The Imaginary Inhabitants of Paradise Garden


An ubiquitous kind of housing development, gated communities became common around Brazil’s major cities in the 1970’s — along with the first shopping malls —, and haven’t stopped spreading ever since. Just in the year of 2012, the number of land allotments (largely dedicated to gated communities) in the State of São Paulo increased 27%. The imagery involved in their marketing includes generic human figures that play the role of the ideal residents of the projected space, occupying common areas, performing their imaginary uses. The idyllic character of Paradise Garden, however, is only accessible through the language of advertisement, that prompts us to ignore the walls and indulge on the view. But a certain sense of discontent persists, a gap between what is and what ought to be is generated. In my collages, the presence of these human figures makes practical sense — a man could be stretching before his morning run, a woman could be playing tennis in the afternoon. And yet, they are deliberately made to look wrong - the colors are off, lighting and shadows don’t match, the figures are pixelated. These contradictions remind the viewer that even these mundane, objectively possible activities compose, in this context, a narrative farce. Within the context of deep social divide and fear-based politics, Paradise Garden is sold as an escape, and, ultimately, as a protection from the forces of change and time.
These photographs and collages are not intended to literally depict any kind of underbelly of this social fabric. But precisely because the images come across as evidently fake and constructed, they explicit the fact that something is being concealed. In an age of walls and highly enforced borders, eyes are often turned towards those who suffer with the divide, the poor and excluded. I propose a perspective that is not interested in directly showing the consequences of such divide, but that questions the very authenticity of what is inside of the walls. It isn’t that the barriers should be more permeable — the content that they are protecting doesn’t make sense to begin with.