In this three-portraits project titled “Atreve-te” (dare in Portuguese),
the photographer Bruno Oliveira takes the big stage of the theater of the
representations and turns all the wrongs into rights. And he does it
confronting you with this simple question:
What are “faux pas” when they’re played
out among and through minorities? Are they really faux or are they in
fact expressions of liberation?
Minorities don’t get many choices. But we know this very well: living
under and/or living up to the conditions that are imposed to us for a long
period without cracking up and losing our essence. Some of us push it further
and learn how to remain authentic in between the lines of the tolerance that is
granted to us. Yet despite our fights, emancipations and liberations, our
bodies, class, race, ethnicity and sexual identities remain the playground for
binary, racist, sexist and heteronormative political debates sponsored by our
dignity and sanity.
If daring to be, as we are, not as you want us to be, is a faux pas, then
so be it. These three portraits express the exaggerated yet soft desire to
be seen, respected and appreciated as we are. Not as you
wish us to be because it makes the majority of you more comfortable. Not as you
would prefer us to be so that your perfect bubble can be preserved and continue
to shame and blame upcoming generations.
No. What these three portraits tell you is that despite the conditions we
are put under and by proudly embracing the identity that sticks to our skins,
we will always choose a faux pas if it means to us to be free.
And here goes another question Bruno Oliveira
throws your way with “Atreve-te”:
If being as we are, living our dreams and wishing for liberation is
considered a faux pas, then what name do we give to the violence and the
discrimination we go through? Is it bravery to oppress someone for the secrecy
and preservation of the “faux pas”? Is sexualizing, beating, killing and
dishonoring us therefor justified?
In a world where only a few are truly free,
freedom for the rest of us can only be guaranteed by a chain reaction of faux
And whatever you see in these pictures,
whatever reaction you feel towards it:
repulsion, desire, judgement, admiration…
Remember, those are your faux pas.
We make ours. We live ours. We are righteously
and authentically faux.
Text by Ana-Filipa Martins
© BRUNO OLIVEIRA - 2023