chapter  8
18 Pages

Difference upon the walls

Hygienizing policies and the use of graffiti against pixação in São Paulo
ByPaula Larruscahim, Paul Schweizer

This chapter highlights one practice of opposition to the hygienizing policies of cleaning and cleansing, by visually intervening on walls in Sao Paulo's public space. Pixacao is a typical style of graffiti writing in Brazilian cities originally practised by marginalized youth in Sao Paulo since the mid-1980s. The simple line, muddled typography, commonly painted with black latex ink, evades hegemonic aesthetics. Pixacao writers aim to spread their signatures, generally not containing explicit political content, across the whole city, but particularly in representative places such as the centre's skyscrapers' facades. The chapter shows how recent policies now especially focus on pixacao as one of the most important threats to 'modern' Sao Paulo. It argues that it is first of all necessary to overcome role models based on Western modernist aesthetics in urban studies, planning and policy making to be able to acknowledge heterogeneity and difference within 'the 21st century metropolis'.