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Rafael Cosme found a pile film negatives lying on the ground at a Rio de Janeiro antiquarian fair six years earlier. The vendor claimed that no one wanted them. The vendor said they were $2.
“I carried home two bags of negatives thinking: What am I doing with my life?”He remembered.
So began Mr. Cosme’s obsession with the lost and discarded photos of his city’s past. Since that morning of 2018, he’s collected more than 150 000 film photos and negatives. Nearly all were taken by amateurs. They tell the history of Rio de Janeiro in flashes from the 1890s up to the 1980s.
In his work he has noticed a certain theme that keeps coming up.
It is Rio’s annual collective exhalation — a four-day eruption of art and music, costumes and joy — that began again on Saturday.
The celebration has come to define Rio around the world, while also becoming an influential driver of the city’s culture.
“There is no researching this city without going through Carnival,”Mr. Cosme said.
He could see that the city had changed along with Carnival, and vice versa, through the photos taken over decades by photographers who are now lost to history.
Images from 100-year old prints with a sepia tone to 60-year old saturated Kodachrome slide revealed changing trends in the society, humor, style, drug use, and sexual liberation.
Taken by amateurs with the cameras of their day, the photos often have a ragged beauty to them, compared with today’s digital perfection, and also a special intimacy.
“I realized there are endless stories I could tell about this city,” Mr. Cosme said about his discovery of Rio’s lost photos. “Because inside every house, inside every closet, there is a box with revelations.”
Carnival, the days-long celebration that precedes Christian Lent, came to Brazil with Portuguese colonizers. For centuries, it retained traditions from Europe. It was a kind of costume party, where revelers would conceal their identities to play jokes on neighbors.
Brazilians began to add music, dance and revelry on the street by the middle of 19th century. By the turn of 20th century it was a full blown party.
Around that time, Rio’s rich elites began parading around the city during Carnival in open cars, according to Maria Clementina Pereira Cunha, a historian who has written books about Rio’s Carnival.
She said that it was also a way of showing off their wealth. The trend died out in the 1930s when suburbanites started pooling their money to rent cars.
Carnival is still a costume celebration, despite its constant changes. The photos show that many people, particularly among Brazil’s poor, crafted creative outfits at home using what they could find.
“Mothers sewed and embroidered so their children would look well presented at Carnival,” Ms. Pereira Cunha said. “That’s why they wanted their photograph taken.”
Costumes also were satirical and playful, sometimes referring to pop culture and current events — references that are not always so clear today.
Men dressed as women was one of the most popular costume ideas. They were intended to be a gag, often playing on sexist tropes. Over time, the costumes lost popularity.
Over the years, clown costumes became more sinister. They were often worn to scare the other revelers.
Eventually, men from Rio’s suburbs created a style called “bate bola,”Or roughly “slam ball,”A costume in which menacing clowns slammed balls on ropes against the road. This costume, as seen in the fifth picture below, was renowned for scaring children and is still used today.
By the 1910s people began carrying glass bottle of a scented, ether-based liquid which provided a brief euphoric rush. Later, the bottles were replaced by pressurized cans. Later, they were replaced by pressurized cans. “lança perfume,”You can also find out more about “perfume throwers.”
Revelers would spray it into crowds or strangers, sometimes to flirt, said Felipe Ferreira. He is a Carnival history professor at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.
The sprays were banned in 1961 by the government, but today a stronger formulation is used illegally.
You can see people carrying bottles and cans in the photos.
The 20th Century also brought “blocos,”Street bands are still a part of the Brazilian Carnival. Each is a sort of social club that plays music on the streets, with drums and horns, and often matching costumes.
They often marched through the streets, igniting impromptu celebrations, with different blocos featuring a variety of music styles, costumes, and themes.
In the late 1920s, samba dancers and musicians formed formal groups called samba Schools. These were formal groups that included samba musicians, dancers and singers. They performed increasingly elaborate performances that told stories with costumes, lyrics and dancing.
They were largely Black residents from poorer neighborhoods and they focused on celebrating Afro-Brazilian culture.
As they became Rio’s most popular Carnival attraction, the city shut down a main avenue for the schools’ parades, adding large decorations and bleachers, as seen in the photos below. In contrast, the schools adopted even more elaborate costumes and floats.
Today the parade remains the centerpiece of Rio’s Carnival, held in a dedicated stadium built in 1984.
Produced By Craig Allen, Gray Beltran, and Diego Ribadeneira.
Lis Moriconi contributed reporting.
Original content by www.nytimes.com – “The History of Rio’s Carnival Revealed in Photos”
Read the complete article at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/02/10/world/americas/rio-de-janeiro-carnival.html ‘