Haas&Hahn: How painting can transform communities

Haas&Hahn: How painting can transform communities


Dre Urhahn: This theater
is built on Copacabana, which is the most famous
beach in the world, but 25 kilometers away from here in the North Zone of Rio lies a community called Vila Cruzeiro, and roughly 60,000 people live there. Now, the people here in Rio mostly know Vila Cruzeiro from the news, and unfortunately, news
from Vila Cruzeiro often is not good news. But Vila Cruzeiro is also the place where our story begins. Jeroen Koolhaas: Ten years
ago, we first came to Rio to shoot a documentary
about life in the favelas. Now, we learned that favelas
are informal communities. They emerged over the years when immigrants from the countryside came to the cities looking for work, like cities within the cities, known for problems like crime, poverty, and the violent drug war between police and the drug gangs. So what struck us was that these were communities that the people who lived there had built
with their own hands, without a master plan and like a giant work in progress. Where we’re from, in Holland, everything is planned. We even have rules for
how to follow the rules. (Laughter) DU: So the last day of
filming, we ended up in Vila Cruzeiro, and
we were sitting down and we had a drink, and we were overlooking this hill with all these houses, and most of these houses looked unfinished, and they had walls of bare brick, but we saw some of these houses which were plastered and painted, and suddenly we had this idea: what would it look like if all these houses would be plastered and painted? And then we imagined one big design, one big work of art. Who would expect something like that in a place like this? So we thought, would that even be possible? So first we started to count the houses, but we soon lost count. But somehow the idea stuck. JK: We had a friend. He ran an NGO in Vila Cruzeiro. His name was Nanko, and he also liked the idea. He said, “You know, everybody here would pretty much love
to have their houses plastered and painted. It’s when a house is finished.” So he introduced us to the right people, and Vitor and Maurinho became our crew. We picked three houses in
the center of the community and we start here. We made a few designs, and everybody liked this design of a boy flying a kite the best. So we started painting,
and the first thing we did was to paint everything blue, and we thought that looked
already pretty good. But they hated it. The people
who lived there really hated it. They said, “What did you do? You painted our house in
exactly the same color as the police station.” (Laughter) In a favela, that is not a good thing. Also the same color as the prison cell. So we quickly went ahead
and we painted the boy, and then we thought we were finished, we were really happy, but still, it wasn’t good because the little
kids started coming up to us, and they said, “You know,
there’s a boy flying the kite, but where is his kite?” We said, “Uh, it’s art. You know, you have to imagine the kite.” (Laughter) And they said, “No, no, no,
we want to see the kite.” So we quickly installed a kite way up high on the hill, so that you could see
the boy flying the kite and you could actually see a kite. So the local news started writing about it, which was great, and then even The Guardian wrote about it: “Notorious slum becomes open-air gallery.” JK: So, encouraged by this success, we went back to Rio for a second project, and we stumbled upon this street. It was covered in concrete
to prevent mudslides, and somehow we saw a sort of river in it, and we imagined this river
to be a river in Japanese style with koi carp swimming upstream. So we decided to paint that river, and we invited Rob Admiraal, who is a tattoo artist, and he specialized in the Japanese style. So little did we know that we would spend almost an entire year painting that river, together with Geovani
and Robinho and Vitor, who lived nearby. And we even moved into the neighborhood when one of the guys that
lived on the street, Elias, told us that we could come
and live in his house, together with his family, which was fantastic. Unfortunately, during that time, another war broke out between the police and the drug gangs. (Video) (Gunfire) We learned that during those times, people in communities
really stick together during these times of hardship, but we also learned a
very important element, the importance of barbecues.
(Laughter) Because, when you throw a barbecue, it turns you from a guest into a host, so we decided to throw one almost every other week, and we got to know everybody
in the neighborhood. JK: We still had this
idea of the hill, though. DU: Yeah, yeah, we were talking about the scale of this, because this painting was incredibly big, and it was insanely detailed, and this process almost drove
us completely insane ourselves. But we figured that maybe,
during this process, all the time that we had
spent in the neighborhood was maybe actually even more important than the painting itself. JK: So after all that time, this hill, this idea was still there, and we started to make sketches, models, and we figured something out. We figured that our ideas, our designs had to be a little bit more simple than that last project so that we could paint with more people and cover more houses at the same time. And we had an opportunity to try that out in a community in the central part of Rio, which is called Santa Marta, and we made a design for this place which looked like this, and then we got people to go along with it because turns out that if
your idea is ridiculously big, it’s easier to get people to
go along with this. (Laughter) And the people of Santa Marta got together and in a little over a month they turned that square into this. (Applause) And this image somehow
went all over the world. DU: So then we received
an unexpected phone call from the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, and they had this question if this idea, our approach, if this would actually
work in North Philly, which is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. So we immediately said yes. We had no idea how, but it seemed like a very
interesting challenge, so we did exactly the
same as we did in Rio, and we moved into the neighborhood and started barbecuing. (Laughter) So the project took almost two years to complete, and we made individual designs for every single house on
the avenue that we painted, and we made these designs together with the local store owners,
the building owners, and a team of about a dozen
young men and women. They were hired, and then
they were trained as painters, and together they transformed
their own neighborhood, the whole street, into a
giant patchwork of color. (Applause) And at the end, the city of Philadelphia thanked every single one of them and gave them a merit for
their accomplishment. JK: So now we had painted a whole street. How about we do this whole hill now? We started looking for funding, but instead, we just ran into questions, like, how many houses
are you going to paint? How many square meters is that? How much paint are you going to use, and how many people are you going to employ? And we did try for years to write plans for the funding and answer
all those questions, but then we thought, in order to answer all those questions, you have to know exactly
what you’re going to do before you actually get there and start. And maybe it’s a mistake
to think like that. It would lose some of the
magic that we had learned about that if you go somewhere and you spend time there, you can let the project grow organically and have a life of its own. DU: So what we did is we decided to take this
plan and strip it away from all the numbers and all the ideas and presumptions and just go back to the base idea, which was to transform this hill into a giant work of art. And instead of looking for funding, we started a crowdfunding campaign, and in a little over a month, more than 1,500 people put together and donated over 100,000 dollars. So for us, this was an amazing
moment, because now — (Applause) — because now we finally had the freedom to use all the lessons that we had learned and create a project that was built the same way that the favela was built, from the ground on up, bottom up, with no master plan. JK: So we went back,
and we employed Angelo, and he’s a local artist from Vila Cruzeiro, very talented guy, and he
knows almost everybody there, and then we employed Elias, our former landlord who invited us into his house, and he’s a master of construction. Together with them, we decided where to start. We picked this spot in Vila Cruzeiro, and houses are being plastered as we speak. And the good thing about them is that they are deciding which houses go next. They’re even printing t-shirts, they’re putting up banners explaining everything to everybody, and talking to the press. This article about Angelo appeared. DU: So while this is happening, we are bringing this
idea all over the world. So, like the project we
did in Philadelphia, we are also invited to do workshops, for instance in Curaçao, and right now we’re planning
a huge project in Haiti. JK: So the favela was not only the place where this idea started: it was also the place that made it possible to work without a master plan, because these communities are informal — this was the inspiration — and in a communal effort,
together with the people, you can almost work like in an orchestra, where you can have a hundred instruments playing together to create a symphony. DU: So we want to thank everybody who wanted to become part of this dream and supported us along the way, and we are looking at continuing. JK: Yeah. And so one day pretty soon, when the colors start
going up on these walls, we hope more people will join us, and join this big dream, and maybe one day, the
whole of Vila Cruzeiro will be painted. DU: Thank you. (Applause)

84 thoughts on “Haas&Hahn: How painting can transform communities

  1. have we run out of real problems or have we run out of problems in the 1st world or why is TED only addressing 2nd world themes? yes we know that all hipsters like south america and everyone is an artist blah blah. stereotypical. uninteresting. 

  2. the power of the paint brush is positive. Thank you guys for lifting communities through art and color. This is beautiful and the idea innovative.

  3. I like what these guys are doing, but how about some data about the "transforming communities" part.  Does making the slums look better make the residents happier?  Does it make crime go down?  Does it transform the community, or is it just aesthetic?

  4. Interesting art idea but kinda meh for a ted video imo. It seems Ted video should have a more important end result than just making something pretty. Maybe I missed something here

  5. Very nice and noble project but I really wanted to hear more about the actual transformations in the communities. The effort of the people is one good sign but it is temporary. How does it affect crime rates for example?

  6. Getting people to work together to make something better and more beautiful can only have a positive impact.  We are on this planet to connect with each other.  What a brilliant way to do it, especially with people who are disenfranchised.  great way to bring hope.  Of course color, connecting and doing something positive transforms.  You only need common sense to know that!  Keep going!!!

  7. although the end result is kind of cool, i really don't get it.  seems like these guys are more interested in the look-what-I-did aspect than anything else.

  8. Correct me if im wrong. But for the longest I assumed that most of the houses in the favelas are unfinished (without plaster) because once your house is finished you have to pay housing taxes and alot of people can't afford that.

  9. this should bring in some tourists. Awesome! and the effects of the colors should make a happier community. Hopefully this will turn the Slums into the community it's meant to be 🙂

  10. I do love these guys. If they didn't paint on the buildings , even no one cares the place. Maybe the situation there doesn't change a lot right now. Undoubtedly, it's a chance for the residents. 

  11. It's a beautiful project but there wasn't much in how this project is affecting the communities. I was looking forward to hearing the end results on the people: did it raise overall happiness and community? Did it help lower crime? How is this project good for the community rather than temporary jobs and beautiful buildings?

  12. Wow Awesome Idea … Hope we can do it back here in Sri Lankan … We Too got half built homes and scheme type landscaping … and also poor majority …

  13. Awesome work guys! Great to see how these projects helped bring the people of these communities together for a common cause!

  14. "So we did exactly the same when we did in Rio, we move to the neighbourhood and start barbecuing!" that escalate quickly 

  15. Oh my gosh.  I wish we could just have thousands of people to go paint all the slums in America.  Also, plant a bunch of fruit trees and vegetable gardens in any spot possible.

  16. From a designer point of view, you have created a fabulous concept of colour architecture. You have made ugly buildings a magnificent masterpieces. You are the Leonardo d'Vinci's of architectural colour design. Thankyou!

  17. geweldig mannen!!!! Hebben jullie ook een leuk filmpje voor nederlandse leerlingen? ik geef les op een middelbare school en dat zou te gek zijn. 

  18. Yes, Haiti! Wow, I just realized that the Haitian government didn't give these guys any credit. They made the public think that it was their idea…How pathetic!

  19. Not sure how it transformed the community, but there's similar projects in South Korea where volunteers, particularly students, paint walls of houses that are located in poorer areas. There is no dramatic change, although the paintings does add positive vibe to the environment and the people who live there, who are often unemployed elderly people, are given a chance to share their stories or their 'existence' made apparent. It also brings many tourists to the site, giving the place a sense of value, including the people who live there. On a long-term, it's great example for new generations of the reality of the society's state and ways they can change it.

  20. Muito bonito 9:10 =D seria otimo se pudesse realizar totalmente um trabalho como esse, pior que com tantos impostos que pagamas aqui no Brasil era pra tudo ser bonito assim ¬¬

  21. ı say that this is a very nice and wonderfull Project.it seems imposible but after you imagine there is nothing will not be done :))

  22. The main goal seems to have been to celebrate both the people and their environment as worthy, as to be respected, as "human" . And with no other goal than this, a collective spirit was raised – one which could, from this new stance, look upon itself as able and powerful and proud. Charity is of no value if it does not FIRST give back to those from whom life has taken away. To give more is not what they want They want to be recognized as equal; worthy of consideration and participation. And this is what this project does.

  23. I feel much similar to @Neikaplay. And wish to ask:
    Is there someone who reviews any of the TED talks, before they hit the stage? For a 11 min. presentation, it surely lacks context, structure and appeals more as artistic display than a world changing work.
    And… maybe they could a bit more about the community, ex. how residents reacted to their work? More local words, image, not just an artist' testimony. If they been there for over a year, I'm sure they must have witnessed attitudes and cultural change? Some comparisons would do. If it is about change, that is?

  24. This is gorgeous. You guys will change the world.
    And I love the artists vs accountants story. (Or how to kill an art project before it ever begins: ask the artists to crunch numbers.)

  25. Its amazing how they just a tourist in Brazil, but they want to help the people and make a better life for them.
    Thank you for being kind, nowadays the world lack of it
    We need more ♡

  26. There are a lot of electronic music in Rio de Janeiro,Brazil.The old school freestyle music is big in the favelas In Rocinha with a lot of the 1980’s synths of the Latin hip hop music cultures in Brazil.Keeps the everyone safe of the favelas from the property and violence. Some of the areas of the favelas are very dangerous with a lot murders of drug lords of the Brazilian slums.Go in old school of the 1980’s freestyle music in the favelas in Rocinha.

  27. Hello everyone, I am Angelo, the artist who was mentioned by them. I am born and I was raised in this favela. Unfortunately, this project did not work. It did not have the impact and mainly transparency. I used it as a disposable product. to advance with my art prohibited me from selling my paintings in miami saying we did not come to sell paintings, besides not paying my tickets and yes I received a donation from a lady on ted day 6 thousand dollars for I travel to America in which they never wanted that I reach places for my professional growth I thought they were my friends I introduced my family, friends and a whole favela that believed in my potential as a local artist today they justify me defamam say I am a dangerous slum that the place is dangerous I invite to all that interesting to visit and to know what they did not do is my duty as artist mentioned Ted to have voice and to show oo the other side of a false social marketing using art as an argument for change.

  28. Typical,white people going into a favela and decide to paint the houses from these poor people because they think it will change something,its just vanity from the artists.
    Did you notice that when they talk about white people involved in this project they call them by name and surname but when they talk about the locals involved they start talking about Giovanni or Vitor.
    The same thing you see in Holland,the country were these artists are from,in Rotterdam or Amsterdam you see these white artist from the art academy coming in the poor migrant neighborhoods deciding to paint whole blocks but if you would asked them if you might paint there houses yellow or bleu than they wouldn,t like it.
    Go paint the Anne Frank house in the colors of the rainbow and see if the Jewish community would like that and than tell them that you wanted to bring some color in that sad house!
    Believe me,they wouldn,t even try it.

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