OLYMPIC FAVELA project
Ahead of the World Cup (2014) and the 2016 Olympic Games, the city government of Rio de Janeiro is transforming the city's urban landscape to host the two mega-sporting-events. As a result, thousands of residents of the 1.4 million people living in Rio's shantytowns, or favelas, have been faced with forced evictions from their homes.
Between 2012 and 2013 I created two series of photographs in Rio's favelas to capture the human impact which the sweeping policies of removal created, and give a voice to the plight of the people affected.
The people I met face extraordinary challenges: city officials who use ever-changing tactics to sow fear and insecurity to actively erode the sense of community; and lengthy, complicated legal disputes they must wage to avoid eviction and assert their rights to remain in the homes where they have grown up. Their firsthand accounts of their uphill battle, of the perseverance and ingenuity they employed to build their homes, and of the history of their communities—many residents we spoke with are third-generation residents of their neighborhoods—revealed the full breadth of their fears and underlined the need for their voices to be heard.
We often had extensive conversations with the people I wanted to photograph, to dispel their insecurity and doubts about my intentions. And despite the hardships they all face, once I began photographing them, they all revealed a beautiful sense of optimism that is part of the human story I captured.
To call attention to the specific circumstances at play in Rio de Janeiro, I have created two parallel bodies of work, brought together in OLYMPIC FAVELA:
One group of images consists of portraits of the people who live in the favelas, the people who make them the vibrant neighborhoods they are. Many of the residents are photographed in front of their homes, which have been designated for removal by the city-agency SMH with spray-painted code numbers. The second group features directed images of residents posing with flaming emergency torches in their communities. Referencing iconic imagery, such as Delacroix's Liberty leading the people, these photographs invoke ideas of liberation, independence, resistance, protest and crisis.
Together with the portraits, these images juxtapose the dynamics of celebration and togetherness with those of struggle which the mega-events are bringing to Rio de Janeiro and its citizens.
With infrastructure-projects in Rio pressing forward, we want to assure that the works in OLYMPIC FAVELA can be seen by a large audience quickly.
The objective is for OLYMPIC FAVELA to create a lasting discussion of the consequences these types of event have on the citizens in Rio de Janeiro, and on host cities of mega-events in general.
Late last year, I received an offer from art-book distributor DAP Artbook and publishing house DAMIANI to publish OLYMPIC FAVELA as a book. With nearly worldwide distribution they guarantee that this important human right issue, directly tied to events of global reach, can been widely available.
We want to publish OLYMPIC FAVELA at the beginning of the World Cup in the summer of 2014.
Texts by Luis Perez-Oramas, Itamar Silva, Marc Ohrem-Leclef.
Curator: Mazie Harris, Curatorial Fellow, Davis Museum, Wellesley College
Approx. 65 Color-Photographs, Size: approx. 9.5 x 12 inches / 24x30cm
Publication date: June 2014
What is done
- Editing for the book has been completed, in a wonderful collaboration with curator Mazie Harris
- Layouts have been implemented by designer Fabian Bernal
- Scanning of film and retouching of the files has been completed.
- Texts have been edited and translated from Spanish and Portugese
What needs to be done
Production of the book moves forward - the costs associated with editing, translation of texts, printing, shipping and public relations work now need to be covered.
The total amount owed by me for making the book OLYMPIC FAVELA stands at $32.500,00.
My 'asking' amount of $18,000.00 covers the minimum needed towards the total amount owed.
Any surplus in funds exceeding the goal of $18,000.00 will be used towards delivery of photographs and the book to all my subjects who are featured in the book.
Up to this point,
I have financed the entire OLYMPIC FAVELA project with personal funds - including:
- Research (weeks spent researching the situation in Rio, and to find partners to enable me to get 'insider' access to the communities)
- Purchase of film, back-up equipment rentals, etc.
- Travel & Accommodation (flights, sublets while in Rio etc.)
- Production costs while on location (my guide, transportation, phones, meals, cost of emergency flares, etc.)
- Processing and scanning of film (in NYC)
For your kind support I offer a range of rewards:
Autographed Books - before any public book-signing events!
A RACHEL ROY special edition unisex tote bag with a design inspired by OLYMPIC FAVELA, approx. 14x16in., 36x40cm
$50 Level - 8x10"- Edition of 100 each - Signed and numbered, ca. 20x25cm
$375 Level - 11x14" - Edition of 20, Signed and numbered, ca. 28x36cm
$750 Level - 16x20" - Edition of 15 each, Signed and numbered, ca. 41x50cm
$1,900 Level - 20x24" - Edition of 5 each, only 3 available on Kickstarter, Signed and numbered, ca. 50x60cm
Contributors and Collaborators
Aside from actively photographing in Rio de Janeiro--both exhausting and beautiful, hard and rewarding--the most amazing part of this experience has been to feel the support of highly respected collaborators and wonderful supporters.
They include author Luis Pérez-Oramas, Curator for Latin American Art at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC, who contributed a poetic and in-depth investigation of the recent political awakening of the Brazilians.
Itamar Silva wrote a powerful text about his experience of seeing his community under threat of removals; Itamar is a Director at the Society for Education and Social Promotion, Ibase, Rio de Janeiro, and a resident of Favela Santa Marta.
Mazie Harris, Curatorial Fellow in Photography at Davis Museum, Wellesley College, Boston, was instrumental in editing the works for the book.
Theresa Williamson of NGO CATALYTIC COMMUNITIES helped me in making contact with community leaders in many of the favelas I photographed in. The positive connection she helped me establish with the people I photographed was crucial for the entire project.
Based on their intimate knowledge of Rio's favelas, CATALYTIC COMMUNITIES is my partner for the reward that provides for a visit in affected communities in Rio, surely an unforgettable experience.
Fashion designer Rachel Roy was inspired by the works in OLYMPIC FAVELA and has generously created a unique design to contribute support for this Kickstarter campaign.
Spread the Word!
After pledging your support, please help to spread the word about this project by sharing this link with your friends.
Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
The risks and challenges when publishing a photography book include the possibility of delay.
However, DAMIANI is routinely dealing with the production and printing challenges involved in making great photography and art-books. If this campaign is successful, we would do everything possible to make sure the book is published in early summer of 2014.
- (30 days)