testemunho,* 2015

Daniel de Paula collects rock core samples resulting from geotechnical surveys [1], performed for public works of urban mobility in the state of São Paulo, such as the subway, Rodoanel (Greater São Paulo’s Beltway), among others. These samples are ordered chronologically according to their geological age.

[1] Perforation processes for the exploration and recognition of the subsoil, used in civil engineering to get the necessary geological information required for dimensioning and defining the type of foundations which will be the basis for a construction.

*The word “testemunho” has a double meaning in Portuguese. It can signify testimony, witness, evidence, or refer to rock core samples.

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(click below to see the installation’s plan explaining its organization)


displacement vectors and the technico-political structuring of territory

The pattern of the territory’s occupation is made in a more and more extensive manner, based on an expectation of urban growth contrary to any physical obstacle or the establishment of limits. Within this scenario, mobility and accessibility are the founding principles and not the results of the expansion process. In the case of São Paulo this happens through a metropolitan structuring model configured from a radiocentric scheme, in a logic of transportation road “rings” that was established with the Avenues Plan proposed by Prestes Maia (1930), followed by the construction of the Pinheiros and Tiete riversides roads, proposed by Robert Moses (1950), a very similar strategy to what is implemented today with the Rodoanel’s solution (Greater São Paulo’s Beltway).

The design and implementation of these major vectors of territorial structuring result from the division of tasks between the public and private sectors, where the first is responsible to mobilize investment resources and manage the overall planning of the intervention areas, also promoting the bidding process for the hiring of companies. And the private sector is accountable for the preparation of technical projects, execution and management of the construction-work.

São Paulo’s government is one of the largest claimants of public works in the country (surpassing, in some moments the Union[i]) having been responsible for fostering the growth of the construction companies based in its state. The only segment to gather virtually all macro-contractors is the heavy constructions, whose main actors are Andrade Gutierrez, Mendes Júnior, Odebrecht, Camargo Corrêa, OAS, among others. This relationship between the state and large construction corporations has been carefully fostered in order to enable the creation of favorable conditions for structuring and maintaining a solid market for the sector.

“(…) Such conditions include financial mechanisms and institutional structures created by the state, especially in the field of road construction, which increased the capitalization of the emerging engineering firms and opened a proper political space to represent the interests of contractors. Already, we are faced with unconventional forms of “stimulus” to the heavy construction sector such as the overestimation of service prices, the “a posteriori” adjustment of the values of contracts and the interference by the contracting organization in competition proceedings, aimed at favoring certain firms or consortia. All these stimuli and expedients reveal the centrality of the political element in order to obtain success in business in field of heavy engineering. Prior to relating to determinants of a strictly economic order, the performance of contractors depends on good connections with the public bodies and the ability to make “arrangements” in the works, that is, to “transform the contract into a good deal.”[ii]

The aforementioned “arrangements” go beyond the simple capture of the state apparatus by private corporate interests. What is established here is a “bureaucratic-entrepreneurial”[iii] pact that is favorable to both parties. On the one hand, these companies have their survival tied to victories in the market of public works, on the other, the heavy construction industry, in particular the transport infrastructure, is also beneficial to the State as it is an instrument of implementation of macroeconomic policies, energizing the real estate market, by opening up new areas of urban expansion and strengthening the attractiveness of these areas for businesses and industries by improving their logistic conditions. Furthermore, the great works of mobility are “political achievements”, since they ideologically serve to maintaining a progressive image created for the city/country. And they also give legitimacy to the exercise of power through their widespread “visibility” in the set of the governments’ practices. “Visibility” which is strategically intensified in periods of election campaigns, which are frequently funded by donations from several of the winning contractors of the public biddings.[iv]

Subject to agreements of this nature, the projects of transport infrastructure acquire a meaning that goes far beyond the consideration of their social impact. Even though they have the potential to instigate a greater integration and spatial cohesion, these projects often become inductors of processes of socio-spatial segregation and urban fragmentation. The improvement of the quality of life through increased mobility and accessibility, often happens to the detriment of other sections of the population that are subjected to evictions or unable to afford the overvaluation of the areas in which they reside. This leads to parallel displacements to the ones that are officially promoted by the great transportation axes.

This type of technico-political structuring of the territory both urges and benefits from a constant flow of people and places. The soil, once symbol of an intelligible present, today, increasingly sees its social function eroded by these successive movements. And by the replacement of its use value by a trade worth, in line with the manifest transition from a geological time to another of capital.

Bruno de Almeida | 2015.09.01

[i] IACOVINI, Rodrigo Faria Gonçalves. Rodoanel Mario Covas: atores, arenas e processos. Dissertação FAUUSP, São Paulo, 2013, p.138.

[ii] CAMARGOS, Regina Coeli Moreira. Estado e Empreiteiras no Brasil: Uma Análise Setorial. Dissertação. IFCH/Unicamp, 1993, p.79, apud IACOVINI, Rodrigo Faria Gonçalves. Rodoanel Mario Covas: atores, arenas e processos, p.19.

[iii] CAMARGOS, Regina Coeli Moreira. Estado e Empreiteiras no Brasil: Uma Análise Setorial. Dissertação. IFCH/Unicamp, 1993.

[iv] MARICATO, Ermínia. Formação e Impasse do pensamento crítico sobre a cidade periférica. São Paulo, 2010, no prelo. / IACOVINI, Rodrigo Faria Gonçalves. Rodoanel Mario Covas: atores, arenas e processos. Dissertação FAUUSP, São Paulo, 2013

Photos: Filipe Berndt

| Click here to download the press release |



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