Day 38 :: Beginning Niemeyer

Pictures of Rio from the ferry to Niterói, Oscar Niemeyer’s Contemporary Art Museum and some other terribly fascist projects, an Isay Weinfeld facade, and a sketch.

I woke up this morning and had breakfast with my three roommates – a guy from Germany, another from Panama and one from Canada. The Canadian guy, an economist named Hugo, asked to join me in my venture out to Niterói and of course the company was welcome. We took a bus to the city center and found our way to the ferry which takes you across the bay to this city that looks across to Rio’s skyline; from this distance the sun burnt skin of little thieves and bronze of native beach whores were invisible to the naked eye, meanwhile the heavenly presence of Christ laughs at the city below. Too much?

After an hour long walk along the 39 degree boardwalk, we arrived at the Contemporary Art Museum. What can one say of the work of Oscar Nieymeyer – it’s dynamic and large, but its childish and empty. The museum necessitated little more than the four minute walk through its repetitive spaces, and so my Canadian friend and I left as quickly as we came.

Back in Rio we grabbed a bite to eat and I went off to meet up with Leonardo – an architect friend here who did his Masters at Bartlett and began designing furniture here in Brazil as a means to sustain his architecture practice. He pulled out a map and marked everywhere I should see; a huge help as always, though he seemed a bit reluctant to discuss his own work or that of his contemporaries. Perhaps he like most others are tired of living in the shadows of Niemeyer, the architect that simply will not strike a deal with death (he is what, 102 now?). Perhaps he will better serve the history of our discipline by gracefully stepping off stage, refrain from tainting his career by rushing through a plethora of senseless new projects, and give a new breed of talented young designers a chance to make their mark in Rio. Maybe I have simply grown weary of the hurried existence of traveling at this schedule, or maybe bad architecture just puts me in a bad mood.

Tomorrow will be one of the hottest days of the year, so lethargy is to be expected.

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