Written by 2:40 PM artist, news, photography, project

Growing in Darknes by Mário Macilau

text: REFLECTING A REALITY, Roger Ballen


Roger Ballen about Growing in darkness

The world consists of both darkness and light but it also consists of cracks. Sometimes there is light revealed by these cracks, other times this light is swallowed by a deep darkness. In the many years of photographing using black and white imagery, my work has in a sense operated within this lightness and darkness where the cracks become those uneasy moments when the viewer equally participates as part of the image. Over the years I have come to learn that this is an intrinsic part of taking photographs amongst other aspects that become inevitable.

Photography has always had a fascinating relationship with life where it complicates, illuminates or even conceals things. It is the role of the photographer to display a level of sensitivity and consistency towards both his/her medium and subject matter that will determine what is made visible by these cracks and thereby revealed to a collective psyche. Mário Macilau’s photography is a powerful documentation of a complex history implicit to the challenging circumstances of homeless children living in the city of Maputo, Mozambique. It makes a significant contribution not only to African photography but also to the tradition of black and white photography.

Growing in darkness thus forms part of a necessary lexicon that navigates between the veracity of lightness and darkness. It denotes a precarious human condition by reflecting a reality that is often overlooked, shun upon and even suppressed. Yet it also illustrates the agility of the human spirit and its tenacity to survive, exist and imagine.

Mário Macilau (1984, Mozambique) was born in Maputo where he currently lives and works. In newly independent Mozambique, during the most critical phase of the civil war, his family struggled with financial difficulties and moved from the province of Inhambane to Maputo capital in search of a better life. At the age of ten, he began to work in a small market frequented by the middle / upper class and helping to carry the groceries and washing cars at the park in an effort to support his family.

Macilau started his journey as photographer in 2003 and went professional when he traded his mother’s cell phone for his first camera in 2007, he specializes in long term projects that focus on living and environmental conditions over the time that affects the social isolated groups. His work has been recognized with awards and featured regularly in numerous solo and group exhibitions both in his home country and abroad including: The Pan African group exhibition during the Biennale of African Photography in Bamako, Mali 2011, VI Chobi Mela Photo Festival in Dhaka, Bangladesh 2011, Photo Spring in Beijing, China 2011, Lagos Photo in Lagos, Nigeria, 2011, BESphoto at CCB – Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon, Portugal 2011 and Pinacoteca de Estado de São Paulo in Brazil, the KLM in Kuala Lumpur, Malasya , 2012, The Johannesburg Art Fair 2013, Les Recontres Picha in Lubumbashi, RD Congo, 2013, The Biennale Arts Actuels in Saint Dinis, Reunion Island 2013, The African Art Auction in London, England, 2013 and among others. He has also completed a number of artistic residencies.

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