Photographic sweat, Latin American impact
When we think of Brazil as colors translated into joy, passion and strength, the work of this artist creates a land that peels away a new visual world. His smile is stripped away and he reveals the physical reality of this society in order to combine it with the space in which it all takes place. He changes the focal point of different countries with typical Latin American attributes, and with unimaginable perspectives, he shows us photos where it would seem as if nothing was happening.
Julio was born in São Paulo, but his father was a journalist for a financial newspaper who was sent to New York as a correspondent. In 2002, he began his career as a photographer after studying industrial design and he learned quickly that if he wasn’t enjoying what he was doing, he didn’t really passionate it anyway. Magically and almost by chance, photography entered the scene as a happy accident that later put this artist on the path towards another focus. Undoubtedly, the two cities that made up his cultural experiences are forces driven by disparate roots. He manages to mix them together in a common dialogue and he exhibits them in a developed negative that narrates and dismantles logic in order to convey another world between light and shadows.
Each one of his series tells a different story, where identity endures through each image and is confirmed through his color palette and his precise viewpoints. “I think that we all have our own backgrounds, our own stories about family, friends and individual interests that change along the course of our lives. As a photographer, the same thing happens. You gradually change according to your own experiences. I feel that being a photographer will always be a continuous work in progress, like life itself,” says Julio. When it comes to recalling his most moving experiences, he shares: “Since my first project, Las ventanas de Prestes Maia, I was photographing things that I am familiar with: society and its surroundings, the environments that surround each person, the context of the cities.”
The story he tells is shown in his images. Perhaps, if we didn’t know his home country, we would sensing it. The series of windows that he alludes to is proof of that which gives his work personality: earth tones, shades of gray and the ability to use light, dark and value which seems other-worldly, but that inevitably speaks about Latin America, heartbreaking strength and the sublime direct gazes, spontaneous laughter and the zoom that is almost naturally directed towards the center of the occurrence.
In addition to his windows full of life and that infinite everydayness which is reactivated in every article of clothing hung to dry, the silent world of Kamado also exists. Deserted and not a smile in sight, he takes the place space’s reclamation and gives the empty space a new meaning by retrieving the spirit of sites where there is more than meets the eye. “Kamado was made in Japan. It is a piece that tries to communicate the passage of time, the things that we carry with us throughout our lives, as well as things that we leave behind. The idea of photographing abandoned factories is also present in the series Some Things Are Lost Never to Be Found Again. I am fascinated by that work context which is strongly tied to the industrial period and I directly link it to the anxiety and curiosity that lead us to wonder about the same thing every day: “Where are we going?” he asks.
In Kamado, he also inquires about overpopulation, which surpasses the presence of a protagonist in his image, and it is here where the magic of his work resides. Despite the space seems empty and deserted, dark and dull, it is able to convey an endless number of sensations that transport us to a world of memories and invite us to imagine all the possible narratives, thus bringing a sensorial challenge that inevitably drives the viewer’s basic interpretations. Solitude may have a character of firmness, even though the myth of solitude is surrounded by sadness.
Julio Bittencourt’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed in the circuit of photographers worldwide. His work has been published in media outlets such as Time, Le Monde, The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Stern and The New Yorker, among so many others that represent the most important international media outlets, not only pertaining to aficionados, but also in culture. This only confirms to us that we are standing before a work that explores the materiality of the image beyond to what a situation can naturally narrate. Julio is an enthusiast and is eager to dive into aesthetic possibilities and play with the image in order to satirize it with visual regard and care. Although the photograph is exposed to the naturalness of spontaneity, it isn’t likely that something remains linked to random carelessness or to the neglect of the environment.
The idiosyncrasies between São Paolo and New York are unavoidable. The presence of multiculturalism among visual languages is freely expressed in a symbiosis of light and shadow. This is exhibited as the best way to blend essences and take responsibility for the communities’ current situations. Without a shadow of a doubt, Bittencourt makes social pieces through photography and is committed to his individual vision: “Capturing time means making sure that energy maintains its own light,” he explains.
The sense of unity and the color palettes are two conditions of his finished pieces. He goes for more and continues to use the essence of his art, making it clear that his central theme is that which unites us beyond our origin or individual background. There, where Bittencourt’s image exists, we will find and expression of body and essence, an expression of materiality and time. His work is the infinite presence of the being in a photograph illuminated by human potential.