Citizen X is a body of work developed over three and a half years by the Brazilian photographer Julio Bittencourt, with the aim of portraying São Paulo’s low-income population affected by the lack of public policies dedicated to housing distribution.
In this work, Julio portrays occupations at abandoned schools, hospitals, factories, and nightclubs, addressing the contradictory situation of a megalopolis that experiences an extremely high rate of housing shortage and counts, at the same time, with thousands of empty housing units spread across its decaying neighborhoods. Abandoned spaces that represent “both a testament to the magnitude of the problem as well as a source of potential hope for change.”
“Many of the solutions proposed for the city of Sao Paulo affect only the most superficial aspects of its landscape. They are aseptic projects that do not propose structural changes, but only remove from central and more visible areas the trash, traffic and poverty,” states Julio.
The gathering of homeless occupation movements started in Sao Paulo during the 1990s and currently counts more than 13,000 families composed mostly by immigrants from the Northern regions of Brazil and surrounding South American countries.
In 2006, the photographer had already approached this subject, when he portrayed a settlement of over 400 families living in a squatted building in São Paulo’s center. This work was featured in the book In a Window of Prestes Maia 911 Building, published in 2009 by Dewi Lewis.
Julio Bittencourt’s photographs have been featured in magazines such as Polka, Geo, Stern, Le Monde, The Guardian, Esquire, and Photo. His work is part of public and private collections in Brazil, including the Sao Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), Itaú Cultural, and the Pinatoca do Estado de São Paulo. He is represented by Polka Gallery in Paris and 1500 Gallery in New York.