Henrique Souza’s series UNICO draws inspiration from the world of fashion, design, and nature. Through his meticulously constructed photographic images he reimagines and merges these worlds through the lens of fantasy and surrealism. In a scientific age where technologies like gene splicing and virtual reality make new forms of life and identity exploration possible, Souza’s images become predictors of what could be. How would we as human beings reimagine our identities and bodies if biological constraints or previously defined boundaries like gender, race, and even species were not imposed upon us?
Souza’s forms are not human and are not animal. They are beautiful, fantastical chimeras. They are adorned with glamorous costumes reminiscent of royalty. In our fantasies, are we not all the regal kings and queens of the story? The figures in the images represent our deepest desires. However, they are not limited to aspirations like power, wealth, or beauty, but also what was reserved only for our dreams, such as the ability to fly. Souza describes these avatars as the “occupants of the New World”, a utopian future that is free of discrimination. In this new eden, all of your imaginary selves can be realized without fear of persecution. Here, lines between what was previously considered “natural” and “unnatural” are irrelevant and the fluidity of identity is celebrated.
Souza’s work is created as a counter response to the unjust and polarized climate in which civilization currently finds itself. The human animal is in many ways still driven by tribalist instincts, policing the lines between which social groups are accepted and which groups are not. How these lines are defined vary by culture and people, but are still a near universal reality. Souza’s identity as part of the LGBT+ community gives him direct insight into the everyday realities of living as a minority in a world that struggles with the acceptance of diversity. “My ultimate aim is to lead my audience to respect the unique individuality of others.” His work is a celebration of life in its most fantastical and beautiful form, seeking to broaden the notion of “the self”. His work poses the question, in a future where you can literally be anything, why not fly?