Rio de Janeiro 2007

Travelling to Rio in 2006 to research possible locations to paint, we scoured the city for locations until we returned to Vila Cruzeiro where the Firmeza Total documentary was filmed two years earlier.

Walking across the football pitch, we noticed three houses that seemed to sit right in the centre of the bowl that forms Vila Cruzeiro. Even though we were there for research purposes, it felt better to actually make something and learn through experience. Hence we requested for permission to paint the three houses.

After showing several designs, the one of a boy looking upward to the sky at his kite was by far the most popular with the families living in the three houses. After asking friends if they knew some people who might want to help with the painting, Vitor and Mauri, both 19 at the time, showed up and we got to work. After about two months the painting was finished. Often the work was interrupted, either due to weather or to violence between the police and local authorities.

Standing in the middle of the field taking pictures, a boy holding a kite asked where the kite was. After being told that you have to imagine it, the boy replied that this was dumb: if the boy is flying a kite, we need to see the kite. A local door maker then made a steel kite, which was placed way up the hill, following the line the boy is holding on a house painted in a hint of blue very similar to the sky. The lady who lived there kindly allowed the kite to be placed on her balcony.

It didn’t take long before boy with kite fell victim to the violence. The wall he is painted on was already full of bullet holes but now he had one in his forehead. Over time the paint started falling off. In 2012 we took time off from our project in Philadelphia to restore boy with kite as the video shows.

(skip to 22:51)