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Artigo dedicado à CAMILA DE SOUSA na NY Arts!

camila de sousa

Incarcerated Meanings 

By Álvaro Luis Lima

I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys having ID pictures taken. Should one smile at the camera or go for a serious look at the risk of having your picture compared to a mug shot? In some areas of the world, these pictures are named after their size, a mere “3x4” centimeters, whereas in others, they are called “passport photos” or “document pictures.” Despite our expressive choices made when photographed, most people dislike how those identification cards turn out because of the distorted presentation of how one might like her image to be perceived.

Playing with the anxieties associated with photography and its institutional framings, Camila de Sousa titles her photographic series 3x4 (2011). This up-and-coming Mozambican artist chooses to represent women who are known to society as inmates—some from a detention center in Maputo, and others from one in Ndlhavela. Intrigued by the women’s position as prisoners, De Sousa attempts to look at perspectives different from the representations made by the legal system, comparing the conventional archetypes of these women to “3x4” photographs.

In the hope of complicating the “3x4” representation of the women living in Mozambican prisons, the artist applied her training as an anthropologist and inhabited both prisons, along with her subjects, for several months. De Sousa’s artistic process developed organically through her day-to-day contact with these women; the photographs reveal a negotiation between the artist and her subjects regarding how the finished piece would look. Speaking to David Durbach for the South African Magazine Mahala, De Sousa explains: “My foundation in anthropology helped me a lot. I went there for three months and didn’t take anything—I just talked to them. But then suddenly, they started to open up.”

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