Rio de Janeiro is preparing to host two major international sporting events in quick succession: the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Hosting either of those competitions usually entails massive building projects and urban disruption. To prepare for both of them, Rio is embarking on some incredibly elaborate public works projects — which are coming at a very real cost. Lately, despite having already sunk millions of dollars into development, the city has been criticized for delays, some people arguing they might not be ready by 2016.
And then there is the more troubling matter of the favelas. Rio is becoming almost as famous for its slums as it is for its beaches and bikinis, with many foreigners touring them like attractions. The ramshackle neighbourhoods have been part of the city's landscape since the late 1800s, housing about 1.5 million people in close and crumbling quarters. They are often associated with organized and violent crime — associations Brazilian authorities are taking drastic measures to eradicate.
In order to make way for the Games — often literally, in the form of infrastructure like a major, invasive highway — many residents of the favelas are being evicted, often with nowhere to go.
This is the focus of Olympic Favela, a new book (published by Damiani and distributed by DAP Artbook) and photo project by the New-York-based photographer Marc Ohrem-Leclef. He started documenting the residents of the favelas in early 2012. He was connected to residents through the NGO Catalytic Communities, and spent time talking to people in 13 different neighbourhoods, learning about their connection to their homes and their resilient spirit. He photographed these people in their homes and communities before they were forced out, often having them pose with a flare — a symbol of rebellion that's also reminiscent of the Olympic torch.