The Luxury of Social Isolation


by | Nov 19, 2020

Photos by Gui Christ / The National Geographic Society

Gui Christ was the third-place winner (tied) in the photo competition “Documenting the Impact of Covid-19 through Photography: Collective Isolation in Latin America,” curated in collaboration with ReVista and the Art, Culture, and Film program at Harvard’s David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS.)

The exhibition, based on an Open Call for Photography launched in July 2020, aims to create a critical visual record of our unprecedented times so they can be remembered by future generations.

04/19/2020. São Paulo, Brazil. Portrait of Adailson Silva de Oliveira in a rooftop at the favela of Paraisópolis.

The Covid-19 pandemic swept through Paraisópolis, one of the biggest favelas in São Paulo, Brazil, a place with one of the worst Human Index scores in the country—that includes measures of poverty, health, education, welfare and access to public services.  I spent ten intense days documenting the effects of the crisis on the people in this community.

Because the residents are acutely poor, and don’t receive sufficient government support during the pandemic, most residents had to leave the house to work and somehow guarantee the subsistence of their families. In addition, the favela is the most densely populated place in the country, with 150,000 residents jammed into a small area. There’s no water piped in, leaving dwellers to purchase or otherwise obtain water. And there is no sewer system or garbage collection, all of which lead to conditions that foment the spread of Covid-19.

My photoessay is a depiction of a community in which social isolation is a luxury. It depicts life on the streets in this very vulnerable favela.

Gui Christ is a Brazilian photographer.

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