Joaquim Paiva’s passion for photography derives from his early experiences with family photographs. At four years old, he recalls how his mother would show him photographs of his recently deceased father, making his understandings of the relationship between memory and photography inherent in his most formative moments. “Photography as memory, as self-portrait as a souvenir, as one’s experiences in life—like the people you’ve met, places where you lived, feelings you tried to express in images—are an integral part of my relationship to photography,” says Paiva.

In his series Family Portraits, Paiva re-photographed family photographs of his parents as newlyweds to create a powerful tribute to the memory of his loved ones and a reflection of his own identity. The red dirt that frames each photograph is reminiscent of the dirt of Brasília, where Paiva lived for much of his life. The words are a dedication from his youthful parents to Paiva’s grandparents, written on the back of their portrait.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Joaquim Paiva, Brazilian, born 1946
Back of My Parents' Portrait
from the series Family Portraits
Chromogenic print
Image: 15 3/4 × 15 3/4 in. (40 × 40 cm) Sheet: 17 3/8 × 17 3/8 in. (44.1 × 44.1 cm)
Credit Line

Gift of the artist

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number

The artist, Rio de Janeiro; given to MFAH, 2002.