Farol (Lighthouse) is a nine-meter vertical structure made out of 20 thousand rubber mice coated with shoe polish that stands in Vale do Anhangabaú, in the historic center of São Paulo. The idea came to me when I discovered that São Paulo has one of the largest rat and mouse populations in the world: 170 million rodents, a ratio of 15 per person. I chose Anhangabaú as the site because of the meaning of the word in Tupi, “the devil’s river”, so named because the Indians believed the area was haunted. Today, the city is built on top of this polluted river and its contaminated tributaries, which tend to flood during the rainy season.

The intervention materializes the nightmare of the exhibit Sonhos e Pesadelo (Dreams and Nightmares), held in the city center, and reveals a black lighthouse rising beamless out of the stone, like the beacon of a hidden underworld.

I inaugurated the show with a performance in Vale do Anhangabaú, where I applied 100 kilos of shoe polish to the rat tower with some spontaneous help from the public.

Technical specification

Metal structure, wood, acrylic, rubber mice, shoe polish
9 m (tall) x 4 m (diameter)

Vale do Anhangabaú
São Paulo, 2013

Foto: Nathália Abbud

Casa França-Brasil
Rio de Janeiro, 2014