Itapetinga, BA, 1992
Marlizia in To Calm the Earth, 2021
Lucas Cordeiro is a photographer and visual artist based in São Paulo and Salvador, creating from Afro-centered aesthetics that dialogue with themes such as ancestry, religion, technologies and their intersections. He uses photography and video as an artistic language in order to mimic possibilities between the real and the virtual.
text and interview by Mirella Ferreira , published on 09/30/2021
Guided by the Mystery, 2021
Lucas Cordeiro was born in southwestern Bahia, between the rural area of Caatiba and Itapetinga, and moved to Salvador when he reached 17 years old. He was raised by his grandmother, the main reference for later making 35/120mm photographs or cell phone recordings; an elderly healer, washerwoman, a major figure with an ancestral, spiritual and affective connection. The beauty and care with which she focused on plants, objects, home and family are part of Lucas' inspiration, as they guided his childhood and adolescence. His first contact with photography happened after his mother got a digital camera from his aunt. It turned into an inseparable object, with which he created stories and scenes, involving his cousins and sisters. This took place in the same backyard where his grandmother did prayings and healings, being a vehicle for caboclos, entities of the forest, present in cults of African-based religions. These experiences further permeated his images and subjectivity from his initiation process in Candomblé. ''The most beautiful experience of my life was my feitura, being consecrated to the orixá owner of my orí... I create from what I see. There is an experience of mine mixed with that of the other; there is a place where these exchanges talk and touch, creating an image from that, or materializing something that was already present in my head or in my story. I feel like a kind of vehicle, revealing something there at that moment.''
Ilmara de Nanã (House of Oxumaré - BA), Lucas' irmã de santo, in connection with Dã (snake) essence of the orixá Oxumarê, who has a son connection with the orixá Nanã. //
Egbomi Natalice de Yemanjá (House of Oxumarê - SSA), Lucas' irmã de santo, complementing the elements of the orixá to which she was consecrated. //
Lucas' irmã de santo e barco, Amanda de Obá, orixá to which she was consecrated. She takes the àjàpá (turtle) in the orí (head), the animal that corresponds to the Orixá Xangô.
"The orixá asks for my orí, but the body also asks, that rescue, that memory... Candomblé appears in my work as a way to give back all the love I receive. It's an extension of my life construction, a place of affection with my orixás, my sisters, my community of asè, the exchanges, family life, the learning, the elements, the leaves, the animals... All this is a whole, a single body." As the asè teaches us, everything has importance and function and this is what completes the whole that is in us, in balance. "Filhas de Santo appear in my work in a space of integration with the symbols of their orixás. I like to show the importance of seeing themselves with the animals that correspond to the orixás that were initiated, how beautiful they are reliving the history of their orixás. It's my way of thanking them for being in connection with me in the construction of these images." Filhas de Santo reveal themselves incorporating orixá, nature, elements, animals, within their space of power, like a terreiro, where many of these women occupy positions of authority and are respected for their ancestry, for their wisdom, for their teachings. Yá Natalice, outside the axé space, can be seen as an ordinary lady, but inside she is a queen, for her and her community, where her blessing are asked wherever she goes. It's about the power of being in your place of belonging.
Yá Natalice and Marlizia in To Calm the Earth, 2021
Lucas tells about the visual influence of the elements used by his grandmother. The memory of the blood that flowed into the shiny aluminum bowl when sacrificing an animal for the family's food, the geographic space, the warm climate of the city; these elements gain new settings in his images. "Spirituality came to me in childhood. My grandmother received and worshiped caboclo, cured many people, but there still was a veil that covered the subject. In my adolescence, I used to go to the library to look at books about candomblé, which called my attention the most. When I had the opportunity to use the internet, I researched a lot about it. When I arrived in Salvador, I understood that it was my moment of greatest connection with my spirituality. In this period of time I started to attend Casa de Oxumarê, where I felt a part of and was later initiated. When women appear in my work, it's from a place of honor to the feminine. A movement based on my relationship with my grandmother, of reverence, knowing where I came from, where my learning came from. This matriarch formed my worldview and I have great respect and gratitude. Today, I think there is a balance in my photographs, between men and women. Images with men are more related to fashion, but with women the images are of a different nature; have a more spiritual connection, they talk about being created and inspired by a female figure. I am always careful when thinking about how women will be seen in my work, so that they are portrayed in their spaces, their clothes, as they are. There is my story and theirs, and there is this crossover point that photography provides.''
Portrait of Lucas by Rodrigo Sombra, 2019
Portrait of Suia, Lucas' grandmother, 2017
Pendant for cheap shine, 2021
Feeling the past and its memories, crossing and mixing experiences, even though its reach always leads to a new story, paraphrasing Beatriz Nascimento in Orí, about the irretrievable contours that our hands try to reach. In this attempt to reach some contour, if possible, Lucas transforms visual creation into a path to the sensitive, between real connections that allow the beauty of being, of the sacred, and its narratives, to reveal along with the image. A creation without a previous script, but based on a visual thought located in a spiraling time. The elements present are pieces that are part of the history of an artist and those portrayed, whether in affective or religious memory. When these elements dialogue with each other, there is no character, what is shown is an opening space in which photographer and photographed become vehicles for each other, creating a legitimate and organic place, which is a fundamental factor in this construction. The photographer leaves the place of the voyeur or the anthropologist — as historically happened in photography under the domain of whiteness towards black people, in portrayals guided by the invasion of their spaces, from the construction of a stereotyped, exotic image, in a place of 'other '; no mastery of the image itself, no exchange — because he is part of that narrative; these elements and experiences are not separate from his life.