Labour of Freedom

Labour of Freedom

The Photography of Lita Cerqueira

In Celebration of the 130 years of the Abolition of Slavery in Brazil

In a country where racism is still a social and economic issue, the work of Lita Cerqueira has been capturing the Afro-Brazilian culture for 45 years. In Labour of Freedom, you will see expressions of freedom showing Afro-Brazilians in some of their life’s environments, working, playing, worshipping. The images were taken between 1976 and 1999 in the North East of Brazil and in Rio de Janeiro along the career of Lita.

The exhibition is shared in three parts.

On the first part, you will see images of women working independently, and interact amongst themselves or simply with the camera.

Those women looks reflect generations of their economic and social positions within society. Still, they devote themselves to labour, the one of their choice. In several occasions, single mothers are responsible to independently support their kids and sometimes a larger family.

The second part of the exhibition shows a capoeira game in the urban space of Salvador, capital of Bahia. Capoeira is a fundamental form of Afro-Brazilian historical cultural expression. These days Capoeira is played in several locations around the globe, from Brazil’s rural places to high profile studios in New York or Japan. Mestre Cebolinha was a known capoeira Master doing ‘rodas’ around the Mercado Modelo de Salvador.

The last section of the exhibition shows casual portraits of key artistic figures, significant contributors to represent the Afro-Brazilian culture in the country. 

And even after 130 years, Brazil still struggles with the slavery heritage, which affects equality in literacy, employment opportunities and life expectancy.

Every 23 minutes a young black person dies in Brazil, in 2016 for example, 23.100 young black people between 15 to 29 years old were murdered

[Report by Lindbergh Farias (PT-RJ), 2016]. Brazil goes through a chaotic political, 2018 is also a year of election in Brazil and we hope to ignite these conversations raising awareness about these various issues.

We need to keep the dialogue about racism ongoing because, despite the abolition of slavery, race and colour discrimination is an issue not only in Brazil but in many societies. Labour of Freedom connects the U.K. and Brazil, once again, because Britain has influenced the Abolition of Slavery in Brazil that was the last country in the Western world to do it. By the time it was abolished, in 1888 (55 years after the U.K.) an estimated four million slaves had been imported from Africa to Brazil, 40% of the total number of slaves brought to the Americas.

The African heritage in Brazil has brought much to the diversity and richness of Brazilin culture and Labour of Freedom that celebrates the beauty and joy of the Afro-Brazilian community.

Lita Cerqueira is a photographer in Brazil, born in Salvador in 1952, who has photographed the black scene in Bahia, Brazil for around 45 years. Originally an actress Lita worked with important directors such as Neville de Almeida, Nelson Pereira dos Santos and Glauber Rocha around the country. From 1973 she began to dedicate exclusively to photography focusing in particular on the condition of the African population in Brazil. In 1976 she held the first solo exhibition, with his series "Popular Festas na Bahia” and "The Architecture of Salvador Centro Histórico". But diligent for great time concerts she will quickly enter the scene photograph and provide a valuable archive containing images of Maria Bethânia, Gal Costa, Rita Lee, Joao Gilberto, Jorge Ben, Dorival Caymmi, Luis Melodia, Chico Buarque, Toninho Horta, Ney Mato Grosso, Milton Nascimento, Alceu Valença, Cazuza, Egberto Gismonti, Hermeto Pascoal, Nara Leão, Carlinhos Brown, Cassia Heller, among others.

It was with Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso that Lita created a relationship of friendship and today brings together a series of photos of the daily life of the artists, collecting interesting stories of the journey of these emblematic characters in Brazilian music. In January 1993, Lita was successful in Brazil and Europe with the launch of her first collection of "human types" postcards and unpublished photos by Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, João Gilberto, Chico Buarque, Milton Nascimento, Carlinhos Brown, Peter Tosh. Over the years, Lita's images have been published in several books, magazines, and album covers. Lita has exhibited in Brazil and France, Italy, Germany and the US.

Labour of Freedom is produced by Braziliarty CIC 

Curator: Alicia Bastos


To make this exhibition happen please DONATE: 

Opening & Panel discussion: 1 May - 18:00
The exhibition will last until the 20 May

REGISTER HERE: for attending the exhibition opening & panel discussion.