“This Miracle” is a project about the landscape of rural people in Brasil’s Bahia province; it is about the psychological layers of light and shadow and colour and texture.
Numerous people in Bahia (and Brasil) are marginalized because of poverty. While photographing there I became conscious that behind a seemingly magical/spiritual Bahia (that reflects a co-mingling of African and Portuguese-derived religions, full of rituals and festivals), lies a very difficult, even harsh, world of people who are poor, landless, and/or homeless. They struggle to survive - and do not always succeed but are, in part, sustained by religious practice, which intersects with a more ephemeral spirituality: the unifying emotional undercurrent that is saudade.
Saudade is the word Portuguese colonists used to express their longing for their mother country; it is considered a melancholy nostalgia. The same feeling was intrinsic to the displaced African population that arrived in Brasil as slaves. Today, millions of Afro-Brasilians hold on to their cultures, religions (often mixed with Catholicism), and traditions. Hints of this feeling can be found everywhere. Brasil is a melting pot of Europeans, Amerindians, and Africans of which over one third is poor and vulnerable but whose religious rootedness provide a strong sense of faith. It is a fundamental force.
With wonder, I was able to see how these utterly impoverished people are able to find joy in the everyday, despite acute day-to-day hardship. I saw strength, endurance, and hope surface in daily life. Baianos are extroverted, touched by the mystical, but also ache for something long gone. What I caught on camera is a glimpse of the lives of people with a shared past, a long history, a strong culture and piousness, but an uncertain future.