where i come from #2

being sexual abused, being beaten, being raped, being sexual assaulted are not things we want everybody to know. i have no idea why (really, i don’t), but it is like that. the girls i’ve photographed wanted to share their stories, but they also wanted to have their identities preserved.

so as if it wasn’t challenging enough to find people willing to be photographed, i must also find ways of telling this story without faces. in other words: all i have learned about portraiture is now useless.

on the beginning of my trip a friend of mine tried to calm me down: “don’t worry about how you’ll photograph them, everything will be said by the look in their eyes”. but what eyes, since i can’t show faces?! i have to find a way to capture a state of mind.

and how the hell does one makes it?

the first time i thought about it was with joao castilho, whose work i adore. he gave a lecture on last year’s paraty in foco (i was still working mainly as a writer and wrote something about it – only in portuguese, sorry) about his works. he said he used to ask himself how could he catch the fear and the disappointment on a community, who was about to be drowned by a new hydroelectric (or something similar that needs water). he said just taking portraits would be pointless. but he and his colleagues found a way out and the result is the beautiful paisagem submersa.

and me? how do i catch that, that state of mind? i have no idea.

some days ago i was watching this interview with marguerite duras and i was amazed as she said that her l’amant was first to be called “the absolute photography”. and she explains that this ‘absolute photography’ didn’t exist: it was the very moment in which she saw the lover for the first time. i believe this “concept” is much more than bresson’s decisive moment, because the decisive moment relies on its recording. this “absolute photography” is rather something independent from the register, it already exists.

this brilliant description of her own writing made me look for my old copy of l’amant. i was really interested in this synesthetic way of describing her writing – i mean, she was trying to write a picture, i am trying to photograph a state of mind…

so i found the book on my mother’s office. i have read it in 2002, when i was in love with a green-eyed bass player, ages younger than me. having in mind this synesthetic way of thinking from duras, i tried to find some guidance, some advice. i found nothing, though hahahah

the funny thing, however, was looking at the things i underlined back then. i captured my state of mind not by my own diary, but from these traces, these underscored sentences:

and specially this phrase really got my eye, since it describes a lot what a person who’s been through sexual violence feels: “we are together on the shame of being forced to keep living”.

then another smart french woman came through my mind, as i was diving through duras’ waters: simone weil. on her gravity and grace, there is chapter called “self-effacement” in which she says “to see a landscape as it is when i am not there”. wouldn’t that be also absolute photography? be able to capture something even if we don’t see it? the landscape, here, could be my girls’ eyes…

but anyways……. i have no idea what’s my goal by writing all that bullshit on a saturday night. i think it only means i am 28 and my social life is a joke. i should be on a bar, shouldn’t i?