The place is full of colour (a wooden yellow frog with a plant growing out of its back greets you on the stair), inspirational quotes are stencilled onto the ceilings and walls and many of the original features including beautiful wooden period furniture fill the building.

All around music belts out and everyone goes about their business often humming along. The resident dog is yapping excitedly every now and again as if he wants to join in any conversation that is happening. A large dining hall makes a perfect place for performance with floor of black and white linoleum and ancient ceiling lights hanging precariously overhead. It is like an old school canteen and the mauve, blue and pink wooden chairs contribute to the ‘school-like’ feel. On the wall is an incredible picture of a performance of one of the previous artists in residence – he is dancing, captured leaping in the air with a broad smile on his face as the stunned audience look on. Upstairs in the office there is one long table with plug-in points that are not yet in use, and all the floor upstairs have beautiful parquet tiles, again an original feature. The room off from the office is a hang-out space and there is a smaller office for people if they need a private space.

Outside the garden is open for people to come and explore. Permaculture is an important aspect here and a garden full of medicinal plants provides a point of exchange for the local community. The plants that grow are interesting too. One is the indigenous Taioba which has a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ variety. The good one being highly nutritious and the bad being deadly. I ponder the makings of a short story with Taioba as the good and bad spirit. In addition to the large communal spaces are smaller spaces housing a library, a hacker lab, a ‘care’ space where a dentist teaches the local people about oral hygiene and provides an occasional free surgery also.
I ask about the design on the floor tiles that are on the paths inside the complex and outside on the street, everywhere in fact. I am told this is a famous ‘Caiçara’ design, from the people and culture that exist in the coastal region of Sao Paulo, they have an accent also closer to that of Rio rather than a Paulista because of the proximity to the coast and trading history. The coast is important here, the skills of fishermen are used to create woven seats on the top of crates , which also cover the outside of the building. One of the projects is called MARAL which is the wind that blows from the ocean to the mainland stirring the water.

Every time I come to Brazil I am humbled by how intelligent, generous, thoughtful and strong the people I meet are. Working at Procomum is demanding, two of the directors have families and one is also writing his PhD! Together the team are running many programmes and Victor gives me a whistle-stop tour of some of them as well as presenting me with two beautifully produced small books documenting and laying out their methodology for others to share. I am already thinking that this is something we may be able to do together if we make a successful application!


The evening event has been curated by the artist Val Souza . Her performance is an audio voice recording of a speech she has made as a result of her work here on residency. During her residency she explored issues affecting the city of Santos and promoted actions that allow black lives to be recognized as human. She also sought dialogue on the commonalities and difference to further an understanding that difference does not put us as opposites. As a black woman her attention and focus was on women and during her speech she asks ‘What do you see when you see a black woman?’ The performance took place in the small chapel space, the only room the Institute has been asked not to change. All the religious icons have white covers over them, there is an audio visual film showing moments in the artist’s life and candles are everywhere. The atmosphere is of a religious ceremony but it is not that. I listen to it in Portuguese and stop letting my mind try to translate the words (which with my limited Portuguese I know will be impossible) and so I listen instead to the emotions that tell her story. As my first day came to an end with this amazing piece of work I am reminded of Procomum’s values as they are listed on the website as a place for our conversation to now begin: Caring; Cooperation; Free Knowledge; Civic Innovation; Diversity of gender and race; territorial decentralisation; joy and affection; telling our stories.

Recently Junction Arts successfully applied with Advantage Creative for a Scoping Grant from the British Council to travel to Brazil to seek out partner organisations to collaborate with. The Scoping Grant was awarded as part of the British Council’s DICE Fund, providing grants to intermediary organisations, which support the development of creative and social enterprises. The Fund focuses on supporting enterprises to empower women and girls; foster youth employment; and promote disabled peoples and other marginalised groups inclusion and economic empowerment. Catherine Rogers is Junction Arts’ Chair and an Associate of Advantage Creative, this series of blogs is about her visit.

About the author

Catherine Rodgers
Chair of the board of trustees for Junction Arts

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