21 Brasilian photographers to have on your radar
These artists offer a fresh viewpoint on contemporary Brasil.
Left: Mylena Saza. Right: Pedro Pinho
Igi Ayedun is a writer and editor, born and raised in São Paulo, Brasil. She started her career at 15, working as an archiver at the largest publishing house in Brasil and has since contributed to Elle, L'Officiel, Glamour, Harper's Bazaar and more. These days she heads up the newly-founded MJOURNAL, "the first Black-owned fashion publication in Brasil" and part of FLAGCX, Latin America's largest independent communication network. "In an elitist and white-dominated reality, MJOURNAL reflects our great desire to transform the industry," she says. "I don't see ourselves as 'creating' what's new because I believe newness emerges on the scene, on the streets, before getting to us. But I do believe that MJOURNAL is a place where newness is developed, gains a body, structure and other ways of being seen, celebrated and financed."
The Brasilian creative scene has blossomed in the last 10 years, with the emergence of social media. Yes, there are still significant barriers for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ communities. But, creating a fashion image was once something exclusive to those of a higher class, with access to universities, equipment and, also, an imposition to recreate the European aesthetic.
Unfortunately, in Brasil, the lasting effects of colonisation make us believe that the guidelines of a global thought must emerge from the north. This, for us, is collectively very frustrating. Before anything, it is necessary to acknowledge that there is still a 'ruling class' descended from ancient Europe within Brasil. These standards passed down are oppressive.
I've lived in Paris, Barcelona and London, and got tired of the question: 'Is there such a thing as Brasilian fashion?' as if we didn't wear clothes or have a sense of style. Brasilian culture is very rich; we have magical DNA of Latin American indigenous, African and Asian origins. MJOURNAL came from the urge to talk about meaningful things and to feature artists from Brasil, Latin America and the whole Global South, yet stepping away from a complex, academic and classist language of validation. Here, we debate economics, public health, society, identities from the perspectives of art, design and fashion, all in an uncomplicated and open way.
MJOURNAL is committed to showcasing visions of a Brasil with an 'S', beyond the stereotypes that surround us and cultivate more democratic ways of seeing the largest country in Latin America. This is especially critical right now, considering Brasil's current political situation.
The following selection reflects a generation of fashion photographers redefining the image of Brasilian fashion. Here we see several narratives that reflect a truthful Brasilian identity. Some take a documentary lens on daily life in the suburbs; others embrace questions of contemporary masculinity and reject 'subaltern' aesthetics of the Black body. Here are 21 names that decided to look at what we really are and not just what we pretended to be.