The People’s Pool in Ramos

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When most people think of beaches in Rio, images of the beautiful Copacabana or a sunset in Ipanema usually come to mind. But a few miles from these icons of Brazilian landscape sits an artificial lake not far from a polluted beach.

Piscinão de Ramos, or “big pool of Ramos”, is where thousands of people who live in the surrounding favelas, or slums, of Rio choose to go every summer. Julio Bittencourt, a young Brazilian photographer, was fascinated by its uniqueness. Over the last three years, he photographed the beach-goers of Ramos and was received with curious gazes and smiles.

“There are certain things that you only see in beaches in Brazil,” says Bittencourt. “Cariocas (locals of Rio) have a very special humor, very unique. I think all the humor and irony involved in the images are probably the most ‘Rio’ part of the work. It’s there all the time and you’re just struck by it every time you go there.”

The simplicity of life also caught Bittencourt’s attention. “Most of those people live their everyday lives with very little,” he says. But when they’re in Ramos, “they can forget about work and their problems. It makes you think how small your own problems are.” – Source


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The Piscinão de Ramos was planned, built and opened under the Anthony Garotinho administration between 2000 and 2001. Despite its name, it actually lies within the neighborhood of Maré.


The swimming pool cost R$18 million, which was paid by Petrobras through a collaboration agreement with the State. It was compensation for the leakage of more than one million liters of oil in the waters of Guanabara Bay, months before, by the state-owned company.

Samba singer Dicró, who died in 2012, starred in an announcement for the State inviting people to the opening, to the sound of his samba. “Sunny Sunday / guess where we’re going / I rented a truck / I’m going to take my mother-in-law to Ramos beach,” he sang.

The idea of ​​using money from environmental compensation to create an area of leisure was questioned. The government argued, claiming that the nearby beaches of Guanabara Bay were polluted. The promise of leisure in a needy area, with a bicycle lane, sports courts and clean water that was replaced every four days, filled the place, which saw more than 50 thousand people going there on sunny Saturdays or Sundays. The attraction appeared in soap operas, served as a place for New Year’s Eve festivities and even inspired, at the time, a similar initiative in São Gonçalo (now closed), in the metropolitan region. – Source (PT)


Note 1: See some of Bittencourt’s photos from his “Ramos” project about the pool, and a video made for an expo about the images.

Note 2: If you want to get the vibe of the place, see this short documentary (PT) from 2014 which features interviews with lots of locals.

Note 3: Piscinão almost inspired a future pool (PT) in the greater São Paulo region.

Note 4: If you open up the Veja Rio piece, you’ll see it’s actually about how Piscinão is rather abandoned due to the State’s economic crisis. Since the start of 2016, the pool at Parque Radical, in Deodoro, has become new spot for Rio suburbanites who don’t want to waste time getting to the beach.

 

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