Daniele Marx and Marcos Sari

Through a hidden city

Not so well know by tourists Porto Alegre is the capital of the southern region of Brazil. Forget the idea of finding the tropical paradise. Here you cannot find a beach and palms but a different experience unlike all foreigners know about Brazil. What is amazing, almost all cultural programs in Porto Alegre have free entrance. Get the alternative tour and pass through a hidden city.


Marcos sari in the middle - Image provided by Daniele Marx

Nowadays the city lives an earnest discussion regarding the changes in the master plan; unfortunately the quality of the contemporary architecture and urban interventions is in most of the cases a speculative economical interest without providing quality to the local environment.

This happens in both instances as private or public initiatives, with some special exceptions of course. In this debate between what to build, to preserve and to destroy there is a rich historical archive in projects that never left the paper, criminal demolition and endless discussions on urban areas of the city.

Now you still have time to visit them!

You should walk into the area of the port, that mostly not works as a port anymore. Check the limit of the hidden city seeing the Mauá wall (1). Nearby you can also visit a futuristic project that never happened, the aero train, the structure still there as a graffiti gallery.

If you cross the street you will see a big building with a chimney that’s a public cultural center Usina do Gasômetro(2) just go in, the entrance is free. There in the end, of the same ground you will find an exhibition space called Galeria Iberê Camargo and Galeria dos Arcos, the last mostly for photo exhibition. In case that you like to continue in direction to south of the city, side by side to the Guaiba River, then you will arrive in the Iberê Camargo Fundation(3). In case of a sunny day you should spend some time to see the sunset in the hidden city, unforgettable.

In 2001, the city hosted the first edition of the World Social Forum(4) (WSF), an itinerary event which focuses on social issues in the world and new political alternatives and servers as an counterbalance for the World Economic Forum. After that Porto Alegre received the forum for more three editions. Next year the WSF will be back to the town.

Another “invisible” event behind the political and cultural debate of the city is the participatory budget. Well known as OP the government acts as a mechanism of participatory democracy that allows citizens to influence or decide on public budgets, usually the budget investment of municipal governments. These processes tend to have open and regular meetings and steps of direct negotiation with the local government.

For most that is hidden behind the wall, take care, Porto Alegre is a big city, 1.43 million inhabitants!

To explore other spots into the art and cultural circuit we can recommend a walk from the neighborhood called Moinhos de Vento until the Center of the city. The first stop will be a Public Art Gallery of DMAE(5). Keep walking forward in the same street in direction to the downtown at the independence avenue number 745 in the underground you will find the Atelier Subterrânea(6).

If you continue your walk straight away in this avenue you will arrive in the downtown area, which is always chaotic. There, turn to the right in the second street called Senhor dos Passos, which means Lord of the Steps and in the number 248 you will find the Institute of Arts(7), part of the Federal University. You should visit the Pinacoteca Barão de Santo Ângelo (8). However if you are interested in some networking try to organize a meeting with the coordinators of the project Fpes Perdidos no Espaço(9).

Even in the city center, walk down of the street Andradas in direction to the river, around of a square called Alfândega without number you will find the MARGS (10).

Unfortunately the Museum of Contemporary Art (11) in Porto Alegre exists as a law and a room located in the sixth floor of the cultural center called Casa de Cultura Mario Quintana Culura(12). If after all you feel hungry you can visit the Central Public Market (13) of the city.

Other interesting route will be in two neighborhoods called Bom Fim (Good End) and Cidade Baixa (Lower City). In the Bom Fim you will have as a reference the Park Redenção also called Farroupilha, where all Saturdays you can enjoy the Ecological Market or on Sundays the street market called Brique.

Take care what you eat or drink though, at least until your western stomachs are more adapted. The surrounding of this area you will find contemporary artists’ initiatives(14), bookshops(15), alternative bars(16) and restaurants(17).

If you have plans to arrive in Porto Alegre in October will have the chance to visit the 7th Mercosul Biennale (18) and the Book Fair (19). You can have more information about the guide in Amsterdam with Daniele or directly in Porto Alegre by Marcos.

Have a nice trip through a hidden city!

Daniele Marx. Artist,works and live in Amsterdam. Netherlands info@danielemarx.com

Marcos Sari. Artist, works and live in Porto Alegre, Brazil sari.marcos@gmail.com