Kolor Collective: Afro-feminism in Rio de Janeiro

The latest series by Brazil-based artists Kolor Art Collective is a tribute to the combined strength of two emancipating forces: feminism and the afro culture.

The latest series by the Rio de Janeiro-based group Kolor Art Collective is a tribute to the combined strength of feminism and afro culture. Black women in Brazil (and in most countries) are taken hostage by both racism and misogyny. While facing a large array of issues including sexual abuse, domestic violence, police brutality, cultural stereotyping, income inequality, lack of healthcare and education, they are heavily underrepresented politically and in the media. They have been recently taking their struggle to the streets, to social networks and to the stage of larger, mainstream music and art festivals. The Kolor Art Collective is taking part in this movement via visual provocation. 

The sets for this particular shoot were built from scratch in the collective’s studio, in the heart of Rio de Janeiro. The models, performers, actors, drags featured on the photos belong to Rio's militant anarcho-humanist microcosm and had a great influence in the conception of characters and scenes. The other key ingredient being the photographer's distinct use of theatrical and glam-trash aesthetics.  

We talked to Paul Kurucz, a Franco-Hungarian photographer and Kolor Collective’s founder, about the series. 

How have people responded to this second series?

With a lot of interest, in particular here in Brazil where the topic is extremely real. Even more so now that a wave of right wing, conservative, white politicians have taken power in large cities and in the top of the state creating an atmosphere of fear for those classes of the population (including black women) who have been always underrepresented but at least the left have tried to improve their condition. 

Can you describe any of the individual images and how they deal with the issues that you mention?

Our collective's philosophy is always to let the viewers interpret the images in their own way, without interfering in this process. Most of the pictures contain both first and second degree messages that should be understood by all according to their references, views, sensibilities. 

What is the power of art to draw attention to problems? And to make a change?

It is a very indirect power, one that grows inside souls and at a given moment evolves into sentiments, opinions, will power and can ultimately move mountains. It draws attention to problems by playing a music in our minds that is very different from the everyday, objective, material noise that we are used to. Looking at a topic via art is like listening to a song instead of a speech...

What are you future plans?

To make, publish and exhibit new series dealing with sensitive social issues

Who are the members of the Kolor Collective? Are you artists, activists, young, female, mixed?

The collective comprises six artists from three countries (Brazil, France, Hungary): four females, two males (including a photographer - art director), two set designers, two stylists and one retoucher.