Keila Alaver and the creation of a temporary autonomous zone for art

Zona Autônoma Temporária was an artistic residency organised by the artist Tinho in São Paulo in January 2016.

In January 2016, Keila Alaver co-curated the residency Zona Autônoma Temporária (ZAT) with the artist Tinho (Walter Nomura) in São Paulo. This innovative residency aimed to create a temporary autonomous zone for art, embracing an anarchic and rule-free environment to foster artistic freedom and creativity. Over ten days, twenty-five artists immersed themselves in this collaborative project, living and creating art in a former monastery. The residency provided a unique space for deep engagement with diverse artistic processes and reflection on the role of contemporary art in society.

The ZAT residency was inspired by Tinho’s participation in a similar programme in Xucun, China, and his desire to create an accessible space for artists. Despite numerous logistical challenges, including a lack of basic facilities, the residency fostered a strong sense of community and collaboration. Artists from diverse backgrounds such as graffiti, street art, skate culture and contemporary art came together to share their creative methods and break down barriers

Keila Alaver, born in 1970 in Santo Antônio da Platina, Brazil, is an acclaimed artist and curator currently based in São Paulo. Alaver grew up in the rural state of Paraná and later moved to São Paulo, a common transition for many young Brazilians seeking greater career opportunities. In 1996, she graduated from the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (FAAP) in Fine Arts. The contrast between her rural upbringing and the bustling urban art scene has greatly influenced her work, which encompasses a variety of techniques, including painting, sculpture, photography and silkscreen, with no fixed chronological order.

Discussions and forums played a crucial role, emphasising the importance of cognitive skills alongside technical ones. The location of the residency, a former nunnery turned BB gun battlefield, had a significant impact on the artwork. The unique environment, coupled with the constant presence of other artists and ongoing discussions, shaped the creations, resulting in a cohesive yet diverse body of work.

Performances within the residency were dynamic, interacting with both the space and other artworks. The communal living arrangements required cooperation and adaptability, contributing to a harmonious and productive environment. Despite the absence of formal rules, respect and common sense guided interactions, ensuring a balance between individual and collective needs.

The success of the residency was marked by the willingness of the participants to address and overcome various challenges, ranging from structural issues to interpersonal dynamics. This collaborative spirit was instrumental in solving problems and enhancing the overall experience. Tinho hopes to continue organising such residencies, given sufficient resources and support, to further explore the intersection of art, life and community.

Interview with Tinho (Walter Nomura)

What inspired you to develop this art residency?

We organise two groups of contemporary art studies in my studio in São Paulo, and last year I participated in an art residency in Xucun, China, organised by Xucun International Art Corporation (许村国际艺术公社). Xucun is a very small town and very far from other more developed cities in China. The weekly group meetings and the Chinese experience inspired me to organise the art residency in Brazil so that the people who meet in my groups could participate.

There are many artist-in-residence programmes in Brazil and around the world, but it’s complicated to get involved. It is also difficult to get exhibition space for your work. Coming from a skateboarding and punk background, Do It Yourself has always been a motto for me. So creating this residency was a natural challenge for me.

ZAT residencia artistica sao paulo street art paris

In the ZAT living room, Keila Alaver sits to the right of the centre, surrounded by artists, from left to right, including Bartolomeo Gelpi, Vitor Zanini, Tinho and Lobot.

How important were the group forums in the early stages of the residency?

The discussions were extremely important because in an artist residency programme, discussion and thinking are as important as making work and are part of the work. As artists we should not only use our technical and manual skills, but also our thinking and cognitive skills.

ZAT group forum Copyright Micha 2

How free were the artists to create work and to use the space, i.e. to add work, but also to adjust the physical shape of the space, for example by breaking down walls?

The boundary between what could and could not be done was simply respect for the other artists working. The basis of the residency was anarchy, but the productions each require spaces, and the spaces have boundaries. If an artist occupied a space, that space could not be disturbed by other artists unless the artist occupying the space gave permission. Given this limitation, anything was possible.

residência artística Antonio Dorta ZAT Zona Autônoma Temporária - Sao Paulo - street art parisWork by Antonio Dorta.

Can you explain how the history and architecture of the space has influenced the artwork produced?

The site used to be a nunnery, but has since been closed and now functions as a BB gun battlefield. This battlefield was in full operation during our occupation. So there was a logic of functionality where we took turns operating the place. So we worked all the days and times when the field was not working. During the games, we retreated to our living quarters in another part of the complex and waited for the games to end.

While we were waiting for the games to end, we held meetings and discussions, so there was no idleness during the whole stay.

Of course, all this has an impact on the artistic work of each artist. Considering that most of the participating artists also stayed on site for the entire eleven days, it also helps to understand how this whole environment might have influenced their creations.

How did you select the artists and what was the dynamic of the group working and living together for eleven days?

The group of participating artists was made up of groups from three different backgrounds: graffiti, street art and skate, underground and contemporary artists with academic training. Having a balanced number of participants from each of these groups was very important for the exchange of thoughts and methods of artistic creation within the residency programme.

Participation, curiosity and coexistence happened in a very natural way. The initial shyness that everyone experienced disappeared and by the end of the time there was much more intimacy. I think that living together in the same space, having an integral coexistence, without alternatives, because the place was isolated, and with a full schedule, without much space for dispersion, helped a lot in the ability to build relationships.

Did you notice any cohesion between the works that were made?

Obviously the ‘big’ link between all the works was the place itself. The architecture, the environment, the atmosphere and the interpersonal relationships that took place.

Many of the artists saw all the works that were being created as unified – as if each individual work was an integral part of a single great collective work.

But there were many works that were clearly in dialogue with each other, or complementary to other parts of the whole.

Some artists opted for developing performance works. How did these interventions communicate with the space and with the work of the other artists?

Every performance is in dialogue not only with the space in which it takes place, but also with the people who are in the same space. Some performances took place in a confined space, others spread all over the place, including into other artists’ spaces.
I think the performances tried to draw attention to the place, to what was happening in that place and how that place influenced the thinking and creation of each artist who was there.

Can you talk a little bit about the communal element of the residency, how people worked and lived together in the same buildings for eleven days, and how that affected the work that was produced and the overall experience?

As I said, the general idea was anarchy. There were no rules, no hierarchy, no delegation of tasks. All there was was an architectonic space without structure and a small living space with a single bathroom, two private rooms, a single shower and an electric rice cooker and a two-burner stove with a gas bottle, and the people living there, all together for eleven days.

During the first few days there were adjustments to be made, to understand how each person worked and how each could adapt to living together. As the days went by, the harmony of the group and the will of everyone to live in an atmosphere of good energy contributed a lot to the exchanges that took place, where each one could learn and teach the other about how art and life are connected and how to balance between these two paradigms.

Again, what dictated the rules was the respect and common sense that existed in the people and the situations that were presented.

What problems did you face in organising and running the residency?

There were many problems, but each one was solved in a satisfactory way with the help of several people willing to help the project.

The first problems were of a structural nature. There was no wired electricity, the places were very dirty, we could not have a fridge to store food, the place where we would live had no protection other than the ceiling and the walls.

Then we had some problems with the occupation of the work spaces, the artists’ vanities, the organisation of the living space, the organisation of food, rubbish, cleaning, the invasion of one artist’s work space by the others.

There were many problems. Much more than I had anticipated. But there was also a great willingness on the part of the whole group to help solve each of the problems that arose.
Of course, many solutions ended up creating new problems, but in general everything went well. Most of the problems were solved quickly, and most people did not even notice most of the problems.

Are more residency projects with street artists planned for the future?

There is a lot of will. We need resources, people willing to work in this less artistic and more organisational part. We need adequate and large spaces to start working. If there is help, if the resources come, we want to give this project an infinite and unlimited sequence.

Please visit: ZAT Facebook and ZAT Instagram

Artists who participated in the residency are as follows:

Tinho aka Walter Nomura

Walter Nomura, originally from Japan but born in São Paulo, belongs to the same generation as Os Gemeos. He was thirteen years old when he painted his first wall in “pixaçao”. After graduating in Fine Arts in 1994, he returned to Japan for three years. His art is characterized by sad, melancholic drawings depicting people suffering and little newspaper characters. Nomura aims to express the loneliness of people in big cities, along with the accompanying themes of violence and pain.



Leiga aka Jack Neto

Leiga, also known as Jack Neto, hails from São Paulo and began his artistic journey with pixação writing. Over the past eight years, his style has evolved, influenced by skate culture and street painting. Studying at the Panamericana School of Art and Design further broadened his artistic vision. He describes his work as “bubbles” inspired by the inner parts of objects, evoking a whimsical world reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland. Leiga’s art blends concrete and abstract elements, creating a surreal mix where viewers can interpret their own narratives. Although some might mistake his creativity for drug-induced, his true intention is to invite people into a realm of imagination that mirrors the surrealism of Alice’s adventures.

Leiga ZAT blog 141 IMG_3512

Shima Shima

Marcio Hirokazu Shimabukuro lives and works in Carrancas (Minas Gerais), but is originally from SP. Education: University of Fine Arts in SP and then Industrial Design. Exhibitions all over the world, Europe, South America, Japan. He also specialises in videos and installations. He sees his work as a deconstruction of traditional practice, resulting in installations, objects, videos, photographs and even performances. He wants to present ordinary things in unusual ways. His recurring themes are the factors of identity and belonging, the imagery of contemporary everyday life, (how) to be in the world and the permanent state of crisis.

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Roberto Bieto

In a dreamlike universe, he combines music with the visual arts, having studied advertising at the Cásper Líbero School in São Paulo. His works often contain cosmic references, transformations of nature and explore themes such as sex, family and folklore, sometimes touching on controversial topics. He has been exhibiting at A7MA Gallery since 2012 and is originally from São Paulo. His aim is to represent a collective imagination, integrating light, shadow and moving objects into the fabric of his work.

bieto zona autonomia temporaria sao paulo cpt ZAT 2016 3 bieto zona autonomia temporaria sao paulo cpt ZAT 2016 2 2016-01 bieto zona autonomia temporaria IMG_2272 2016-01 bieto zona autonomia temporaria IMG_2271 2016-01 bieto zona autonomia temporaria IMG_2268


Jerry Batista

Jerry Batista comes from Grajaú, in the southern part of São Paulo, and is an artist associated with the A7MA gallery and Coletivo 132. His exhibition ‘Lembranças e Memórias’ (Souvenirs and Memories) draws inspiration from his childhood in Grajaú. Batista has exhibited his work not only throughout Brazil, but also in France and Germany. Through his art, he seeks to convey his Brazilian roots and consistently addresses social issues prevalent in his country, particularly inequality.



Detail of an oil painting made on an original Brazilian school table.

Jerry draws a character on the wall freehand, with beading dividing the wall into two shades for his installation at the ZAT residence.

Jerry Batista classroom installation ZAT artist residency - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_3410

2016-01 Jerry batista enivo performance zona autonoma temporaria sao paulo IMG_2514 800px

Jerry Batista classroom installation ZAT artist residency - street art graffiti sao paulo brazil by street art paris IMG_2448

Coletivo SHN

Originating from Americana, São Paulo State, SHN is a collective of street artists who utilise their own screen prints to occupy public spaces. Their DIY ideology is manifested through collective and experimental art workshops. They gained prominence through their street events, which feature videos, DJs, and collaborations with other artists to create an immersive atmosphere.


Daniel Minchoni

As a poet and artist, he has organised poetic events in Spain such as “O menor Slam do Mundo”, “O sarau do burro”, “Rachão poético”, “Cabaré revoltaire” and “A peça Literatura Ostentação”. In addition to poetry performances, Minchoni also presents his work as a street artist in Brazil and abroad, always rooted in his relationship with poetry.


Helio Marquess

Originally from Guarulhos, he is a photographer and street artist. One of his most notable works, “Drip colours”, combines photography, graffiti and body painting. He is known for his paintings of girls and his use of neon colours.


hélio marquess cpt Simone martins (3)

Keila Alaver

Keila Alaver is represented by Galerie Vermelho, São Paulo, an esteemed artist born in 1970 in Santo Antônio da Platina, Paraná.

Keila Alaver’s work focuses on the recontextualisation of everyday objects, which she has acquired from shops, markets and popular fairs in Brazil and abroad. Her artistic practice reflects the disappearance of traditions, influenced by changes in consumer habits and technological advances.

In addition to her exhibitions, Alaver is the author of O Jardim da Pele de Pêssego, published in 2011 by Galeria Luisa Strina in São Paulo. The book is a collection of photographs that explore the beauty and complexity of human skin, likening it to a “garden” in need of care and appreciation. The book features diverse images of people celebrating the uniqueness of human skin.

Her 2011 exhibition at Galeria Luisa Strina highlighted her extensive research into everyday objects that carry unique stories and characteristics. The exhibition featured her series Cartões em Movimento, which consists of gift cards with articulations, and Borboletário, a collection of eight acrylic pieces with prints of butterfly drawings made with Brazilian semi-precious stones.

Keila Alaver’s art reflects a deep engagement with the material and cultural aspects of everyday life, inviting viewers to reconsider the significance of everyday objects within broader narratives of tradition and change.


keila alaver zat sao paulo blog 141 Cpt Lincoln (8) copy

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