Parabolicamará in Sweden!

Posted by on Apr 21, 2012 in inspiration
Parabolicamará in Sweden!

In Brazil, where I come from, there is a very famous song by Gilberto Gil (one of our main musicians and former Minister of Culture) called “Parabolicamará”.

It is an invented word, a combination between “ …parabólica, the antenna that is present even in the poorest corners of Brazil, with camará, the way in which capoeira players (the afro-Brazilian game-fight) refer to each other, as comrades, while they play and dance.”

A common view in the interior of Brazil. TV is king, antennae are part of the architecture.

An old friend of mine, Anna Maria Ramalho, a foremost journalist in Brazil, made a blogpost about Satellitstaden back in September 2011, when the project started. She used this word in the title of her post. (Please use Google translate…)


This song by Gilberto Gil summarizes many of the thoughts about satellite technology and culture in an inspiring way for Satellitstaden. It is a meditation on distance, the size of the world, globalization and cultural uniqueness. It introduces a poetic dimension to technology, and turns the object – an antenna – into a ‘dispositif’ for reflecting on the conflicts between globalization and local cultures.

Antes o mundo era pequeno
Porque Terra era grande
Hoje o mundo é muito grande
Porque Terra é pequena
Do tamanho da antena parabolicamará

Ê, volta do mundo, camará
Ê, mundo dá volta, camará

Antes longe era distante
Perto só quando dava
Quando muito ali defronte
E o horizonte acabava
Hoje lá trás dos montes
dendê em casa camará

Ê, volta do mundo, camará
Ê, mundo dá volta, camará

Pela onda luminosa
Leva o tempo de um raio
Tempo que levava Rosa
Pra aprumar o balaio
Quando sentia
Que o balaio ía escorregar

Ê volta do mundo, camará
Ê, ê, mundo dá volta, camará

Esse tempo nunca passa
Não é de ontem nem de hoje
Mora no som da cabaça
Nem tá preso nem foge
No instante que tange o berimbau
Meu camará

Before, the world was small
Because the Earth was big
Today the world is very large
Because the Earth is small
Of the size of the parabolicamará

Ê, around the world, camará
Ê, the world goes around, camará

Before, far away was distant
Closer, only when possible
When up very close
At the edge of the horizonte
Today behind the hills
dendê at home camará

Ê, around the world, camará
Ê, the world goes around, camará

Riding the luminous wave
Is as fast as lightning
The time it took Rosa

To adjust her basket
When she felt
That the basket would slip away

Ê, around the world, camará
Ê, the world goes around, camará

In Gilberto Gil’s words:

“I recorded this song in 1991. I named the record after it, with a photo of my daughter Maria carrying  a basket in the form of a satellite on her head, like African and Brazilian women. At the time, we didn’t hear the Word ‘globalization’ very often. I called the record Parabolicamará and tried to name a few aspects of a possible globalization that I envisioned and somehow desired in a joyful but also tragic way, as someone who firmly desires everything that happens around us.

The refrain “Ê, around the world, camará” is sampled from a very common verse sung in any capoeira circle. It’s a form of singing the vastness of the world, and also the certainty that in the world what goes around comes around. (…) Everything changes, all the time, and the world becomes ever more complex.

I know what happens when terrible power relations make original cultural expressions disappear everyday and impose profit-driven global consumption cultural patterns.  But I would like to confront the challenge that the global cultural industry sets before us (…) I keep nurturing this strange and provocative taste for conjoining concepts that seem to want to remain eternally separated. Such as parabólica and camará. I like to see this word echo inside a berimbau calabass. I like to join differences.”


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