Brazilian musician and Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil has decided to leave his government post to focus his attention on his music career. When Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva tapped Gil to be Culture Minister in 2003, Gil was only the second black person to serve in Brazil’s cabinet. The government’s loss now, though, is music’s gain. Gil is one of the key participants in Tropicália (or Tropicalismo), a cultural movement that emerged in the late 1960s during a period of political and cultural crisis to flourish in Brazilian film, theater, visual arts, literature, and – most significantly – popular music. Get your Monday morning started with some fabulous tunes on our special Tropicália page [requires Real Media player to listen]. We’ve published a great history of the movement, too. Follow me after the jump. . . .
In Brutality Garden: Tropicália and the Emergence of a Brazilian Counterculture, Christopher Dunn offers the first history and critical analysis of this extraordinary movement that continues to influence Brazilian popular culture. He focuses on the state of Bahia, home to Gil and other Tropicália founders, including Caetano Veloso, Gal Costa, and Tom Zé. The cultural movement they helped create articulated the vitality, irony, and despair felt by a population living in a country where the land was lush and beautiful, but the ruling military regime brought daily acts of brutality.
“From a northern perspective, this book is a window opening an alternative version of our own past, a cultural history of a parallel and magical universe – a universe fully equal to our own, although with the heat turned way up. The creativity, danger, humor, politics and weirdness mirror and match our own ’60s and ’70s, but it’s all just a little different. The feeling is that of encountering one’s own history for the very first time – it’s all familiar and yet completely strange. The issues this movement dealt with – race, identity, high vs. low culture, North vs. South – are all issues we ourselves deal with every day. Here are clues to the puzzle that is our own identity – clues picked up in an alternative universe and brought back and decoded.”–David Byrne
(top photo © Nicole Neuefeind, www.nicneu.com)