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You are here: Home / Conferences / Amsterdam 2013 / Presentation programme

Something to say:

Voices from XiloCEASA, São Paulo
When Sat 12 Oct 0950
Where Krasnapolsky A
What Place and design
Who Catherine Dixon

With my student’s words, ‘They teach typography classes in a favela, perhaps you’d like to see’, so began my introduction to the workshop XiloCEASA, an initiative of Atêlie Acaia, the São Paulo base of a Brazilian not-for-profit educational organization founded to offer learning support to those so marginalized by poverty that access to education and employment is otherwise severely limited. Social problems at the scale of those found in the favelas (city slums) disrupt every aspect of community life. And in such a context I couldn’t help but wonder at the place of typography in a curriculum, especially given that the classes were aimed at the adolescent students often encouraged by their families to leave school and just earn money. Over the course of a series of visits, however, I started to see what two old proofing presses, a few drawers of type and the considerable commitment of the staff and volunteers could do. This talk will set out something of how the XiloCEASA students are encouraged to work with words: the physicality of the print process enhancing not only poor literacy skills but an emphasis on manual work and the use of wood-engraving combining perfectly with the use of text so that ideas are quite literally transformed into solid and real pieces of communication. Richly illustrated the talk will also present something of the co-operative context of the Atêlie, showing their collaborative and community-focussed published outcomes, and establishing too their wider resonance with the much older and North-Eastern community-publishing traditions of Literatura de Cordel. Yet while this talk will necessarily address the themes of letterpress and learning, taking in aspects of book production and cultural context along the way, it is intended for an audience beyond the merely technical or educational. This is a presentation reflecting on the more fundamental capacity of working with words to change more than we often dare imagine. The story of XiloCEASA is rooted in the simplest and oldest of typographic ideas – the connection of a printing press to a visually voiceless community – a connection which affords young people often living in the direst of circumstances the opportunity to prove to everyone else and, perhaps most importantly, to themselves that they have something worthwhile to say. tags: letterpress, community, design, education, publishing

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