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The Brazil that Deserves Brazil – Walter Firmo
 21.Ago.2019 a 06.Out.2019

The strength and resilience of the culture of diverse African peoples who were brought to the Americas is remarkable, perhaps unique in the history of migrations, whether voluntary or forced.

Faced with the conditions of oppression and violence imposed by slavery, African cultures not only survived but took root, created numerous strategies of resistance, persisted, and influenced to such an extent that they became predominant in various aspects. From small countries like Cuba and Haiti to giants like Brazil and the United States, the African heritage was the source that shaped what is most original and captivating in their cultures.

The recognition of the impressive strength and importance of Black people in the Americas is still far from deserved and is almost always implicit and sporadic. This exhibition presents itself as a recognition. It pays a double tribute: to the Black people of Brazil and to one of their brilliant figures, one of the greatest photographers in the country. The extensive work of Walter Firmo – which begins in photojournalism and follows many paths, always in an intriguing way – can be enjoyed in different aspects. But the main vein of this precious mine of images is dedicated to blackness.

The art, elegance, beauty, knowledge, empathy, attitude, and tradition of the Black community move the photographer, who has made his work a continuous exaltation of a people. The bold color, intense light, or eyes that shine in the dark, spontaneous or constructed scenes, and the beauty of his images produce in us a feeling of euphoria. They capture many meanings. It is impossible to remain indifferent to a photograph by Walter Firmo. His work is already part of our imagination, even without us realizing it. Whether because he portrayed great Brazilian figures for articles or covers of iconic albums, or because he presents anonymous faces that seem so familiar. Among the 168 photographs chosen for this exhibition is the figure of Joãozinho Trinta, this brilliant Maranhense (related to the state of Maranhão) who saw, like few others, the aesthetic sense and luxury of the Black soul, setting up splendid stages for it to shine. Walter Firmo shows a Brazil full of attitude, culture, spirit, and generosity. A Brazil that has always offered much more than it has received. A Brazil that resists as its ancestors resisted. A Brazil that continues to be what it is.

The Brazil that Deserves Brazil
Paula Porta – Curator


The Vale Museum presents the exhibition “O Brasil que merece o Brasil” by the Carioca (from Rio de Janeiro) photographer Walter Firmo. The exhibition, consisting of 171 photos, vividly illustrates the nuances of a diverse, cultural, and human Brazil, where the black community, through Firmo’s records, is honored, and its protagonism is recognized in the creation and maintenance of Brazil’s cultural heritage.

The exhibition spans records from the 1960s to 2017, forming a true legacy of images that tell stories. Firmo’s work rediscovers, in an identity-affirming manner, both anonymous individuals and personalities who, in the end, feel close to us, almost like family. Another striking characteristic in Walter’s work is the dominant presence of vibrant colors in total harmony with a light that captivates the viewer, together adorning these figures with mastery, exalting the strength and beauty of black culture. Originally conceived and presented by the Centro Cultural Vale Maranhão (CCVM) and showcased at the Memorial Minas Gerais Vale (MMGV), the exhibition arrives at the Vale Museum as part of the Cultural Itinerary program of the Vale Foundation. The initiative aims to contribute to the democratization of culture by circulating programming among Vale’s cultural spaces in three different regions of the country.

About Walter Firmo

Walter Firmo’s photographic journey began in photojournalism when he joined the Última Hora newspaper as a young boy. He later worked for Jornal do Brasil, magazines like Realidade, Manchete, Isto É, among others, and served as a photojournalist in various countries. In the 1990s, he started working as a freelancer, dedicating more time to his personal work. The artist has an impressive career of almost 70 years and remains active, producing and teaching.