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Marcela Bonfim (Jaú, São Paulo, 1983), a Look at the Afro-Brazilian Culture


She graduated in Economics from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP, 2008) and is a human rights and public safety expert from the Federal University Foundation of Rondônia (UNIR, 2011). She went to the city of Porto Velho in 2010, where she got her first job as an economist. In the state of Rondônia, she acquired a semi-professional photographic camera and started to focus on Quilombola communities, traditional Black families, their religiosity, and their forms of cultural expression. Marcela emphasizes that this photographic experience in the Amazon meant a rescue of her own identity as a Black woman. In 2016, she started the project “(Re)conhecendo a Amazônia Negra: povos, costumes e influências negras na floresta” (Re)cognizing the Black Amazon: Peoples, Customs and Black Influences in the Forest), with the goal of making visible and valuing Blackness in the Amazon, covering 13 Brazilian states. In the city of Porto Velho, she worked as a magazine reporter for Revista Interoceânica (2010), as well as a photographer and press officer in the project “Reabilitando pela Arte: cultura de paz pela não violência,” (Rehabilitation through Art: for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence) in the Male Prison System of Rondônia (2013). With her photographic approach, she collaborated in the play “As Nove Luas” (The Nine Moons), which went around different cities in Rondônia (2014), having also worked as producer and still of the short film Prova de Recuperação (Make-up Exam) (2014), winning the award for “best regional film” of the Fest Cine Amazônia. She participated in the collective exhibition Olhares (Glances), with the work Nossos terreiros e brasilidades (Our Afro-Brazilian Ritual Places and Brasilities) that toured Porto Velho’s public state schools, besides working as photographer for the ICMbio/RO – National Park of the Amazon Fields (2015). At the exhibition Alma Adornada (Adorned Soul) (Paraty, 2019-2020), the artist displayed portraits of Black women from Paraty. In 2021, she won the PIPA Prize. She is also a poet and a singer.



“A Black body behind the photographic camera builds another relationship. I saw it reflected in my own image. As if I were making a self-portrait. At the same time, it was as if I also saw my grandmother, my mother, my father, in those photos, in those registers. Everybody in my family. I always asked people, after taking their photos: Who are you? Where did you come from? What did you do, what do you do? What do you like, did you like…’. These answers, these stories of our ancestors, are the only ways to learn about the history of Black people. My history. “ (CARVALHO, 2020)

“[…] in 2010, a Marcela who only wanted a job as an economist arrived in Porto Velho. Today, it is a Marcela a little more self-conscious of her image who experiences Rondônia as the healing of her own wounds. It was many years of ‘turning white’ until getting here. My thinking head was white, but the body denounced Blackness! And this chance to (re)know Rondônia showed me the many and possible existing images within a Black body, which is unified by a strategy of ‘racial capital.’ (VIANA, 2020)


Consulted Bibliography

CAMPELO, Lilian. “A Amazônia me fez descobrir a minha negritude” afirma fotógrafa Marcela Bonfim. Brasil de Fato, 18 out. 2016. Disponível em: Acesso 2 jul. 2021.

CARVALHO, Diana. Artista registra a Amazônia em busca de novo olhar sobre o corpo negro. Ecoa, São Paulo, 5 jul. 2020. Disponível em: Acesso 2 jul. 2021.

DINES, Yara Schreiber. The Substance of Images Brazilian Women Photographers. São Paulo: Editora Grifo, 2021.

(RE)CONHECENDO a Amazônia negra: povos, costumes, influências negras na floresta. Disponível em: Acesso 2 jul. 2021.

RODA de conversa encerra Alma Adornada. Sesc Paraty, 4 fev. 2020. Disponível em: Acesso 2 jul. 2021.

VIANA, Cassiano. Novos nomes da fotografia no Brasil – Marcela Bonfim – Porto Velho, Rondônia. Itaú Cultural, 6 nov. 2020. Disponível em: Acesso 2 jul. 2021.

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