Dead Garden

Dead Garden in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, by Vazio S/A, 2012

The following text and photos are courtesy Carlos Teixeira of Vazio S/A for their Dead Garden installation, part of the White Night festival in September 2012.

White Night is the expression originated in Russia and the Nordic countries, and refers to the phenomenon of permanent twilight. Inspired by St Petersburg’s ‘White Nights’, where music and the arts keep the population entertained throughout the long summer evenings when the sun never sets, the term has been used in a series of events in various locations around the world to celebrate a night dedicated to the arts.

That’s why thousands of people ran into the Municipal Park on the evening of September 14 for the first White Night Festival in the country. Organizers expected 20,000, but the number recorded was close to 100,000 visitors – a totally unexpected crowd given an event where the keynote was (supposedly) contemporary art. The main theme of the evening was, besides the 60 temporary art and architecture installations, the removal of the railings that separate this Park from its neighboring cultural center, the Palacio das Artes.

The first Brazilian edition featured art direction by Paulo Pederneiras (Grupo Corpo dance company’s choreographer), according to whom "the White Night is much more than a cultural event. It is a reinterpretation of the city’s downtown, within a content of density and cohesion, so that the visitor can experience the city’s public realm in a different way. The potential will unfold in countless playful experiences and new possibilities of meaning." The removal of the railings that separate the Municipal Park and the Pal├ício das Artes is a gesture that points to the beginning of a reintegration both physically and symbolic: the cultural center really inside the park, as envisioned in the 1970 original design by architect Oscar Niemeyer; and the park really inside the city, as the visitors were expected to experience the Park throughout the White Night festival.

Vazio S/A’s Carlos Teixeira was one of the participants with "Dead Garden," a corridor that re-links these two historically separated venues with an inductor of movements made of pruned trees’ branches, and set on the lawn between the park and the Palacio das Artes. Dead Garden departs from the context of the park’s dense landscape design, employing its lifeless elements. The branches were collected inside the park and, not unlike a field magnetically rearranged, were intended to reactivate a lost connection and regain a latent possibility of circulation.