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In ‘Darkskins’ Series, This Brazilian Photographer Pays Homage to Blackness

In ‘Darkskins’ Series, This Brazilian Photographer Pays Homage to Blackness

Posted by PanamericanWorld on August 29, 2016

All it takes is a cursory glance at Bruno Gomes’ Darkskins photos to understand what he’s trying to convey. The 19-year-old Brazilian uploaded the images onto his Facebook account almost two weeks ago, and presented them with virtually no commentary. And yet, it’s obvious – even if you didn’t read the series’ title – that the nearly 40 images unapologetically celebrate black skin.

The high-contrast images feature 12 people surrounded by nature wearing warm tones. The whole series is visually striking. But it’s impossible to not notice Vivian Nascimiento – the woman who inspired Darkskins. In the group photos, Nascimiento is smack dab in the middle. She appears in the series more often than any other model. She also has vitiligo. “I thought it was important to photograph something that society sees as strange and, at the same time, ugly,” Gomes told me through email. “I created Darkskins to reach a general public, and especially to honor black skin through love and poetry.”

The images wouldn’t look out of a place inside the pages of a glossy magazine. However, it’s not necessarily something mainstream media typically highlights. At least that’s what Brazilian dancer Nayara Justino found each year when she tuned in to see Globo – Brazil’s largest TV network – crown the Globeleza, the network’s carnaval queen. Every woman crowned had lighter skin. She couldn’t identify anyone that looked like her. A few years ago, she won the title, but ended up on the receiving end of racist and hurtful comments. “Lots of people going into my Facebook to insult me, calling me ‘monkey’ and ‘darkie,’” she said. “It was the racism that hurt me the most. The racism didn’t just come from white people, but from black people too.” Eventually, a lighter-skinned woman replaced her.

It’s a disappointing and frustrating incident that makes a feature like Darkskins that much more important, especially as an increased number of Brazilians begin to identify as black. A Brazilian Geographical and Statistics Institute study revealed last year that more people identified as black in 2014 than they did a decade ago. The growth isn’t tied to birth rates; sociologists believe the change is partially tied to positive attitudes about race.

In our brief email exchange, Gomes admitted getting some negative comments on his latest editorial. But he’s focused on the outpouring of support and those who can see themselves reflected in this gorgeous photo series. Check out a small sample of Darkskins below:

[H/T Afropunk]

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dark skins2_culture_bruno gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

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Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

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Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

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Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

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dark skins 9_culture_bruno gomes

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Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

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Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

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Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

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Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

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Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photo by Bruno Gomes

Photography: Bruno Gomes

Makeup: Jully Victorino

Models: Vivian Nascimento, Jully Victorino, Marcos Rosa, David Lannes, Matheus Fox, Célia Samara, Thainá Azevedo, Mel Oliveira, Bianca Gabriel, Naomi Nicolau, and Diego Esnat Sant’Anna

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