Capturing the spirit of Brazil
Pirelli used Brazil as the location for the latest edition of its exclusive calendar
THE 2013 Pirelli Calendar was presented this week in Rio de Janeiro at the Pier Mauá warehouses at the old port of the Cidade Maravilhosa. The creator of the 40th edition of “The Cal’' is Steve McCurry, one of the world's most renowned photographers, who recounts the recent social and economic transformation of Brazil.
His work celebrates the beauty and colours that represent the soul of this magical South American country, which takes centre stage in the Pirelli Calendar for the third time, following Patrick Demarchelier’s 2005 edition and Terry Richardson’s in 2010.
In the two weeks it took to shoot the calendar on the streets and in the favelas of Rio, McCurry made a fascinating journeys of discovery, capturing stories, experiences and traits of people and faraway lands. Next year’s calendar tells its tales through faces drawn in graffiti and in ordinary people, as well as through this year’s models, whose common thread is a powerful commitment to foundations, humanitarian projects and non-governmental organisations.
“I tried to portray Brazil, its landscape, its economy and its culture, along with the human element,” said McCurry.
“This was the story I wanted to tell through my lens. For me photography is an important expressive means to tell large and small stories of daily life.”
In the background, Rio is bustling with life, with its historic quarters such as Lapa and Santa Teresa, its favelas, its bars and nightclubs, its markets, dance centres and gyms, its schools and bus stops. The city appears at its most authentic, very different from the usual stereotypes.
“I walked a lot through the streets, looking at all these moments of daily life and taking lots and lots of pictures,” said McCurry. “I look for the moment of passage, when the image reveals a bit of tension.”
McCurry entered into the spirit of Rio and opened himself to its people, offering up faces and moods. The calendar alternates portraits of models and actresses with pictures of ordinary people: a young boxer working out, a fruit seller at the market, samba dancers, capoeira masters practicing their art, a woman jogging, an art teacher, a tourist at a museum, a secretary looking out a window, lovers walking together at sunset. These scenes of ordinary and not so ordinary life recount the evolution of a nation that is changing without losing its true nature and the traits that make it unique.
“I would say I am a street photographer doing ‘found situ- ations’. You can photograph nudes anywhere. But these models are clothed, and each of them has her own charity. They are purposeful and idealistic people. So I wanted to photograph them in a special place, and Rio was perfect for this,” McCurry says.
There are 34 images, bound together in a collectible, limited number of calendar-books: 23 portraits of actresses and models, nine images depicting daily life, and two pictures composed of graffiti and murals. These are an evocation of artistic expression that attracted McCurry’s attention with their ability to reflect the social aspects he was interpreting, and became the background in many photographs.
The calendar features 11 models, actresses and singers: Brazilians Isabeli Fontana and Adriana Lima, actress Sonia Braga and singer Marisa Monte; ItalianEgyptian actress Elisa Sednaoui; Czech model Petra Nemcova; Tunisian model Hanaa Ben Abdesslem; Ethiopian model Liya Kebede; and American models Karlie Kloss, Kyleigh Kuhn and Summer Rayne Oakes.
SLICE OF LIFE: Graffiti makes for an interesting picture in the calendar, above. Many of the pictures depict ordinary people in Rio de Janeiro, below.