Mico Toledo

Mico studied art direction in Brazil and visual arts in Central Saint Martins School of Arts, London. After more than 10 years working as an art director and creative director in agencies such as Mother, Droga5 and Wieden & Kennedy Mico started pursuing documentary photography as a way to feeding his hunger for real experiences outside the creative filter bubble created by our own industry and by similar points of view. Mico is a self taught photographer that works only with medium format film cameras. After working with photographers such as Ryan McGinley, Mario Testion and Rankin, Mico realised his own potential to transition from art direction to photography. He’s inspired specially by the work of Nan Goldin, and Alex Soth and Jim Goldberd, the last one specially for his own self-taught approach to photography after a collaboration with Robert Frank.

His first in depth documentary photography project “Until the Grass Grows and The River Flows” explores the unprecedented gathering of more than 200 native American tribes in Standing Rock Sioux reservation, North Dakota, opposing the build of a 3billion dollar pipeline crossing sacred and disputed native lands.

Mico’s photography work walks in the line between environmental and social causes. His photographs and portraits aim to empower minorities and shine a light into undocumented issues or people around the world.

Mico has articles and work published in Dazed & Confused, It’s Nice That, Huck Magazine and Vice Magazine, Amarello Magazine amongst others.
Mico was born in Brazil but for the last 10 years resides in London.

Until the Grass Grows and The River Flows

The project captures small stories and portraits of self proclaimed ‘water protectors” – activists from native and non-native background from around the US that flooded into Standing Rock Sioux reservation in order to fight a 3 billion dollar oil pipeline project crossing sacred lands and the Missouri River. The movement that started with a couple of hundred youth members snowballed to more than 4000 people at its height and an unprecedented gathering of more than 200 native American tribes.

The photographs aim to depict the water protectors as their true self, strong yet peaceful, opposing the biased view of right wing media and state police quick to paint them as violent and trouble-makers. The portraits aimed to divide this big movement into small cells and hear the small stories behind the big picture. By isolating the movement and capturing different portraits and hearing different stories the photographs aimed to humanise them. These were not violent people, these were family man and women, veterans, teachers, historians, young people fighting to protect their sovereignty, their lands, their water and their future. The photographs eventually captured a regained sense of purpose and pride in Native American’s not seen since the American Indian Movement from the seventies.

The photographs were made in two different phases of the movement. First in October 2016 before the victory announced in December by president Obama’s administration, denying the necessary easement for the pipeline to cross Sioux lands, and the second phase captured protesters and native Americans in the height of ND harsh winter in January 2016 under a new threat from Trump’s administration and his views towards the oil industry.

The two phases contrast not only in weather and light but also in mood. Under Trump’s rule the air felt heavier and people looked more concerned for their safety and safety of their water.

To view more of Mico’s work please visit his website.