Sand Sculptures

(P1) Sand SCULPTURES of CURVACEOUS, full-bottomed women on Copacabana beach may be one of Rio de Janeiro’s WACKIER TOURIST ATTRACTIONS, but now they’re UNDER FIRE from a resident’s association claiming the RISQUE creations promote PROSTITUTION.

(P2) Jassim Al-Alawadhi was one of several tourists stopping to take a selfie in front of a larger-than-life sculpture of a woman lying on her front, with her sand backside sticking in the air.

(P3) “It’s just sand. I don’t think it is an excuse for prostitution or VICE. It’s just a sculpture and it’s what the poor man here does to make a little money,” said Al-Alawadhi, a 26-year-old financial analyst visiting from Kuwait.

(P4) The creator, 63-year-old Ubiratan dos Santos, said he’d been working on sand sculptures at the famous beach for 23 years.

(P5) “I’ve made women of all types — one day in a bikini, another in a skirt. To want to ban me shows a lack of respect for my work,” he said.

(P6) Horacio Magalhaes, 48, a lawyer and head of the Friends of Copacabana association, said that given the area’s REPUTATION for prostitution, the sculptures are “at the least of QUESTIONABLE taste.”

(P7) “There is this sexual message for tourists coming to Rio not to see our beautiful LANDSCAPES and beaches, or to learn about our culture or our history, but rather to OGLE our women,” he said.

(P8) “It’s definitely not the kind of tourism that we want,” he added.

(P9) “We want Copacabana, the CRADLE of BOSSA NOVA MUSIC, to recover its CHARM, to become a residential and family neighborhood again — and these sculptures do not help that.”

(P10) A representative of the mayor’s office came by this week to ask for a stop to the pieces, dos Santos said, saying that local people considered it was encouraging the neighborhood’s LONG-STANDING prostitution business.

(P11) Deputy Mayor Bruno Ramos confirmed that he’d like to see an end to the sculptures.

(P12) “It’s not good for the city’s image,” he said.

(P13) But for dos Santos, the controversy is “a circus. They’d be better off dealing with the VIOLENCE in the city.”

(P14) Another tourist said he couldn’t understand the controversy, given the popularity in Brazil of revealing string bikinis.

(P15) “The women you see on the beach, aren’t they PRACTICALLY naked? I think this is art, it’s very beautiful and I defend this form of art,” said Luciane Silvestre, 48, who took pictures and left a DONATION with the sculptor.

WORDS: 405



If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think the sand sculptures are too SUGGESTIVE, or merely a bit of beach fun?
  3. Brazil does have a reputation for being devoted to pleasure. What ideas and images do you associate with that country?
  4. Is your country relaxed or UPTIGHT about sexual subjects?
  5. Are there street artists and musicians working in your city?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Tourist attraction
  • Under fire
  • Long-standing

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