My computer will be ready on Monday, thanks to the services of a great Mac repair workshop. The following inteview is by Katie Lin.
Portuguese photographer Inês Gonçalves may be softly spoken – but her work is loud. In her latest project, Agora Luanda (Luanda Now), Gonçalves has collaborated with Angolan filmmaker Kiluanje Liberdade to produce 39 spectacular portraits of a city, a people, and a life far from England.
The collection of vibrant colour images, all taken in the Angolan capital of Luanda, showcases forgotten streets, crowded neighbourhoods, spirited youths, caring mothers and stylish city-dwellers. With just 20 minutes to spare before her exhibition was set to open, Gonçalves sat down with me for a hurried chat in a quiet corner of Newcastle’s Guildhall.
What inspired this body of work?
The idea of this work was to show how Luanda is now. Angola went through a difficult time, with nearly 30 years of civil war, so I thought it was a very good idea to do a work of photographs and a book to show the young people and how they live in the city, but also [show] the energy of Luanda. That’s what inspired me – the young people and how they survive in this very chaotic city.
I think it’s always nice to show another side of Luanda that doesn’t have to do with war or politics – that has more to do with the real people and real lives. I think we all have fixed ideas about this part of Africa as being very conflicted so I hope the exhibit will show a part of Luanda that people don’t have access to through the news.
How did you go about finding your subjects?
We worked in two very big neighbourhoods. Normally I wouldn’t do that – I would just work in one place because I don’t want to be jumping around all the time but this one was all over the city. It was in different areas of the city and the people are just people who I met on the street.
How has your perception of Luanda changed since you’ve been working in the city?
It has changed in many ways. In the beginning, I felt that everything was much more difficult to do than it is for me now. Now I feel much more at ease in the city and with the people and because I speak Portuguese and they speak Portuguese we can communicate very easily.
Many things that I felt in the beginning I still feel, like I always wanted to do work about young people [living in Luanda] who invent small businesses. They are very good at inventing ways of making a living, even very young people, and that has always been very interesting to me.
What’s it like being on the streets in Luanda, just you and your camera?
It’s exciting, there’s a good energy. As soon as you get off the plane, you see so many things that you want to photograph or document. It’s a very inspiring place for me in many ways and I also like the drive of the people for life – they fight a lot.
For us everything is very simple, but everyday life in a place like Luanda is not easy. Still, they’re very proud people, always happy to be noticed and always happy to be photographed.