Monolithic mountains rise along the palm-lined curves of Guanabara Bay in an eternal summer. It’s the postcard-perfect image instantly recalled to represent Rio de Janeiro.
Elsa Leydier‘s work¬†is concerned with interrogating these iconic images used to define places or people.¬†The French photographer lives and works between Lyon and¬†Rio, Brazil where the Olympic Games open next week. Only¬†Guanabara Bay in reality is dangerously polluted, the casualty of political inefficiency in the country. Besides unprocessed sewage, household garbage, and chemical waste, Elsa says that the waters are contaminated with high levels of heavy metals, including mercury. In protest, she is using her art to highlight the¬†issue with the series ‘La Couleur de la baie de Rio’.
Indigo is a plant native to Brazil. Before colonisation, local people used it for dyeing cotton yarn. Use of the plant‚Äôs extracts continued throughout commercial plantations during colonisation in the area of Rio de Janeiro, among other places in Brazil. They say that Indigo is an antidote to mercury poisoning.
In these works, Indigo dye was applied on negatives which feature views of Guanabara Bay. Through the act of metaphorical purification, I aim to show an over-represented landscape through a different point of view:¬†through the prism of a story that the media avoids telling in order not to tarnish the image of the place that is going to host aquatic games during the Olympic Games of 2016, and that greatly contributes to the idealised image of Rio de Janeiro.