At the site of the Monument to the Independence of Brazil, in São Paulo, one can witness unpredictable uses of space, like skateboarders and bike riders using the monument’s features to perform tricks. The story behind the monument is controversial: its construction was based on a contest-winning project by Italian artist Ettore Ximenes, which was vastly contested by local artists due to its collage of styles, many of which made no sense in a Brazilian context.
Between skateboarders and symbolic intentions, it is possible to think of a disconnect between different, even contradictory, perceptions of the site. As if every day experiences could numb the association with history somewhat, and a visitor might suggest that doing tricks on the monument was inappropriate. From a different perspective, however, it might be interesting to consider that the very space invites ambiguous, or ambivalent, forms of use. That the monument has acquired different narratives, a cross between senses. And, that it probably no longer makes sense to think of it without the skateboards, just as it wouldn’t to think of it without its history.
In grammar, ambiguity, also known as amphibology, is a syntactically incorrect sentence that can be interpreted in more than one way, a syntactic ambiguity. If we consider the etymology of the word syntax as being that of arrangement, organization, composition,then syntax can be taken beyond the confines of grammar, to the perception of spaces in a city, or to artistic propositions. In a city, physical constructions establish compositions and dispositions that lead to spatial narratives, which, in turn, produce discourses, which, again, lead to spatial narratives.
While pondering over amphibology, I reconsider the notion of mistakes. A bifurcation (or the intersection, or the crossing) of meanings can be an attempt to invent things, or spatial narratives, that resist immediate, instantaneous categorisation. This resistance can have the power to deconstruct perceptions already established in the world – and, in that sense, they are policies. That is why spaces or places conceived to provide meaning to ambivalence, such as children playing in areas that resemble a plenary, can potentially give way to creation, like skateboarders on monuments.
BY Vitor Cesar