Mário Macilau was born in Maputo, Mozambique in 1984. He currently lives and works in Maputo. During the most critical phase of the Mozambican Civil War, his family struggled with financial difficulties and therefore moved from the province of Inhambane to Maputo in search of a better life in newly independent Mozambique. At the age of ten, Macilau began to work in a small market frequented by the middle and upper classes, helping to carry groceries, and washing cars at the park in an effort to support his family.
Macilau started his photographic journey in 2003, and went professional when he traded his mother’s cellphone for his first camera in 2007.
In 2007, Macilau did a course at Centro de Formação e Documentação Fotográfica in Maputo, Mozambique.
Macilau’s work has been recognised with awards, and 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 in 2015, with a body of work also presented at Volta NY in 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 for five years, and was presented in Spring 2015 at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbaoin Spain. Other notable shows include ‘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).
Recent awards and recognition include Macilau having being invited to participate in a program and exhibition with the United Nations Office at Geneva, 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).
In the same year Macilau was selected to give a talk at Harvard University in Boston as one of the panelists during the Boston Global Forum. 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 Center’s Artist in Residency (AIR) Fountainhead Residency Award (2014)