Pan-African Studies hosts Brasília photography show

Jason Meek

The Uumbaji Art Gallery at Oscar Richie Hall is currently hosting “Brasília, Straight Lines, Curves and Shadows,” an exhibit showcasing the recent work of Brazilian photographer Ricardo Pinheiro Penna.

A reception for the exhibit will be held this Thursday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the gallery. It will be free to the public. Museum-quality prints of the photos will be for sale. The exhibit began Feb. 24 and will be at the gallery until March 21.

The photos on exhibit showcase the city of Brasília, the capitol city of Brazil that was built in the 1960s. Penna has lived in the city since his youth and seen its development since it was first built.

“Brasília is in many ways completely different from traditional cities and in some ways like any other city in developing countries,” Penna said in an email interview. He is currently in Brazil and will not be attending the reception.

Penna’s photographs display the modern, curving architecture of the city, which he called “a modern and ambitious project surrounded by the reality of a poor and developing country.”

Moema Furtado, the curator of the Uumbaji Gallery, has lived in Brasília and is a personal friend of Penna. She has worked with him to plan the exhibit for a year and a half and will be at the reception  Thursday.

Furtado said that the city was designed to be a “utopia,” but the difference between rich and poor was too great for it to succeed. The black and white photography highlights the many contrasts in the city itself, Furtado said.

Brasília was built for only 500,000 inhabitants, but the population is now about 3 million, Penna said.

“The consequences are many. Huge traffic jams, growth of shantytowns, unemployment and crime,” Penna said. “Brasília has encountered the reality of the Brazilian economy and social inequalities.”

The photos show the state of the city today. They were taken from November 2013 to January 2014, and this is the first time they have been presented to the public, Furtado said.

Although the pictures show Brasília’s unusual architecture, Penna hopes to convey a more human side of the city.

“My photographs intent to show my personal view of the city,” Penna said. “It does not want to depict its architecture or its people.”

Contact Jason Meek at [email protected].