You might get a jolt of déjà vu looking at Brazilian artist Lucio Carvalho’s photographic work. Significant images in his portfolio feature monuments of culture – a towering Tate, a sinewy Bilbao Guggenheim, a sun-reflected Louvre – contemporary institutions that have proved integral to the architecture of a city’s art scene. However, in each of these images, something is a little off – the usual foreground and background are hijacked with paraphernalia (shopping bags, STOP signs, yellow plastic chairs) that reveal no explicit tie to the museum or gallery. The images are both familiar and unfamiliar, not so much a trick of the eye as a trick of our cultural systems.
Using photography as his medium, and digital manipulation as his process, Carvalho presents a discourse on both the social, cultural and aesthetic landscape of his native Brazil – the chaotic dichotomies of urban and rural, of old and new – and our acceptance of iconic landmarks within and without context. His works labelled ‘invasion’ or ‘occupation’ are instances where Carvalho questions the power of culture and these institutions in quarters of poverty – he inverts the question by pasting over cultural centers with images of the urban lower class.