Projeto Brasil

The Sky Is Already Falling

In recent months political debates in Brazil have become increasingly heated. Many Brazilians see the impeachment process against President Dilma Rousseff as an attempted coup from the right. The transitional president Michel Temer, in one of the first steps taken by the new government, attempted to abolish the Ministry of Culture – following a wave of international protest by artists, this proposal was withdrawn.

Although a quarter of the entire Brazilian population has risen to the middle class under the government of the Worker’s Party of Lula and Dilma Rousseff, social inequality has been rising in Brazil, particularly with regard to gender and ethnicity. The middle class, which can only rarely afford domestic help, cars and a good education, is protesting heavily against those in government who are ensnared in corruption scandals.

There are many reasons to look critically at the largest country in Latin America. Brazil, one of the five largest political economies in the world, was indeed successfully able to weather the economic crisis. In the phase of expansion, however, hardly any thought was given to ecological resources and indigenous ways of living. Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, the Brazilian activist from the organisation ‘Hutukara’, which advocates worldwide for the rights of the indigenous Yanomami, depicts the destruction of the Brazilian forest in his book "The Falling Sky". Just this past autumn the very existence of the indigenous population was imminently threatened by the country’s largest environmental catastrophe. After a dam broke, a poisonous mudslide full of iron ore literally buried not only people and localities in the region of Minas Gerais under its path, but it also turned the Rio Doce, one of the most important sources for drinking water in south-eastern Brazil, into a biologically dead river. The deforestation of the Amazon rain forest and the Mata Atlântica, the rainforest on the eastern coast of Brazil, which is closely connected with European corporations and business markets, is an indication of our involvement in Brazilian politics. Although attention to environmental problems is on the rise in Brazilian society, the most important current themes– much like in the western world as well – are still other areas such as the economy, politics and culture.

From 7 to 19 June HAU Hebbel am Ufer is inviting numerous artists to share their view of contemporary Brazil at the festival Projeto Brasil / The Sky Is Already Falling. The festival opens with a new piece by the choreographer Lia Rodrigues: Para que o céu não caia / For the Sky Not to Fall. Inspired by the teachings of the Yanomami shaman Davi Kopenawa from the Amazon, she asks what should be done in the face of today’s environmental catastrophes. The power of rituals, the fragility of the body and its function as a medium is also the subject of the solos by Michelle Mouraand Thiago Granato, and the current piece by the group Cena 11, which has been led for many years by the dancer and choreographer Alejandro Ahmed.

By contrast, the fast pace and vitality of Brazilian life is perhaps best embodied by the ten young dancers with whom Alice Ripoll presents an infectiously energetic evening on the most recent Brazilian dance phenomenon, the passinho. Further insight into young Brazilians’ attitude to life is given in the theatre marathon by the celebrated director Leonardo Moreira and the live film event by Christiane Jatahy.

In his talk on climate change, the architect and researcher Paulo Tavares draws attention to the conflicts between ecology and politics in the Amazon region. The disappearance of indigenous culture is documented by the exhibition Indigenous Voices and works by Paulo Nazareth, which will be on view during the festival in HAU2. 

During the festival there will be numerous actions and inventions by the participating artists about the current political situation in Brazil where they can engage in discussion with the audience. The informal meeting point for this dialogue during the festival will be the hammock installation by the Brazilian artists collective OPAVIVARÁ! on the grassy area in front of HAU2. The event "What Happened, Brazil?" on June 14 will turn HAU2 into an open plenum, at which all those interested can speak out about the political status quo in Brazil and can exchange ideas with each other. 

Accompanying the festival, a new edition of the HAU publication series features a conversation between Lia Rodrigues and Nayse Lopéz, texts by Ian Steinman and Rodrigo Nunes, a blog entry by, and illustrations by the artist Paulo Nazareth


“Projeto Brasil” is a joint project of the five production houses HAU Hebbel am Ufer Berlin, HELLERAU – Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Dresden, Tanzhaus NRW Düsseldorf, Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt und Kampnagel Hamburg, supported by Kulturstiftung des Bundes. With additional support by Goethe-Institute in collaboration with Serviço Social do Comércio de São Paulo (SESC SP).