Why demolish Borba Gato and preserve Victor Brecheret – 07/31/2021 – Marcelo Leite

The arson attack on the statue of Borba Gato raised a wave of Manichean opinions. Some more excited, for or against, suggested that the next victim might be the Monument to the Flags of Victor Brecheret.

The effigy of the bandeirante in Santo Amaro deserved it and became more authentic with the colored stones licked by black smoke, as if in mourning. It would be even better demolished. The work of Ibirapuera, however, deserves to remain as and where it is.

Only the aesthetic value of the most famous work by the modernist Brecheret would fully justify its preservation and safety, above all in contrast to the monstrosity of the blunderbuss. There are more reasons, however, to unravel the apparent contradiction between defending the one and discarding the other.

Both works pay homage to projects that have marked the history of São Paulo, it is true. But there are subtle differences, such as the fact that one alludes to a type of expedition not explained in the other, and not subtle differences, such as the presence of horses, Indians and a vessel omitted from the opponent.

The giant, in the first case, is the canoe. With it, incursions into the interior were carried out, following the course of the Tietê towards the west, away from the sea. Geology was the great enemy, with the hardest rock outcrops forming rapids and waterfalls that it was imperative to get around.

The barge is dragged over the land, in the Herculean effort of the multitude of indigenous people who supported these river trips, more appropriately called monsoons. Flags were generally carried out on foot, and the bandeirantes were poor people, almost always barefoot, without the boots worn by Borba Gato.

Horses appear somewhat out of place, as it doesn’t seem practical to transport them in boats. Here the question is: who are the real heroes of the enterprise, mounted lords who head the column or the mass of forts that give the blood on which history slides?

Indians trapped in previous expeditions died like flies in the cruel entrances to capture and enslave a few hundred more Guarani, Terena, Kaiowá, Kaingang, Kayapó, Krenak and Xavante relatives who still inhabited the land of São Paulo. Thus operated pioneer entrepreneurs.

Historian Warren Dean records that 240 native “pieces” would have succumbed to a single flag in 1607 at the rate of three a day. The balance between the dead and the enslaved was called the “remedy of the sertão” by pioneers without capital to buy African blacks.

None of this can be seen in the 13-metre statue of Júlio Guerra: a man in a static pose, staring blankly (not to mention maniacal), a solitary individual whose only support is a weapon. Brutalist prototype of hillbilly supremacy, to glorify genocide as nation-building, when paulistas were just poor people in search of gold.

It is for no other reason that so many on the far right, embodied by the prospector president, have come out in defense of the statue of a criminal. It will be little surprise if Borba Gato’s next demonstration in defense of oxen, bullets and bibles is marked at the feet of Borba Gato.

After all, for those people who deprive the company of Nazis, bandits, Indians and good “communists” are dead bandits, Indians and “communists”. Everything to see.

It was amazing to find more balanced people, centered or slightly (very slightly) to the left, aligning themselves with the defense of this other myth, under the pretext of preserving public property. Brecheret narrates the history of São Paulo without hiding actors and tensions; War worships historic heritage that only shames.

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