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Bolivia in São Paulo
Everyday, thousands of Bolivians arrive in the city of São Paulo. They come from many Bolivian cities and other countries like Peru and Argentina and bring with themselves lot of hope with the opportunity and promise for a new life.
Along with this hope, those immigrants also bring willingness to do any king of work in any kind of place. Obviously with this attitude they become completely vulnerable to the city and consequently, to the employers. As an illegal person (because the majority do not have permission to work) they find themselves in sub-human conditions, which they cannot avoid or fight against because of their illegal status. But these immigrants submit themselves and “accept” this condition, just to get inside of the system and probably because their lives were much worse in their native country .
Portraying these persons, the attitude and the vague look they bring become evident and sprout on the pictures as if it was an attempt to become neutral against that of the society in which they live. On the other hand, when they dress up in their traditional clothes and trappings, it changes their posture in front of the camera.
After a long time documenting the Bolivian immigrants in the city of São Paulo, I made this series of portraits to summarize and to provide an outcome to all the research so far produced. After many visits to places where these community usually meets in varied areas of the city, I realized how these people actually go unnoticed by the majority of the population. Even though a significant and consistent visual change has been happening in São Paulo and only a few notice or even give themselves the chance to, a rich culture, that many are unaware of, is slowly blending with the Brazilian culture.
Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Leandro Viana is a freelance documentary photographer based in New York City. After breaking into the field through fashion, editorial, and advertising photography, most notably at DPZ, one of Brazil’s leading advertising agencies, Leandro began documenting social issues such as immigration, refugees, and human rights. His series documenting Bolivian migration in São Paulo was awarded the 2011 Conrado Wessel Award in Brazil and was featured at the Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography in January 2013.