The Ambition and Originality of Fotoclubismo’s Amateur Photographers
The weekend hobby of a group of photographers in 1950s Brazil connects to the way we frame our world today.
May 7, 2021
Groucho Marx famously quipped that he didn’t want to belong to any club that would have him as a member, but most of us appreciate the feeling of belonging derived from spending time alongside people who share our interests.
FCCB members on an excursion, from Boletim 79 (November/December 1952)
A spread from Boletim 57 (January 1951) featuring club rankings on the left, and snapshots from the Bandeirante Christmas (Natal Bandeirante) on the right
Beginning in 1946 the FCCB published a small (often monthly or bimonthly) magazine, the Boletim foto-cine, which was given free to members and sold in local photo shops. Its modest scale belied its scope and seriousness: it won special awards for editorial content in the Photographic Society of America’s International Competition in 1949 and 1951. (It should be noted the Boletim was published exclusively in Portuguese, so perhaps the PSA was influenced by the fact that its own members and their writing—in translation—appeared frequently.)
The Boletim played a central role in advertising a social environment that drew people to the club, and also encouraged the competitive atmosphere within it. For many years, the Boletim published each new member’s name, birthday notices, wedding announcements, and snapshots from excursions, openings, and holiday celebrations at the club headquarters (Santa’s annual visit was a recurring feature). These personal touches served as a counter-balance to the equally prominent presence of club rankings: charts and accounts of prizes won and accolades received both domestically and around the world. One might conclude the social niceties were instrumental in fostering an environment in which critical feedback was possible, which in turn contributed to the club’s capacity for creative innovation.
It can be useful to acknowledge the ways in which something as invisible and inescapable as taste influences our judgment of a work of art.
German Lorca. White Roofs (Telhados brancos). 1951
José Yalenti. Angles ( Angulos). 1951
Gertrudes Altschul’s FCCB membership card. Courtesy Foto-Cine Clube Bandeirante
Dulce Carneiro. Tomorrow (Amanhã). c. 1957
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