Drawing the City

A Proposal for an Ethnographic Study in Rio de Janeiro
Karina Kuschnir

Abstract
Drawing the city is a proposal for an ethnographic research project in Rio
de Janeiro. I begin by mapping the production of an international group
calling themselves ‘urban sketchers,’ whose collective project extols drawing
as a form of looking, knowing and registering the experience of living in
cities. Next I show the connections between art and anthropology, as well
as their relation to cities and to Rio de Janeiro in particular. The sources
and bibliography on the themes of the social history of art, drawing, visual
anthropology and urban anthropology are also discussed. Setting out from
the latter area, I present the possibilities for undertaking an ethnography
that contributes to our comprehension of the graphic and symbolic
narratives of urban life.
Keywords: drawing, art, city, urban anthropology, Rio de Janeiro

Resumo
Desenhando a cidade é uma proposta de estudo etnográfico no Rio de
Janeiro. Começo mapeando a produção de um grupo internacional que se
autodenomina “desenhadores urbanos” (urban sketchers), cujo projeto
valoriza o desenho como uma forma de olhar, conhecer e registrar a
experiência de viver em cidades. Em seguida, mostro as aproximações entre
arte e antropologia, bem como sua relação com as cidades e o Rio de Janeiro
em particular. As fontes e as referências bibliográficas são discutidas em
torno das temáticas da história social da arte, do desenho, da antropologia
visual e da antropologia urbana. A partir desta última, apresento as
possibilidades de realizar uma etnografia que contribua para a compreensão
das narrativas gráficas e simbólicas da vida urbana.
Palavras-chave: desenho, arte, cidade, antropologia urbana, Rio de Janeiro

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vibrant v.8 n.2

Drawing the City
A Proposal for an Ethnographic Study in Rio de Janeiro
www.desenhandoacidade.wordpress.com1
Karina Kuschnir
“Drawing to see” | Why draw?
The title of this section is taken from Joaquim Pais de Brito’s
catalogue for the exhibition “Drawing to see: the encounter of
Bárbara Assis Pacheco with the galleries of Amazonia,” organized by the National Museum of Ethnology in Lisbon in 2009. Brito’s exuberant work as the museum’s director has taught us, as anthropologists and
spectators, that objects are always “open to new fields of signification,” since
“they exist before the eyes that look at them” and “each look has its own history, made from a mixture of intellectual construction, experience, sensibility and daydreaming in which it seeks out its own limits.” It is the anthropologist who alerts us to the wealth of experimenting, interrogating and
searching for knowledge through multiple languages, and thus allows us to
attain new “levels of reading and understanding,” since “there is no such
thing as exclusive knowledge that allows the formulation of the infinity of
questions and responses that objects carry within them.” The title of the exhibition invites us to plunge into one of these multiple languages, produced
in the artist-object encounter: “drawing to see,” which we could also read as
drawing to know, comprehend, appropriate, narrate and produce.2
In November 2007, Gabriel (Gabi) Campanario, a Spaniard now
living and working in the USA as an illustrator and journalist
for The Seattle Times, posted a set of drawings on Flickr
1
All the images illustrating this text can be seen at www.desenhandoacidade.wordpress.com. The
use of small inserted images is inspired by the cover of Gregory 2008 and merely serves to remind the
reader to consult the original online. I would like to thank Juva Batella (without his support, I would not
have gone to USK-Lisbon; and for the revision of the original texts in Portuguese), Gilberto Velho (for the
encouragement and for the suggestions for this version), Andréa Barros, Arbel Griner and Vera Herrmann
(for their readings and lively comments) and Daphne Kuschnir (for essential images at the last moment).
2 All the quotations in this paragraph are from Brito 2009, pages 4 and 5. On the origin and plurality
of meanings of the word “desenhar” [draw], see Gomes 1996.

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609

entitled “urban sketches.” A year later, the initiative led to a blog and, in
December 2009, gave rise to the non-profit organization Urban Sketchers
(USK) which is dedicated to organizing events, raising funds and providing
grants to artists. Since then, as well as recruiting members in more than 50
countries, USK has also generated around 25 local affiliated blogs, like USKPortugal, USK-Indonesia, USK-Argentina and so on. The first international
symposium hosted by the NGO took place in 2010, in Portland, USA. A second
event was held the following year in Lisbon, Portugal, attended by around 250
“urban sketchers,” including researchers, professors, students and speakers.3
The “spirit” of USK is summarized in its manifesto:
We draw on location, indoors or out, capturing what we see from direct observation. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live and
where we travel. Our drawings are a record of time and place. We are truthful
to the scenes we witness. We use any kind of media and cherish our individual
styles. We support each other and draw together. We share our drawings online. We show the world, one drawing at a time. 4

The final phrase of the manifesto became a slogan for the group.
Displayed prominently on all its blogs, the phrase “We show the world, one
drawing at a time” “calls attention to an interesting contemporary phenomenon: knowing the world through drawings.
The expression “show the world”“not only means “showing the world”
“but also exploring and knowing this world, as the many synonyms of the
verb “to show” “make clear: “present, reveal, manifest, expose, mark, prove,
highlight, attest, emphasize, allow to see, make understand, demonstrate,
make visible.”5
Teresa Carneiro explores these dimensions, presenting the drawings from the book Diários gráficos em Almada – which involves
the participation of various members of the Portugal and Spain
USK – as experiences that express a “more attentive look,” “a “systematic investigation,” “an “attitude of interrogating and rediscovering the mediations
3 Detailed information on USK, its history and events, can be found at www.urbansketchers.org. I
should immediately point out that in the text I make recurrent use of some terms typical to the universe
of blogs clearly familiar to readers: online, post, link, site, blogger, etc.
4

Available at http://www.urbansketchers.org/p/about-usk.html.

5

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (software), Cambridge University Press, v. 1, 2003.

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6 This and later citations from Teresa Carneiro are taken from her text “Desenhar o olhar sobre o mundo” [Drawing the gaze onto the world]. a city in Portugal. this was not why they took part in this exhibition. They took part because they have a habit: they draw in sketchbooks systematically. Eduardo Salavisa 2011 The sub-title for this section comes from the title of Eduardo Salavisa’s article in the above-cited book. eventually. “(re)encounter the world through drawing. is likewise not the reason why they are here. karina kuschnir vibrant v. and some will be. which they are.2 611 .and ways of seeing the world” in order to.8 n. which was published to accompany an exhibition of drawings of Almada.”6 “We are not perfect sketchers” | Who draws? “Lisboa”. published in Salavisa (2011). daily. The fact they are all excellent sketchers. While some are. I would even say obsessively. the idea that someone can make drawings without calling him or herself an “artist”“(or a professional illustrator) is central to this universe: The authors of the displayed sketchbooks have no intention of being artists. As Salavisa explains.

The story’s meaning is also summarized on the back cover: In a world where nothing seemed to have much meaning. insightful. and daily life in New York City.com. Danny Gregory 2010 On page 12 of the book Gregory narrates with an air of suspense: “Then one evening I decided to teach myself to draw. his blog has become more like a website and can be found at www. with groups on Flickr.com/group/everydaymatters/). 8 A reference to the concept of a ““graphic novel”“– an established term for books of sequential art with denser themes aimed at adults that do not fit into the category of ““comics.000 members and is hosted on the Yahoo Groups site (http://groups.”“About these terms. 1999). Since 2010. Suddenly things had color again. raising their son Jack. Facebook etc. It is as funny. translated into Portuguese as Quadrinhos e a arte sequencial.7 It all began in 2003 with the publication of Everyday Matters: a memoir.”8 In this book. which now has more than 4. there are various others related to Gregory. who was just a tenmonth old baby at the time of the accident. and how the couple tried to carry on with their lives. see chapter 7 of Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner (1985. Gregory was also the creator and moderator of an online discussion group that was founded in 2004.8 n.Among the universe of people who contribute to USK.2 karina kuschnir .” The pause ( “one evening”). one particular sketcher and blogger stands out: Danny Gregory. As well as these web addresses.yahoo. his journal of discovery. Gregory tells how an accident left his wife Patty paraplegic. The result is Everyday Matters. Danny decided to teach himself to draw. and value. and surprising as life itself. defined on its back cover as a “graphic memoir. who is a New Yorker and the author of at least three books central to the sketchbook world and its online interface. an autobiography composed of texts and drawings. recovery. 612 vibrant v. and what he learned stunned him.dannygregory. 7 His three main books are cited in the bibliography. “Amsterdan”.

old pairs of shoes. cited above. accessible to everyone. Opened cans of food. 10 The quotes are from Reflections and Shadows.” In the introduction to An Illustrated Life. cited by Gregory as one of his main sources of inspiration.” through which he learned to value each day (“everyday matters”) and each object. These are drawings where the “objects” “do not exist in themselves. (Gregory 2008:7) In this universe. as the title and subtitle emphasize: “The Creative License: giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are. a corner of New York – everything can encounter its own space in his sketchbooks. the epilogue to Gregory’s book reads: “Dedicated to you.8 n. a designer. the artist. Steinberg (2002:70). however simple. talks about drawing as a process of knowing: “You must manage to establish complicity with whatever you’re drawing until you gain a deep knowledge of it. careful gaze. but as “objects drawn by somebody.the unusual ( “teach myself ”) and the magical ability (“draw”) combine all the ingredients for a ritual of transformation in which the hero overcomes obstacles and discovers a new world. The explicit objective of the work is to cultivate “a wild celebration of amateurism” (back cover) and turn drawing into a process. becoming a sketcher is a journey of self-knowledge. a means of self-discovery and self-recuperation. In his own words: “it didn’t matter what I drew. the clutter on your desk. the adventure and the endless horizons of your own illustrated life. fellow passengers on your commute.2 613 . Not by coincidence. which transforms the person and confers identity. karina kuschnir vibrant v.” The observational drawing. a writer.” The punning on the words license and permission suggests that learning to draw can be like learning to drive. the drawing of a tree does not show a tree but 9 Gregory (2003:13).” As John Berger tells us. forces the sketcher “to find answers to questions that so far haven’t been raised. the artist says. a musician or a CPA [accountant].”10 A number of these elements appear in The Creative License – Gregory’s most extensive book.” All that mattered was drawing with that “slow. This is the same principle found implicitly in the USK manifesto (which does not use the word “artist”) and explicitly in Salavisa’s text. Gregory talks to his reader: I hope they [the book’s collaborators] will all encourage you to buy a little blank book and start recording the contents of your medicine cabinet. I hope you’ll discover the richness.9 Saul Steinberg. Whether you are an artist.

” “Its notebook featured a drawing of Lisbon on the cover. At the same time. webpages and books and in most of the captions to the drawings in the USK universe. the themes covered by the drawings are broad in scope and contain a strong element of observing the private universe: personal objects.” Teresa Carneiro adds to this idea. these are the places his readers should go in search of stimulating ideas and people. The names of the observed cities are contained in the title of the blogs. pets. friends. As 11 The passage from Berger (2005) is cited by Teresa Carneiro in Salavisa (2011).org/p/about-usk.8 n. Gregory calls he city one of the world’s four “creative Meccas”“(alongside Los Angeles. urbansketchers. Gabi Campanario’s newspaper column and blog are called “Seattle Sketcher” and are intended as an “illustrated diary” “of life in the region. His own books. The entire international symposium of the USK in Lisbon was organized around the idea of “drawing the city. notebooks and online publications are full of drawings of New York. available at http://www. to make it your own. as well as dozens of sketches of other cities visited on trips. to feel it.”11 Drawing the city | Drawing what? Drawing a city isn’t just capturing it on paper. correspondent of the blog Urban Sketchers. self-portraits.” as though they revealed “a consciousness of the experience of seeing itself. The sketcher’s relation to his or her own city or to the cities visited while travelling is one of the project’s distinguishing features. since Everyday Matters. it’s really about getting to know it. As their name for themselves. 614 vibrant v. 12 Published in the section ““About us” “on the blog Urban Sketchers. writing that the drawings produced by sketchers tell us “something about the person drawing” and about the conditions “in which each drawing was made.“a tree-being-looked-at. Paris and London). in Stockholm. (Nina Johansson. the city of New York has played a prominent role in his identity as a sketcher. urban sketchers.2 karina kuschnir . emphasizes.html. a map of the city on the back cover and a program in which all the workshops were named after the locations where the drawings had been made. drawing urban space is a core value in their observational universe. Sweden)12 In Danny Gregory’s work.

provides a back history and interviews people related to the subject (public officials. The model is journalistic reporting in the image-text style. Nina Johansson. USA. whose quote is presented at the start of this section. for example.8 n. present at USK’s two international symposia. including references to the choice of colours. etc. California.2 615 . “São Paulo”.” “the journalist-illustrator writes about the drawn theme. in the state of Montana. Paul Heaston.well as drawings made “in situ.). became a prominent figure in the group on the basis of his project of drawing all the buildings along the Main Street of Bozeman. was a workshop instructor at the USK symposium in Lisbon and one of her favorite themes is scenes of a city street in Stockholm. Pete Scully. materials and other elements from the world of the arts. António Jorge Gonçalves 2010 karina kuschnir vibrant v. city inhabitants. but with the added artisanal and creative dimension of the drawing process. Sweden. traders. has been drawing the main streets of the city of Davis. in a Moleskine sketchbook in a format known as “Japanese”“(since its pages fold out accordion-style). Dozens of other urban sketchers focus on the city as the main theme of their drawings.

Simonetta Capecchi showed drawings made from behind the scenes of the project “The L’Aquila Earthquake: a collective report. writes Gregory (2008:2). Ruth Rosengarten produced an in-depth analysis of the history and academic debates surrounding the issue (which I will discuss later).urbansketchers. personal.At the 2011 event in Portugal.13 Draw how? | Devices To draw the city. stimulate drawing with the “right-side of the 13 616 All the links to the blogs of the cited lecturers can be found at http://symposium. one of the trademarks of the USK universe is the use of sketchbooks. They may also be very specific. In Creative License. he provides his readers with a list of at least ten reasons for drawing in diaries: they are compact. which became a symbol readily identified with Lapin. the nickname of Julien Fassel.” “his or her “crying towel. Tia Boom Sim.600 injured people. James Richards highlighted the renewed value attributed to hand-made observational drawing in communication projects. a member of the USK board and a figure admired by urban sketchers across the world. the six lectures given were related to the theme of drawing in an urban environment.2 karina kuschnir . through these drawings.” “but much more than this. Matthew Brehm discussed how to teach architectural students to draw “on location.org. Japanese-style.” “Following delays with reconstruction work in the aftermath of the tragedy.” “emphasizing various elements present in the USK manifesto. can become the sketcher’s “therapist. vibrant v. told how she and the group of sketchers from USK-Singapore ended up unleashing a process of “rediscovery” “and “revaluation” “of one of the city’s neighbourhoods through drawing. and led to the complete evacuation of the Italian city of L’Aquila for more than a year. familiar. A sketchbook with texts and drawings. leading to the book Subway Life. meanwhile. with blank or grid paper. tell its history and that of its inhabitants. accumulative. useful. portable. cheap. like old accounting books. made by famous brands (like Moleskine) or handmade. which resulted in 300 deaths and 1. a French illustrator living in Barcelona. architecture and entertainment. These may be small. Antonio Jorge Gonçalves described a travel project that involved him drawing subway passengers in ten cities of the planet.8 n. a group decided to draw the location and.

and enable your mistakes to be hidden.” “draw the city” and use sketchbooks for their drawings – the universe of urban sketchers (delimited here through their manifesto.” “provide an escape valve. a form of meditation.brain. Lapin 2011 Aside from the principles already cited – “drawing to see. The work is widely cited in books and blogs in the USK universe.” “don’t be a perfect sketcher. “Hate a drawing?” jokes Gregory.”14 Lisbon”. comprise a form of art. explained by Arbel Griner: Salles uses the term device to describe the “rule. “Turn the page. The expression “draw with the right-side of the brain” became famous through the title of the book (and the method) of Betty Edwards (2005) and. Start again. private or public.8 n. means making an observational drawing divested of the intellectually known “concepts” relating to the observed objects. karina kuschnir vibrant v. blogs and a selection of representative works) is full of “devices” “that establish rules and conditions for making drawings.”“ “prison” “or “limits” that the 14 Gregory (2006:51).2 617 . in brief. I use the concept of “device” “as found in the definition of the documentary cinema of João Salles.

implicit in the defence of the sketchbook (rather than the art gallery) and their collective and non-commercial identity (we support each other. do not “select” a particular character for the drawing: he forces himself to draw the passenger in front of him (to get around the idea of the “desire” for the drawn object). draw people full-length. drawing by drawing. the search for a narrative (telling a story based on the observed world) and the providing of a context (time and place). draw in subways of ten different cities. such as drawing “every day” (various authors in Salavisa 2008).” later abandoned. the use of direct observation (contrasting with drawing from memory).documentary maker imposes on himself when making a film. and draw all the lines of the chosen subway system. draw only in “square notebooks” (a personal “passion. since it translates the way in which the documentary maker organizes and informs/shapes the film – a reflection too of his way of framing the world. but not the surrounding environment. drawing for a month just the “clothes from your closet” (Gregory 2006). draw “always standing up.” which can be likened to the Chinese saying: “a thousand-mile journey begins with one step”). draw in a group and share our drawings online). such as the aforementioned “old accounting books” used by Lapin.8 n. There is a moral basis (be truthful to what is observed) and a philosophical basis (“show the world. as well as the principle of not distinguishing between artists and non-artists.” Drawings are defined by the locality surrounding the sketcher (“on location”). For him this is one of the fundamental questions of the documentary. Based on these general devices. There is respect for diversity and individual styles. As in the documentaries made by Salles.2 karina kuschnir . the author says. Gonçalves (2010) in his project Subway Life set a list of rules or “devices” for himself: draw people in the subway. (Griner 2010:46) Similarly the drawings of the urban sketchers are not “simply” drawings: they are “informed-shaped” by a particular “worldview. Brehm). very often an individual sketcher establishes his or her own rules. at all times during the 15 618 Information given by Matthew Brehm in his workshop at the 2nd USK Symposium in Lisbon. when he arrived in New York and discovered “passengers too big” for the format).” to avoid feeling “too comfortable” (M. vibrant v.15 draw anything “in less than 30 minutes” (Steel 2010) or draw on very personal media.

This innovation. karina kuschnir vibrant v. We have a universe of (networked) social actors. such as those from the online and audio-visual domains. As a “sketcher” myself and an urban anthropologist – I have conducted research in this area for twenty years now – I glimpsed an ideal opportunity for a fieldwork project in which drawing and the city are densely interwoven. arising from the participation of Brazilians on the blog network and at the USK event in Lisbon.” The research proposal thus emerges from the convergence of these three domains: the “urban sketchers. 17 Eckert (2010:180). is perhaps a good way to comprehend how the urban sketchers relate with the city through drawings. The problem that emerges from this conjuncture can be compared to what Cornélia Eckert has identified as one of the main challenges facing urban anthropology today: conceiving the city through a “plurality of agencies” and the circulation of new forms of ethnographic knowledge. was one of the reasons that led me to formulate a research project about urban sketchers in Rio de Janeiro. with representatives from Rio de Janeiro. the starting point extended through the networks) and a theoretical-methodological approach (taken from anthropology. a group affiliated to the Urban Sketchers organization will be created in Brazil.2 619 . 16 Devices presented by António Jorge Gonçalves in his lecture at the 2nd USK Symposium in Lisbon. Rio de Janeiro indeed has a long history as a “drawn city.16 Deepening our understanding of these different devices.17 Everything gained further substance when I read the text by Oscar Wilde. but in dialogue with other traditions). Put otherwise. in daily sessions of three to six hours.8 n.” the city of Rio de Janeiro and anthropological theory. The existence of this local social base made the idea of producing an ethnography much more concrete.working day. here no more than outlined. São Paulo and other cities. a research locus (the city. we could ask: how are the sketchers” drawings constructed through the ways in which they “frame” the city? Designing a project | The research proposal In 2012.

620 vibrant v. They did not exist till Art had invented them.19 What do the forms produced by art teach us about the city of Rio de Janeiro and how to see it? Who draws which city? How are different gazes onto the city produced? Which areas.18 This small essay.2 karina kuschnir . written in the form of dialogues. Van Gogh Letters.274) Van Gogh describes the difficulty of working one’s way through the “invisible wall” separating what the artists sees (and feels) from what his or her drawing produces. delimited and drawn? What relations are developed between sketchers and the city in the process of constructing their graphic “narratives”? What meanings emerge from these drawings? What are the continuities and ruptures of the graphic and symbolic constructions of the city over the course of its history? These are some of the questions that the research project aims to answer. We need 18 My thanks to Alberto Goyena for this precious reading suggestion.The Decay of Lying: an Observation. (…) People see fogs not because there are fogs but because poets and painters have taught them the mysterious loveliness of such effects. that is. However. (Vincent Van Gogh. I dare say there were. and what we see.mnstate. when placed in its original context.8 n. Available at http://www. and how we see it. themes and elements of the city are selected. city. n.” says Matisse in his Writings and reflections on art [available only in French or Portuguese: Escritos e reflexões sobre arte]. But no one saw them.htm. depends on the Arts that have influenced us. it reveals a profoundly anthropological approach to the relation between artistic production and social life: Things are because we see them. and so we do not know anything about them.” A maxim so familiar that it arouses little attention. drawing | The bibliographic illusion What is drawing? How does one get there? It’s working one’s way through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do. Anthropology. contains one of the author’s most famous phrases: “life imitates art far more than art imitates life. “Exactitude is not truth. There may have been fogs for centuries in London. 19 Wilde (1889). in the arguments of Wilde’s characters.edu/gracyk/courses/phil%20of%20art/wildetext.

. The more works we read and the more classes we teach about this literature. 192.) There has to be some region common to spectators and artists in which a mutual approximation is possible and where the artist does not need to appear as something apart.8 n. Sobre a arte moderna e outros ensaios. like the reader. free translation). (Paul Klee. p. In making the comparison. I simply wish to emphasize what Duarte defines as essential to the “objectivity” of the choices present in any scientific investigation: Hence the classification presented in each article is objective only insofar karina kuschnir vibrant v. he discusses what could have been included in the work. Paul Klee also reflected on the need of the artist to feel.” without presuming that a “combination of exact details” that are “patiently assembled” can enable the recreation of nature in a drawing (p. has to find his own way. free translation. for good or ill. (.” Faced with the profusion of already read works and other.000 volumes. Here I glean a little comfort from the seven pages written by Luiz Fernando Duarte in his foreword to the collection Horizontes das ciências sociais: Antropologia.to take into account the “profound feeling of the artist before the objects that he has chosen. Like Matisse and Van Gogh. the difficulties faced in organizing a work of this magnitude cannot be compared with those involved in a simple research project. the more aware we become of its complexity and more conscious still of the huge amount of texts we have to “leave out. select and find his way: Art does not reproduce the visible. was hurled without warning into a multiform world and. In this text.” Matisse’s unproductive search for “exact details” or Klee’s evocation of the drifting of the “multiform world” all provide useful analogies for the difficulty faced by the researcher confronted by the vast range of works referring to the themes of his or her research. who became paralyzed staring at his library of more than 30. rather it makes visible. but was not for a series of entirely understandable practical and theoretical motives. 52) I would venture to say that Van Gogh’s “invisible wall. like the reader. Obviously. we feel like Jacinto de Tormes.2 621 . almost infinite possibilities for our desires to pursue (through online bookstores).. but a creator that. a character in A cidade e as serras by Eça de Queirós. unsure which to read before going to sleep.

23 Gonçalves (2010) and Steel (2010) are two different examples of works that reproduce sketchbooks. such as the universe of communication. I highlight the works of Santos (1981). animated by the “totalizing” and “artificial” production of meaning. Abreu (1987). Both are not only authors. historical and empirical debate. even if only implicitly. submitting each statement to comparative. In terms of thinking about Rio de Janeiro from an urbanistic. but comprise vast fields of reflection with which I intend to dialogue in more depth in the future. (. 22 On the world of illustration. 2010a.20 Consequently I start by highlighting the areas I could investigate for a research project on drawing and the city. Freitag (2009). 2010b. looking to avoid the production of a “bibliographic illusion” – to paraphrase Pierre Bourdieu’s famous expression concerning autobiographic narratives and their tendency to present lived events as “coherent” wholes. Barbosa. among others. Some areas are present. 23 Another important work of this kind was published in June 2011. sociological and historical viewpoint.2 karina kuschnir .8 n. due to the choices made. Gonçalves (2008). Dabul (2001). The 20 Bourdieu (1986:184-5). Cunha & Hikiji (2009).” (Duarte 2010:19-20) Here I follow Duarte’s lead. 622 vibrant v. are briefly mentioned only and will comprise bibliographic areas providing support as and when needed. Lagrou (2002.22 Returning to the idea of the three main domains – urban sketchers. Villas Bôas (2008). 2006.as its author makes apparent. Peixoto (1999). 21 Sources here include Bourdieu (1996b). Ferreira (2000).. design and urban planning. but also editors of books featuring samples of work by dozens of other sketchers of various backgrounds and styles. 2008) and Eduardo Salavisa (2008. I discovered the universe of urban sketchers through the internet and a little later through works published in the United States and Portugal. Novaes (2010). edited by Cathy Johnson (2011) and including the collaboration of several of the sketchers mentioned here. new technologies. 2011). the city of Rio de Janeiro and anthropological theory – I present below some of the different sets of sources and bibliographic references that will help develop my ethnographic investigation. such as the anthropology and sociology of art. time demands and personal limitations. The two key authors who I would pick out as the core of this literary production are Danny Gregory (2003. 2007 and 2009). as well as visual anthropology. see the important work by Cavalcante (2010).. but shall be unable to cover sufficiently.21 Others. the bias informing it.) The only possible guarantee of the “scientificity” of our forms of knowledge is this: maintaining doubt and debate open always. Oliveira & Fernandes (2010) and Pinheiro (2010).

among others. These publications (always in interaction with their respective blogs) will comprise sources for the research.” drawing as a “witness” and drawings made during “urban walking.2 623 . 2011:4) Rosengarten suggests a likeness between sketchers. creating “imaginary” orders and organizing “lived experiences” in memory. (Rosengarten. but they also dialogue with the academic field. like Eugène Delacroix. pages 152-3. recording not only the urban and natural surroundings. absorbing the city’s spaces in a new way. travel notebooks and graphic diaries throughout history by different kinds of artists. among others. in contrast to taking photographs or filming.24 Both this text and the paper written by Ruth Rosengarten – an art historian. Pablo Picasso.25 A sketcher too. allows a more open dialogue with the “people with whom the traveller comes face-to-face. Moreover. 25 These ideas appear in Certeau (2000). are Debret’s Cadernos de Viagem from 1816 (in the bibliography. historians and anthropologists. to dialogue with him. On this topic. the second is a booklet printed and sold by the author herself. the anthropologist Manoel João Ramos claims that drawing is an opportunity to “participate in a world” that is not one’s own. published in Brazil. we can also pick out Goffman (1975) and Machado Pais (2009). An especially rich source here is the introduction by Salavisa (2008) on the world of sketchbooks.” For Ramos. as well as an artist and urban sketcher herself – contain a selected academic bibliography and numerous questions that converge with the aims of the proposed research.” She concludes: Historically. the act of drawing. all of whom produce detailed observations of “everyday life” in the city. but engages in a rich bodily and sensory exploration. In the future I hope to be able karina kuschnir vibrant v.”26 24 Another example. see Debret 2006). somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between apparent objectivity and declared subjectivity. to grant him the status of a human being.first is the outcome of a large project. The latter author highlights some of the central themes of the USK project: observational drawing “on location. the gesture of drawing is especially important in the ethnographer’s case since it becomes an invitation to the native “to look.8 n. Le Corbusier. Frida Kahlo. 26 Manoel João Ramos’s text is published in Salavisa (2011). For the author Michel de Certeau. cited by Rosengarten (2011). but also the lives and customs of foreign people in far flung lands. Edward Hopper. sits the sketchbook as traveller’s companion and ethnographer’s tool. reflection is central: someone who wanders the streets may lose sight of the whole.

the pedestrians. dedicated exclusively to drawing in cities (or drawings of cities). you end up knowing many things. She begins by emphasizing the value of drawing in the street. There is a recent book about sketchbooks. 624 vibrant v. (. (my italics)29 Contemporary projects like Avenida Paulista.2 karina kuschnir . you end up discovering many things.cosacnaify. 29 The source is the same cited in the previous note.Returning to the idea of drawing as a means of knowing the city. there are a few tourist guides that are illustrated entirely with drawings and one publication that stands out: Rio de Janeiro: les carnets de to develop a comparison between this concept of “lived experience” through drawing and that of “lived theory” through ethnography. Not just inner things. in the sense of putting it on the map.) I also like to draw in a boteco (bar).. with drawings and texts about the city of São Paulo. to be drawn. 2009) on Amerindian indigenous designs. but things that are out there. and the words of the architect and illustrator Paula Caffé. published in the magazine of the Folha de São Paulo newspaper between 1991 and 1994.com. I would cite the fundamental work of Els Lagrou (2007. more precisely São Paulo. Available at: http://editora. Caffé was also the author of an award-winning column. 28 Interview about the book Avenida Paulista (Caffé 2009) for the site of Editora Cosac & Naify. as proposed by Peirano (2006). your things.aspx. In the book Avenida Paulista I revived this methodology of drawing in the street.br/ObraSinopse/10224/Av-Paulista.28 Here I would also highlight her appreciation of how this act of drawing “on location” becomes a new form of “seeing” (in the sense that we explored in the initial section of the project) and appropriating the city: Another thing I noticed while making the book is: how important it is for us to draw our city.. By drawing. though not specifically focused on drawing the city (Almeida & Bassetto 2010). are fairly rare in the international literature or in Brazil.. In Rio de Janeiro. the climate. (. 27 “Padaria” (bakery) in São Paulo slang. a padoca (bakery). also published in São Paulo. Because I think drawing is a form of knowledge.. “being” and “living” in the city: Remaining local makes a lot of difference to drawing: because of the bustle.8 n. Still in the field of anthropological research with graphic art. I draw much better than when in my studio. and that of Fruzzetti & Östör (2007) on art among Naya women in India. which have led to volumes like New York: Life in the Big City (Eisner 2006).27 on any street corner.) I hope my drawing inspires people to draw their own city. even taking into account the rich fictional – and sometimes also documental – collection of graphic novels. we head to Brazil. I think it’s really important to let your mind wander in the location. Cidade Nua [Naked City].

the 20th century shows a steady decline in the predominance of drawing in forms of artistic expression. magazines and the press (Lustosa 2010).31 Even if we focus on the city of Rio de Janeiro alone. cartoons and illustrations. automobiles. postcards (Gerodetti & Cornejo 2004). see the extremely detailed study by Korzenik (1985) on the teaching of drawing in American schools in the 19th and 20th centuries.30 There are also some publications produced to accompany exhibitions of humorous drawings. public figures. This is an interesting theme that could be explored in the research. such as that by Caruso (2009). Carlos. If we go back in time. O bonde e a linha: um perfil de J. the city’s history (Sandroni 2010). Carlos (Loredano & Ventura 1998) both stand out for their specific focus on the relation between a sketcher (illustrator) and the city of Rio de Janeiro. Through texts and images. On this topic. the number of works becomes incalculable. illustrators (Simioni 2002). football and the 30 See Goslin (2010).Voyage de Jano. The different streets.8 n. Carlos (Loredano 2002) and O Rio de J. beach. the authors show us how the mutual influences evolved between the newly urbanized society and its expression in the drawings of J. neighbourhoods. Rio de Janeiro. and much more. All these are important reference works for developing the idea of a “semantic landscape” in the city’s recent history (1975-2011). There are the worlds of maps (Castro 2000). 1937-1939 Among the works that can be cited here. travellers (Ermakoff 2011). Rebelo (2007) and Jano’s book in Michel (2001).Carlos. books (El Far 2004). it would be impossible to list everything that has been published. 31 Compared to the 19th century.2 625 . J. karina kuschnir vibrant v.

buildings. Ingold (2007) and Lagrou (2009).33 Returning to the theme of urban life. seen from the viewpoint of anthropological theory.” as well as the “intricate networks of microscopic relations that every artistic product. Giner (2004). Carlos) would really need to be justified here through a careful analysis of the images in question. 626 vibrant v. given the time and space restrictions. Chipp (1988). on one hand. heavily inspired by Hannerz (1980). Michel Agier produces a summary of the area. Augé (1997). I also suggest Le Goff (1998) on art and the city from a historical perspective. “works of art in the light of historical witnesses..” On the other hand.8 n. “the work of art itself and visual forms in general should be interpreted as a sui generis source for historical reconstruction” (1989:56).34 As Graça I. (. various other edited works and texts look to provide a panorama of anthropological research conducted in cities: Amin (2002). As well as Barthes (1990). In Antropologia da Cidade. I cite instead a series of works that will be important to the development of this type of approach. Garner (2008). listing its vast repertoire of traditions. Cordeiro & Heitor Frúgoli Jr. Gmelch (2002). Low (2005). emphasize in their foreword. I consider the approach of the Italian historian Carlo Ginzburg (1989 and 2010) particularly fertile. presumes. Ginzburg looks to reconstruct “iconographic modules. especially those originating in the so-called Chicago and Manchester schools. Fox (1977). the city that emerges from Agier’s book is not a “theoretical abstraction. so many objects and themes drawn in a style very close to what Julia O’Donnell has called an “ethnographic temperament..) able to explain the genesis of their meaning. see Kuschnir (1993).” For the author. 34 As well as Agier’s synthesis (2011). Gutwirth (2010). For an in-depth discussion of the relations between anthropology and history. 33 On other themes in the work of Ginzburg. Rogers (1995) and Sanjek (1990). Ginzburg proposes a relation between art and history that considers. 32 O’Donnell (2008) coined this concept in her dense analysis of the relation between João do Rio’s work and the city of Rio de Janeiro. Gombrich (1995 and 1999).” but a “relational and situational city” in which the creative dimension of its inhabitants is valued through ethnographic investigation.”32 This interpretation (of J.2 karina kuschnir .. Panofsky and Gombrich). see Darnton (1986 and 1990). But postponing this work for now. even the most basic. Cautious of the limits of a “purely stylistic” reading. this is the path towards a “social history of artistic expression” (2010:19).. brings us to another extensive series of works. Inspired by anthropological theory and by the work of various authors from the intellectual circle of the art historian Aby Warburg (such as Saxl.

studies that still influence urban anthropologists today. O. Frúgoli. the authors reveal a complex “field of possibilities” in which individuals relate “in diverse ways with the different kinds of living conditions in which they are inserted. The study by Elias & Scotson (2000) is also an important reference work for understanding 20th century urban life. 1971. Here I would also cite Epstein (1969). Durham & Cardoso (1973). Cordeiro & Costa (1999). founder of the Urban Anthropology Nucleus (NAU). Gomes & Frúgoli Jr.36 It is also worth recalling Velho’s text in the introduction to Antropologia urbana: Cultura e sociedade no Brasil e em Portugal. says Velho. karina kuschnir vibrant v. Frehse & Leite (2010). In Rio de Janeiro the same development took place in the 1970s. Fortuna & Leite (2009) and Lima & Sarró (2006). natural areas and social maps. 36 For works by Gilberto Velho. Mitchell (1969). Eckert & Rocha (2005). Durham (1973). among others. From the generation of former students of Ruth Cardoso at USP. Park and Barth. Eckert (2010).” In this way.” with the risk of isolating it from its “sociohistorical and cultural contexts. 2009). we cannot fail to cite Park (1967). is not only “the research that anthropologists undertake in cities. Mayer (2010) and Van Velsen (2010).” circulating “between social spheres and universes of meaning.” It also includes the investigation of broader ideological frameworks resulting from sociocultural diversity and complexity. we can also highlight the work of Guilherme Magnani. they go about constructing their “everyday practices. There are also the exemplary ethnographies of Gans (1962) and Jankowski (1991). I would also highlight the works of Hughes (1993) and Becker (1982.35 In Brazil urban anthropology developed in São Paulo through the work of Ruth Cardoso and Eunice Durham. Here I wish to emphasize just one of the themes raised by urban research and identified by Velho: the question of the city’s moral regions. Peixoto (2006). Costa (2003). 2007. For works by other Brazilian authors. This aspect is also explored in the article by Cordeiro & Costa (1999) about Lisbon’s Bica and Alfama districts.Seen in this light. (1967). In the Chicago tradition. as shown by Simmel. Velho’s work also formed the basis for a productive dialogue between urban studies carried out in Brazil and Portugal. O’Donnell (2008 and 2011). By showing the intricate narratives of these localities. see Cordeiro (1997 and 2003). their life projects and their frameworks of 35 In the US. Wirth (1967) and other authors collected in Velho. we can pick out the fundamental collection of Feldman-Bianco (2010). under the influence of Simmel (1967. 1978. 2003). we can recall the exemplary monographies of Whyte (2005) and Mitchell (2010) . Andrade & Peixoto (2006). In the English tradition. Cavalcanti (2006 and 2010). Bott (1976) and Barth (2000). (2010). Frúgoli Jr. Oliven (1980 and 1985). 2000.” Urban anthropology. Kuschnir (2000. (2006 and 2007). In relation to urban research in Portugal. 2002 and 2003). where he restates his concern to avoid “reifying the urban. see Cardoso (1986). including contributing authors such as Gluckman (2010).2 627 . Vianna (1988 and 1997) and Zaluar (1985). Moura (2003 and 2010). see the list provided in the bibliography.8 n. Magnani (1984. Duarte & Velho (2010). principally through the work of Gilberto Velho and his students. 2006).

Castro (1999) shows us.value.” Analyzing the disputes surrounding these urban districts. Steinberg 1952 I conclude this theoretical-bibliographic journey by returning to the theme of “drawing the city” and the words of Saul Steinberg. images and narratives […] that each city chooses to adorn. No one at the time took an interest on those things. I did drawings more or less from life of American landscapes. corners. There were a number of painters in New York — Reginald Marsh. things by now vanished. for example — who look 628 vibrant v. the authors show “a variety of mythographs. constructed from “narratives and images that very often clash and vie with each other. that look like “real painting”. American painters were looking for places. summarizing many of the points discussed here through his recollections of drawing New York’s streets: In 1950.” Adopting much the same approach.” in Alfred Schutz’s terms. through the transformation of cartographic representations of Rio de Janeiro.8 n. Chicago.2 karina kuschnir . even on Main Street they looked for a little bit of English painting or something out of Rembrandt or Vermeer. streets in America.” as if in distinct “provinces of meaning. different forms in which the tourist experiences the city.

2 629 . beliefs and values present in urban life. the proposed research will employ an interdisciplinary approach. run by Professor Manoel Fernandes.urbansketchers. Since then I have frequented open drawing courses in places like the Botanical School and the EAV itself. The research is just beginning. Leach (1982). exploring to the limits the process of denaturalizing the linguistic and visual concepts involved. sociology and so on. see Malinowski (1978). I was a consultant for the documentary film Vocação do poder (2006. where I took a course in observational drawing. both in the fieldwork itself.for Hogarths or Rubenses on 14th Street. and was also a student at the Parque Lage School of Visual Arts (Escola de Artes Visuais: EAV). Eduardo Escorel and José Joffily). and in the investigation of sources and archives. However anthropological theory will comprise the central axis of the investigation. karina kuschnir vibrant v. between March 2008 and March 2009. I have worked in research studies on television and political advertising. And in 2007 I was also one of coordinators of the team that developed the project “Social scientists from Portuguese-speaking countries: life histories’ – renewed in 2010 under the titles “Audio-visual history of the Social Sciences in the Community of Portuguese Language Countries’ (www. The dialogue between these traditions leads to a deeper understanding of the actions. This implies a constant effort to reflect on our own representations. in Lisbon. 38 Regarding my work in the audio-visual area.br/cpdoc/cientistassociais). Sahlins (1997). Becker (1993.37 For all these reasons.38 In July 2011 I took part as a student in the II International Urban Sketching Symposium. I conclude this text with a small autobiographical note: I was a student in the PUC-Rio Industrial Design course for a number of terms. Kuschnir (2003). where I offered courses with a special focus on discourse analysis.8 n. I should also note that I was a professor in the Department of Social Communication at PUC-Rio for sixteen years. O’Donnell (2008) and Castro (2008). Geertz (1997 and 2001). It also means taking ethnographic reflection as the main theoretical tool. iconography and film narrative. Velho (1981).org/. (Steinberg 2002:74) As I have described over the course of this text.39 The experience played a decisive role in leading me to the present research theme since. history.fgv. 2007). 39 The full program of the event can be found here: http://symposium. So I end this text by pressing the “pause” button. the arts. the Symposium generated a wide-ranging debate on the role of drawing in urban life. 37 On methodological questions. beyond the explicit aims of teaching and encouraging the production of drawings. involving sources and knowledge from areas like anthropology. where workshops and lectures were given by more than thirty teachers who came from every continent.

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1882. Available at http:// www.). CASTRO. Vincent. Celso. Cultura e sociedade no Brasil e em Portugal. “The decay of lying: an observation”. org/vg/letters/let274/letter. such as those of Loredano. João Emílio. Works on Rio de Janeiro. 2009. 1889. Celso. In: Jorge Czajkowski (org. Nossa História (São Paulo). A evolução urbana no Rio de Janeiro. A paisagem do Rio de Janeiro: aquarelas. are found in the initial bibliographic section. ferreira. such as those of Gilberto Velho and Julia O’Donnell.html wilde. Ermakoff. medeiros.8 n. mnstate. Mapas da cidade do Rio de Janeiro. How to be a carioca: the alternative guide for the tourist in Rio. Do cosmógrafo ao satélite. goslin.Allen Lane. Rio de Janeiro: Banco do Brasil/Prefeitura do Rio. George. Carlos. Antropologia urbana. CORNEJO.2 karina kuschnir . Rio de Janeiro: uma cidade na história. Marieta. Rio de Janeiro: G. pp. 1987. 2007. 2011. 2010. Capitais migrantes e poderes peregrinos: o caso do Rio de Janeiro. In: Lembranças do Brasil: as capitais brasileiras nos cartões-postais e álbuns de lembranças. 40 The urban anthropology texts on Rio de Janeiro. which is indeed vast. ermakoff. castro. 1(28): 70-75. gerodetti.). Carlos. castro. 14-39. pp. Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar. Campinas: Papirus. Available at http://vangoghletters. van gogh. 632 vibrant v. castro. 2006. Priscilla Ann. Rio de Janeiro: FGV. “Destino: Rio de Janeiro”. 2000. “Narrativas e imagens do turismo no Rio de Janeiro”. Van Gogh letters. 2004. desenhos e gravuras dos artistas viajantes (1790-1890). São Paulo: Solaris Edições Culturais. Rio de Janeiro40 | Sources and bibliography abreu. as shown by Ferreira (2000) and several of the cited authors. Maurício.edu/gracyk/courses/phil%20of%20art/wildetext. 1999. Celso. Bárbara. This small selection of texts on Rio de Janeiro is not intended as a comprehensive overview of the theme. “A cidade e seus souvenires: o Rio de Janeiro para turista ter”. In: Gilberto Velho (org. 2000. Celso.htm. “Uma viagem pelos mapas do Rio”. CARNEIRO. pp. Oscar. Rio de Janeiro: TwoCan (3a edição). 8-15. freitag. but focused on the artists who drew them. “Rio de Janeiro”. 80-87. Bianca Freire. are listed in the general and theoretical bibliography. Revista Brasileira de Pesquisa em Turismo. Rio de Janeiro: Instituto Pereira Passos.

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She is a research productivity award holder from CNPq and was a FAPERJ’s Young Scientist in the Our State program.2 karina kuschnir . Among other books.About the author Karina Kuschnir received her MA (1993) and Ph. E-mail: karinakuschnir@gmail. 2011 642 vibrant v. approved 7 October.com Received 27 September. 2011.8 n. Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. she is the author of Antropologia da Política (Zahar 2007) and O cotidiano da política (Zahar 2000) and co-editor with Gilberto Velho of Pesquisas urbanas: desafios do trabalho antropológico (Zahar 2003). where she coordinates the Laboratory of Urban Anthropology (LAU). (1998) in Social Anthropology from the Museu Nacional. She is assistant professor at the Department of Cultural Anthropology and the Postgraduate Program in Sociology and Anthropology (PPGSA) of IFCS/ UFRJ.D.