A community of artists in a former confectionery factory in Rio de Janeiro have turned to lawyers, aerosol cans and cachaca (sugar-cane liquor) to overturn an eviction order from developers trying to capitalize on the regeneration of the city before the World Cup and Olympic Games.
Their campaign — one of several disputes triggered by the US$33 billion redevelopment plans for Rio — has drawn the attention of the mayor, Eduardo Paes, and led to questions about the city’s priorities as it moves into the international spotlight.
In the past three years, about 50 artists — including sculptors, painters, fashion designers and sound engineers — have created studios and offices in the Behring factory, which once produced chocolates and sweets but is now adorned with baths suspended from the ceiling by chains, factory equipment transformed into furniture and other installations.
Located in Rio’s neglected port area, the 80-year-old building offered cheap rent and open space near the city center. But the property was recently auctioned and the new owners, Syn Brazil, told residents they had 30 days to get out.
Theirs is not the only conflict as Rio prepares for 2014 and 2016. Protesters have petitioned city hall against evictions on the site of the proposed Olympic Village. But the artists have a selling point.