Invisible Cities – Bruno Mendonça

Politics of Space: The Body as Architecture, Memory and Place [1]

by Bruno Mendonça

During carnival I met a guy in the middle of Farme de Amoedo Street (cliché?) who worked on a Petrobras petroleum platform. He was from Bangu. I don’t remember his name, I only remember his body. Funny, because I got his contact details and we chatted a few times over the Internet, but something happened and we lost touch. We had sex on the street, behind a tour bus around Lapa, because we had moved closer to the Buraco da Lacraia [2]. We didn’t actually enter the Buraco, but we had a few beers around there. We had left Farme de Amoedo, because it was already the “left overs” of some carnival bloco, I don’t remember exactly, and he thought that Lapa was more authentic, and me too. I remember the first time I went to Buraco da Lacraia. It used to cost about two bucks to get into the dark room and the sweat dripped from the ceiling onto the dance floor on the upper floor. The walls were black walls. I also remember that there was karaoke and until today I won’t forget a man singing that song “Sou Rebelde” (I’m a Rebel). I knew Buraco from the times I used to travel to Rio to catch the nights at Dama de Ferro [3] […] I was at a street party at Praça Quinze de Novembro. I met a guy there who had briefly been a boyfriend of mine in São Paulo. He grabbed me by the arm with tears in his eyes and said: “you make me suffer!”. I froze for a few seconds. He didn’t give me time to answer, turned his back and left. I concluded that he must have been observing me from afar until he decided to take action.  I recomposed myself and pretended that nothing had happened, after all I was in the midst of friends, by the way, until today they don’t know that this happened, but it seemed like I had been punched in the stomach. I never saw him again. Soon after, still at the party I made a lot of eye contact with a guy with dreads, it was intriguing, because we looked at each other over the shoulders of many people in that crowd. There was magnetism. I ended up not making out with him that day, I was drugged up and sad cause of what had happened. The day after I met him at the end of a carnival bloco downtown, when I saw him pass by I had no doubt, and went after him.  After that encounter we stayed together. We fucked in the bathroom of the guest house where he lived in Santa Teresa. He had left São Paulo to spend some time in Rio de Janeiro. A month, more or less, after carnival, he returned to São Paulo and we started a relationship that didn’t work out. He was a Pisces. […] At the bloco “Viemos do Egito” I met a Queer Orpheus. A beautiful man, inside and outside. Empowered.  We had sex on Flamengo beach and I swear that all that time I thought how nice it was to have sex at one of Lota de Macedo Soares’s architectural projects. Effects of ketamine. Matrix head. I had used Ketamine for the first time and felt like my body was made of paper. I hit my face on a speaker, slightly cracked my nose.  I only realized that my nose was bleeding when I looked at the people dancing around me and saw that they had splashes of blood on their face. I left. I met him the day after. I had no voice. It was my first date without a voice. By the way, I lost my voice for more than 15 days. It seems I wanted to explode in this bloco! It was as if there was no tomorrow. […] I suffered a homophobic attack at a bar in Santa Teresa. I was with an artist friend and an anthropologist – a boyfriend of this friend of mine. I had gone to Rio de Janeiro to do an event with A Bolha Editora. Just a parenthesis, hurray Claude Cahun! (Coming back to the story…) I got into a physical fight with the aggressor. I broke my jaw, on the right side. I came back to São Paulo by bus with a 40º degree fever and each stop at Frango Assado there was spittle with blood and puss in the bathroom sink. It took a while but it passed. The hard part was to return to teach at the University and to create a whole new way of communicating with my students, after all I couldn’t speak very well. And how could I tell the truth? I also stopped singing for months. I lost weight because I spent weeks eating liquid and soft foods. […] I was working at an event in Rio. It was an art exhibition. I met a guy from production – at that time I used to do some production jobs. We fucked in a storage room, at the actual event, backstage.

The condom broke. On my way back to the apartment where I was staying after the post-exposure prophylaxis at the hospital I decided to stop on the beach for a while. I was lost like in those beach scenes of the film “The Garden”, by Derek Jarman. I was using headphones listening to that song “Não sei Dançar” (I don’t know how to dance) by Marina Lima, on repeat, as a good Cancerian with an ascendant in Libra and moon in Taurus I could not leave this scene without a good soundtrack, which added more drama to the facts. But it was strange I was not sad, only tired, and the only part of the song that I kept paying attention to after it had become a unison, or a sort of mantra after so many repetitions, was “I don’t know how to dance that slow” and I thought “I really don’t know… that’s good!” […] Rio de Janeiro gave me many gifts. Rio de Janeiro also has precious stones like Lianas Padilhas and Almas Negrots. Only the city of Rio de Janeiro has places with names such as Solar dos Abacaxis. Only Rio de Janeiro makes me cry so many times inside the bus when I’m going back to São Paulo even after doing incredible professional and personal things. They are always intense comings and goings. Only Rio de Janeiro is absolutely cliché and plays my favorite Marina Lima song on the radio as soon and I enter the taxi at the airport after having just finished my “marriage”. The song was “the theme song” of the relationship (lol). Anyway only the city of Rio de Janeiro… Anyway… I could list lots of things about how the city reverberates in my body.   I recently spent hours sitting on Arpoador rock, high from smoking weed looking at the ocean. By the way I wrote this text like this too, stoned! That is how I could handle it, that is how it was supposed to be. After the proposal to write this text for the exhibition I opted to do it like this, after I had started and erased thousands of other texts. I couldn’t take it anymore. The name of this exhibition is “Invisible Cities”. I wrote this bunch of memories and I don’t even know if you really want to know about this “gay whoring” or of these temporary autonomous zones of affection or of my intimate life. After all what does the intimate life of a “thirty-year-old upper middle class cis white faggot from São Paulo” matter? It may NOT MATTER AT ALL. But fuck it. I think this text has a lot to do with my idea of an invisible city. Anyway. I don’t know. I am not afraid of exposing myself anymore, after all I no longer have any fear of saying that I am an artist when people ask me what I do for living and I can only expose myself like this because I am an artist. Ah! Just one more thing… Michael Foucault visited Brazil five times, in 1965, 1973, 1974, 1975 and 1976, at least “officially”. The end.

* This text came about from a proposition of the artist Felippe Moraes for the exhibition Invisible Cities which he curated and that took place at Despina | Largo das Arts in Rio de Janeiro between the months of July and August 2016. He proposed that I reflect on a Queer City of Rio de Janeiro. In this sense the idea came to me to create this text-performance in which the objective was not to talk about the body through theory, but through the body itself, demonstrating the body as a territory, memory and city, as the only thing that intercepts time, space and affection. It is a life that is inscribed in the body, thus breaking the hierarchy of the means of knowledge and communication, “the affective over the epistemological”.

Bruno Mendonça is an artist, researcher and cultural producer. He graduated in Communications from Universidade Mackenzie and has a Master’s in Communications and Semiotics from PUC-SP. Since 2005 he has realized a number of transdisciplinary works and projects in institutions, galleries and independent spaces. Between 2010 and 2012 with the support of CAPES he undertook the research “Viral Poetics -Multimedia Issues in Contemporaneity”. He is Professor of the Communication and Multimedia course at PUC-SP, and is currently a member of the Critic and Curatorial Group of Centro Cultural São Paulo and of the 32nd São Paulo Biennial.


[1] Title extracted from the book “Politics of Space – Architecture, Gender and Social Control”. Ed. SENAC, 2008

[2] A traditional gay bar in the Lapa

[3] An underground queer club of the early 2000’s