Artists Bárbara Wagner (b. 1980, Brasília; lives in Recife) and Benjamin de Burca (b. 1975, Munich; lives in Recife) center their practice on the ‘popular body’ and its strategies of visibility and subversion between the fields of pop culture and tradition. Their 2016 video Estás vendo coisas (You Are Seeing Things) depicts the subculture of Brega music—a combination of romantic melodies fused with American Hip Hop, Brazilian techno and Caribbean reggaeton that emerged in North Eastern Brazil. On the social and professional landscape of this genre, video clips are the catalyst of an imagined future punctuated by a powerful appetite for success as encouraged by capitalism. With today’s easy access to technology, Brega has incorporated sophisticated methods of production and distribution, giving account of the visibility of a middle class society reaching out of the favelas of Brazil.
Scripted and performed by actual members of the Brega scene, Estás vendo coisas follows two main characters as they plot their course from their everyday life to the stage environment, submerging into a world where self-regulation and image management play a crucial role in the construction of voice, status and identity of a whole new generation of popular artists. Different from approaches that often satirize the subject by magnifying its carnivalesque aspects, the film adopts a psychological and more melancholic tone, reflecting how inherited aesthetic judgements differ across social classes in developing economies.