Note from BW of Brazil: Representation is a theme that we discuss on this blog almost daily. In a country such as Brazil in which the image of persons who fit the European standard of beauty reigns supreme, the lack of representation can be devastating to the self-image and self-esteem of a population that rarely sees its own aesthetic presented for mass consumption. As such, it’s very common to hear of people who attempt to distance themselves from blackness and seeking to identify with the overwhelming images of whiteness of which they are constantly bombarded. Over the past few years we’ve highlighted numerous groups, organizations and projects that seek the fill the void of invisibility and low self-esteem that blacks must deal with on a daily basis due to the power of the mainstream media. Below we bring you another of these projects that wish to address the issue.
Identity project raises the question of the black representation in pop culture
by Suzanne Tanoue
Have you heard here about the Projeto Raízes (Roots Project) here on Zupi, a series of photo essays that celebrate the hair of black women. Standards of beauty imposed by society can be quite cruel to women, but the damage of the social structures that we form and that are represented in the media also extend to the entire black community.
The issue of representation is very important. How does one recognize oneself as beautiful, as positive, that which we don’t see on TV, in the movies (and not in the history books, to tell the truth) as such? As we still see ourselves as the peripheral, the exotic, the exception?
It is worth mentioning: more than half of the population declares itself preta (black) or parda (brown), and it’s yet still hard to find black references associated with a positive image, a black character in a soap opera occupying a high position or a black princess.
That’s what the Projeto Identidade (Identity Project), a photographic exhibition featuring popular icons (originally white) represented by black people (1), comes to question. Conceived by Noemia Oliveira and Orlando Caldeira and clicked by Guilherme Silva, Identidade was born of the urge to propose a reflection on the aesthetic values imposed in Brazilian society, utilizing for this the power of image.
It deals with a work that intends to enable the recognition of the black figure as a powerful possibility of the beautiful, also having the intention of raising a consideration of the damage that the “invisibility” of blacks can bring to the formation of a democratic society: a society that respects itself, that assumes itself and represents itself in diversity.
Among models photographed are some known media personalities such as actress Juliana Alves and Taiguara Nazareth model and also anonymous ones, like attendees of the Baile Charme Viaduto de Madureira (a black culture event on the periphery of Rio de Janeiro and becoming well known and frequented by various classes) and Cleidilson, a boy who was known to have painted characters of the Turma da Mônica comic book/cartoon black, on a school test, saying he didn’t recognize himself in them.
The photos were taken at the end of 2014 and were on display at SESC Madureira (Rio) during the month of February 2015. The idea is that the exhibition will become itinerant!
Note: In the photo above, a group of black girls are dressed as the popular song and dance troupe the Paquitas that developed a following as a part of the children’s TV program starring host Xuxa. Numerous black women have spoken on how much they desired to be a part of this but the group that was reserved exclusively for blond, white girls. A contributor to the blog wrote about of the influence of this group that was also the focus of an intriguing short film. The photo was also featured in another post directed at former host Xuxa.