Fabrica, a visual arts organisation situated in a converted church, is currently exhibiting a fascinating photographic insight into the slums of Brazil. The three creators had the inspiration and began their project 16 years ago. Their vision was unique: give cameras to a number of street children in the city of Belo Horizonte and empower them to create their own visual narrative of their lives. The results are really powerful. Photographs of drug use, poverty, sexual interaction, homelessness and celebration create a rich and textured portrait of the multi-faceted life of the slums and streets. They also reveal how the diversity of personal street-artist perspectives results in vastly different expressions about their lives and experiences. Beyond that, they made me realise something which I had, I’m embarrassed to admit, never stopped to consider: that these marginalised people behind the camera have incredible artistic potential and a wealth of sensitivity and intelligence.
There’s so much material to lose yourself amidst: the standard photograph, blown up posters and short visual/audio clips of interviews with people from the streets discussing their experience of drug use, homelessness and their family lives. The artists and their cameras provide visual insight into a world of experiences that are purely abstract to the majority of Brighton inhabitants – they manifest a world of social degradation which most people know very little about. Fabrica isn’t the most glamorous location for an exhibition, but the works are arranged in a simple and interesting way. If you manage to venture out of your house in these bitter conditions, this project is well worth your time.