Void possibilities: Palimpsest square – Vazio S/A

The brief text below was originally written for “The Floor I Step On,” an inspiring Instagram page that became a bestselling book published by journalists Raíssa Pena and Paola Carvalho.

Palimpsest Square
Carlos M Teixeira

“Old house floors remind me of a theater play staged on a vacant lot many, many years ago, in 2001. It was not really a lot: a house on Sergipe street, in Belo Horizonte, had been demolished a few days ago, and then a group of actors took advantage of this brief period, when the house became a lot, to present a night show amid the palimpsests of walls and floors of the demolished house.

Directed by actress and producer Andrea Caruso, it was a one-act play presented on a very ephemeral occasion: days later, the palimpsests would be destroyed by a backhoe that took the last memories of the house. And unfortunately, more days later, the inevitable hedges that surround all the construction sites would turn that space, which was public for a few days, into a private land like any other.

The set of the spectacle was this unusual square made up of remains of walls and claddings, zigzag floorings and hydraulic tiles, stairway treads stamped on the neighboring wall, trees and bushes clutched in an imaginary backyard. It was melancholic and dreamy, but it also pointed to a future discussion that only now can be perceived as a demand from all of those who live in the capitals of Brazil: more and better public spaces, the claims for the conversion of private lots into squares, and a more balanced negotiation between the public and the private spheres in the country.

This ‘Palimpsest Square’ would certainly be better for the city than the big building that today stands on Sergipe street, just as it would also be better than the house that was demolished.”

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