The Undesirables

Chantal James


Chantal James spent five years documenting a group of street children, born into an inequitable class system in Rio de Janeiro. The Undesirables is an exhibition of intimate images, depicting ordinary moments in the lives of abandoned teenagers who are often living through private experiences within public spaces. Despite their youthful joie de vivre, there are glimpses into a harsh and uncaring world, which is the social fabric of their everyday existence. James tenderly invites her subjects to face the camera as they are–unposed and real.

The artist uses saturated colours and vivid natural light to offset her subjects’ otherwise dire circumstances. This emphasizes the photographic image itself, and how it is visually perceived and understood in relation to the subject. Through the lived experiences of these youths, Brazil is conveyed as a place of stark contrasts where beauty and poverty intermingle. The allure of place–tropical palm trees, sandy beaches, and sun-kissed surfers–is juxtaposed with the impoverished reality of these locals. This group portrait reveals the underlying social systems that shape an urban environment by exploring themes of identity, racism, and exclusion.

Film Screening & Artist Talk→