Macilau started his photographic journey in 2003, and went professional after he traded his mother's cellphone for his first camera in 2007. He specialises in long-term projects that link to multiple sub-genres; identity, political issues, environmental conditions, and engagement with socially isolated groups. Macilau is committed to initiating positive change across different cultures, locations, and perspectives. Taking portraiture as a point of departure, intimacy becomes the key to unlocking broader perspectives or narratives. The way Macilau shoots is crucial for rich compositions (black and white, with muted tones and textures), and he uses depth of field and natural light - sometimes resulting in dark black or underexposed background - to achieve a nuanced and poetic atmosphere in his images.
Macilau has been involved in many collaborative and educational projects. He is also an activist with Walking Together (WT), a project for children's rights which also provides access to education for girls and women. WT's aim is to equip people with tools and resources in order to transition from their current reality to one of self-suitability.
Recent awards and recognition include Macilau having being invited to participate in a program and exhibition with the United Nations Office, World Press Photo, and the Universal Rights Group (2016). Macilau was also chosen as one of the Foreign Policy's '100 Leading Global Thinkers' at a ceremony in Washington D.C. (2015). Macilau was also selected to give a talk at Harvard University in Boston as one of the panelists during the Boston Global Forum (BGF) in 2015, and again in 2016 the BGF selected Macilau to be a Michael Dukakis Leadership Fellow for 2016-2017. Macilau's work has won several awards including the European Union Award for Environment (2015), the UNESCO-Aschberg Bursary for Visual Arts (2014), and he is a laureate of the Africa Centre's Fountainhead Residency Award (2014).
Macilau's work features regularly in solo and group exhibitions in his home country and abroad. Recently he was one of three artists presented at the Pavilion of the Holy See at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015), with a body of work also presented at Volta NY (2016). Also in 2015, Macilau's work was included in the Vitra Design Museum's exhibition 'Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design' curated by Amelie Klein with Okwui Enwezor as Consulting Curator - the exhibition is planned to tour several countries over five years. Other notable shows include 'ENTRY PROHIBITED TO FOREIGNERS' curated by Elise Atangana at the Havremagasinet - Boden Art Center, Sweden (2015), 'Pangea: New Art from Africa and Latin America' at Saatchi Gallery, London (2014), Fotofest Biennial, Houston (2014), International Biennial of Casablanca, Morocco (2014), 'Tempo' Galeria Belo-Galsterer, Lisbon (2013), Dak'art Biennial OFF, Dakar (2012), Rencontres de Bamako, Bamako (2011), VI Chobi Mela Photo Festival, Dhaka (2011), Photo Spring, Beijing (2011), and Lagos Photo, Lagos (2010 & 2011).
Macilau was selected by Fotofestiwal in Łódź, Poland to present his first monograph 'Growing in Darkness' at a huge solo exhibition within the festival entitled 'Discovery Show' (2015). Other notable solo shows includes 'The Road Not Taken' at The Auction Room, London (2015), 'Nada Como O Tempo' curated by Berry Bickle at Kulungwana Gallery in Maputo (2015), 'Fora da Cidade' at Blank Projects, Cape Town (2014), and 'Moments of Transition' at Belo-Galsterer Gallery, Lisbon (2014).
Published books :
"Growing in darkness" portrays socially isolated groups such as street children, elderly men and women, e-waste, subjects about identity, culture and inhabitants of large refuse sites. This portrayal contrasted the fleeting and fragile state of these individuals with the permanence of the photographic document.attempted to portray socially isolated groups such as street children, elderly men and women, e-waste, subjects about identity, culture and inhabitants of large refuse sites. This portrayal contrasted the fleeting and fragile state of these individuals with the permanence of the photographic document.
"Faith" which documents the practice of animism (the belief that everything has a soul or spirit) which still exists in contemporaryMozambique. Between documentary precision,anthropologic study and poetic interpretation, Macilau’s images underline and commenton the social and economic abandonment these communities face.
Macilau's work is held in many private and public collections.Mário Macilau (b.1984) lives and works in Maputo, Mozambique.