Student Work

  • History of Design and Curatorial Studies (MA)

    Adriana Kertzer

    Adriana Kertzer


    In Favelization, I set out to understand the ways in which specific producers of contemporary Brazilian culture capitalized on misappropriations of the favela (informal squatter settlements that grow along the hillsides and lowlands of many Brazilian cities) in order to brand luxury items as “Brazilian.”

    Through case studies that look at the films Waste Land and City of God, shirts designed by Fernando and Humberto Campana for Lacoste in 2009, the furniture collection Neorustica by Brunno Jahara, and the Stray Bullet chair and Pacification shelves by David Elia, I explain how designers and filmmakers engage with primitivism and stereotypes to make their goods more desirable to a non-Brazilian audience. I further argue that the processes of interpretation, aestheticization, transcendence, and domination are part of the favelization phenomena. Favelization locates design as part of a broader constellation of representations that includes a variety of forms from printed media to film.

    My thesis provides visual and material analyses, as well as theoretical discussions that draw on works by scholars in cultural and postcolonial studies such as John Tagg, Edward Said, Mariana Torgovnick, Mike Davis, and Trinh T. Minh-Ha. While focused on favelization, this thesis raises questions about the ethical conundrums associated with using the “Other” in commercial design work.

    I have created a discussion forum and visual exploration of favelization at