Andre Cypriano: Photographing the Humanity of the Favelas

Cultures of Resistance is excited to partner with Andre Cypriano to bring attention to the struggle of the people of the Brazilian Favelas. Andre is a Brazilian photographer who reveals the humanity of those living in his country’s slums, provoking us to look deeper at the roots of the drug trade and urban violence. The sprawling slums of Brazil—known as favelas—are often portrayed as lawless havens populated by violent criminals. There are not many journalists or artists who have devoted their work to finding out what is actually happening within these marginalized spaces. Photographer Andre Cypriano is an exception. A native of Brazil, Cypriano has studied some of the world’s biggest slums, including the famous Rocinha shantytown in Rio de Janeiro. Armed with only his camera, he reveals the humanity of those who have made lives amid precarious circumstances. This short film follows the photographer into the favelas and shows Cypriano's faith in the power of his medium. As the artist says, “Photography is a weapon; it’s transformative. It’s capable of things that real weapons cannot do.”

A native of Brazil, André Cypriano was born in 1964 and educated in São Paulo with a university degree in business administration. Concerned with environmental issues, he contributed time and effort as the administrator of "Salva Mar" Save the Sea - a Brazilian organization dedicated to save the whales in North Brazil. In 1990, one year after relocating to the U.S., André began to study photography in San Francisco. He has since completed several projects which have been exhibited in several galleries and museums in South America, North America and Europe. André has been a recipient of the first place award in San Francisco City College's Photography Department of Scholarship (July 1992), the World Image Award Competition promoted by Photo District News in N.Y. (Dec. 1992), New Works Awards - promoted by En Foco in N.Y. (July 1998), Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography (Sep.1999), Bolsa Vitae de Artes in São Paulo (Jan. 2002), Caracas Think Tank (Jan. 2003), as well as All Roads Photography Program from National Geographic Society (Oct. 2005). As part of a long term project, Cypriano began to document traditional lifestyles and practices of lesser known societies in remote corners of the world with a slant toward the unique and unusual. Thus far, he has photographed the people of Nias, an island off the northwest coast of Sumatra (Nias - Jumping Stones), the dogs of Bali (Spiritual Quest), the infamous penitentiary of Candido Mendes, in Rio de Janeiro (The Devil's Caldron – book published by Cosac & Naify), the largest shanty town in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro (Rocinha – book published by SENAC Editoras), the 10 most important shantytowns of Rio de Janeiro. The shantytowns of Caracas (The Culture of the Informal Cities – book published by CaracasThinkTank), as well as the culture of resistance of the quilombolas people (Quilombolas – book published by Aori Produções). His ongoing projects have been used in educational workshops. Currently, André Cypriano works as a free-lance photographer in New York and Rio, and continues to be involved in social and cultural activities.

Andre's Work

To see Andre's latest photographic work, be sure to visit him at his website. There you can view his latest portfolios, buy prints, and read up on his current inspirations. Rocinha: An Orphan Town is Andre's documentary portrait of life inside of Rio de Janiero's biggest favela. To purchase a copy of the book on Amazon click here. To stay up to date on the news from the Favelas, you can follow Andre on Twitter @andrecypriano or on Facebook .