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Maré from the Inside: Art, Culture and Politics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Mare Exhibit Photo
The exhibit will be on view in Newman Library at Virginia Tech until September 30, 2021. Photo Credit: Neda Moayerian

April 29, 2021

A physical and virtual exhibit, paired with a new book, feature photographs by Italian photojournalist Antonello Veneri and Brazilian activist Henrique Gomes that counter long-standing negative stereotypes of life in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro.

Complexo da Maré is a group of 16 contiguous favelas and housing projects in the northern zone of Rio de Janeiro. Home to an estimated 140,000 individuals, Maré is Brazil’s largest agglomeration of favelas. Often depicted in a negative light, these favelas are in fact vibrant and diverse communities, as revealed in this remarkable exhibit and book.

About the Book

Maré from the Inside: Art, Culture, and Politics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is a companion to the exhibition of the same name (Portuguese: Maré de Dentro), which was developed by an international team of Brazilian and US academics, activists and artists. The exhibition documents the lives of residents of Complexo da Maré through family portraits, street photographs, documentary films and written works. 

Featured in this book is a selection of the exhibition’s photographs by Italian photo-journalist Antonello Veneri, who worked closely with Maré resident and activist Henrique Gomes over the period 2013 to 2019, during which Rio was home to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. These photographs, simultaneously personal and deeply humane, counter long-standing and powerful stigmatizing narratives, demonstrating instead the diversity and resilience of these communities and exposing the barriers residents confront in their everyday lives.

Providing context to the photographs are essays by the exhibition’s creators, curators and collaborators, including Maré resident and scholar Andreza Jorge, who asks what it is about the Maré de Dentro exhibition that has made it so compelling for so many people from very different parts of the world. The answer lies in the power of art to make us rethink prevailing social frames and, in turn, embrace fresh political and cultural strategies for integrating previously marginalized communities more fully into political and social life.

Maré from the Inside is published for the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance by Virginia Tech Publishing. In order to reach the widest possible readership, the book is available both as a freely downloadable PDF eBook and an affordable paperback edition. Information on both can be found at The editorial team will also soon release a Portuguese language edition of Maré From the Inside.

About the Editors and Contributors

Nicholas Barnes is a Lecturer at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Desirée Poets is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Virginia Tech. Max O. Stephenson Jr. is Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director of the Institute for Policy and Governance at Virginia Tech. Antonello Veneri is an Italian photojournalist who has lived and worked in Brazil since 2009. Henrique Gomes is an activist and resident of Complexo da Maré. He coordinates Maré que Queremos, a project that brings favela leaders together to improve favela conditions.

How to View the Exhibit

The Maré from the Inside physical exhibit is also now showing at the Virginia Tech Newman Library on the first and second floors (see maps below). The exhibition incorporates photographic and videographic projects by artists and local Maré activists. The exhibit will be on view at Newman Library until September 30, 2021. 

Directions: Enter the Newman Library main/second floor from the Alumni Mall entrance. You will find the first part of the exhibit in the Seating area 2000-2032 (red line on the map). For the second part, use the stairs/elevator to access the first floor and head towards the Seating area 1200-1210 (red rectangle on the map).

Library Map Floor 1
Library Map Floor 2