The Violence of the Real: A Conversation with Rogério Reis
Beatriz Jaguaribe: You have a lengthy and renowned career as a photojournalist and an art photographer. Your trajectory is even mentioned in the fiction film City of God, by the main protagonist, the young man from the favela who desires to be a photojournalist and seeks your fictional persona in the newspaper Jornal do Brasil as a possible sponsor for his images. Why did you choose to reveal the violent practice of the “microwave” through a photographic installation instead of using photojournalistic images? Was it a form of social protest, an elegy for the murdered?
Rogério Reis: This question forms part of my actual lived experience. Violence in Rio de Janeiro began to increase in the 1980s, and it started to come ever closer. I myself was a victim of violence: my car was shot at; I have lost friends; some died, one became paraplegic. I was very moved by all these events. I come from a documentary tradition, and I find fascinating the journalistic discussion of the human condition as a daily exercise. This language is part of my repertoire. But at that moment, I was overcome by the impact generated by these acts of barbaric extermination. How drug dealers torture and condemn their enemies. I think I didn’t have the language or the expression from a journalistic point of view to create a work that was capable of expressing all of this that we are living through. I was tired of presenting framed pictures in the usual format. I wanted something that had a documentary edge but was also a performance. But in regard to the Microwave, the only way to show this practice as a documentary is to really be there witnessing this horror in the danger zone. Microwave is sculptural; it is an installation, and it corresponds to my need to represent this practice in another language. The installation reworks the past and memory. I had already started to think about an alternative use of photography since my partnership with Marcelo Yuka, who was a drummer and a composer in the band Rappa. Marcelo was shot in the back six times while trying to prevent an assault on another person.
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