Christopher Dunn: This is a work that was created in 1968 during a period of incredible cultural effervescence but also of political protest in Brazil.

Narrator: Christopher Dunn.

Christopher Dunn: We have this red banner with the sort of slogan, "be an outlaw, be a hero, (seja marginal, seja herói)." And on this banner we have the silhouette figure of an outlaw, a victim of police violence who is sort of prostrated on the ground after being murdered by off duty policemen, by these so-called death squads that were very active in the 1960s.

And so, it was seen very much as a political statement. But I think there's something else that's going on there, because the banner doesn't say "Be a proletariat, be a worker." Or "Be a Marxist, be a hero." Something like that, you know what I mean?  It says "Be an outlaw."

I think Hélio was part of a whole general trend, if you will, in Brazilian culture that looked at these figures that were not so much heroic revolutionaries, but figures living on the margins of society and seeking more individual solutions, individual paths for surviving.

Narrator: Oiticica’s friends, the musicians Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, hung this banner onstage during one of their concerts—an act that led to their arrest end eventual exile.


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