For Found Not Taken, Chagas walked through the streets of Luanda, London and Newport, Wales, collecting discarded objects and moving them, at times slightly and in other instances significantly, before photographing them. Taken out of their context and photographed in relation to a carefully chosen background, the mundane items are turned into abstract icons that animate the city. What might seem at first glance a symbol of a society characterized by waste and instant obsolescence is also a reflection on the fact that what is perceived as real is actually a construct. A selection from the series represented Angola at the 55th Venice Biennale, winning the Golden Lion for Best National Participation.
The artist employs a similar approach in Tipo Passe, in which he stages portraits of models wearing traditional African masks borrowed from a private collection. As in Found Not Taken, the artefacts have been extrapolated from their history and context; the sitters are dressed in contemporary clothes from street markets, complementing the colours and forms of the masks. These objects with immense ritual meaning and a compelling presence are suspended between worlds and prompt the viewer to question the reality of what he or she is perceiving.
Chagas was born in 1977 in Luanda, Angola, where he lives and works. He studied documentary photography at the University of Newport, Wales, in 2008; photojournalism at London College of Communication (LCC) in 2007; photography at the Escola Técnica de Imagem e Comunicação in Portugal in 2002; and photography and audio at the Centro Comunitário de Arcena in Portugal in 1999. Recent solo exhibitions were held at Instituto Camões - Centro Cultural Português, Luanda (2014); Belfast Exposed Photography, Belfast, UK (2014); A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia, Italy (2013) and Memorial Agostinho Neto, Luanda (2013). Group exhibitions include Shifting Africa - What the Future Holds at Mediations Biennale (2014); Journal, Institute of Contemporary Art, London (2014); Here Africa, Château de Penthes, Geneva-Pregny, Switzerland (2014); The Divine Comedy, MMK, Frankfurt, travelling to other venues (2014); Transit, OCA, São Paulo (2013); and the 2nd Luanda Triennial, Angola (2010).