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Photography (MA)

Fernanda Liberti

Fernanda Liberti, born 1994, is a Brazilian artist working with photography and video. Even though she was interested in the arts from a very early age, mostly due to her great grandmother who was a fashion designer, she started photography at the age of 15.

In 2013 she moved to London to pursue her degree in Photography at London College of Communication (UAL). Having graduated with honours, and a Best in show award for her series 'FFF', Fernanda has continued her education at Royal College of Art where she got her MA in Photography in 2022, focusing her research on the Tupinambá capes.

Since then she has been working both artistically and commercially with major clients such as Chanel, Vogue, The Body Shop, Becks Beer, Haight and YUN. Her work has been featured in Revista Zum, Vogue, M Journal, Sleek Magazine, AnOther, Dier Grief, Marie Claire, among others. In 2022, She was selected as one of Dior's Laureates.

Growing up in Rio, she was surrounded by the rain forest and the beach whilst also living within a chaotic metropolitan city; this contrast between the natural and man-made world is a recurring theme that she explores in her work. Her photographs, videos, and collages invite the viewer to immerse themselves in the realities that they offer. 

From forests and waterfalls to human bodies and surreal settings: her work is an attempt to understand our relationship to the ever-shifting environments in which we live. A study to explore post-colonial roles and experiences of people of colour, women and LGBTQ+ people in the twenty-first century. 


Upcoming exhibitions:


Group:

24 June, ‘Is this Hope?’, Kato Wong Gallery, Online.

25-30 June, 'RCA Graduate Show, 2022'. Royal College of Art, London, UK.

6 July-September, Rencontres d’Arles photography festival, 2022 Dior Photography and Visual Arts Award for Young Talents, Luma Arts Centre, Arles, France.

15-19 August, 'After the Waiting Room'. Copeland Gallery, London, UK.


Solo:

15-24 September, Sheriff Gallery, Paris, France.

05-20 November, Refresco Gallery, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.


Show Location: Battersea campus: Dyson & Woo Buildings, First floor

The photo series is about the Tupinambá cape, a feather ornament that was made and used by native Brazilians until the 15th century. It is an exquisite piece of craftsmanship and design, with each cape holding over four thousand bird feathers.

They were made by the Tupinambá people, the largest and first ethnicity in Brazil to get in contact with Europeans during colonisation. Due to this, most of the Tupinambá were decimated, and the ones that were left were forced to become catholic and abdicate their culture in order to stay alive.

Until 2020, there were only eleven Tupinambá capes left in the world and all of them held in European museums and collections.

After centuries, the cape which is stored at the National Museum of Denmark, travelled to Brazil for an exhibition in 2000, only to return to Europe a while after, despite the requests of the indigenous for the cape to stay in the country. This encounter created ripples of affect in the remaining Tupinambá community, as the object stands as a vital symbol of their culture, and specially of what was taken from them. Over the past years, some descendants were able to claim back their ethnicity and land, but this fight didn’t come without a cost, as they constantly receive death threats which have been exposed at the UN.

During the pandemic in 2020, after years of research, Glicéria Tupinambá, indigenous artist, curator and leader, was finally able to recreate their sacred cape for the first time in over 300 years.

The feathers are all collected sustainably and the process of its construction involves their whole community.

In June 2021, after a long wait for a vaccine, I was able to travel to Serra do Padeiro, located in the south of the state of Bahia, where one of the last Tupinambá community resides. There I was able to meet Glicéria and photograph her process of manufacturing the capes and to further understand what this return means to her community. The following images are a result from this encounter and collaboration.

 

The Tupinambá cape is the proof of the systems that connect us in the universe, and here is mine.

Thousand in one, 2021Glicéria Tupinambá, indigenous artist, leader and activist, sits in front of her family's altar located in the Tupinambá Community of Serra do Padeiro, south Bahia, Brazil.

Glicéria waited to show me the cape she made last year for Babau's graduation, the only full-body cape that was finalised when I was there, as she was confectioning three others for an exhibition. I'm not sure if she wanted to make sure she could trust me, or if she was creating some expectation. It was almost our final day, and I was still slightly anxious about getting the perfect images, as I knew we were running out of time. The first time I saw the cape was as Glicéria removed it from the back room of her family's terreiro, surrounded by gigantic images of all the entities I have prayed, danced and sang for in the last years. At that moment, I knew they had guided me there. As Glicéria emerged from the back, and I finally saw the body of feathers, my eyes filled with tears. The emotion was taking over my body, for so many reasons. The cape is magnificent, and this experience was beyond anything I could ever have imagined. 

The image represents the diversity and complexity of times: Glicéria, wearing her original outfit, which was done only last year, where tradition means innovation, where the present meets the past. From the enchanted to catholic images of saints, African Orixás and traditional indigenous believes, the praying shrive she poses on her knees is the epicentre of the Brasilian religious syncretism. The image has a thousand years in a day, showcasing the diversity of cultures that makes Brazil, Brasil

Medium:

Photograph

Size:

2.60m x 2.60m
Mother bird and son, 2021Glicéria Tupinambá and her son Eru are seen dancing from above wearing the capes.
Corpo, 2021Glicéria Tupinambá uses the Tupinambá cape in the Iemanjá pond, located in her family's ancestral land.
Details, 2021Details of the half way cape
Poço de Iemanjá, 2021
Célia and Eru, 2021Glicéria and Eru Tupinambá stand in front of her mother's house, located in their land at Serra do Padeiro.
Cosmo
Abraço, 2021

Medium:

Photograph

The first recording of a Tupinambá cape in movement.



I started researching about capes that were unattainable,

untouchable,

still.

Of feathers that have been missing the warmth of a body for centuries.

I was now seeing it in movement, embracing Glicéria's body like an incorporation, feeling the energy of the birds that compose it, of the ancestors who guided and are connected to it. Seeing it in movement one can observe the characters it acquired from the different earth-based birds. Chickens, ducks, quick, agile.

That's how the cape asked to be.

Although I am not allowed to wear them, I was able to touch, smell, feel, and sleep in the same room as the cape.

I could see the colour of the feathers change as they touch the sun, as the wind connects with its tips, making them slightly dance on their own. All of these would have been impossible in a museum.

Medium:

Video

Size:

9 min