Windows of Julio Bittencourt

Photos of Brazilian photographer Julio Bittencourt catch your look with their mood, composition, beauty of the subject and project being well-thought.


Julio spent almost a year of his life taking pictures of inhabitants of an abandoned skyscraper in Sao-Paolo, all those pictures he combined in his project “In a Window of Prestes Maia 911”

I contacted Julio and asked to give me a short interview exclusively for readers of PhotoDoto.

– Your age, education, hometown, current place of residence?

– 32. Hometown São Paulo, same place of residence today.

– Most important exhibitions (past, current, upcoming)

– Hard to tell the most important. All of them are to me. If I had to choose I would say Cicero Galerie (Berlin), Point of View Gallery (New York), Leica Galleries (all Continents), MASP (Museum of Art of São Paulo) and Rencontresd’Arles (Arles).

– When did you start being interested/practicing photography?

– I was presented to photography truly by accident around the year 2000 and my interest began around that time. From then on I decided it was what I wanted to do with my life – become a photographer. Beyond being my profession, it is definitely my greatest passion in life.

– What other artistic activities you perform?

– Just photography. Wish I could paint though…

– Please tell more about your project “In a window of Prestes Maia 911 Building”

– It is a subject I follow for five years now in two different projects. The MSTC (Movement of homeless from the Center), occupied Prestes Maia building from 2002 to 2007 and I developed this project from 2005 to 2008, portraying its residents in their windows. The intent and outcome of the project was reportedly built: photograph window by window to then ‘reconstruct’ the building in an arbitrary manner. It was kind of a ‘game’ that we proposed to ourselves – photographer and photographed. Look at windows, from windows. Something that I think translates well our fragmentary experience with the city. For myself and more important for the people photographed here, these images and this work served as microphone does in the ghettos throughout the world, giving voice to people that otherwise would probably never be heard, in this case seeing..

– Would be great to know more about your current projects, what are you working on?

– Sure. Right now I’m developing two projects – Citizen X in São Paulo and Ramos swimming pool in Rio de Janeiro. The first is sort of a continuation of the Prestes Maia work although it has a very different approach as well as the photographic language used. ‘Continuation’ at least regarding the subject of the previous work – the organized social movements that fight for housing in SP.. The second one, ‘Ramos’, is about a public swimming pool in the suburbs of Rio. I’ve been shooting both stories for more than a year now and they are also book projects that shall be published sometime in 2010. Next year I’ll begin a really long-term project around the world that should go for at least five years but I’ll tell you about this one further on. 😉

– In general, your photos are more spontaneous or composed before in your mind?

– Depends on the work/story, what you want to say and most importantly how.

In the Prestes Maia and Citizen X work it was through portraits of the people that I found the questions above – which only brought more questions! In the Ramos swimming pool project, although there are also a few portraits, I tend to ‘control’ less, even though I do control what I ‘let in’ the frame.

– Do you have some specific approach or intention in your work, special meaning and message to audience?

– Of course, but it varies from work to work I guess. Regardless of messages of any kind, I think the major role that photography plays is to ‘throw’ subjects on the table so people can first see and discuss to then maybe create their own point of view, no matter of what was ‘thrown at their table’.

– Can you describe stages of your photographic process?

– Also varies from work to work. I usually tend to spend some time figuring out the place, studying the light, etc. Technical stuff. The initial part of this process though, of getting familiar with the people, place and more important of them getting used to your presence is essential to what will come after. Just as you can many times see the ‘photographers in their photographs’, you can usually also see in what degree they ‘dove’ into a certain story – to me it shows their commitment to what they are doing and that alone takes time.

What usually inspires you?

– Life. I believe more in patience than in inspiration..

– Name your favourite artists, photographers, people whose works you enjoy

– Two Photographers: Miguel Rio Branco and Martin Chambi.

– What would you advise to beginners in photography?

– Comfortable shoes.

By John B

John Berd is a well-known fashion photographer that lives in Paris and studies history of art.

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