Laura Burocco (1974) is a researcher in Urban Policies and Development. He holds a Ph.D. in Communication Technology and Aesthetics at the School of Communication of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, with a thesis entitled “Creative Hubs of Coloniality in the South” [2018], and an MBE Master in Building Environment-Housing by the University of Witwatersrand WITS, Johannesburg [2013]. She holds a postgraduate degree in Urban Sociology from UERJ, Rio de Janeiro State University [2008], specialization in International Policies and Development from the University of Rome [2002] and a law degree from the State University of Milan [2000].

Between 2004 and 2011, she coordinated at Ibase (Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic Analysis) an international cooperation project aimed at encouraging community participation with special focus on gender issues and the right to housing financed by the Italian Foreign Ministry. Between 2012 and 2014, she resided in South Africa (Johannesburg) integrating the South African team of the IBSA Working Group in Human Settlements, South African Cities Network Sacities, program funded by the World Bank and City Alliance. In 2015 she taught at the Visual Arts School of the Lage Park EAV-PL a course titled “The Art of Gentrifying” about public art and urban transformations. In 2016 she curated and organized the “International Seminar City in Transe” that happened in the Museum of Modern Art MAM of Rio.

Between 2012 and 2018 she developed a research project and artistic interventions between South Africa, Italy and Brazil called “Trilogy of Gentrification: Johannesburg | Milano | Rio de Janeiro” started with the exhibition Braamopoly. Her area of ​​research: urban development, creativity and vigilance, cognitive capitalism, institutional critique, decolonial studies.

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Gentrification Trilogy: Johannesburg | Milano | Rio de Janeiro

The”Gentrification Trilogy: Johannesburg | Milano | Rio de Janeiro” project started in 2013 with the solo exhibition “Braamopoly” held in Room Art Gallery in Johannesburg. The project works on the concept of creative control through an transdisciplinary research between urbanism , art and activisim. It is an ongoing project of academic research and artistic practice that aims to develop a personal journey of the author between these 3 countries and 3 cities. The theoretical research takes place in an integrated manner with the artistic content production.

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Johannesburg 2013 | Milano 2015 | Rio 2016

Taking a stand in the midst of the living process of urban transformation and gentrification, requires breaking the rigid structure of the academic research, which is the inherent bias linked to activism and the anti-utilitarian aspect of Art.

The project is divided into 3 episodes of academic research and local artistic practice.

Each episode is inspired by the former, and is enriched by new components and collaborations, to reach a desired final exhibition that will bring together the three practices.

The first episode took place in Johannesburg (SA) in 2013 followed by the Braamopoly exhibition at Room Gallery. Its collaborators were the School of Architecture and Planning, WITS University, Room Gallery, Maria Fidel Regueros, Steffen Fisher, Shelley Barradas and Dwayne Innocent Kapula

The second episode was realized in 2015 during a short period of visiting research at the Milan Polytechnic.Its collaborators are the Dipartimento di Architettura and Studi Urbani DASTU, Politecnico di Milano, Isola Art Center – Emergenze, Antonio Cipriani, Valentina Montisci, Piano Terra and Salvatore Peluso.

The third stage was an extended work realized in Rio between 2014 and 2018. The episode gathered a series of actions and has the participation of Pedro Victor Brandão, Mauricio Hora and the collaboration of Daniel Murgel. It ended in March simultaneously with the end of my Ph.D at the School of Communication of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – PPGC ECO / UFRJ.

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Room Gallery, Johannesburg

The exhibition took place at Room Gallery, an independent initiative, committed to showcase multidisciplinary works in the visual arts in June 2013 . The gallery is located in 70 Juta the creative epicenter of the study object: Braamfontein.

A game, Braamopoly, was one of the display components assembled in the gallery, along with a series of hand- made maps, old and contemporary photographs of streets and buildings of the neighborhood and a slide show projected on the gallery shopfront, visible externally overnight.

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As a result of a research at the photographic archives of the Museum Africa in Johannesburg five fotos, taken between 1957 and 1964 were chosen to be compared with my photos of the same places taken in 2013.

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24 maps were produced by people invited for the mapping exercise over a period of 3 months in 2012.

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Braamfontein, Johannesburg 2013

Besides the gallery exhibition, an external intervention was carried out by placing 32 posters in different store windows, bars and restaurants of the neighbourhood. The posters included quotes selected interviews, carried out by the author, with residents, users or workers of the neighbourhood.

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A stencil was designed to be imprinted around the perimeter of the private company that manages the area (Braamfontein Management District – BMD) with the intention of raising

the question about the ownership of public spaces in the neighborhood

The action was banned by the company through an e-mail which was exhibited in the gallery next to the map of the BMD district area.

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Visits and activities with young people have been organized during the exhibition and an open talk called The Carpet Series Episode 1 held in the gallery closed the exhibition.

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Milano, 2015

The trilogy of gentrification combines these three perspectives (research, activism and art) in a transdisciplinary way. It balances the subjectivity of the author, who identifies herself to the city and its residents, with critical objectivity that allows to analyze the gentrification process as a global phenomenon associated with a unified global economic system.

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Milano, 2015

The issue of occupying a space and the definition of what is public, are seen from the inside out. This personal approach becomes universal when it transcends the geographical boundaries, juxtaposing living experiences on three different continents. This encounter of subjectivities questions the normativity of progress that ignores the human experience.

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Rio de Janeiro, 2013

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Episode 2: Milano – Mapping Isola neighborhood, 2015

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EMERGENZE | Twenty14 Contemporary, Milano – 2015

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Video interview, Milano – Isola neighborhood 2015
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Photographic mapping, Milano – Via Padova 2016

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Episode 3: Rio de Janeiro, 2016 | Circuito Futurístico e Especulativo do Desrespeito da Herança Africana, do Esquecimento Urbano e do Apodrecimento da Sociedade /  Futuristic and Speculative Circuit of African Heritage Disrespect, of Urban Oblivion and the Rottening of Society

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Rua Pedro Ernesto, Porto do Rio – Setembro 2016

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Photo Mapping on Light Vehicle VLT Rails | January – April 2016

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Mega Food, Rio de Janeiro –  2014-2016

The Trilogy of Gentrification: Johannesburg | Milano | Rio de Janeiro intends to propose actions that stimulate a critical position in relation to the urban transformations of neighborhoods chosen in the three cities.

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One of the actions of the project that repeats the same format in the three cities is the invitation to participate to a public debate – with audio recording – adressed to artists and operators of the cultural area whose work deals with public space and urban issues [by localization or by content].

The debate invites to take a self-critical position on the role that ‘creatives’ have in urban processes that, through the reinforcement of creative centres, can use art and creativity as a device of control and appeasement.

Recordings that have already taken place: Rio de Janeiro Rio de Janeiro, Indisciplinas 2016 | Johannesburg, Room Gallery, Creative Control Round Table, 2016 | Lisbon, Art and Politics Conference Reloaded, 2016 | Milano, Piano Terra, La Trilogia della Gentrificazione, seconda tappa, 2015 | Johannesburg, Room Gallery, The Carpet Series, 2013

Johannesburg, 2013

There will be an audio documentary in 3 languages collecting excerpts from the conversations that took place around the world throughout the process, creating a unique dialogue in three different languages.

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Conferencia Arte e Política Reloaded, Lisboa – 2016 | Room Gallery, Johannesburg – 2016 | Capacete , Rio de Janeiro – 2016
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Piano Terra, Milano – 2015  | Indisciplinas, casa França Brasil, Rio de Janeiro –  2016

A final publication will describe the events and observations shared along the duration of the project.

Picture in the top
Grafite: Sean Hart | photo: Laura Burocco, Rio de Janeiro 2014