já! (is now)

já! / flags florianópolis

JÁ! is a site-specific project that took place during the Bienal Brasileira de Design (BBD) in Florianópolis, Brazil in 2015. The central theme that year was Design for All. Adelia Borges, the BBD ‘s chief curator invited Jorn Konijn to curate the Dutch program – for this edition the Netherlands was a guest country. Konijn compiled a program entitled The Palace of the People.

Within this program banners, flags, letter-dresses and a performance with the Erro theatre group were created to interact with and celebrate democracy, free speech and creativity.

inspiration  JÁ! was inspired by the 1979 Novembrada-protest, the first large-scale demonstration against the military regime in Brazil. It took place in the bustling centre of Florianópolis, right in front of the Palácio Cruz e Souza museum where the Dutch program took place. With JÁ! we aimed to draw attention to and discuss the idea of democratization in Brazil, specifically in Florianópolis. JÁ! also referenced to a larger global protest movement that has been gaining momentum. From the ‘Umbrella’ protests in Hong Kong to the ‘Je Suis Charlie’ protests in Paris, citizens everywhere are organising peaceful protests against oppression, limits to freedom of speech and corruption.

how it got done  This project focused on democracy and social empowerment. Twenty years later the Brazilian people do not commemorate this democracy milestone. Flags were offered to the occupants who were asked to pose for a photograph. This gesture was so powerful that many participants ended up revealing all sorts of stories and anecdotes about their lives, political standpoints and visions for the future. The hope was that something as simple as a flag would provide citizens with a voice to express themselves, which was exactly what happened.

The flag designs, based on the individual houses of the Brazilians, and the visits to the locals with the flags, revived the discussion about democracy and immediately personalized it too.

event profile  The Bienal Brasileira de Design (BBD) is an initiative of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade and the Ministry of Culture. It is a major event in Brazil for trend watching and showcasing cultural advancement. It is a platform for discussion and also an important way to promote the best design from Brazil.