"So many people with no housing, one more house with no people", says the writing on the wall of a demolished house in Horto, Rio de Janeiro.

A house is not only a construction. It is a place where memories are built. The Horto forest, an area part of the Bothanical Gardens in Rio de Janeiro, started to be occupied by house villages back in 1811, when employees of a gunpowder factory located there needed to live near their job, as this was a place of difficult access. Employees of the Bothanical Gardens and public agents who worked in the area also received land from the government to build their homes right by their workplace. 

Over decades, these residents have been threatened with eviction orders by different governments and administrations of the Bothanical Gardens. Today, this community is occupied mainly by 62 low-income families, many of them elderly people. The public administration claim that they need to rebuild the forest and develop environmental programs in the area. The residents, on the other hand, say that they've never done any harm to the forest, always living in harmony with nature. They claim real estate speculation and gentrification are the real reason why powerful people want them out. They refuse to leave. It is what they've known all their lives and it is where their roots are. They don't want to be relocated somewhere far, to a place where they are not used to. In the meantime, the conflict is pending in court.

This collection of portraits try to put a face on some of the people living in these houses, in an attempt to humanize them. Inside these constructions, residents live with their stories, memories, heritage and sense of belonging. 

Luciana Queiroz © All rights reserved.
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