IN CONVERSATION WITH NEGO JÚNIOR
Nego Júnior has a degree in Digital Design from the University of Santo Amaro, an MBA in Business Management from FGV and a postgraduate degree in Media, Information and Culture from the Center for Latin American Studies on Culture at USP. He worked in several advertising agencies as a digital art director until he entered a solo career and later immersed himself in the world of photography, his great passion.
Nego is the founder of the collective Samba Rock Na Veia and one of the protagonists that started the process of registering samba rock as an intangible cultural heritage of the city of São Paulo. Nego photographs and records the dances, concerts and samba rock events in the state of São Paulo. In this series, “A-luz-cinante” is a fanciful look at dancefloors, couples, trios and crowds driven by style, movement and culture. The technique of light in the images reflects part of the Nego's inventiveness when watching these turns and twirls of an agglutinating culture of black origins, both samba and rock, come from African musicality and body expression, which after several mutations consolidates as samba rock culture, and continues its journey influencing other artistic and cultural outbreaks. In addition, Nego fuses environments and exteriorisations by connecting elements from the dancefloors in samba rock dances to giras, xirês in the terreiros of African-based religions.
Nego, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you become interested in photography?
I was born and still live on the outskirts of São Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. I grew up in the most violent region of the country in the 1990s, the region known as Capão Redondo.
I started photographing when I started to have more contact with the black populations' dances here.
How much does your love for designing and producing art in particular play a role in your overall personal photography experience? Does the photography experience help the video production...or vice versa?
I've always worked with more visual things, photography, design, video… But love really comes from my spirituality and blackness.
Talk to us about your series "A-Luz-Cinante - Samba Rock that you have submitted? What do you want the viewer to experience and take away with them?
I want people to realise this “black magic." This term here in Brazil is seen in a racist, prejudiced, pejorative way… And it is nothing more than the charm that black people have in celebrating their union.
Talk to us about your documentary work. What is it that inspires you to be a visual storyteller? What have been some of your most memorable moments?
The suburbs, slums... call my attention and make me think about human relationships and how racism is cruel. Thinking about it gives me ammunition to defend myself and my people. Brazil has not cured itself of slavery, it is there. Info: https://www.negojunior.com.br/1-mes-da-inconsciencia-negra-na-fotografia/
Do you ever get burnt out creatively? Explain how you keep the creative energy flowing.
My ancestral connection with nature makes me have this energy. My ancestors deserve my effort.
What are some tips/advice you would give yourself if you started photography all over again?
Prefer a camera to a gun.
Do you have any favourite artists/photographers?
If you could just choose one photographer to shoot alongside for a day...who would you choose? And why?
Walter Firmo, he is an icon of Brazilian and world photography.
When you are out shooting - how much of it is instinctual versus planned?
I can't say, but my biggest quest is to know how much of this is spiritual?
Does the equipment you use help you in achieving your vision in your photography? (What camera do you use? Do you have a preferred lens/focal length?)
I've always used Canon input cameras and only recently had my first camera from this brand with a full frame sensor. I usually use what I call a basic, a 50mm and sometimes I shoot with a Rokinon 14mm wide angle
What are some of your goals as an artist or photographer? Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?
My goal is for us to win this visual war where black bodies are not still hit with bullets but clicks of a camera.
Are there any special projects you are currently working on that you would like to let everyone know about?
I'm working on a series that talks about the ego within the African matrix religions here in Brazil, creating a relationship of this with the whitening of these cults.
“When I am not out photographing, I (like to)…
I'm sleeping as I don't depend on the camera to take pictures."