Tourist guides look for resources to restore Escadaria Selarón

Escadaria Selarón, in the neighborhood of Lapa, in Rio de Janeiro, is one of the best-known sights in the city center. It is a colorful mosaic, made with around 5,000 tiles and other ceramic elements with various prints, which adorn 215 steps and which, since 2005, has been listed as a city heritage.

The person responsible for this dynamic artistic intervention was the Chilean Jorge Morales, known as Selarón, an artist based in Rio de Janeiro since the 1980s who was found dead on the stairs on January 10, 2013.

But, 10 years after his death, the monument shows signs of deterioration, the result of natural wear and tear, acts of vandalism and the pasting of “invading” tiles by visitors.

Tourist guides are looking for resources to restore Escadaria Selarón, one of the best-known tourist spots in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

Escadaria Selarón is one of the best known sights in downtown Rio de Janeiro – Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brazil

To ensure that the staircase survives with its tiles in the future, the Independent League of Tourist Guides of the State of Rio (Liguia) intends to restore it. The Selarón Piece(s) of the World project, to preserve the monument, began in 2018.

The first step was to inventory all the ceramic elements in the site, which include tiles, fragments of tiles, panels and three-dimensional ceramics, in order to allow for a subsequent restoration. At the same time, an investigation into the origin and details of these elements began.

The inventory process was completed in 2020, with the help of the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), which invested BRL 2 for every BRL 1 raised by the project itself through a fundraising campaign.

Now, however, resources are needed for the restoration itself. “Restoration is urgent. It’s been 2 years [desde a conclusão do inventário] and we still haven’t been able to raise these funds. Meanwhile, the risks of vandalism and the installation of invading tiles continue”, said museologist André Angulo, founder of Liguia.

Tourist guides are looking for resources to restore Escadaria Selarón, one of the best-known tourist spots in downtown Rio de Janeiro.

Escadaria Selarón is one of the best known sights in downtown Rio de Janeiro – Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brazil

Estimated restoration costs vary between R$1.5 million and R$4 million. To raise that money, Liguia and other project partners must begin trading NFTs (unique and authentic digital items, such as virtual works of art, which are traded) surrounding the staircase. Among the NFTs there will be arts based on the staircase and tiles.

The forecast is to raise the resources until September of this year. From then on, the authorization of the municipal authorities is necessary for the restoration to be carried out, since the property is listed.

The sale of the NFTs should also secure funding for site management and conservation. The idea is that, in the future, those responsible for the project file a request for adoption of the monument with the city hall.

tributes

The 10th anniversary of Selarón’s death will be remembered this Tuesday (10th), with some events. From 9 am to 4 pm, a cleaning of the staircase is planned. From 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, there will be a round of conversation with residents of the surroundings. Finally, from 6 pm to 10 pm, the foundations will be laid for a shared governance of the Liguia monument with other partners.

“We are going to do a tribute to Jorge Selarón. He was a painter who decided to develop a marketing strategy to attract his studio. He starts to decorate the staircase in front of his studio with tiles. He had this idea because of the 1990 World Cup”, says museologist and founder of Liguia, André Angulo.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News