Mário Macilau: Growing in Darkness Publication

Kehrer Verlag, October 1, 2016

Some years ago, I started working with street children in Mozambique, spending time with them in order to gain a deeper understanding of their reality. The photographs do not necessarily aim to represent these children. Instead, my work attempts to give them a voice, a stage: to shine a light on their fleeting and fragile lives. These photographs offer the children a space of relief, whereby the children can compose them, play with their image and reflect on their own appearance. Considering that these children are engaged in child labor, we can say that they contribute to the functioning of our society. What is our role in this? How can we remedy their unfavorable situation?

- Mário Macilau


Photography has always had a fascinating relationship with life where it complicates, illuminates or even conceals things. It is the role of the photographer to display a level of sensitivity and consistency towards both his/her medium and subject matter that will determine what is made visible by these cracks and thereby revealed to a collective psyche. Mário Macilau’s photography is a powerful documentation of a complex history implicit to the challenging circumstances of homeless children living in the city of Maputo, Mozambique. It makes a significant contribution not only to African photography but also to the tradition of black and white photography. Growing in Darkness thus forms part of a necessary lexicon that navigates between the veracity of lightness and darkness. It denotes a precarious human condition by reflecting a reality that  is often overlooked, shunned and even suppressed. Yet it also illustrates the agility of the human spirit and its tenacity to survive, exist and imagine.

- Roger Ballen


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