PERSONAL PROJECTS: SAUDADE DA BAHIA
“The city of Bahia, black and religious, is almost as mysterious as the green sea.”
— Jorge Amado
I stick my head out the window of the moving car as we hightail toward the small town of Cachoeira. It’s a clear, hot night under the bulging moon. A warm breeze splashes over me. I can hear crickets chirping in the high grass beside the interstate. A rare and sincere sense of meaning washes over me and brings an unsolicited tear to my eye. These are simple pleasures, I know — the crickets, the moon, the warm gust of air — but after a day of exploring Bahia there is no greater pleasure. For Bahia, as scary and painful as can be, is brimming with primordial grace and wonder.
The Portuguese word Saudade has no direct translation to English. It’s a deep nostalgic longing for a person or place. A love that’s far away, but still remains.
The purpose of these photographs is to evoke this feeling when I reflect on my nearly four years spent in Bahia. A collection of memories in a photographic diary with my impressions of this labyrinthine land where absurdity and obscurity belong. In a world that is so overly documented and much of its mystery has vanished, the state of Bahia still has a way of disorienting your senses.
Bahia stands out like no other, even for a country as culturally unique as Brazil. There are sounds, smells, foods and an exuberance entirely distinct to this region. It has trailed a long, unparalleled history of suffering and overcoming. An African treasure lost on the wrong side of the Atlantic.
Good or bad, terrifying or wonderful, Bahia continues to defy logic and expectations.