Once you mention to someone the word “favela”, to talk about the favelas in Brazil, a group of associations immediately pops up to one’s mind and they usually relate to violence, crimes and poverty. From experience, mainly if you are talking about favelas with someone that has a theoretical or media-based understanding of poverty in the developing countries – the tendency is to resume it to just a few aspects (the ones they watched or read about – and that are probably also true) of the large complexity that real life in a favela englobes.
To be fair, it is hard to explain the complexity of a favela just by using words – even when you have visited/worked for years in a few of them. The more we say, it will not even get close. That is the reason why a Brazilian art director Andre Havt and the designer Karina Abicalil launched the project Favelagrafia
FAVELAGRAFIA – by photography “favelas are shown in a real way, by those who understand them most: their residents. Nine photographers, full of talents and dreams, passionate about the art of photography and, mainly, their communities. The project’s objective is to give visibility to the daily life of the favelas, their stories, landscapes and characters. Details that only those who live there know. Thus recreating the city’s look on the favela” (Project website: www.favelagrafia.com.br).
According to The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics – IBGE, in 2019, there were 5,127,747 households occupied in 13,151 subnormal agglomerates in the country, 763 only in Rio de Janeiro, where the project takes place. The communities involved are: Complexo do Alemão, Morro dos Prazeres, Morro do Borel, Favela da Mineira, Morro Santa Marta, Morro do Cantagalo, Morro da Providência, Morro da Babilônia and Rocinha, which is the largest slum in the country, with 25.7 thousand homes.
The project is now on its second edition, when photographers portray talented people from the favelas who have abilities in music, dance, art, performance, fashion, and sports. The photos depict creativity, art, people, and day-by-day activities that most of the inhabitants get involved with. It depicts the coexistence among positive and negative aspects of real life in a community. The photo that made the project viral – the first on this post – depicts 5 teenagers holding musical instruments as if they were holding guns – to highlight the impact of opportunities in changing children’s lives.