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Javier Alvarez | Brazil

The 1988 Brazilian Constitution allows people to occupy abandoned properties that aren't fulfilling any social function. These buildings are informally referred to as 'Squats'. The Marconi has been occupied since 2012 and is still waiting to be deemed public housing (which would allow it to receive subsidies from the state). Roughly 400 people live in the building. São Paulo, Brazil. 2018.

During the ’90s, workers and proletarian social movements began to break into abandoned buildings in São Paulo, Brazil. Today, there are more than 40 self-claimed organizations that ‘squats’ in hundreds of abandoned properties, allowing families, immigrants, students, or workers in a homeless situation to live in these places.

On the 13 floors of the ‘Marconi’ squat, about 400 people accommodate in offices adapted into rooms of 50 to 100 sq ft, under the uncertainty of a decent housing solution. Within it, the notion of home (a space of emotional relationships and identity) becomes as unstable as the memories and expectations of a steady future. Marconi is a place where life stories have common experiences of nostalgia and loss.

Several life testimonies from the residents of Marconi invite us to ask ourselves, how deep we can see within our cities, how do we deal with housing problems? Who organizes? Where is the real crime in all this? To whom is it visible?.

In 2013, I started visiting the ‘Marconi’ building under the collaborative work with the MMPT (Movimiento de Moradia Para Todos) workers union. During this process, I was invited to be a part of the community, living for periods of six up to eight weeks, two or three times a year. The full body of work consists of a series of photographs, video footage, interviews, archival material, and collages from a personal travel journal. 

This project has been recently granted with a FONDART Grant, a Chilean National Endowment for the Arts that will provide the necessary funds to publish the project's photobook by September of 2020.

Javier Alvarez is a Chilean documentary photographer focused on social issues and human rights in neglected communities. After completing a BFA in Photography in Santiago de Chile, Javier worked as a freelance editorial and press photographer for agencies in São Paulo, Brazil, and Santiago de Chile.

His projects have been exhibited, published, granted, and/or distributed in Chile, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, Sweden, Canada, Italy, France, and the U.S.

In addition to his personal and commissioned work, he is a contributor to the Brazilian activist and independent journalistic platform MidiaNinja.


MidiaNinja (Brazil)

MMPT (Brazil)

e-mail: hola@javieralvarezm.com  

Instagram: @javieralvarezm

cellphone: 1-303-746-0504

Based in Brooklyn, NY.

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