João Wainer is a director and editor at TV Folha, the video department at the Folha de S. Paulo, which employs the language of documentary as the basis for its productions. He began working in photography in 1992, at age 16, as an intern at the Jornal da Tarde. Wainer worked as assistant to photographer Bob Wolfenson from 1994-95, and joined the photography team at the Folha de S. Paulo the next year. He has directed two documentaries, A Ponte and Pixo, the latter shown at the Fondation Cartier in Paris; his video Marginália was shown at the Festival Reencontre d’Arles, in France. Wainer has written Aqui dentro: Páginas de uma memória – Carandiru (Imprensa Oficial, 2003) and Últimas Praias (Terra Virgem, 2007). In 2014, he and Roberto T. Oliveira directed Junho, a documentary about the protests against hikes in public transit fares that began in São Paulo in 2013 and spread to hundreds of cities across the country.
Going out for a stroll through São Paulo lets you see how “pichação”, a Brazilian form of graffiti found on the streets, gradually came to life in the city. As you raise your eyes to the sky, a sort of enigma emerges through this angular vertical script that groups (generally of socially underprivileged youths) use as a form of protest, an expression of their aesthetic impulses.
From tall buildings to suburban houses, the act of writing one's name and performing one's signature in a public space is more about seeing than reading. When it comes to "conquering public space,” there functions a sort of "parallel economy of reputation," where difficult elements, such as height of the building or how to gain access to its top, are items that matter in the fight for prestige. What makes São Paulo’s pichação scene so unique is that, unlike similar work in other metropolitan areas, it featured extraordinary formal innovation that broke with the conventions of contemporary graffiti, established with its origins in 1970s New York. This genuine and contemporary form of communication is one of the most original urban and social phenomena to come out of Brazil in recent years.