The architecture of the brand new double-height seven storied building that houses Instituto Moreira Salles (IMS) in São Paulo’s iconic Paulista Avenue, is worth a visit alone. Known for its focus on photography, the institution presents an exhibition, curated by Eucanaã Ferraz, comprising more than 200 pictures taken by the early 20th century photographer Chichico Alkmim (1886–1978), which are printed in different sizes and mounted on continuous wooden structures. This self-taught photographer established a studio in 1919 in Diamantina, in the Brazilian hinterlands, where he portrayed the daily routine and festivities of that city’s local population. Alkmin captured in detail a traditional society on the verge of modernization and his technically impeccable portraits of local characters – sat among props and painted backdrops in his studio – and populated street scenes are a precious document of the turbulent beginnings of the 1st Brazilian Republic, a period which saw the abolition of slavery and the end of colonial gold mining. By photographing the people and the atmosphere of that given city over almost 40 years, Alkmin might well have captured the intense racial, cultural and social mix that have shaped the country’s population.
- Fernanda Brenner