Photography, 2022

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 pas.

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