After travelling 22,000 kilometers photographing, interviewing, and getting DNA samples of 104 Brazilian nationals, Marcus Lyon launched "Somos Brasil" in 2016. The project intended to depict the genetic diversity that is carried by Brazilians.
The project's concept came to Lyon through his experiences in different parts of the world; as he observed how individuals relied on their "homeland" to be an important part of their personal identity. As he points out, in the United States, for instance, it is very common for groups to identify themselves through their national or geographical origins, such as italian-americans (location) african-americans (skin color). On the other hand, in Brazil, the vast majority of the population defines themselves simply as "Brazilians". Lyon was intrigued by the way in which Brazilians have no issues in holding on to their national identities.
At first, the project was thought through as a series of interviews and portraits. As "Somos Brasil" evolved, and Lyon collected his subjects personal accounts, he decided to collect DNA samples from each interviewee. The investigation confirmed that Brazilians carry in their genes traces of ethnicities from all over the world; portraying the true melting pot the country holds.
The project final outcome was the publishing of both a book and an app. Both can be used together to uncover more photos, images, interviews, and the beautiful research done by the artist.
Marcus Lyon is married to a Brazilian wife and their two children were born in the United Kingdom. How do they see their national identity? "Brazinglish", they say. The photographer states that this work is "a love letter" to Brazil, and in the project's acknowledgements, he states that while looking for understanding the people of Brazil, he could understand himself a little better. In the beginning of 2017, part of the "Somos Brazil" was acquired by the Smithsonian Institute to be part of their permanent collection.