Letter from London: Terry O’Neill Award Show at Hotshoe Gallery

URBAN QUILOMBO

URBAN QUILOMBO

The city of Salvador de Bahia in Brazil has a housing deficit of 150,000 that leaves thousands of families living on the streets. Most of these families are descendants of slaves. Since the days of slavery, 500 years ago, in Salvador de Bahia wealth and poverty are inseparable from the colour of the skin, which is one of the oldest forms of segregation in the world. Since 2003 the “Movimento dos Sem Teto da Bahia” (The Homeless Movement) has been seeking farms, factories or abandoned buildings in the city of Salvador de Bahia to offer a home to these families.

Seven years ago 60 homeless families occupied the “Galpão da Araújo Barreto”, a chocolate factory abandoned in front the sea. They were looking for a decent place to live and a more prosperous future for their children far away from the dangerous streets of Salvador de Bahia. After seven years of occupation they are losing hope of getting out of that situation. It’s hard to fight against a political and economic system from overcrowding, appalling poverty and hardship every day. The government offers no alternatives to these families and no dialogue to end this situation and for that reason today 129 families are living in this factory in precarious conditions. This type of occupations are usual in Brazilian History. At the times of slavery, the slaves who escaped from the plantations met in the quilombos. The quilombos were places of freedom and resistance to oppression and inhuman living conditions. Today, unfortunately, the history repeats itself. Since the 40s, when the city of Salvador experienced a very high population, growth and social inequality became more apparent. Now the most disadvantaged people is joining again and creating new living spaces like the abandoned chocolate factory. Before, the quilombos were located on the outskirts of the city. Today the urban quilombos are spaces of resistance and hope inside the city.

I started this project in 2009, since this moment I have travelled three times to Salvador de Bahia to know how life develops in these urban quilombos.