Moira Forjaz was born in Matabele (Bulawayo), Zimbabwe, in 1942. She graduated in Graphic Arts from the School of Arts and Design in Johannesburg. She worked as a photojournalist in South Africa and since 1975 as a photographer and documentary filmmaker in Mozambique.
As a photographer, Forjaz learned a lot from great South African photographers, such as Jurgen Schadaberg, David Goldblatt and Sam Haskins; as a film director she was influenced by Jean Rouch and Jean-Luc Godard.
Moira Forjaz’s documentary photographs can be appreciated as a series of images in their own right, at the same time the images published in the book Mozambique 1975/1985 emerge from a very specific historical context: the ten years of armed struggle against the Portuguese, until the birth in 1975 of the liberation movement Frelimo, led by President Samora Machel, who launched a post-independence project with the aim of transforming society for the benefit of all its citizens.
Colin Darch writes: “These photographs, from that very short window of socialist transformation, can therefore be seen in some way as representations of a “revolutionary gaze” focused on specific aspects of the Mozambican experience.” In the themes addressed in Ilha de Moçambique, where Forjaz represents the life of ordinary people, the miners, cotton and music – we partly find the main interests of the research programs conducted by the Centro de Estudos Africanos (CEA), directed by Forjaz’s close friend, Ruth First, until her murder in August 1982. This book represents the tenth anniversary of national independence and the abandonment of the socialist project, presented to the reader with a perspective that helps to understand the dynamics of the political economy and culture of the country as it was inherited from Portuguese colonialism, as well as Frelimo’s struggles for social and economic transformation.
Forjaz’s images tell this story of exploitation and liberation, but not only that, there are in fact collections of photographs on music and the extraordinary heritage of the Ilha de Moçambique, where the lessons of Mozambique’s history are compressed into architecture, cuisine and traditions of a space of just over a square kilometer. Forjaz’s photography, despite its political character, is far from propagandistic. Forjaz has a keen eye for the humanity of her subjects, that she deeply empathizes both individually and collectively.
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