The brilliant Mozambican photographer, Mario Macilau arrives in London for his first U.K. solo show, The Road Not Taken. This follows his participation in The Saatchi Gallery’s first Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America exhibition last year. The Road Not Taken brings together a compelling selection of black and white photographs from his new Out of Town series as well as powerful images from the acclaimed Cement and Growing in Darkness series; all focusing on marginalized groups of people within Mozambique.
Most of Macilau’s work is concerned with representing the plight of marginalised people but what makes his images so haunting is the absence of voyeurism and intrusion that is the back-story of many photographs in the public domain. Here there is a palpable sense of trust between photographer and subject as Macilau provokes a shared sense of humanity between sitter and viewer despite the extreme differences in circumstance. Macilau’s explicit aim is to allow his models to tell their stories. The results are often harrowing as well as beautiful but they invariably invoke a sense of shared humanity.
Macilau’s Out of Town series documents the living and working conditions of socially isolated or marginalized groups living in rural or peri-urban areas of Africa, with a focus on some of the negative socio-economic effects of migrant labour and foreign investment in developing countries. His Cement series documents the tragic lives of young people trapped in the world of illegal cement bagging operations in Maputo and Growing in Darkness is an un-patronizing and haunting portrayal of a group street children in Mozambique.