Thursday, June 9, 2011

Congratulations to Peter Lucas, Winner of a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship

Photos by Orizon Carneiro Muniz, Courtesy of Peter Lucas

Draper congratulates Professor Peter Lucas on being one of eight professors at NYU to be awarded the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for 2011. "Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise," Peter and the other recipients were selected from a batch of over 3,000 applications.

Peter teaches "International Studies in Human Rights" for Draper each fall, but is also affiliated with the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CLACS) program in GSAS and the Open Arts program in Tisch. When not teaching at NYU, Peter--an accomplished photographer and filmmaker--often works on projects highlighting memory, trauma, and personal narrative in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.

It is for one of his photography projects--The Last Hour of Summer--that Peter was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. As he explains on his website, the project started with the discovery of 200 black and white photos that he found and bought at a flea market in Rio:
"Most of the pictures were women on the beach at Ipanema. Although we did not know who the photographer was at first, he took two self-portraits of himself in the mirror. He also dated his pictures on the verso. The time frame of 1962/1963 correlates with that golden period just before the 1964 military coup in Brazil and represents the “Last Hour” before the change.

With some clever research in Ipanema we eventually found people who were able to identify the late Orizon Carneiro Muniz as the photographer. Muniz was not a professional photographer, but a local weekend photographer with a deep love for women and the beach. In an attempt to find the people in the pictures, we mounted an exhibition in 2007 at Casa Laura Alvim on the beach in Ipanema. With substantial press coverage of the show, we finally met many friends that Muniz photographed. Over 45 years later, most of the people in the photographs are still living in Rio.


Among the people we met at the exhibition was a friend who had the remaining photos from Orizon Carneiro Muniz. There were 5000 more photographs. I purchased the photos and negatives in 2009. Using the entire archive as a visual base, we are planning a feature-length documentary film with production beginning in 2011. There are several stories in the pictures but the essence of the film will be documentation and remembrance of those incredible years just before the coup when Ipanema emerged as a global cultural sensation."

Using Muniz' photographs, Peter developed a series of exhibitions and also a book (co-authored with Mauricio Lissovsky) called The Last Hour of Summer: The Lost Photos of Ipanema, which is forthcoming from Brazil's Casa de Palavra press. With the support of the Guggenheim fellowship, he will be able to finish the documentary film that these photographs also inspired.

As Peter explained in a recent article for CLACS, the film will combine several narratives, using Muniz's found photos as a point of departure to examine the cultural and historical moment of Ipanema on the threshold of the military coup in 1964.
"Using the entire archive for the film, we will then interview other people who will speak on the political nature of these images. The photos were largely taken in the years just before the military coup in Brazil in 1964. Brazilians sometimes refer to this time as the “last hour.” As documents of this last moment before the dictatorship, the photographs evoke innocence, beauty, hope, naiveté, wonder, and youth. The photos also represent the last hour of the classic black and white snapshot before the widespread introduction of Kodacolor film in 1964. Photographic historians and photographers will then be interviewed to speak about the images from the perspective of personal photography.

Spiraling further out, the fourth story involves the cultural history of Ipanema in the early 1960s. While these photos were being taken, Tom Jobim was writing his most famous songs a few blocks away and in 1964, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto would win the Grammy and introduce Bossa Nova to the world. As Americans discovered Ipanema, the first surfers from California arrived in Brazil in 1964 and they began to surf the waves at Arpoador, the first beach at Ipanema. And the final story is how these photos also documented this threshold moment when Brazilian women begin to change in so many ways. Their style, their beauty, and the way they walked the beach would forever captivate the world."
To see images from The Last Hour of Summer and Peter's other photographic essays, check out his website:

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