does, UA stakes a claim as the foremost quirky Japanese nineties-generation diva (sorry, Shiina Ringo and Chara).



Light trapping

11 07 2016


Light trapping is a website devoted to the “night expeditions, escapades and chance encounters” of a Sao Paulo gay photographer, combining to spectacular effect his preoccupations with a) naked men b) architecture and c) striking lighting. Its mesmerising.

More images (some NSFW) after the jump

Read the rest of this entry »

….and Russo Passapusso

2 07 2016

Sampa retro

25 06 2016


The flamboyant midcentury modernism of architect João Artacho Jurado in the Edificio Bretagne complex and Loft Cinderela, in Sao Paulo.


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Neighbouring sounds

31 01 2016

New from Brazil, hipsterish gay hip hop from gritty São Paulo and dreamy indie bossa-rock from Rio.

Tokyo voodoo

20 11 2015


So sad I missed this: one of my favourite DJs, Thomash from Sao Paulo’s Voodoohop parties, playing in Tokyo!

Brasil – wired

13 10 2015

I have just discovered the Brasil wire website, with its repository of articles on contemporary (though very Sampa-centred) Brazilian culture. There is lots of interesting stuff here for Brazil nuts like me, from this piece on Australian singer Nick Cave and his three-year stint in Sao Paulo in the nineties to a profile on an upcoming documentary “Reclaim the Jungle” made by a New Zealander now resident in the city, a Japanese-Brazilian documentarian and a local street fashion photographer and focusing on a movement spearheaded by the Voodoohop street parties to reclaim formerly derelict parts of the city as liberated and hedonistic party spaces.

As one of the organisers of the Voodoohop parties says: “(Sao Paulo) is a melting pot where a lot of different worlds coexist, full of workers during the day, transvestites at night, streets of African & Bolivian migrants freshly arrived, Brazilian families living in squats, dusty hippies selling bracelets, tattooed teenagers hanging out in the “Galeria do Rock”. The centre of Sao Paulo is like an old bazaar, not good for fashion or refined items but where you can find all the essentials, food by the kilo, fabrics, electronics, any type of material, each block has its speciality. The area where you used to find all the cinemas in the 50s, Antiga Cinelandia, for example has hosted a lot parties in the last few years, as well as the area with all the old brothels. In general, the center of SP is a refuge for people who cannot afford or refuse to pay for the expensive part of the city. With this mix of people and interests, the centre ends up being very flexible and open for experiment, you can walk in some crazy outfit in the centre and people will hardly notice you.”

Sound of the Sampa underground

13 10 2015


Brand new albums from Karina Buhr and Barbara Eugenia.

Disco Arrasou!

7 10 2015

After reading about Grace I was in a bit of a disco phase and stumbled upon this on youtube – a sweet flashback to 1999 when I was a naive twenty-two year old on my first trip to Brazil, and I watched “Planeta Xuxa” on TV with my then-Sao Paulo boyfriend, whose brother was the bassist of flamboyant disco singer Edson Cordeiro. Good times!

Super deluxe: the gay party dens of Sao Paulo

27 08 2015

It’s been an in-joke for some time that although the gay community loves to hold itself up as an enclave of aesthetes, fashionistas and interior designers, there is scant evidence of this in the tawdry places it choose to socialise in. Not so in Sao Paulo, though (well, dodgy downtown bar Cantho perhaps excepted…) But does any city in the world do high voltage homosexual decadence better than Sampa?

Above: Hot Hot. And below, the astoundingly chic Yacht.

See more amazing Brazilian club interiors on the blog here.

Jaloo’s Sampa insight

19 08 2015

Sao Paulo hipster o’clock!


28 03 2015

Brazilian DJ due Selvagem. You can listen below to their mixtape, Beats+Space. The pair are playing in Sao Paulo this weekend at one of their monthly Selvagem parties.

Sao Paulo, mon amour…

21 12 2014

Bearded North American hipster takes a fun video tour of Sao Paulo. One of the youtube comments, in reference to the city’s current drought, said “typical hipster blah blah, don’t come here there is no water.”

For MY hipster guide to South America’s craziest city 😉 – see here.

Or you can read my short essay on the city here.

Henrique Oliveira: into the woods

8 11 2014

Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira is obsessed by the sensual and organic forms of wood, as seen in his Porto Alegre “Monster House” above and the oversized labyrinthine “roots” of his new show in Sao Paulo, “Transarquitectura”.

Pélico: Você Não Entende Nada

21 10 2014

New Brazilian artist Pélico covers Caetano Veloso.