Artist’s statement for “Dona Santa: My Grandmother was a Healer”
How does one look for that which has been erased?
An estimated number of 305 indigenous ethnic groups resist throughout Brazil’s territory. The peoples’ cultures and knowledge have been brutally erased since the arrival of the “light of civilization”. Among surviving practices of healing of the indigenous people, some are performed by benzedeiras: healers who operate with herbs and prayers, in a spirituality that was syncretized with Christianity. This exhibition inherits benzimentos performed by my grandmother. Lady Saint, as named by the locals, was a benzedeira in my hometown.
Alluding to the erasure manifested by colonialism, an expired analog film was used to capture a photograph of each visit I held with a person from my family. These encounters happened for seven days, until I visited my grandmother’s grave. Pieces of paper holding their handwriting and audio recordings in Brazilian Portuguese are the offerings to explore a few narratives. To end each conversation I asked a question that arose from intuitively selecting a passage from the book “History of a Voyage to the Land of Brazil”, written in the XVI century by French explorer Jean de Léry.
The relationships we form through care and healing with the people, objects and situations around us are our most precious resources.