Alvaro Villela was born in 1960 at Salvador, Bahia, in the Northeast of Brazil. In the 1980s he discovered the possibility of interpreting the world on the basis of his own perceptions by creating dialogues through photography. Driven by intense political activity, in common with most young progressives at the time, Villela saw Under Fire, Roger Spottiswoode’s 1983 movie about civil war in Nicaragua and the Somoza dictatorship’s attempts to stop the Sandinista revolution with U.S. backing. The protagonist is a freelance American photographer who throws in his lot with the rebels when he realizes his work has been manipulated in favor of the pro-American dictatorship. Understanding that his camera is not neutral, the photographer deliberately constructs a pro-Sandinista visual narrative.
This confronted the militant Villela with a strange sensation: he discovered the power of non-verbal language.