For more than a decade, Ludovic Carème has lived in Brazil. His trajectory has been the reverse of those he documents, starting with his portrait of the little favela Agua Branca, in the heart of São Paulo, and ending in Amazonia, the point of departure for men and women who dreamed of finding a better life in the megacity, but ultimately found themselves disillusioned in yet another favela.
From late 2008 to early 2011, he regularly visited Agua Branca with his talented guide Brito, who helped him gain access to the wooden shacks built over the sewers. There, he took photos -black and white, square-framed closeups- of those who accepted his presence and offered him the gift of their countenance. There, too, he took full-length portraits of the workers -most of whom lived in the favela- who would leave home at dawn to walk to the bus stop that led to their jobs. And it was there, too, that he saw the city's social services, accompanied by the police, destroying homes under a thousand pretenses, in cases of real (though marginal) chicanery in which the police were complicit.
In 2012, his viewfinder captured the downtown's giant apartment buildings : ludicrous modern ruins transformed into street art by the city's daring pixadores. These empty dwellings are all the more intolerable in a city with thousands of homeless, whom Carème photographed for two years, from 2013 to 2015. Leaving the city in late 2015 for deepest Amazonia, where he stayed until the end of 2017, he continued his portraiture and complemented it with sensual views of the forest, as well as stark observations of its destruction, and still lifes found in people's homes. With these subjects he furthered his development as a sensitive documentary photographer with a solid classical foundation.
Portraits full of dignity and sadness; luxuriant forest confronted with man's aggression; demolished homes; the bidirectional movement that exists everywhere in the world and draws the poor towards the cities but keeps them out of the center-all this is present in Carème's work, with a reserve and a poetry that are his own. Along with evidence that misery is not “gentler in the sun” -no matter what crooner Charles Aznavour might say- even less so in a modern Brazil becoming ever more violent towards those on the margins.
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