The historic, artistic and cultural richness of Itapagipe is differentiated. So diverse as to include Alagados and Ribeira, Uruguai and Bonfim, Calçada and Boa Viagem. And with the sea, ever-present. And along with the sea, the fishermen, the rowing athletes, the “ganhadeiras” (the women whose traditional dances and music bring luck to fishermen), elderly retired workers, artists and many curious people, who wonder about the mysteries that distinguish the peninsula from other areas of Salvador.
Its history brings together religious zeal, fishing, craftsmanship, buildings that are heirs to an opulent period of productive industries, popular festivities, soccer and rowing clubs. It brought the man who invented the wristwatch, Santos Dumont, for a visit to where time passes slowly and sometimes stops without any plausible explanation. It stopped in 1930, to admire the visionary Italian Italo Balbo, with his squadron of eleven airplanes, during his crossing of the South Atlantic. It saw Getulio Vargas and an oil well in Joanes – Lobato. It attentively listened to the words of today’s Saint John Paul II, who urged the people to fight for there sacrosanct rights to a dignified life.
And so it is time, this immensity of events, that the ME.PE. intends to glorify. The time of people and of facts. The time of memory. A place that stimulates an awareness of one’s own territory, dedicated to the local community. To cultivate both a love for one’s own land and a consciousness of what the Peninsula represents, because from this we will have tools to defend it and its culture, in order to respect its history. The bucolic tradition and “maresia” (literally, the sea breeze, the scent of the sea, but in Bahia the term refers more to a state of the soul, a slow and relaxed mood, inspired by the gentle and repetitive movement of the waves on the seashore). “Zuadeira” (an uproar, a noise produced by the chatter of people, by the the music of the streets, by the screams of the children playing outside…), lots of zuadeira, the rumble and the maresia. People, lots of people, little houses of candomblé and maresia. Churches, historic residences and maresia. Colors, many colors, warves and maresia.
ME.PE. – MEmories of the PEninsula, Exposition in movement.
The ME.PE. is a space for an exhibition and a big laboratory that opens a narration of the history of the Itapagipe Peninsula, in the low city of Salvador, and that gives it back to its residents or to whoever visited this bay inside the Bay of All Saints. It is an exposition in movement because it is open to whoever wishes to contribute to it, enriching it with stories, photographs, objects, etc. The main voice comes from the photographs that depict the different areas that comprise the Peninsula, with its buildings, historic events, people, places of worship (both sacred and profane), scenes of nature, traditions and cultural and artistic manifestations.
HOW THE ME.PE. PROJECT WAS BORN
Although it was born from the personal research of Pietro Gallina, the artistic director of the ICBIE, the exposition was conceived as a collaborative effort, as part of a strategy aiming to stimulate the participation of members of the community in the project’s construction. The use of one of the community’s most peculiar traditions, that of sitting on the doorstep of one’s house, or on the wharf, in the late afternoon or evening, sharing one’s memories with the neighbors: that is what this initiative wants to exalt, without diminishing or or transcuring the immense potential of the ME.PE. idea. In the words of Pietro, who is also the curator of the ME.PE.: “I think that it is very important for our community to pay attention to this patrimony, seeing as its versatility permits it to be used by a broad public, whether for serious research or for casual tourists who wish to see a deeper, quality view of our culture. The inhabitants, the principal protagonists of this realization, have the opportunity to discuss their stories, starting with their own memories, and so, beyond the permanent exposition, we wish to promote a series of cultural activities, to reinforce this interaction.”
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE EXPOSITION
Principally consisting of photographs, newspaper articles and video documentaries, the exposition shows several salient historical aspects of the Itapagipe Peninsua, including the developmental process of the famous factories and the relative economic power that profoundly influenced the region and leaving a legacy, beyond the situation of poverty and disorderly urban development found in areas such as Uruguai and Massaranduba, aspects of urban archaeology that are striking, due to the sometimes chaotic coexistence of the “old” and the “new”. Some peculiar events were also chosen to be a part of the collection: the rare image in which Santos Dumont was seen in the Ribeira inlet (Enseada da Ribeira), the trans-atlantic flight led by the Italian Italo Balbo, who, in the 1930s landed a formation of eleven hydroplanes at the Ribeira Hydroport, and the unforgettable visit of the then-pope and now Saint John Paul II to the area of the Alagados, where he thrilled everyone by reminding them of the sacrosanct duty to keep fighting for life and for the improvement of existential conditions, speaking right next to the world’s largest conglomeration of stilt houses.
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE ITAPAGIPE PENINSULA
Itapagipe Peninsula is the name used to denote the region comprising the districts of Uruguai, Calçada, Mares, Boa Viagem, Bonfim, Mont Serrat, Vila Rui Barbosa,
Massaranduba and Ribeira. The word Itapagipe means “in the river of the sheet/roof/loft (“no rio da laje”) in the language of the Tupinambás, the original inhabitants of the area. The region, which began as an area of holiday resorts, during the 1940s was transformed by the process of industrialization that offered employment and caused a rapid population growth. But with the transfer of the administrative seat of the state to the Administrative Center of Bahia, in the ’70s, the entire low city fell into a process of decline and dereliction that is still evident.
Several efforts have been made by existing institutions and by the inhabitants to preserve the cultural expressions of the region. Beginning with the indexing realized by the SEBRAE, Itapagipe was selected as one of the Creative Territories of Salvador, a project that has chosen the urban areas where the creative economy was most vibrant or showed the greatest potentiality for growth. As the scene for important popular manifestations such as the maritime procession of “Bom Jesus dos Navegantes” (the good Jesus of the Navigators) and the celebration of the “Lavagem do Bonfim” (The Washing of Bonfim), along with others showing signs of decline, such as the “Segunda-feira Gorda da Ribeira” (Fat Monday of Ribeira), the traditions of the rowing regattas and others in the process of complete revitalization, such as “o Encontro do Jegue de Cueca com a Jega de Calçola” (The meeting of the male donkey in underwear with the female donkey in panties), the peninsula struggles to resuscitate its antique splendor and its fame of offering a quality life to its inhabitants. In the words of Pietro Gallina: “It is necessary to stimulate the consciousness of your own territory. The ME.PE. is dedicated to the local community so that it will love its own land and have an awareness of what the peninsula represents, in order to then get involved in its defense, its betterment, with respect, in the divulgation of its value and its beauty.”
ME.PE. Exposition — Memories of the Itapagipe Peninsula
Where: Institute of Culture Brazil Italy Europe – Rua Porto dos Tainheiros, 36
Hours: Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. On other days and Saturdays and Sundays, a reservation is required. .
Informationi: (71) 3207-7717- 3022-9997
Curator: Pietro Gallina- Tel.: 91923606- 91963544