Comprising two hundred images that record the center of Rio deJaneiro, the exhibition O Paço, a praça e o morro brings together works of great masters of Brazilian photography and anonymous photographers and amateurs who built the photographic representation of the city of Rio de Janeiro during the second Empire and the first decades of the Republic.To present this exhibition project at the Paço Imperial itself means recovering photographic records that allow a privileged look on this important building, of unique reference value for the city’s history, as well as on the regions adjacent to it, – the square or largo do Paço, today praça xv de Novembro and the very site of the foundation of the city, the morro do Castelo (Castle hill), removed from the city’s landscape almost a century ago.The center for the development of the economic, social and political life of Rio de Janeiro in its first centuries, the Paço Imperial,the praça xv de Novembro and the morro do Castelo shaped the city’s growth from its original geographic and urban configuration until the turn to the twentieth century. At that moment, the center of Rio wet through major changes and urban interventions associated with the reforms undertaken by mayor Pereira Passos. The two main symbols of this transformation were the opening of AvenidaCentral (Central Avenue), today Avenida Rio Branco, and the beginning of the “bota-abaixo”, a process of expansion, valuation, modernization and urban gentrification that would lead to the complete dismantling of the morro do Castelo in the late 1920s.The exhibition presents images that show the city in the period prior to these changes and others that document and accompany the urban reforms of the early twentieth century, through the records of photographers like Marc Ferrez, Georges Leuzinger, AugustoMalta and Guilherme Santos, among others. Ferrez and Malta built with their work the main photography legacy for the city´s memory during this period. Through these images it is possible to follow the transformations of the city since the arrival of the daguerreotype inRio de Janeiro in 1840, shortly before the inauguration, in the next year, of d. Pedro ii as Emperor of Brazil at 15 years old, until the end of the 1920s, a time of acceleration, due to the revolution of 1930,of intense economic, social and political changes that would launch the country and the city into modernity and contemporenity. These intense processes of constant transformation over the last approximately one hundred and twenty years are essential to the comprehension of the city today. In the year that Rio de Janeiro receives one of the most important world events, the 2016 Olympics,to revisit these founding landmarks of the city, through historical photographs produced by important names in Brazilian photography,is also an invitation to immersion in the landscape and life of this area which today goes again through a process of revitalization and transformation.The Instituto Moreira Salles thanks the Paço Imperial for this opportunity to show its photographic collection on the history of Rio de Janeiro in such an important institution. This show is an unfolding of the exhibition Rio: Primeiras Poses (Rio: First Poses) held by the Institute during 2015 at IMS-Gávea, now presented with a focus directed specifically on the territory where the city was founded and from which it evolved toward its current configuration as a great metropolis,internationally recognized as a privileged urban site, particularly for its unique natural and cultural landscape characteristics.
Mariana Newlands and Rachel Rezende