Rosângela Rennó does not work with photography in the traditional sense. Relying on already existing photographs and photographic negatives, she digitally manipulates and alters the context of the images with which she works. Her use of found photographs not only raises questions about the subjects of the images, but more importantly draws attention to the unknown original photographers.
Rennó was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 1962. She studied at the Escola de Arquitectura at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte in 1986 and the Escola Guignard the following year. She developed her interest in working with social issues through photography, and in 1997, attended the Escola de Comunicações e Artes at the Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil.
After agreeing to assist the São Paulo State Penitentiary in the creation of a prison museum, Rennó was given permission to use some of the no longer relevant prisoner identification photographs. She exhibited her Cicatriz Series
in 1996 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles where she displayed a selection of images of prison tattoos which she enhanced to illuminate the rawness of the original photographs. When she later exhibited large prints of photographs of the backs of prisoners’ heads, the work seemed to better identify the peculiarities of the original photographs, rather than identify the faceless inmates. Rennó often includes panels of appropriated text, etched in glass, and pulled from newspapers and magazines that serve as startling examples of violence in society. Using appropriated text and images, these parts are brought together in larger installations.
In 2003, Rennó was one of two artists selected to represent Brazil in the Venice Biennial. She displayed Red Series
, a collection of digitally altered images of bourgeoisie men and boys in military uniforms from various countries. In the resulting deep red prints, the subjects’ portraits are barely visible as if submerged in blood.
Rennó lives and works in Rio de Janeiro where she continues to address political and social issues in her work. She is acknowledged as one of Brazil’s finest contemporary artists and is internationally recognized for her unique use of photography for social commentary.
Escola de Comunicações e Artes, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (1997)
Escola Guignard, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1987)
Escola de Arquitectura, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1986)
Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York, NY, USA (1999)
Acquisition Prize, Sanita-Arco Electronico/Media Art '99, Arco International Art Fair, Madrid, Spain (1999)
Grant, Bolsa Vitae de Art, São Paulo, Brazil (1998)