On Friday November 8, the Hotel e Spa da Loucura (Hotel and Spa of Madness) at the Nise da Silveira psychiatric and rehabilitation center hosted AFROntamento, an event in celebration of Brazilian Black Awareness Month. The event was organized by CRUA – Coletiva Criativo da Rua (Creative Collective of the Street), a collection of artists, musicians, poets, thinkers, actors and community leaders whose goal is to integrate, explore and disseminate local culture. They came together to discuss issues facing Brazilians of African ancestry today and strengthening Black identity in the city. The event was also periodically attended by residents of the various rehabilitation dorms located on the grounds. At the same time, art collective Vô Pixá Pelada created a stencil installation to call attention to crack problems in Rio. The Hotel da Loucura is a space open to the Nise da Silveira facility’s residents and anyone who wishes to contribute their time or art to the always changing eclectic center.
Debate and Exchange
Discussions took place on many different topics including life stories, family life, African heritage and how to build better and safer communities.
Ana Paula, a writer and youth worker from Maré, spoke about her experience growing up in a favela in Rio de Janeiro.
Participants listen to the panel talk on African heritage.
Peli, one of the Nisa da Silveira facility residents, popped in and out of the event. He was always smiling and greeted everyone with his ball juggling skills and joyful enthusiasm.
Art on the Walls
Art and quotations can be written by anyone on the walls of the Hotel da Loucura
Getting to Know the Space
Participants of the AFROntamento event wander around the Hotel da Loucura’s stimulating space.
Participants check out the art at the Hotel da Loucura
Hotel da Loucura
Walking around the Hotel da Lacoura and the grounds, one was frequently reminded of the issues facing the patients here.
Art-making Against Crack
One of the groups at the event that also shares a space at Hotel Loucura is Coletivo Vô Pixá Pelada. The art collective, made up of members from all over Rio, primarily the West Zone, is using the space for an exhibit bringing attention to the crack issues in Rio and Brazil. The screenprints, with their logo transposed on a popular soft drink in Brazil that is commonly used to smoke crack, are then pasted to the walls of their space.
A member of the Coletivo Vô Pixá Pelada hangs a screenprint.
Coletivo Vó Pixá Pelada
Artists in front of screenprint wall to call attention to Rio’s crack problem.
After the debate, a film screening took place in the Hotel da Loucura’s Cine Sol room.
Vito Di Stefano is a freelance photojournalist living in Rio de Janeiro.