Myriad Rites

If you want to be universal, start by painting your own village - Leon Tolstói

Photography registers significant situations, ways of life, gestures, rituals and social roles, stimulating human sensibility in order to open a camera’s lenses to take hold of the non-verbal language of the image. What it at issue is the analysis of the image and visual communication, done in the scope of different cultures, as possibilities of dialogue with rules and the cultural codes of the image’s context.

Projects that deal with image in this perspective also deal with the crossover of observations: the photographer’s, the image’s subject, and the onlooker. It is in this encounter of intentionalities that the communication stabilishes, through signs that trasform culturally into signification.

The objective of this photographic essay is to depict diverse practices and religious cults, in order to show the ceremonies, the ritual characteristics and symbolic fragments of different creeds found in Pindamonhangaba, Brazil. For the documentary aspect of the project, the sorting of the subjects was made not based on pré-classified concepts – christian, african, eastern, jewish, among others – but based simply on a geographic limitation.

Given the short time available and the great amount of rites, it wouldn’t be satisfactory if the project embraced all the creeds. Thus, only some were selected to compose the project, loosely following the ritualistic aspect as the prime common element. So six creed were grouped: Candomblé, Hare Krishna Movement, Umbanda, Santo Daime, Witchcraft and Shamanism,. The last one was included in the project, as a personal surprise for being a rite of a native indian tribe from the Amazon Forest that visited the city.

Although it is culture, and not nature, that defines the differences between people, these practices are frequently observed as a “primitive” world opposing to the “civilized” world imposed by the Age of Great Discoveries. The contact of the native indian with European people, African slaves and other immigrants, promoted not only miscegnation, in a racial sense, but also a cultural interpenetration. The inherent need of search for a national – and personal – identity dissolved material, spatial and temporal boundaries.

So it is valid, for this photographic essay, the observation of the images without the individual judgement of the unkown. There is a brief contextualization of each religion and it will be noted the absence of captions, for the intrinsic reality of each photograph belongs to the cultural structure of the other, which can be traced through non-verbal attempts at signification.

Finally, it must be considered that these images are, for themselves, objects of reflection and analysis. In this case, the image should not be seen as an empirical-objective data, but starting points for a reflection upon onesself in contact with the other, and thus the differences are noted only with the approach of the subject-as-engaged-observer.








Santo Daime