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Photography as a reflection of two cultures


A Canadian photographs Brazil; a Brazilian, snapping pictures of Canada. The exhibition “Olhares Cruzados” or “Exchange of Glances” reflects on the similarities and differences between the two countries

April 1, 2019 - Have you ever imagined how a foreigner sees the landscapes you've become accustomed to from the time you were born? What is the strangeness and wonder caused by images that seem so natural and affectionate to us? What are the similarities between two seemingly distant cultures? This is precisely the purpose of the series of photographs that are part of the exhibition "Olhares Cruzados Brasil-Canadá" opened on March 21 at Casa Fiat de Cultura, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.

The exhibition, designed by the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce (CCBC) and part of the 5th edition program of the Festival de la Francophonie, features 15 images of Ottawa, the capital of Canada, captured by the lenses of Brazilian photographer Kazuo Okubo, and 15 other images made by Canadian photographer Daniel Stanford, of the urban landscapes of Brasilia, capital of Brazil. Because Okubo is a native of Brasilia and Stanford is from Ottawa, the pair switched countries and cities in search of what's new and what is seen as everyday life for the other. The work presents the contrasts, but also the similarities between colors, scenarios and constructions of two capitals separated by more than 7 thousand km, 15 hours of flight and a vast ocean.

Daniel has known Brazil for 12 years and, in more than one visit, has been to Rio de Janeiro, Manaus and Lençóis Maranhenses, which generated the series of photographs "Brazil Sea of Dunes", transformed into a book. Brasilia, however, was a novelty. "It was always my dream to see it", he says, adding that he was not disappointed: "the aesthetic is so artistic, beautiful, original and clean".

Kazuo had never visited Canada, but the experience captivated him. "I really wanted to know more about the country and get a closer look into this culture", says the Brazilian. "I noticed in Ottawa the presence of the contrast between the grandeur of the classic and the modern", says the photographer, using the Palace of Parliament as an example, as well as the large glass towers in the center of the city. And what's the biggest challenge the city has imposed on Kazuo? The cold. "I experienced temperatures of -5 ºC or -9 ºC with the wind-chill factor", he recalls. But the cold days provided a welcome surprise to the Brazilian: "Since I had never seen snow, it was a remarkable sight for me.


"Daniel, accustomed to thermometers scoring low temperatures, found an ally in the direct sunlight, which often defies photographers. A lover of natural lighting, he points out that Brasília was conceived by favoring this element. "I felt lucky for the good weather, clear days with movements provided by clouds and evening rain, which gave me the dramatic deep blue and dark sky that we see in my photos", says the Canadian. He emphasizes that he did not make any changes to the pictures: he just had to wait for the right time of day, with brighter sunlight, to make his vibrant contrasting shots.

As to how the two capitals differ, the Brazilian photographer cites the classical architecture of much of Ottawa — as opposed to the modernist lines quite predominant in Brasilia — and the climate. "A similarity is that we see very few people walking in the streets, except during rush hour", he says. In the case of Canada, this is due to the hostile cold. In Brasilia, the emptiness on the wide avenues is part of the very essence of the city and cars become characters within the urban landscape. On the “Exchange of Glances” experience, he proposes a synthesis and emphasizes that even in the differences there is approximation and reception: "These are the recorded images of two foreigners. They are views of what impresses when one arrives in a new city, when one faces a totally different climate and different people. But at the same time I identified myself, I noticed Brasilia in Ottawa".


Fernão Silveira, president of Casa Fiat de Cultura, believes that there are many merits to such an exchange. He believes that the photographs, when registering the urban landscapes of the two capitals, allow a reflection on the elements present in the images.

"From there, we add the imagination of each person, where they can stimulate new views about these cultures, places, behaviors, climates and lifestyle habits", he says.

For Silveira, photography is a form of expression that arouses interest in the public in the way it manifests itself in everyday life. "It is a language that has rediscovered its power and, therefore, stimulates everyone", he says, highlighting that young people, "are already inserted in a reality where the world is seen, posted and experienced through a photographic lens." In conjunction with the exhibition, Casa Fiat de Cultura promotes the Mini photography Course — Urban Landscape, free and open to the public.

For those who are in the Belo Horizonte region, the exhibition "Olhares Cruzados Brasil-Canadá in Casa Fiat de Cultura" goes until May 19 and is free, like all the programs. Simply go to Praça da Liberdade, nº 10, Funcionarios neighborhood , Tuesday to Friday, from 10am to 9pm; and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10am to 6pm.


Words: Bárbara Caldeira

Pictures: Daniel Stanford / Kazuo Okubo

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