The urban intervention Olympia Occupation, especially created for the Artistic Hostel art-in-residence project consists of a series of small works on paper, referring to the Portuguese tiles, with illustrations of athletes (particularly the more traditional sport practices). The strong and healthy athletes are used here as another stereotype of the “right and proper” masculinity, the role model for the perfect virility a boy should aim for himself, if he wants to be popular and successful: “Sports have always been a place where masculinity is learned and practiced. (…) For athletic boys, sports are a path to success and popularity. Conversely, too, boys who lack athletic interest or ability risk remaining on the periphery of masculinity. (...) The very nature of sports is associated with core tenets of masculinity — physicality, aggression, competition, and winning”. (BRAKE, Deborah L. and GROSSMAN, Joanna L. - Playing “Too Womany” and the Problem of Masculinity in Sport – in Veredict, 17 SEP 2013, verdict.justia.com/2013/09/17/playing-too-womany-and-the-problem-of-masculinity-in-sport).
Let’s not forget: such a strong stereotype, that it has been adopted by gay men back in the 1970’s, when they tried to defy the general idea that gay men are “weak”, and that remains untill today: “Every man wants to be a macho macho man / To have the kind of body, always in demand / Jogging in the mornings, go man go / Works out in the health spa, muscles glow”. There’s a common (awful) joke here in Brazil, that states that if a guy looks good, has a nice haircut, is muscular or fit, and above a certain age (around his 30’s), he’s probably gay. This is probably the stereotype that affected me the most, even before knowing I was gay, as I’ve told before: I've been chubby of fat for most of my life, and that always made me feel “not good enough”, especially when I started to go to gay venues.
The illustrations of the athletes have been chosen also as a direct reference to the official narrative of "Olympic Games' legacy" which is used to justify the (sometimes aggressive) changes that the region the art-in-residence took place has undergone for several years before the 2016 Olympic Games.
In the "lambe lambe" fashion (wheat paste/poster art), the work was pasted on walls as paper wall tiles, in a direct reference to the Portuguese's single figure tiles [ examples >> ]. The Gamboa region has a rich history of Portuguese occupation, and the region is still punctuated by a series of old buildings from the mid-nineteenth to the early twentieth century, whose facades are tiled as when originally built.
The small squares of paper were applied on walls and facades already in a state of abandonment or degradation in the Gamboa neighborhood, sometimes forming panels, sometimes just one single tile. The images of athletes, obtained from vintage illustrations, were reworked by me, laser printed on paper, and then hand painted with floral ornaments stencils.
Fábio Carvalho's urban art projects act as small insertions, pieces that invade the space almost like a parasite. The interventions appear mainly by tensioning what is already there, rather than imposing themselves top down to a space. The interventions require a certain intimacy to get into action. They remain dormant until you activate them with your look. They do not shout - they whisper.