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New exhibit explores Brazil’s largest favela

From: Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance

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 those communities and one of the most densely settled areas in the hemisphere. Often depicted in a negative light, these favelas are in fact vibrant and diverse neighborhoods.

The Complexo is the subject of an exhibition, "Maré from the Inside," now on offer in Newman Library, consisting of photographs by the noted Italian photographer Antonello Veneri and produced by local resident Henrique Gomes. The two artists worked together during the period from 2013 to 2019 to obtain the portraits during a period when Brazil’s national government occupied the community militarily and the city hosted the World Cup and Olympics. The striking exhibit offers intimate family and individual photographs as well as evocations of daily community life.

Two scholars from Virginia Tech, Desiree Poets from the Department of Political Science and Max Stephenson Jr. from SPIA and the Institute for Policy and Governance, as well as Nicholas Barnes from St. Andrews University, have worked closely with Gomes and Veneri and additional contributors from Bard College, Virginia Tech, Maré and Brown University to produce an edited companion book to accompany the exhibit just published by Virginia Tech Publishing titled, "Maré From the Inside: Art, Culture and Politics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil." The volume may now be downloaded as a PDF at and will shortly also be available for purchase from in softcover.

The team will also soon release a virtual version of the exhibit and a Portuguese language edition of "Maré From the Inside." The exhibit will be on view at Newman Library until Sept. 30, 2021 and the editors will announce events related to it in due course.

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