Tuesday 3 December 18:00 - 21:00

Sunny Art Centre
30 Gray's Inn Road
London
WC1X 8HR

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Private View: Hidden Paradise | Photographs by Thiago Borba

Performing & Visual Arts

Get your free ticket for the private view of Hidden Paradise | Photographs by Thiago Borba on December 3rd 2019, between 6-9pm.

Hidden Paradise | Photographs by Thiago Borba is a new solo photography exhibition opening at the Sunny Art Centre in London on Dec 3rd 2019 and on view until Jan 31st 2020. The internationally acclaimed photographer Thiago Borba will display the work from his ‘Black is Beautiful’ series of photographs, shot in his native country of Brazil. The exhibition wishes to explore the problem of cultural extinction which many minorities worldwide face as a result of assimilating or annihilating policies pushed forward by dominant cultures. Thiago uses the Bahian black cultural minority in Brazil as a case study to demonstrate why predominant cultures must promote and cultivate diversity within their national heritage.

Thiago Borba is a contemporary photographer born and raised in Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia, Brazil. The historic, complex culture of Bahia is one interwoven with tensions between a dominant display of white culture and its native black and mixed-race population. Bahia is the state with the highest percentage of black and mixed-race population in Brazil. Yet, white culture dominates the sociocultural context of mainstream media, thus projecting whiteness as the dominant culture while casting the native black and mixed-race identity as a minority group. Although around half of Brazilians identify themselves as black or mixed-race, there is still a sociocultural dominance of the white population that controls the mainstream media and cultural context of Brazil. These are the issues which Borba decided to engage with when creating his ‘Black is Beautiful’ series. 

 With his ‘Black is Beautiful’ series, Borba began to investigate the history and identity of his home town; particularly, the identity of its vibrant Afro-Brazilian community. Borba’s work aims to reclaim Bahian black cultural heritage, in a town that was historically the port of entry for slave ships coming into Brazil from an (again) dominating, white Western world. On a broader sense, Borba wishes to celebrate the beauty and power of the black body and culture. Thus, exalting beauty and contributing to the reconstruction of the self-esteem of the Afro-Brazilian community is what guides the artist’s work. This elevation and dignification of the subjects wipes out the loaded conception that native culture is somewhat inferior, primitive and backwards-looking than that of the dominant white.

 The artist’s rich photos highlight the diverse beauty of Afro-Brazilian people and their connection to the beautiful natural landscape of Brazil. It particularly focuses on dark-skinned black men and women from Bahia, as Thiago feels that “What is spoken of the magic of Bahia comes originally from the black. This energy they say that Bahia has is black. It’s the black person who produces that song. It’s the black who has that smile, and that way of talking that captivates you.”[1] He says that “The reason why my work focuses on this subject, is to search for a place of origin since my return to Salvador after ten years of absence; it was a way to reconcile with my city and my roots.” In his photographs, Borba takes us on a rich aesthetic journey that engages with issues surrounding cultural hegemony and historical injustices, while simultaneously simply displaying the joy and beauty of Bahia, its natural environment, and its people. 

  [1] Travae, M., ‘The Bahia artist Thiago Borba portrays black beauty and seeks to deconstruct racism in his photographic project “Black is Beautiful”’ (16/02/18, Blackwomenofbrazil.co).https://blackwomenofbrazil.co/the-bahia-artist-thiago-borba-portrays-black-beauty/

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