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Counter-conducts Project: opening the debate on slave labour in São Paulo

Gilberto Mariotti[1]

Developed within the scope of Escola da Cidade’s Technical Council, the Counter-conducts project seeks to respond to the questions brought into the open by formal inspection and situations registered on the spot related to slavery at a large construction site in Guarulhos—Terminal 3 of the International Airport, by the elaboration of a project that would problematize and impact the public debate on major infrastructure projects, migration and slave-like work in contemporaneity.

The Counter-conducts project was conceived by an interdisciplinary team of professionals, and operated as a device that intersects several of Escola da Cidade’s didactic-pedagogical activities, while also incorporating and stimulating academic, journalistic and artistic inquiries, launching public debate on the theme, as well as its repercussions on the city, social relations, territorial occupation, migratory flows, public policies and cultural productions. Among such actions, interventions of public interest were envisaged as an effective way to involve other agents in the debates and proposals for action[2].

Responsible for formulating collective constructions and fostering dialogue among heterogeneous publics, Counter-conducts, a political-pedagogical project, articulated a network of over 250 individuals, and 15 socio-cultural and educational organizations, both actively participating in and amplifying the public debate on slave labour in contemporaneity and its specificities in civil construction. Multiple layers of studies, journalistic investigations, photographic essays, exhibitions, lectures, workshops, publications, and public interventions alternate among pedagogical activities and public programs in the cities of Guarulhos and São Paulo.

In addressing questions about socio-economic structures and systems that impact the processes in civil construction and means of production in the globalized world, the research-diagram seeks to open avenues for continuity, provoking the realignment of positions, and calling into question an array of conducts-counter-conducts: individual and collective, professional and academic, institutional and activist, cartographic and imagetic, in this way interweaving the practices of the law and architecture.

With the responsibility of collectively building dialogue between heterogeneous public interest groups, the Counter-conducts project developed a network that involved 15 socio-cultural and educational organizations, enhancing the public debate on slave labour in the contemporary economy and specifically in civil construction.  Our colleagues at University of Strathclyde and Federal University of Acre, as part of the international editorial team, brought their important contributions from the energy construction and agroindustrial sectors[3].

As project's edit coordinator, my contribution was to open spaces for dialogue for the various researches in progress as well as to commission and organize contributions in other formats than articles, such as editorials, reports, books and websites. I had also the opportunity to write about this editorial experience with a critical focus on the images that make up the imaginary collection of slavery in Brazil:

(Slave society, image and letter).[4]

[1] Gilberto Mariotti holds a PhD and a master’s degree in Visual Poetics from ECA-USP, as well as a degree in Visual Arts from FAAP. He is an associate curator at the Fórum Permanente Cultural Association and an editor for Periódico Permanente Digital Publication. Teaches Drawing and Art History at the Escola da Cidade of Architecture and Urbanism.

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