Interpretation by Loki Bröder

M5K Escobar brazil


"Untitled" by Raphael Escobar is an installation consisting of a cooking pot, a plastic vessel and a glass vessel. The three vessels are arranged on a metal frame at different heights and connected to each other with two rubber hoses. Together they form a distillery, as is often used in Brazil to distil cachaça.


This alcohol, often illegally distilled, is also produced in Brazil's prisons behind the guards' backs and is one of the few pleasures that the prisoners, often incarcerated without trial, have. Cachaça offers prison inmates a way to escape everyday life and feel community.


By having this symbol of community and secret rule-breaking on public display, the question is asked: What is missing for people whose lives can only be enriched by alcohol? Why are they in prison at all if they have not even had a trial? How can a system be so ignorant of human needs and still be maintained? These questions are often found in Raphael Escobar's work.

Places where alcohol replaces human closeness and warmth exist all over the world. Inside the Brazilian prison system, which leaves many inmates without trial, is one of them. As a critique of this system, artist Raphael Escobar created the work "Unnamed" in 2017. It is a still made of household objects, like those used to distill cachaça.

Raphael Escobar studied Fine Arts and Brazilian Studies and has been active in socially vulnerable and disadvantaged scenes since 2007. Among them, the Fundação CASA (a youth prison), Cracolândia (a hotspot in São Paulo with a large percentage of people addicted to crack and alcohol) and "Albergues" , a reception service for people without housing offered by the government. He has also been involved in the creation of various collectives and social movements in the Cracolândia area as an activist.

Raphael's work, whether artistic or social, addresses the interconnections between institutions, groups that are oppressed, and the different social classes. With his closeness to people comes a closeness to the issues he addresses. "Untitled" 2017 is not just a distillery, it is a protest against a system in which to exist is only possible when you are drunk on spirits from the prison toilet. In many other works he deals with drug addiction, which has destroyed many lives through lack of hygiene and education.