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drops ISSN 2175-6716


Qual é a verdadeira cara de São Paulo? Quais os seus limites? São as perguntas de Guilherme Wisnik para as fotos de Tuca Vieira, presentes na exposição Atlas fotográfico da cidade de São Paulo e seus arredores.

What is the true face of São Paulo? What are its borders? Is it possible to get any sort of mental picture of this formless, tentacular mass which by its scale and complexity defies any effort of human cognition?

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WISNIK, Guilherme. An Unfinished City. The fotography of Tuca Vieira. Drops, São Paulo, year 17, n. 106.03, Vitruvius, jul. 2016 <>.

What is the true face of São Paulo? What are its borders? Is it possible to get any sort of mental picture of this formless, tentacular mass which by its scale and complexity defies any effort of human cognition?

These two questions without an answer can only be seriously considered by way of two apparently opposite standpoints: on the one hand, fiction, and on the other, scientific experiment. Based on very clear rules and methods, Tuca Vieira’s work clearly flirts with the latter path. The photographer wanted to better know the city in which he was born and lives, and, at the same time, to register it photographically. But how could he do that? Where could he begin? In light of the evident impossibility of the undertaking, he chose an objective and impersonal criterion: he based his work on a guidebook to the city’s streets. His work consists of producing a photo for each double page of the guidebook, which, for its part, corresponds to a number. Thus, each number, or double page, represents a square section that divides the amorphous area of the São Paulo Metropolitan region into 203 equally sized parts.

Note that the choice of the street guide is not just any criterion. At the same time that it covers nearly the entire extension of the metropolis’s urban area, the guide also allows for a tangible grasp of the city, since it is made on a scale that allows for the identification of all its streets and public squares. The guidebook thus provides a link between the parts and the whole of the city, something that was essential for carrying out this mapping project. A crucial element of the project enters here: the real experience of the space. After all, in what sense is it necessary to visit locations in the city which are fully mapped by Google and geo-referencing systems?

This lends the project a quixotic aspect. We can imagine the degree of day-to-day problems and setbacks faced in the consecutive steps of the task, involving extensive travel, costs for fuel and equipment, tiredness and eventual security risks. And just as the street guidebook is a tool that has fallen into disuse nowadays, the photographer also chose not to record the city through lightweight and portable devices, but rather with an artisanal, large-format camera with individual photographic plates, carefully mounted on a tripod, which makes every photo a clearly anachronistic scenic ritual.

Here I return to the work’s fictional aspect, because the scientific method used by Tuca Vieira is tempered with an important halo of fictionality, proper to someone who knows that there are no exact or exclusive answers to the task in question: the portrait of the city. This gives rise to a Sisyphean and somewhat inglorious effort, to carry out a work whose sense seems to be at odds with common sense.

We can ultimately consider his action of cataloging as a silent act of construction running in parallel with another latent city that we do not yet see, while the city we do see continues to be continuously transformed. As noted by French essayist Georges Didi-Huberman, “If the atlas appears as an incessant work of re-composing the world, it is first of all because the world itself does not cease to undergo decomposition upon decomposition.”



106.03 exposição
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original: português

outros: english



106.01 prêmio

Alejandro Aravena

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106.02 exposição

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106.04 exposição

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106.05 homenagem

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106.06 premiação

Prêmio IAB-PB 2015

Breve comentário

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