Modernism in Brazil

Many examples of great modernist architecture can be found in Brazilian cities. The MAM (Museum of Modern Art Rio, completed in 1955) is a typical example from the 1950ies. The main body of the building rests on concrete v-slabs which dwarf people who cross underneath.

Across the Guanabara bay facing Rio lies the great Museum of Contemporary Art Niteroí built by Oscar Niemeyer (completed in 1996).

Another fine example of Niemeyer’ architecture is the Nogueira Garcez Pavilion in Parque Iberapuera in Sao Paulo (last picture).

Modern version of a Maya temple

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Rio looks like a mix of a Mayan temple and a waste incineration plant. 
Charging the entrance at ground level one could also mistake it for a drive-through church. Certainly the strangest “house of god” I’ve ever seen….

Wildlife in Rio

Tropical plants as well as strange animals can be found in city parks.
What is it? It’s like a strange mix of a rat and a deer…

Amazing Rio

Jaws from the James Bond movie Moonraker was left behind in Brazil after completing the film shoot. Left with an astronomically high dentist bill he was not allowed to leave the country and still has to work as a tourist attraction on the Sugar Loaf to pay off his debts.

Gorillas in the Mist

Approaching Sao Paolo, a sea of tower buildings emerges from the mist. Compared to Rio the city seen from above seems to be well organised. Each pixel a building…

Sao Paulo, city of high-rises and antennas

As a guest of the Festival Internacional de Curtas Metragens I get a room in a hotel quite close to the city center. Walking through Avenida Paulista one wonders about the endless line of high-rises and antennas on their roofs. The antennas are almost as high as the buildings on which they rest. Apart from that the city looks like a western metropolis, except that there is NO ADVERTISING. That sure makes a contrast.

Late reprise: A Pussy Riot in Vienna

Shortly before the hammer of “justice” comes down on two members of Pussy Riot, two friends decide to do a tribute to the punk group in Vienna’s Russian orthodox church. The connections between the Kreml and the church are obvious, so why not place another protest right there?


I have my solo show “Strange World” at the Austrian Cultural Forum and visit Belgrade for the second time. The first time I went there was in 2004 when a special high-rise caught my attention.

Arriving at the airport and going to the city one passes the former Genex Tower, also called the West Gate. That building looks like pure Science-Fiction and has sparked my imagination since my first visit. I’ve always wanted to go back to pursue my longtime project of photographing (retro-) futurist buildings from the communist era, of which quite a few can be found in Belgrade. 

The city is built at the rivers Sava and Danube. While the old part of town stretches out over the hills on the right side of the Sava, the left (dead flat) is taken up by Novy Beograd (New Belgrade) which was erected on marshland beginning with 1947. Novy Beograd is made up of a grid system of wide boulevards, high-rises and tower blocks and there is a motorway which goes right through.

According to Wikipedia the Genex company was an import and export company based in East Berlin through which Western goods could be bought and sent to citizens of the former GDR.

East Gate

Besides the West Gate there is also its equivalent in the East. I take a tram to the suburbs and get out of the train a little too early. I walk towards the three towers which make up the gate.

To my big surprise I discover that the surrounding buildings are mostly family houses with little gardens. The quarter even displays a rather rural athmosphere with birds singing and men repairing their cars in the warmth of a sunny sunday afternoon.

Despite its name the East Gate seems to display a certain hostility towards its environs…

Novy Beograd

New Belgrade is made up of a widespread grid system of streets. Tram and bus stops do not have names but are called after the housing blocks for example Blok 36, 45 or 72.

There are streets names which pay reference to great names of the past like Nikola Tesla or – more in a cosmo-poetic way – to Jurija Gagarina, the first Soviet cosmonaut.

Between housing blocks you also find supermarkets, sports grounds and grass lands. The area is not that unhospitable after all…

Europe endless…

Besides tower blocks you also find some shacks inhabited by gypsies. Romani people in Belgrade are known to be scrap dealers.

Things look different at the other side of the river. You’ll find this building at the confluence of the Sava and the Danube.

Elections coming up, time to say good-bye…