Welcome To The Anti-Olympics, Where Brazil’s Artists Are Taking On Their Government

Gracielle Monteiro. The latest Ocupa Minc RJ building, cultural occupation - the Canecao, is a famous concert venue that has been empty for 6 years.

RIO DE JANEIRO ― For the first time in six years, there was a line outside of Canecão. The famed “Big Saucer” music venue had been closed since 2010. But tonight, a ragtag and rambunctious group of artists and musicians had illegally occupied the abandoned concert hall and christened it as their new headquarters. Ocupa MinC, as the group calls itself, was protesting Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, and his deep cuts to government funding of the arts.

Naturally, a party was in order.

It felt like an eccentric blend of warehouse clubbing and guerilla activism: a woman in a Carnival dress, standing on stilts, greeted visitors. Eerie black-and-white close-ups of characters from Walter Salles’ 1995 film “Foreign Land” were projected on the stage behind a procession of rock bands, samba groups and poets. Cases of beer and cachaça fueled the festivities. At the end of the night, the legendary Chico Buarque gave a rousing performance; for the first time since the 1970s, he sang “Apesar de Você,” an anti-censorship anthem banned during Brazil’s dictatorship.

Ocupa MinC revelers dance at an alternative opening ceremony at Canecão in Rio de Janeiro on Aug. 4, the night before the Olympic opening ceremony.

The party, an “inauguration,” drew roughly 2,000 people and was purposely held on the eve of the 2016 Olympic Opening Ceremony. It spawned a series of parodied namessuch as the convoluted and whimsical “Ceremony-Party-Act of Olympic Re-Existence” and the “anti-Olympics.” A fake torch was passed around, and a poet got up on stage and exclaimed: “Let’s occupy everything, and resist!”