Velho Chico, the name affectionately given by the locals to the giant Sao Francisco river in the Sertao area of Northeastern Brazil, the backdrop for the solo project by Brazilian born Wieden + Kennedy Creative director, Mico Toledo.
Known largely for its barren land and widespread poverty, but perhaps lesser known is the area’s unique diversity of people, cultures, and religions, the consequence of hundreds of years of immigration and erratic colonialism, and a place Mico describes as: “where folklore and reality seamlessly blend, becoming impossible to distinguish from one another.”
Initially inspired by novelists, Jorge Amado, Euclides da Cunhaand and Rachel de Queiroz, who used the area as a setting for their stories. Mico visited the region several times between 2016 and 2018, meeting and photographing the local people; exploring their rich diversity and connection with the esoteric.
The series includes a zine, inspired by the Cordel literature collections of folklore, poems and songs, usually accompanied by woodcut illustrations and sold locally by street vendors and at markets within the region.
Designed by Adam Hunter; Mico chose to work with UK based illustrator, Sophy Hollington rather than a local artist which had been his initial inclination, because he felt her unique lino-cut style could construct a new ‘folklore language; creating a contemporary version of the old woodcut-style rather then copying it’
The result is a powerful mix of media that constructs a compelling narrative: an oddly beautiful land defined by its enigmatic residents and their deep connection with the surreal.
To see more, or to buy the photo book or prints from the collection, visit the website.