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‘I Knew You Existed’ Exhibit Seeks to Open Society’s Eyes to the More than 280,000 Unhoused People in Brazil


Campaign from AlmapBBDO, Projetemos and NGO SP Invisível creates projections over the work of one of Brazil’s leading urban artists

‘I Knew You Existed’ Exhibit Seeks to Open Society’s Eyes to the More than 280,000 Unhoused People in Brazil

The unhoused population in Brazil grew 38% between 2019 and 2022, when it reached an estimated total of 281,472 people. In the city of São Paulo alone, the biggest financial center in Latin America, there are over 50.000 people living on the streets. In an attempt to do something about this scenario, SP Invisível, an NGO dedicated to promoting social inclusion and raising awareness about the importance of recognizing those who tend to be invisible in society’s eyes, teamed up with Felipe Morozini, a photographer and one of the country’s leading urban artists, to develop the initiative “I Knew You Existed (Part 2).”

They put together exhibits screened above the city’s most distinctive and snaking overpass (Via Elevado Presidente João Goulart, popularly known as the Minhocão, or Big Worm), which reframes Morozini’s famous mural, panels that read “I Knew You Existed,” which have become one of the most-photographed art installations anywhere in the country. Now, they were brought to life with digital projections of homeless people who find themselves living under the overpass and are aided by the NGO.

The stories and portraits of William, Vinicius, Tamara, Pricila, Jean, Sandra, Rogério, Patrick, Miguel, Charles, José, Ubiratan, and Lucas were now projected over the iconic mural. “Unhoused people need to be seen. It’s more important than ever to share their stories and make sure they’re visible. Being overlooked is painful for all of us, whether it’s by a relative, a friend, or society as a whole. Now, everyone in Brazil will know that they exist,” says André Soler, the founder of SP Invisível.

Felipe Morozini, apart from being the author of the original mural, took an active part in the initiative and captured some of the images that went into it. “I’m so pleased that my work has become a tool and a stage for such a genuine, necessary project,” he reflects. “The whole process of getting to know these people and taking their portraits has been an attempt to remind everyone that there are human beings behind their scars, using art to dialogue, embrace, and transform the situation.”

The open-air projection, which began last weekend, has kicked off at a crucial point for the city, as fall temperatures begin dropping in São Paulo and the chill can lead to hypothermia and even death for the unhoused. Throughout the Minhocão initiative, the NGO has stationed volunteers along the part of the overpass reserved for pedestrians so that they can share a bit more of the subjects’ stories and let people know about SP Invisível’s work. The project also aims to boost donations to the organization. “The institutions dedicated to helping unhoused people are one of the few support systems they have left. Our mission isn’t just to provide material support, but truly make it possible for them to leave the streets with their heads held high,” says André Soler.

The initiative, designed by AlmapBBDO alongside Projetemos, includes live streams while the projections are live and posts telling the stories behind the faces. The project is also being amplified on SP Invisível’s social media, showing how projections can be a powerful tool for lending visibility to all sorts of social issues.

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AlmapBBDO, Tue, 25 Apr 2023 16:40:17 GMT