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Thiago Borba

About the project
In an important moment in the art industry, diverse aesthetic and artistic manifestations seek to capture the Afro-Brazilian subjectivity, #BLVCKSBTFLL - Black is Beautiful is born in Bahia, which was the port of entry of the slave ships in Brazil.

These images propose a generous look on the black body as a form of historical repair of the image constructed of people of colour over the years, most often stigmatising and marginalising this body, silencing their spiritual and phenotypic powers that in turn have their self-esteem compromised, reflecting a structural racism that made blacks deny their own image by “whitening” their existence to feel they belonged  within a society ruled by white supremacy.

Without artifice, lack of cultural values, religious and sexual orientation, the composition of images seeks to reveal the black genesis, bringing together elements that point to a place of origin: nature, the cradle of the ancestry of the bodies photographed.

The title of the project is a reference to the Black-and-Beautiful African-American cultural movement that happened in the 1960s and 1970s in the United States, deconstructing the notion instilled by racism that the natural black phenotype is ugly or less attractive than the Eurocentric beauty standard.

About the Artist
Black is Beautiful: Diving into the Colour of Brazil

Thiago Borba’s photographs in the ‘Black is Beautiful’ series (#BLVCKSBTFLL) gathers multiple beauties, combining a great number of models, a strong background concept, and the mesmerizing Afro-Brazilian aesthetics. Borba was born and raised in Salvador de Bahia, and after having spent 12 years far from his home town, he found the artistic proposal that was actually already within himself.

‘Black is Beautiful’ was born from the urge to return to the origins and to praise black strength and beauty that for a long time, in Borba’s own words, “has been put aside of what is acknowledged as beautiful”. The photographer was then back to Salvador after having spent two years in Spain where he studied Photography, and then years in São Paulo where he worked with the most relevant fashion magazines, such as Vogue, Elle, GQ and Cosmopolitan, among others.

When in São Paulo, Borba rekindled the identity of Bahia: The idea of miscegenation, abolishing the distinction of colour or race. He started this process unconsciously when he founded the Carnaval block ‘Tarado Ni Você’ together with two friends. The block aims to pay tribute to Caetano Veloso, focusing on the worth of black music and beauty.

Adding the Carnaval block initiative to another previous project ‘Jeito de Corpo’, the photographer finally felt ready to understand his true call by showing that black is beautiful. “I’ve noticed that this type of beauty was not where it was supposed to be. I wanted to merge these two worlds, bringing some warmth”, he stated.

The same warmth that can be found in Bahia has been found in his work, and so captivating worldwide attention from diverse media - including media specialized in Afro art and culture.

Placing the black beauty in its deserved spot is just one of the relevant aspects of Borba’s work. His professional trajectory reveals extensive research work and a deep interest in the black cultural heritage, from music and religion to its aesthetics.

“#BLVCKSBTFLL means the origin, the past and the future of black beauty as a protagonist. It also exposes the power of Brazilian colour, especially in Bahia, the cradle of Africa in Brazil”, concludes Borba.

Writing by Pedro Henrique França. Pedro is a  journalist, author, screenwriter and an admirer of Thiago Borba’s work.

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