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Michael von Graffenried Captured the Transformation of Rio before the Olympics

  • Michael von Graffenried - Rio - Adultes detail
June 8, 2016
Nadia Herzog is a pen name of Nadja Bozovic, a freelance journalist whose interest goes from the questioning influence of different art movements, through the connection of arts and urban space, to the art activism for social change. She enjoys interviewing artists and reading all about art history, and she is truly passionate about visual arts, especially about photography, design, graphics, multimedia, and street art in all of its forms.

After traveling the world, time has come for the renowned Swiss photographer Michael von Graffenried to visit Latin America, too. For his latest project, he chose Rio de Janeiro and stayed in the city several times during the past two years. As the result came out the visual portraits of the Brazilian metropolis entitled Changing Rio. It is the new photo series by Michael von Graffenried which will be presented in the upcoming solo exhibition at Galerie Esther Woerdehoff in Paris.

Michael von Graffenried - Rio - Wallah
Michael von Graffenried – Rio – Wallah

Capturing Rio’s Diversity

Featuring large-scale panoramic photographs, Changing Rio depicts the city of 12 million inhabitants in all of its diversity. Known as Citade Partida, or should we say – the divided city, Rio de Janeiro is split between rich and poor, luxury and criminal, culture and violence, economic growth and corruption. With the Olimpic games’ starting date approaching, differences are even more visible as the city is being busier than ever before. Michael von Graffenried witnessed its transformation. He captured construction workers rushing to build the Olympic city, and new highways, and subway lines. On the other hand, he wanted to catch a glimpse of everyday life. By focusing on people, he wanted to picture the portrait of the nation. Only a glance at his photographs assures the viewer that the artist succeeded in the realisation of his idea.

Michael von Graffenried - Rio - Providetia
Michael von Graffenried – Rio – Providetia

Lighting up the City’s Previous Glory

Contrary to common belief, favelas are not places in just one block in this multi-million metropolis. Actually, a third of Rio’s population lives in favelas on the verge of poverty. Michael von Graffenried went there and captured its lively rhythm. There are children playing, youngsters hanging out, and adults working, but also harsh police interventions, and soldiers enjoying the beach. As the photographer describes it himself, Rio de Janeiro is the city of contrasts, but also the city of festivals, religion, and a lush nature mixed with concrete. However diversified it might be, it seems like the beach, music, and festivals unite all social inequalities. The city is evidently emerging, heading toward modernity. It is supposed to be lighting up its previous glory when it was the Brazilian capital until 1960. Rio has had a negative trail for a while now, but seemingly, it is being transformed into a much more progressive and modern city.

Michael von Graffenried - Rio - Adultes
Michael von Graffenried – Rio – Adultes

Michael von Graffenried Exhibition in Paris

Known for his photographs of the civil war in Algeria and Sudan, street photography series on the drugs in Switzerland and the city of Varanasi in India, as well as his series on the Oktoberfest in Munich, Michael von Graffenried has once more showed his mastery in depicting the reality as raw as it is. His solo show entitled Changing Rio will be held at Galerie Esther Woerdehoff in Paris from June 22 until July 13, 2016. The opening session is scheduled for June 22, from 6 pm to 9 pm, when the artist will be present himself. The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of the book Changing Rio by Slatkine editions, and a book signing will be organized at the opening reception.

Featured image: Michael von Graffenried – Rio – Adultes (detail) All images are courtesy of Galerie Esther Woerdehoff.