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Religion and the Artification of Graffiti in the Olympic City : A Look at the Walls of Rio de Janeiro


This article aims to discuss the formation of a motivational landscape by looking at paintings; stencils; and religious and nonreligious graffiti in the city of Rio de Janeiro in the context of the 2016 Olympics. The process of artification at work in various expressions of so-called street arts is key for understanding the use that different social actors (young evangelicals or not, City Council, NGOs) make of this artistic expression. In this sense, the artistic interventions emerge as mediators of a citizen message, and/or an aesthetic one, and/or a religious one. Therefore, the purpose of the article is to present some advances in the analysis of speeches, images, and legislation regarding art and street interventions, in the city’s specific socio-political context. The empirical data that supports these analyzes are currently being undertaken in the survey “Street Art and Religion: A Study on Citizenship Productions and City Projects Through Graffiti in Rio de Janeiro,” and were structured by conducting interviews with graffiti artists and City Council representatives and drawing a map of artistic interventions, mainly in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro. This is justified by the importance that the South Zone has in the imaginary formation of what it means to be “Carioca”—a resident of Rio— today, and in the external projection that the “spirit of the city” has gained since Rio won the rights to host the 2016 Olympics.

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