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Brazil Goes Mainstream
Alex Steffen, 26 Jul 04

Bruce sends this Newsweek article "Everyone Loves Brazil: The world has fallen hard for the boisterous culture that gave us caipirinhas and capoeira."

"The Brazilian contagion goes beyond the familiar enclaves of fashion and football. New Yorkers line up to hear two-time jazz Grammy nominee Luciana Souza, whether she's purring silky samba standards at Joe's Pub or loosing arias in an Osvaldo Golijov opera at Avery Fisher Hall. In May, Selfridges, the London department store, turned over its entire building to Brazilian food, fashion, music and art—and crowned it all with a four-meter replica of Rio's art deco Christ the Redeemer statue. Through September, London's Design Museum will feature the rococo creations of haute furniture makers Fernando and Humberto Campana—including the favela chair, patched together with sticks like Rio's shantytowns.

"If there was a turning point for Brazilian self-esteem, it was in 2000, when the country celebrated its 500th anniversary with a splashy Rediscovery exhibit. So Paulo now hosts one of the world's top five biennales, and Brazilian art is on display everywhere from the Guggenheim to the Russian State Museum. "It's like new friends," says Edemar Cid Ferreira, director of Brazil Connects, a cultural promoter. "The world has started to ask, 'What country is this?' "

"In an oblique way, credit may go to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the charismatic peasant's son turned president, who has stood up to protectionism in the rich world by tying up U.S. and European farmers and industrialists in international trade tribunals. Playing Lilliputian to America's unilateral Gulliver also resonates well in a time of post-Iraq-war sensibilities, where many nations feel caught between fundamentalist fury and muscle diplomacy. "The Brazilian style is about holding one's own without being a fanatic," says Roberto DaMatta, Brazil's most respected anthropologist. "That could be a balancing factor in international relations."

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Brazil, under its previous president, accomplished some respectable things, economically. Can Brazil add to its success, now that it has a new government? Time will tell.

Samba has always been popular outside Brazil. Brazilian dance and song has never lacked for admirers.

Posted by: conrad on 26 Jul 04



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