Dionisio González, Nova Ipiranga III, 2004

My knowledge of the favelas of Brazil is somewhat limited. I imagine them as shanty towns similar to those in other parts of the world with buildings made from whatever is available and built in a ramshackle way. From Dioinisio Gonzáles’s digitally manipulated photographs that looks to be a good guess. Sort of.

Nova Acqua Gasosa II, 2004

From the starting point of a series of documentary photographs, González has reimagined the favelas crossed with modernist architecture. We are offered an alternative view of the world, one in which minimalist structures sit seamlessly within the chaotic environment of the favela. I am often unconvinced by the use of digital manipulation in photography – though I’ve written about examples that I find really interesting here before – but González’s work intrigues me. The reimagined spaces seem to hint at a promise of a better place – if not quite a utopia – but these are fictions placed within the reality of the shantytown and consequently seem all the more tantalisingly out of reach.

 Jornalista Roberto Marinho III, 2004

González’s work is slick and very well executed. It’s impossible to see the joins, no matter how much one knows they must be there somewhere. As fictional spaces, González’s favelas draw our attention to the reality of poverty and a lack of urban planning in Brazil. They aestheticise and organise and by introducing contemporary architecture which adheres to the ideals of modernism into the equation they suggest that another way is possible.

Dionisio González: Favelas is at Galerie Richard, 514 West 24th Street, New York until 7 April 2012

3 thoughts on “Reimaginings

    • Back now (and catching up with blogging the things I want to remember). It was a really good trip, if a bit shorter than I’d really have liked. And thanks!

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