This was the first project of the Topographical Amnesias series, conducted in partnership with the Armatrux street theatre troupe. Huge concrete stilted spaces underneath apartment blocks in Belo Horizonte were converted into material for urban inquiries. The labyrinth formed by a sequence of concrete palafittes and the explicitly residual nature of these labyrinths configure a potential which is inversely proportional to the architectural quality of the blocks. These pillared underground halls, completely ignored by the dwellers, were then activated and revealed as scenery for the play “Invent for Leonardo”, conceived specifically for the space by the Armatrux Company.

Below is an excerpt of a review by critic  João Paulo Cunha:
“‘The history of Belo Horizonte could, ironically, be considered the victory of the unplanned over the planned’. The statement, from the architect Carlos M. Teixeira in his book Under construction: history of the void in Belo Horizonte (Cosac Naify), could just as well apply to the new performance by the Armatrux group. The dialogue between the architect and the group proceeds in other languages too: Carlos Teixeira is the author of the architectural design for Invento para Leonardo and, more importantly, of the conception that flows through the piece, which is designed to make one think through the space, which vaunts improvisation and distils from ready expectations the possibility of criticism and dream.

“This reference to the architect’s book is also important for the volume’s place in the history of reflection on the city. Born as a counterweight to the commemoration of the centenary of Belo Horizonte, Em obras became the most melancholic declaration of love for the city, the sort that knows the underside of passion, that does not get carried away by impossible ecstasies, but which deconstructs in order to free up the terrain. There is no level ground, just the possibility of construction; just as it is in love between people, or in Armatrux’s Invento para Leonardo.

“The piece, directed by Andréa Caruso, takes the group’s work a step further. It is not just a question of theme or technique. Even in the children’s plays and work with puppets, Armatrux’s seriousness was always present, with a playful but always contemplative verve. The maturity of Invento derives from its capacity to orchestrate its physical, sonorous, visual, kinetic, emotional and intellectual elements.

“The idea behind the spectacle obliges the viewer to assume a novel position before the city. Instead of a theater or even a city square or other such conventional space, the venue is a void created by the foundations of a residential building in Buritis. Fruit of the voracious appropriation – and the neighborhood itself is a creation of this near-far dichotomy of the large city – of every available square inch of developable land, some of the buildings in this neighborhood were erected upon concrete stilts, teetering on hillsides as if balanced on fragile fingertips. The space generated underneath, as the foundations rise from the soil to the underside of the buildings, is very often far larger in area than the meterage of the actual apartment blocks. The result is a void constructed in concrete.”
Estado de Minas, 06/09/2001

Photos: Carlos Teixeira, Guto Muniz