Sculptures, birds and coconuts
Text and photos by Eduardo Montes-Bradley
Getting to know Brazil could take a few life times. That vast South American territory has always baffled me, and I keep on coming for more. What brought me last October to Brazil was the presentation of Dr. Pilar’s newest essay. Roca at the Federal University of Paraiba in João Pessoa had written “The Parallel Lives of Montes-Bradley”. In the book the scholar presents a series of academic commentaries on twenty-seven of my documentaries on Latin American literary figures. So I came to João Pessoa for a valid reason: To hear what others had to say about my work for a change. And why should this be an occasion any different than the rest for me to glance around, too take a pick and make notes, to shoot a few photos, and engage in meaningless birds and other wild beast. After all, I was João Pessoa, state of Paraiba, Northeast of Brazil.
João Pessoa seat right on the sands of the Atlantic shores. It’s a hot enclave, and it is said to be the closest point to Africa in America. Not far from the urban plat one can easily find the natural preservation area known as Park Cabo Branco where you’ll find is a small coconut stand that that advertises most oriental fresh coco-water in America.
On the way to Cabo Branco I run into a folk group dressed as bandeirantes, and a magnificent little bird called Lavandeira-de-Nossa-Senhora cross my path and posed for Nikon. Births often do that, and I wonder… Sometime before or right after the little bird and the bandeirantes I came across the “The Science, Culture and Arts Center”, an 8571 square meters pavilion designed by world-renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer. The hexagon glass building is supported on a single column between to pies of white cement. The floating glass sandwich was entirely financed by the Ministry of Science and Technology. The building is quite remarkable at sunsets when the reflections of the Sun make it looks like an UFO about to take off.
The grounds surrounding the UFO are populated by gigantic amphibian sculptures. These are some of the 130 works of Abelardo da Hora (86) in an itinerary exhibit throughout Brazil called "Amor e Solidariedade" (Love and Solidarity). Some of the largest pieces have been planted in the gardens, and on the water fountains. These were certainly the ones that captured my attention the most. They expressionist figures seem to be there just to welcome the minute proportions of the visitors, mostly students.
The photographs I took of the cultural center at sunset, and those of some of the sculptures are a clear example of my perceptions on that very peculiar afternoon in Joao Pessoa, when a little bird unlike any other I have ever seen, cross my path while searching for the most oriental coconut water in the American Continent.