Three series of portraits, based on street photographers’ discarded negatives found in the streets of Belo Horizonte between 1992 and 2002.
The portraits in this book were made by anonymous “lambe-lambe” photographers in the streets of Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and were not intended to be seen by a larger audience. Their initial function was for private clients who were in need of portraits for various administrative purposes. The photographers had the habit of discarding their negatives in the streets where I collected this treasure. The photographers worked with extremely simple equipment and they processed film and paper quickly disregarding any archival considerations. Despite or maybe even because of the seemingly artless process the images are striking and powerful. As a group they form a randomly composed collective portrait of the population of a city, and they are documents of an era gone by, replaced by the clean process of digital photography that does not leave any trash in the street.
2014 by Editorial RM
book design by Astrid Stavro
text in English, Spanish, Portuguese
18.5 x 13 cm, 120 pages
available in the shop
Bilder von der Straße (Pictures from the Street) is a thirty-year project which began in 1982 and ended in 2012. During this time I picked up one thousand lost or abandoned photographs from the world’s pavements. Although the collection has been exhibited widely, this is the first time it is printed as a complete set. Published in four volumes, the books present every found photograph or its fragments in their original size and in the chronological order they were discovered. No artistic intervention has taken place except for the inclusion of the date and location where each picture was found. As well as providing a record of my travels, the books document people’s use and abuse of photographs, with almost all the photographs in the collection depicting people and more than half of these being ripped or defaced in some way.
This act of discarding or destroying individual photographs seems to point to a desire to eliminate memories of specific moments in people’s lives. By encouraging viewers to imagine the stories of the people depicted, the project raises questions about the emotionally-charged events that could warrant such destruction. I consider this collection to be a social documentary consisting of both visual artefacts and human documents. Produced in a systematic manner, it is an inventory of lost photographs and memories that hint at the mysteries of people’s private lives and at their attempts to document and destroy them.
2012 (the 2009 Blurb edition is discontinued)
print on demand, colour
29.7 x 21 cm, 4 volumes in a box, 256 pages each
softcover, perfect bound
available in the shop
Arcana is a series of photographs made from discarded and damaged negatives that have been collected over a long period of time from many cities. These abandoned images have either been rejected or lost by their original owners. Removed from their original context and scratched by the streets they were dropped on, we are given a rare, altered glimpse into the everyday lives of strangers. There is a kind of violence in the degraded objects these negatives have become, but also a beauty. The book includes the entire series of 45 photographs.
2014 (the 2009 print-on-demand edition is discontinued)
digital print, b/w
21 x 14.8 cm, 48 pages
available in the shop
When I made my first trip to Brazil in 1992 I arrived in Belo Horizonte, a city as big as Berlin that most people have never heard of outside Brazil. In a public square in the center of this city I found a series of black-and-white portrait negatives. The photographers who made these portraits worked in the square using extremely simple equipment: a wooden box that served both as a camera and a darkroom. In front of a simple backdrop, photographs were taken with that box and developed inside it. The clients got their portraits after few minutes. The negatives were discarded. I collected these negatives and printed them. The title of that work is Belo Horizonte, Praça Rio Branco. In 1993 I made a similar work, Belo Horizonte, Parque Municipal.
Originally these portraits were taken for various administrative purposes, ID cards, driving licenses, and so on. People who are well off get their portraits taken in studios, and people who cannot afford studio portraits go to the square. The photographers do not give directions to the people depicted. They take plain, frontal, straightforward portraits.
When I returned to Belo Horizonte this year the photographers had moved to another square. And they had abandoned their primitive technique. They work in colour now using 35 mm cameras. After the photographs are taken they run to the nearest lab to get the strip of film developed and printed. The clients pick up their portraits about half an hour after they were taken. Negatives are still discarded. During my stay in Belo Horizonte I got up very early every morning before the street cleaners start to work, walked to the square and collected all the negatives I found. The result is Belo Horizonte, Praça Rui Barbosa.
14.8 x 10.5 cm, 64 pages
out of print