Milano – From 11 June to 30 September 2021 the art gallery c|e Contemporary of Milan hosts, in the section Discovery, the photographic exhibition Riding the Turtles, first solo show in Italy of João Coelho.
Milano – «I avoid photographing people or scenes that, due to their violence, obscenity, racism or religious beliefs, go beyond what is acceptable, even from a documentary or journalistic photo point of view». Proprio questa grande sensibilità e rispetto che traspare dalle foto in bianco e nero scattate da João Coelho in Angola, his country of origin. Returning to the place where he was born and spent his childhood, the artist, after 10 years of photographic inactivity, has resumed expressing himself through his Canon, spurred on by emotional and sentimental charm exerted by this land abandoned as a teenager but whose memory has remained well impressed in the mind.
Milano – Observing the succession of his shots you enter a world made of simple imagination. What is documented by the photographer is in fact the game of a group of children 6 and 7 years old in Angola, more precisely on the so-called Mabangas Beach where there is an immense one expanse of shells of Mabangas shells, a common mollusk from the west coast of Africa that is very popular as an aperitif and as an accompaniment to pirao, a sort of puree prepared with cassava flour, the basis of Angolan cuisine. Each of these shells is opened by the expert hands of numerous women who work here to sell the mabangas in the different markets that orbit the capital, Luanda.
What remains of this tiring and long work are the mountains of shellfish skeletons that, however, gain new life thanks to a group of children who compete on them as if they were a roller coaster. In this part of the world children do not know amusement parks and games in the latest fashion, what they can rely on to have fun is only their unbridled imagination that allows them to make their toys using what the sea leaves on the shores of the beach. when it retreats at low tide. What we call waste, which still too often is not recycled but thrown into the sea, such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans, pieces of wood, polystyrene and fishing nets are instead recovered by children and processed to give them new life by transforming them into boats. , cars, puppets and much more.
The artist uses the term in describing these groups of children cameraism because it is not uncommon for them to share food, games or money earned by helping mothers, grandmothers and aunts, as soldiers do at the front. Their life is made up of sharing what little they have and is marked by the rhythm of the sea, the wind and the sun. Their favorite game is obviously to launch themselves from the top of the shell hills by guiding the turtle shells left by the fishermen on the beach after finishing their meal. The more adventurous throw themselves on this unconventional toboggan in groups of three, in other cases the more experienced hold the little ones on their legs to show them how the game works. After the steep descent, the adrenaline mixes with the joy, laughter and screams of the children who find this to be the best fun in the world.
Coelho, thanks to the rediscovery of his origins and the sincere relationship created with the people who populate his photographs, confessed that he had transformed into a much simpler and more human person rethinking the priorities of one’s life. To enter the world of the Angolans and be accepted in their community, he had to show himself as humble and simple as them, perhaps knowing their language or even better their slang, respecting their privacy and moments of silence.
The exhibition can be visited from 11 June to 30 September 2021 at the C | E Contemporary gallery in Milan (via Tiraboschi 2/76, internal courtyard) in the following opening time: from Tuesday to Saturday from 9.00 to 13.00 and from 15.00 to 19.00 (with reservation via email always recommended). The inauguration is scheduled for Friday 11 June at 6.00 pm, in the presence of the curators Batsceba Hardy e Christine Enrile. For more information call the numbers 02 45483822 O 348 9031514.
This event was updated with new information on 06/08/2021 at 13:03.
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