The title of this series refers to the uniquely Portuguese term “saudade” which has been described as “a vague and constant desire for something that does not and probably cannot exist, for something other than the present, a turning towards the past or towards the future; not an active discontent or poignant sadness but an indolent dreaming wistfulness.” (In Portugal, by AFG Bell, 1912.) The photographs are the result of an artist residency I completed in Portugal. I think my predisposition for reveling in melancholy and nostalgia created the mental space for me to make these pictures.
Faith and Devotion
This series of images is focused on the Catholic pilgrimage site of Fatima, Portugal. On the 12-13th of each month, the small town swells with religious believers, who come to celebrate the miraculous appearance 100 years ago of the Virgin Mary. Pilgrims converge on the main plaza, all seeking to renew their faith or to receive healing from the spirit of the Virgin. The contemporary reality of Fatima is a paradoxical mix of commercialistic kitsch and deeply devout belief. The faithful stream to the site throughout the day and evening, many approaching the basilica on their knees as an act of penance and self-flagellation. Others carry wax figurines, representing a variety of body parts. These are thrown into fire pits, which is said to bring divine relief from physical ailments. Prayers in a multitude of languages blast from loudspeakers, their cadence familiar to my ears, even if the words are foreign. A candlelight vigil continues throughout the night. Raised as a Catholic, but being lapsed as an adult, the location and proceedings at Fatima triggered many personal memories of my religious upbringing. Being surrounded by throngs of the faithful allowed me a voyeuristic observance of a belief system that I no longer take part in but still find intriguing.
A night at the rodeo
This group of images is the result of an all-access, behind the scenes visit to the PRCA Rodeo held at the New Mexico State Fair. As a self-proclaimed “city slicker” I found the energy and atmosphere of the rodeo to be, at turns, intimidating, exciting and somewhat foreign. I was mostly drawn to the cowboys themselves; the way they prepared for the inevitable physical and mental challenge against the power and unpredictability of the animals of the rodeo. I found the reality of rodeo life in many ways debunks the myth of the American cowboy while reinforcing it at the same time.
In a culture that was built upon and continues to idealize the automobile, I am drawn to these vehicles that are, for one reason or another, shrouded. To me, they convey a combined feeling of holiness, of sadness, and of secrets and stories kept hidden.
Facing the Sea
A look inside the traditional lifestyle of two small fishing villages on the northern coast of Portugal. As large-scale operations continue to take over the industry, these fishermen and their families continue to pursue their calling, as they face inevitable change.