Subsolo: Ruas do ABC is the sort of publication that ticks all the boxes. Published by Studio Treze it has a specific regional focus, it has lots of tags, and the whole thing’s interspersed with mini-essays sharing a bit of history and politics.
Studio Treze was established in the early 2000’s as a local zine outfit from Brazil. Focusing on street culture Subsolo is their main publication. The subtitle of ‘ABC’ is actually an acronym referring to the deindustrialised district to the south of São Paulo. The area has traditionally been a bastion of Brazil’s trade unions and influential on the country’s politics. Combined with its industrial and militant history, the area suffers a great disparity in wealth all of which is apparently mirrored on its walls.
The editor of Subsolo introduces the zine as a biopsy of ABC which is sick with ruptures, sores, fever, bleeding, and joint pain for good measure. Society can either understand and cure these symptoms “or ignore these injuries and fill them with grey”. In this case it’s not evident whether graffiti is to be understood as that filler, or if the grey alludes a frantic buffing attempt to plaster over the cities diseased body. Whilst covering the current state of of ABC Subsolo also delves into its political history on the centenary of the murder of the local anarchist Constantino Castellani. Written by the ABC activist Jairo Costa the inclusion of the tribute is a way of linking the area’s historical counter-culture to present ones. Perhaps parallels can be drawn between the conditions Castellini fought in the ABC of a century ago and now.
Back to the present day there’s a mixture of everything written across the walls of this suffering urban landscape. From more conventional graffiti, throwups, to a few freights. Subsolo’s real strength lies in the pixação it documents. This content is just so nice to flick through. Pixadors street tagging, scaling buildings, sketching, with all their work across shutters, walls, and full page spreads of blackbook handstyles. Two of these dedicated activists are discussed in more detail. There is a feature on Wolfs who’s been up in ABC for the past twenty-five years. Beyond painting Wolfs has been dedicated to maintaining a personal archive, exhibitions, events, and supporting gallery shows. The second pixador is GDS of OsCururu fame who after starting out in ABC, then extending across São Paulo, began to face difficulties in integrating pixação with normal life. As a prominent member of one of the most active and respected pixação crews in Brazil a recent sojourn north to New York gave GDS the chance to bring a radically different writing culture to the birthplace of graffiti. This was an opportunity “to show the world what in fact is the force of pixação and its value within the city, graffiti, aesthetics, and art by itself.”