Muquifu (Museu dos Quilombos e Favelas Urbanos) Museum of Escaped-slave Communities and Urban Slums, is an exhibition promoting cultural preservation and appreciation of a slum complex in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Photographs portraying actual slum residents, photographed at their own homes, are being used to raise awareness of the impact of removal of villages in Belo Horizonte. The photo shoot was displayed at the headquarters of Muquifu and made part of the official program of the Spring Museum, an annual event organized by IBRAM, bringing together hundreds of museums throughout Brazil. The photos also illustrated posters with the tagline, “You are history. You are Culture. You are the Museum.” The still images were projected on the walls of Abilio Barreto Historical Museum, in Belo Horizonte, and will soon be displayed in Padua, Italy.
“The Daily Dust”. Ana Pereira da Silva. The scene captures the gazing look of a woman who lives in a community that is doomed to disappear. Apathetic about time, every morning she sweeps alleys that one will be turned into dust.
“Firm”. Joaquim Rodrigues de Sousa. The tiny-window house is not the only thing this man has put up. His strength also keeps his body up, scarred by surgeries and column screws.
“The Tenant”. Junio de Jesus Santos. The scene shows a construction worker looking through the window of a house that doesn’t belong to him. Yet he hopes to provide a roof for the son he dreams of having.
“The Escape”. Cleiton Gonçalves de Deus Aguiar. Behind the fence, the bars and the door, the portrait of a young boy waiting for his mother to arrive and release him from the duty of taking care of his younger brother.
“Man Under Construction”. Luiz Gonzaga America. The scene shows a family man looking through his son’s bedroom window unfinished like his own history.
“A Mae” (A Mother). Poliana Andreza da Silva. A young mother portrayed in the rented house where she tries to build a home for her little son. The house does not belong to her. Neither does her future.
The Muquifu exhibition was developed at Perfil252, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, by creative directors Márcia Lima and Marcos Pina, art director Rafael Teixeira, copywriter Mateus Coelho, account manager Breno Saturnino, working with exhibition curator Father Mauro Silva, photographer Marco Mendes at Lumini Fotografia, digital artist Sérgio Paulo and producer Marcelo Pereira.
Mauro Silva, a Catholic priest living in Aglomerado Santa Lúcia, explains the thinking behind the Muquifu campaign.
“Issues related to museums became part of my life when I came across the absence of public policies capable of taking care of the history and memory of the slum dwellers, especially now that I am a witness to the “removal” of 1,200 families from Chipboard Santa Lucia, there being only 400 housing units being built. Where will the other 800 families go? Who or which institution is taking care of preserving the history and memory of these families? Two villages will be totally decimated : Vila São Bento and Vila Esperança will disappear to make way for an ecological park. Do the stories and memories of these communities not deserve public policies that ensure their preservation? A museum for whom? You may need to also ask “Which museum?”, since there are various modalities and proposals that can fit in this concept that is actually so broad. The Muquifu is being created for slum dwellers, almost all blacks and impoverished, undesirable and unwanted of this and so many cities they built themselves, where they are no longer considered welcome.”
See more from the Muquifu campaign on Mauro Silva’s Flickr page.