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Lost Photographs In London: Rosângela Rennó’s Latest Exhibition Río-Montevideo

By - 08 February, 2016

Río-Montevideo is the first major UK exhibition by acclaimed Brazilian artist Rosângela Rennó. Rennó, originally from Belo Horizonte, is known for using archival materials in her work. The exhibition originated from the artist’s residency at Uruguay’s Centro de Fotografía where she researched their photography collection from the now obsolete communist newspaper El Popular.

The project is comprised of thirty-two salvaged images taken by photojournalist Aurelio González and highlights the often overlooked stories of everyday people during the 60s and 70s, a time of great political turmoil in Uruguay and across Latin America. The exhibition features images of both remarkable and everyday events, from football and boxing matches to political demonstrations and religious ceremonies.

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Visitors are invited to participate in this interactive experience, switching projectors on and off, causing the images to constantly change, overlap and be hidden by shadows of the audience.

One of the most striking aspects of the exhibition is the story behind it. El Popular was founded in 1957 and ran until the eve of a military coup in 1973. Predicting the paper’s closure, photojournalist Aurelio González hid the negatives of the photos in a safe between the office walls. It’s likely the photos would have been destroyed had he not taken this action. Discovered in 2006, the images form an important visual record of a period of political upheaval.

The exhibition ultimately examines the ‘amnesia’ that surrounds political events, imposed by censorship and dictatorship. Rennó presents an interesting contrast between the endurance of the lost images and today’s era of digital disposal, and national history versus personal experience.

Río-Montevideo is interesting, interactive and open to interpretation. You can find it at The Photographer’s Gallery, London until 3rd April.


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