Gordon Parks: The Flávio Story | Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto
Gordon Parks,  Flavio da Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil , 1961. Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

Gordon Parks, Flavio da Silva, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1961. Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

SEPTEMBER 12 – DECEMBER 9, 2018
MAIN GALLERY, RYERSON IMAGE CENTRE
CURATORS PAUL ROTH & AMANDA MADDOX

This exhibition explores a seminal photo essay by pioneering African-American photographer Gordon Parks, and the extraordinary chain of events it prompted. Published in Life magazine in June 1961, “Freedom’s Fearful Foe: Poverty” profiled the da Silva family, living in a hillside favela near a wealthy enclave of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Focused on the eldest son, Flávio, a resourceful twelve-year-old suffering from crippling asthma, the story elicited thousands of letters and nearly nearly $30,000 USD (more than $250,000 today) in donations from Life readers. In response, the magazine launched an extraordinary “rescue” effort—relocating the family to a new home, moving Flávio to a hospital in the United States, and administering funds to support rehabilitation of the favela. Meanwhile, in Brazil the picture story sparked great controversy in the press. The Flávio Storyprovides an in-depth look at Parks’ most celebrated photo essay in the context of Cold War politics in the United States and Brazil, and at the inner workings and cultural force of the “Great American Magazine.”

Emilie Croning