PHOTOGRAPHY AND RECURRING IMAGES
A man goes silent as he grasps a thought. Suspicious, he keeps his eyes fixed on the person watching him. If he lets his mind be free, his lips might mumble incoherent words and accuse him. He is tired; he no longer wishes to suffer the consequences of freedom. He feels cornered: is the one observing him capable of revealing his madness?
I saw that image when I was 4 years old, near a gipsy camp in the countryside of Rio de Janeiro state, but was only able to photograph it in 2009, at age 27, in the Paris metro. There was that man again, oppressing his own madness and there was I, watching him. This time, through my own camera.
Still in Paris, at the end of the trip, I recovered his lost lips. They were laying on the floor, shining a bright red in a maze of dark underpasses. That man certainly ripped them off from his face to silence the language of the mad.
But I soon realized: they were also the same lips of a TV host who, in a sensual voice, uttered ambiguous words in a TV show for kids. Her bright red lips were constantly close up and had the power to hypnotize boys at the time. That mouth was my first love. Finding it over twenty years later in Paris, ripped off from the face of a homeless man, was an epiphany.
Observation is the act of photographing without a camera. Throughout childhood, the eyes, mind, and heart suffice when recording an image. The shapes that surround us are new elements we are constantly apprehending.
All that stirs the eye is kept somewhere in our memory.