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ensaioBarbara Wagner

19 x 15 cm
18 pages
Edition of 1000

The traditional culture of the northeast of Brazil is represented by the Maracatu: since that popular afro-brazilian performance has been displayed by all sort of mass media, its image has turned into the leitmotiv adorning the information related to tourism in the region. The masters of Maracatu are on flyers, posters and guides with their typical coloured clothes and hats, dark glasses and flowers in the mouth. Living in Recife for 10 years I kept looking at those pictures with some questions in mind: how is it possible to photograph the folklore in the contemporary society of the spectacle? Does it make sense to talk about anthropological or ethnographic photography when every traditional event is immediately transformed into a product for consumption through cultural images?

Arguing the function of an artwork compared to commercial photography, I spent one year going to Nazaré da Mata – a small village in Pernambuco – where I photographed the participants of the group Estrela Brilhante, Cambinda do Cumbe and Águia Dourada during their rehearsals prior to the carnival, always performed at night. The resulting group of images were all taken in specific moments of their party – that of before and after the music is played. The approach on the subject is thus made through a denial of canons of representation, showing the performers without mask or movement, depicting aspects of their practice that show how a tradition needs to adjust itself in order to survive along with a dynamic urban culture.