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Friday, September 21, 2007

Os Mutantes

This is a project from my Design Concepts class. (Yes, I'm a writer, but I want to learn as much as I can about art direction/design/photography/life as I can.) We were to design a special event and then invitations to go along with it.

My event was a reunion concert of the famous Brazilian rock band from the late '60s and '70s, Os Mutantes (The Mutants). Their music combined contemporary psychedelic rock with their bossa nova and samba root. They even mixed languages, usually singing in Portuguese but also sometimes including English and Spanish. The entire aural experience was a youthful, eclectic explosion of energy, noise and revolution. Clearly this did not sit well with the oppressive military dictatorship in control of the country at the time, and the band often had to dodge being censored or exiled. Despite becoming inactive many years ago, Os Mutantes received much recent attention due to praise from such art rockers as Kurt Cobain, David Byrne, Beck, Of Montreal, Stereolab and Devendra Banhart.

For their supposed reunion, I designed a two-night event: The first night, Os Mutantes host an intimate performance for 300 or so influential indie musicians at the Allen Room of the Lincoln Center in New York City. The following evening they play a free concert in Central Park for the general public. The series is entitled "Revolução Now!" The name alludes to their perchance for mixing languages while also addressing the theme of the event: revolution. Obviously revolution was a very real thing to the band and the Brazilian people 35 years ago, but what can revolution mean to us today? Do we still revolt against anything? Should we? The event's tagline is "Our weapon is our voices."

Influential musicians in New York City receive what appears to be a miniature gun crate. Inside the crate they find a tape recorder. When the message is played, they are prompted to think about what revolution means to them and record a representation of it on the tape. The tape is sent back in a return envelope provided as a form of RSVP. During the concert, some of these responses are spliced into the band's performance to create a collective art piece.

For the general public, painted and aged gasoline tanks are left on street corners in the city. The teaser phrase "Revolução Now!" and the date are the only visible information. Hundreds of matchbooks lie around the base of gas tanks, and when a passerby picks one up they are provided with information about the free concert as well as a nice take-away.

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