Bite! magazine » Brazilian Street Children Are Often The Descendants Of Slaves

The Undesirables by Chantal James November 8, 2010

About the artist

Chantal James’ work explores the nature of the photograph as a beautiful object, and the way it is perceived, judged, and understood in relation to its subject matter. It is a study of the grey area between fine art and documentary photo-journalism which often intimates social commentary. James’ work incorporates much of the real world, largely through her choice of subject matter and her picture making process–though she is not confined to ethical or political interpretations. James pursues photographic moments when the apparent reality of a social predicament is diffused or becomes a secondary theme, and images where the subject is detached from its prescribed realism allowing for different reactions and impressions. The work leads viewers to contemplate the subjective nature of the documentary photograph and its capacity to capture reality as opposed to just interpreting it.

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Artist Testimonial

In The Undesirables, Chantal James spent five years (2005-2010) photographing a group of Rio street kids. James captures their youthful joie de vivre looks beyond their fragile social status to identify a community with its own set of ideals regarding beauty, love, happiness and other human conditions.

Brazilian street children are often the descendants of slaves and ostracized through a system of veiled racism.

The intimate pictures and videos, portray ordinary moments in the lives of the abandoned teenagers, living what would be often considered humiliating private experiences, in public.

James leaves her subjects as they are, un-posed and raw, offsetting disparity with rich colors and vivid natural light. Instead of pitying her subjects, James explores other sentiments; admiration, confusion, and humor.

The works underlying themes of identity, racism, and exclusion are juxtaposed with strong visual language codes presenting alternative connotations and paradigms for interpreting the subject.

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