PhotoVerso #44: SOMBRA
The Collector's Guide to Blockchain Photography
Sombra, by HugoFaz
Mika Curated Photography Feature
NFTs on Instagram
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SOMBRA is a photographic collection shot by Brazilian artist Hugo Faz based on a live theatre piece by the same name. Inspired by Alberto Manguel’s “The Library at Night”, which explores humanity’s quest to introduce order into the information we collect, SOMBRA is a response to the Brazilian political climate in Brazil in the late 2010s.
SOMBRA communicates through the nude male body as a medium. The black and white pieces feature nude male bodies shot in a dramatic chiaroscuro.
In HERDED, a group of men stands closely together, chests exposed, heads tilted back, like Renaissance nudes in rapture. They look up at something, arms holding each other or else twisted in dismay. The tallest in the group wears Fernanda Young’s vengeful novel “O Pau (The Dick)” on his face, cover printed with a throat exposed as if for slicing.
The books covering their faces complete the image, simultaneously adding a political layer and obscuring their identity.
Books feature heavily in the collection as a secondary means of communication. The covers a charged combination of essays, dissecting the relationships between classism, capitalism and fascism within Brazilian society, and volumes exploring sexuality beyond the box of hetero- and cis-normativity. The thematics gesture to the causal path between the history of colonial Brazil, the election of military officer Bolsonaro in 2018, and the ensuing degradation of the civil rights of LGBTQIA+ communities, women, and Brazil’s indigenous population.
The harshly lit figures against pitch black background, exaggerated dynamic posing, and incisive framing work together to create a sense of tormented inevitability. SOMBRA is characterized by male nudes in a state of extreme tension, under the pressure and strain of a society that vilifies their bodies.
SOMBRA is explicit and unapologetic, depicting male nudes through a vulnerable and intimate, if violent, lens. These images, delivered shamelessly to a society that finds them obscene, serve as a political act to pull marginalized identities out of the shadow they are cast into by the oppressive glare of an autocratic and intolerant society.
Marginalized groups are the first and loudest critics of regimes designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many. The tyranny of power affects us all subtly, but when its amplified in outcast individuals, the material is pushed into the conscious mind as cause for rebellion. Through their voices, their art, and their very existence, people in the shadows pose dangerous threats to structural, institutionalized oppression. Through its stark depiction of the nude body and the other topics society leaves in the shadow, SOMBRA is a powerful rhetorical weapon against the fascist climate of late 2010’s Brazil.
SOMBRA is available on Foundation. See it here.
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Mika curated photography feature
SR curator Mika assembled a remarkable selection of photographers ranging from street to portraits, stopping by surreal and documentary. Worth the look.
NFTs on Instagram
Eric Reubens walks us through his first sale on instagram. A very helpful and detailed guide for those willing to try the new feature.
Letter from the editor
On December 3rd, we’ll be running our monthly retrospective catalog, titled “Not Your Mother’s Nudes,” featuring photographers making breakthroughs in the nude format. The monthly Catalog is available to paid subscribers, as a show of gratitude for supporting our work with PhotoVerso. Subscribe today to make sure you don’t miss it.
We welcome all subscribers to join us on the Substack app, where we’ll be queuing up the discussion about next month’s thematics.