Solange Fabiao

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The massive museum appears as a ship or a whale that has come to the busy beach of Rio de Janeiro, bringing with it a history of otherness, colonialism, and resource extraction.
Imprensa Museu do Amanha

The Museum of Tomorrow is the Museum of Today.

It is a large ship that docked at Mauá Square, in the port of the city of Rio de Janeiro—bringing good news. Emotive news. Good news, in the sense that when we are inside of this large vessel, we are able to leave our small screens (of mobiles, etc.) and digest fundamental information—both current and projected—not selected by us, a “selfie,” or by “I like or I don’t.”

This pilgrimage is a new development.

The museum’s monumentality is as fortunate as it is necessary: The Museum of Tomorrow in the city of Rio de Janeiro has to be striking! It has to be gigantic! It has to be objective; it has to be honest!

And it is.

In Rio de Janeiro the museum of today has to scream loudly.

It is a gigantic mouth, very open. It is the whale Moby-Dick that wants to devour. (And he can protect us, if we keep ourselves alert, for longer than tomorrow).

This museum of today advances, advances in two fronts.

It screams very loudly and not because we want to show that we Brazilians exist at an international level before our post-colonized status. For those who don’t know, we are the Brazilians, we are the ones who extracted the brazilwood to be taken by caravels; this is where our name comes from (Informed by our Brazilian-Indian Kaká.) We did extract from our land for the profit of others. This name, Brasileiro, does not refer to the ones that cultivate or care for the land but to the ones that extract from it, extract from their own land to hand the goods to others by force, for commercialization in Europe in the 16th century. And we have learned this lesson: At our core, on the one side there is intrinsic corruption and on the other there is the fight against this strange sickness, pervaded, of centuries. Corruption is active in each and every level of our society. The “seventh world’s economy” suffers the consequences of neglect and sloppiness.

Toward the sea, this whale’s mouth of today washes and filters rotten, polluted water from the Guanabara Bay between its white and new ivory teeth—this water regulates the temperature of the building, too. The dirty water in the bay was caused by ignorance, by our lack of control, by our stinginess. In the city of Rio de Janeiro, the year 2016 starts with the health system paralyzed, with the emergency areas in the hospitals in a state of calamity, literally in a state of emergency. Our army is now out on the streets combating the Zika virus.

Coming from the land/city side, common families, young and carefully dressed as if on the way to the church on a Sunday, approach this whale shyly, with tenderness, with curiosity, to find themselves in front of this emblematic monster, the Tomorrow. It touched me to see our fragile society, many of them having for the first time the opportunity of experiencing a monumental architecture like this, to have to be confronted with the crucial subjects of our time. (Real-time planetary data on climate and population is projected 50 years into the future.)

Because…


In the city of Rio de Janeiro everything is “oba-oba.”[1] Everything is papaya, watermelon, Coca-Cola and Matte-Leão[2]…The water sold in the airports is Coca-Cola’s Crystal, not local. In a Christmas luau on the beach of Copacabana—“our jewel,” “the national string of pearls”—is about to receive a golden tooth, but it would be preferable to have a museum of Sexual Education[3]– our youth is induced to drink alcohol by strangers, leaving the beach in the dark, covered by sand and salty water, close to alcoholic coma, luckily taken not by the waves but to the Copa D’or Hospital. Boys and girls of the age of 14 are “naturally” forced to some sexual practice, so they are “not left behind” or because that is “what they are made for…” This takes place in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro[4], so one can imagine what happens in other areas of the greater Rio and in the entire country.

Anthropophagy[5], give us this day.

Not knowing to which side to turn, through these two sides, through this museum, we scream with a very open mouth with the hope of continuing to exist—for the world to continue to exist. Brazil is only one example.

The Museum of Tomorrow does not hide this Brazilian truth. In its hallways, ramps, lights and spectacle, and aboriginal paths, we see the world through the eyes of this white whale.

Coming out of his throat, at this refreshing tongue of water, there is a slip; this water tongue towards the Guanabara Bay is disproportionate even if aesthetically convincing. On this water-mirror, the museum’s structure of solar panels and all their mechanisms do not form a space of shade for us to rest underneath, to rest for a moment, to rest from a global heat of 98° F.

At this pool’s horizon we were given a star, but this mirage-star does not belong to us.

After all of this: I was looking for something more: for an homage to what our Land Brasil is.

What would this be?

Soil.

[1]   oba-oba: fun, partying

[2]   Certain fruits in Rio de Janeiro have the
connotation of specific body parts. Matte-Leão—a Brazilian ready to drink ice tea brand bought by Coca-Cola Company in 2007, that has been for decades sold at the beach in Rio.

[3]   Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro is possibly the most popular beach in the world and Brazil’s main identity. The new Museum of Image and Sound (MIS) is currently under construction at Copacabana Beach.

[4]   South Zone of Rio de Janeiro is the wealthiest part of the city and the best known overseas.

[5]   Anthropophagy is a central term in Brazilian Modernism. The Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto) was published in 1928 by the Brazilian poet and polemicist Oswald de Andrade.

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