mara kuya is the visceral narrative of a family separated by citizenship status. A series of fifty four images taken over seven years between Brazil and South Carolina, the book is visual artist June Canedo’s reflection on belonging, mental health, and the power of telling one’s own story. Opening under the shade of the native Brazilian passionflower, it cascades into a retelling of past and present where the viewer is given a glimpse into the depth of the migrant experience.
The book explores aspects of migration and separation that are often overlooked, namely the mental health of children from mixed status families. It’s narrative unfolds in moments made collective by a reality that is out of reach for many Brazilian migrants: the privilege of dual-citizenship. The juxtaposition of place can be seen in each section; an image of Canedo’s grandmother working in her garden in Brazil, the place where she raised most of her fourteen children, is contrasted by an image of children playing in her aunt’s back yard in South Carolina on the fourth of July, the place where the next generation is being raised. By seamlessly interweaving geography and time, June Canedo is able to use her own story to remind the viewer of the ubiquitous beauty and fortune in the smallest of moments.
mara kuya is made to be kept near. It takes inspiration from a revered poetry book or a spiritual text, and designed with the hope that the owner will carry it with them. It’s luminous, yellow cover invokes courage and optimism while the dusk hued photos inside reflect a more complicated reality. Through these tender photographs and anecdotes, mara kuya explores the deeply human nuances of being both a participant and an observer of a particular experience. Canedo’s personal entries and beautifully rendered photographs celebrate the complexity of a human experience and make for a fearless debut book.
mara kuya was shortlisted for the Aperture Foundation Photobook Award 2020.
First edition of 1000
Designed by Rin Kim
Printed by Small Editions
Published in 2020
available for purchase here