Arte Na Fotografia is a photography competition produced and hosted by the Brazilian TV channel Arte1. Six photographers were selected to participate, being challenged in various environments and limitations, in order to show their own authorship as artists in series with 6 photos each. I participated in the second season of the show, in 2018, where I was chosen as the winner. Here are some of the work I came up with, and my thoughts about them.
Suddenly we've arrived at a circus. It has been a long time since I last came to this place and this would be a very different experience from all others. Our mission is to photograph the circus through the eyes of our inner child. At first, I was a little tense, but soon I relaxed and let myself go with the flow. Where would I want to be if I was a child and had free access to all of the spaces in a circus? Being very curious, like always, I wanted to know the secrets behind all that magic. What happens behind the stage's curtains? How do the artists get ready and focused? How do they live when they're not spitting fire, jumping upside down on trapezes, or making the audience laugh? That is what my child would want to see. I was on the backstage during the whole time we had. I could enter the motorhomes where the artists live and the dressing rooms. I've met a family of trapeze artists. It was amazing to see each one in their process of transformation until they became characters of that show I barely watched. For me, the coolest show was right there. I was relaxed and enjoyed the challenge.
I've never thought of myself as a creative photographer. I've always been more of an observer who captures what is already there. For some time, I even missed creative stuff in my wedding work and started forcing myself to do some creative portraits, then I stopped. "I am a documentary photographer", I thought, "I find pictures, I don't create them". Then I decided to join this reality show and my world fell apart. I joined it exactly because I wanted it to fall, I needed this to happen. This was the first time I created something like this, from scratch. In the beginning of the challenge in the junkyard, I felt lost, as always, but I talked to Claudio Feijó and got an insight. I decided to merge the storyteller I used to be with the creative and conceptual photographer I never was. I thought most of the car pieces there had probably come from car accidents. Out of an endless amount of dusted pieces, in 3 hours I created 6 'canvas' in order to tell a tragic story that could serve as an alert to this unfortunate statistic still so high in our country. I was very happy with the result. It seems like something is starting to change inside me.
A challenge to shoot architecture in a cemetery in black and white. Sounds complicated, but I'm starting to get more and more relaxed during the challenges. This time I had a little time to think what I'd like to do and I came up with my concept before it started. Time really is a precious currency in this show. The Consolação Cemetery (in São Paulo) has majestic graves and tombs bigger than my house. Wow, they really look like houses. Some even resemble buildings and castles. I decided to try to represent a Necropolis, the city of the dead. I remember my father told me about it once. I want to make this cemetery look like a city, a village of houses, with a church. Manoel de Barros (Brazilian poet) is always with me. I remember his poetic lessons about resignifying things, like a child who has the freedom to play and change the function of something that is already tired of being just one thing. Why does a cemetery always have to be a cemetery? The sky was very cloudy, but soon the sun showed up and that helped me a lot. I really like a strong black and white with great contrast. I started to use light and shadows in my favor, hiding the elements (like crosses) that characterised that place as a cemetery and placing the light on the "houses". I remembered the conversations I had with my architect brother, over 10 years ago, about architectural photography, and I tried to represent these buildings with very straight lines and perspectives. When I was editing these photos, Fred helped me put the photos in an order so that it looked like an unique linear landscape. We're never alone in this life. Thank you, dad. Thank you, Manoel. Thank you, brother. Thank you, Fred.
I've been a vegetarian for 9 years and vegan for over 1 year (as of 2018). When I found out that this challenge would be about the relationship between humans and animals, I went into alert mode. I hope it's not in a zoo or a slaughterhouse. It wasn't. Phew! It was in an equestrian facility. I don't know what to feel about this. What now? How are horses treated? Would they like to be there if they had the choice? Well, I can't answer those questions, but I can say what I think and feel through photos. I feel this is my role in the world. What if I could show that there isn't that much difference between the human animal and the non-rational animal? I spent the few minutes we had with the horses in the stalls, where we could get closer to them, and I started observing. Playing with light, shadow, extreme crops and focus, "I found" one photo. In this photo, I could see the torso of a muscular man. When I left it out of focus and details of the horse disappeared, it was no longer easily to identify that was a hairy animal. Interesting. This also follows the same principle I used for the two previous challenges, about giving other meanings to things. I decided to follow this idea. After 3 hours of intense search, more than 1300 photos, precise editing and processing I got to the 6 final images that, so far, I was more surprised to achieve. I never thought I could create that kind of photography. But I've just remembered that, about 10 years ago, right at the beginning of photography in my life, I wrote an idea very similar to that, in one sentence, about doing a personal project that never came out of that notebook. Everything happens for a reason.
How do you imagine a city of the future? Now we have to photograph something that doesn't exist in the real world, but only in the imagination world, in our deepest dreams and nightmares. How do I imagine a city of the future? Will it really be so different than it is today? São Paulo, for example, does not have so much space left to grow. I don't think it's gonna change much. At this time I think how much humanity is changing. We are getting sicker and sicker. There are 15 new drug stores on every block now. I read somewhere recently that the incidence of myopia has increased in the last 100 years. We spend most of our days with our eyes facing luminous screens. I don't believe this can be harmless to our vision. I'm sorry, ophthalmologists, if I'm wrong, but that was my thought. Living photography for over 10 years, not just as a profession, but as a way of life, a way to understand myself in this world, to grow, and to contribute with others, my greatest fear is to lose my sight. I decided, then, for this challenge, to think upside down. To use this fear of mine and photograph some landscapes of São Paulo as if the viewer suffered from various sight illnesses. In the beginning of my challenge time, while still quite nervous, I did several tests using various techniques. Then, I arrived at my cousin Laura's apartment. During these hard times, the presence of our family can help a lot with our emotions and this was fundamental for me to relax and start to enjoy the challenge. I grabbed a glass jar in her kitchen and followed my quest to unite different landscapes and techniques, sometimes using the jar to create some desired effects. While editing, I decided to process the images inspired by José Saramago's "white blindness" and I think it worked well. Mission accomplished. This essay took me to the finals of this competition and it was one of my favorite parts of the gallery exhibition, where I was proclaimed the winner of the season.
© 2022 Maíra Erlich|ProPhoto theme