I made these photos in different favelas in Brazil and Colombia.
Stairs (escadas in portuguese) takes part in the life of more than one million persons everyday in Rio. The amount of steps defines the price of the houses, the effort that you have to do to bring food home, a gas cylinder or a refrigerator (I noticed how hard it was in the first favela I lived). And then you get the solutions: solutions to build a stair to a new house, either over another stair, house or tree, using parts of more stairs, rock or wall - the uneven steps from favela’s architecture, the architecture of local economy and necessity. Where one saw poverty, I saw solutions, imagination, Escher and Piranesi. The pictures show a fantastic architecture almost fictional as a capriccio mixed with the documentary look from the black and white photography. Perception and imagination are the same thing.
When I enter a favela looking for a stair I always carry with me a simple printed album to prove exactly what I’m doing there, if I'm interrogated by a cop or a drug dealer. Might not be a good idea walking around with a camera in a favela. One day I walked to a drug dealer with my album and I showed him the pictures. He says “Crazy, man! Really cool! Amazing!”. I ask him where I could find more stairs like those. He answers “I don’t know, man. I never looked to my favela this way. It may exist a stair like this in front of my house and I never noticed it”.
I realized I was on the right way,