Images of Brazilian literature
"I began to know the backlands by its paths. It all began in 1963, when I won from a friend a copy of 'Grande sertão: veredas', by Guimarães Rosa - not without the remark that perhaps I could not understand the author's very special language. Not only did I understand how I plunged into the waters of that sea of words - would not the sertão turn to sea? -, instigated to investigate the direct relation of Rosa with the backlands of Minas Gerais region.I went there and, returning from every trip, went to visit the writer, then head of the Itamaraty Border Demarcation Service. On each occasion I carried a collection of photographs taken in the lands of the author of "Sagarana", who, behind each one, wrote down details - name, age, single, married or widower, place of meeting, how and when, etc. -, receiving, through the images, messages from the backlands.At the end of our meetings he would always accompany me to the elevator and wish me a good next trip, saying that he was certain that I would understand the poetic effluvia because of similarities between that region and Ireland ("Gypsy Irish "Was, incidentally, what he nicknamed me, perhaps because of my long hair, ample clothes, sandals on?).Years after our meetings, I went to visit his widow, Mrs. Aracy, in the building where they had lived, in Copacabana, Posto 6. There, she led me to a small room. Between the cliffs and the sea, she told him that it was there that Rosa had written his "Grande Sertões". "Night after night," he confided to me, "I would bring him two or three pijama changes, for as he wrote, he perspired a lot, bathing himself in sweat. He told me that he received the blowing work, and he was only a receive". Maureen Bisilliat
I really always know,
that what I wanted all the time
and fought to find, was one thing only –
and that the whole – the significance and awe
of which I see to have always known.
that a way existed, along a straight
and narrow path, for each to live –
the secret each one possesses –
yet cannot find;
for how could anyone, alone,
find out and understand?"
"(...) He understood himself involved in combat without respite, imperiously demanding the convergence of all energies. He became strong, smart, resigned and practical. He got ready early for the fight. His appearance recalls, vaguely, at first glance, that of an ancient warrior exhausted from the fray."
"(...) he told of a trip he had made through the Sertão, and said that the stones and stones flooring of our sacred Cariri sometimes can form kind of clusters that look like fortresses or ruined castles. From then on, every time I remembered the twin rocks of the Stone of the Kingdom, it was as if they were, besides the Sovereign Cathedral that the Kings, my ancestors, had revealed, the Fortress and the Castle where our blood is made of."
Novel of the Stone of the Kingdom
In 1960 Maureen met Jorge Amado, who inspired her the idea to carry out a work of "photographic equivalence" on national literary works. A few years later, as he traveled through the hinterland of Minas Gerais in search of images that would dialogue with "Grande sertão: veredas", masterpiece of Guimarães Rosa, Maureen had already become naturalized Brazilian.
From 1964 to 1972, a contracted photojournalist for Editora Abril, she worked for magazines such as Realidade and Quatro Rodas which became famous, among them "A batucada dos Bambas", about traditional samba in Rio de Janeiro, and "Caranguejeiras", depicting women collecting crabs in village of Livramento.
Tireless publisher of her own work, Maureen also released two notable volumes on the Xingu National Park, both called Xingu, with the subheadings "Details of a Culture" (1978) and "Tribal Territory" (1979). Also on the region, which he visited several times, he co-directed with Lúcio Kodato the feature film documentary "Xingu/ terra". The passion for the video began to absorb her more and more from the 1980s, but in the 1990s Maureen still published books with photographic essays on trips to Africa, Lebanon and Japan.
In 1988, with Jacques Bisilliat, her husband, and Antônio Marcos da Silva, she was invited by Darcy Ribeiro to create the collection of Latin American popular art, the origin of the Pavilion of Creativity of the Latin American Memorial Foundation. She was curator of the space until 2011.
In 2009, IMS launched the exhibition and the book Maureen Bisilliat- Photography, a panoramic view of her career, with the participation of Maureen Bisilliat herself in the curatorship.
Apart from Amado, Guimarães,Euclides da Cunha and Suassuna, Maureen Bisilliat had strike up dialogues with the brazilian writers João Cabral de Melo Neto, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Adélia Prado and Mário de Andrade, the latter inspiring a photo essay that she displayed at a special hall during the XVIII Bienal de São Paulo, in 1985, based on his book "O turista aprendiz".
Maureen Bisilliat - images of Brazilian literature.
Edition: Rachel Rezende
The three visual essays of this exhibition are part of the Maureen Bisilliat retrospective show and its catalog, both produced by Instituto Moreira Salles.
Curation: Maureen Bisilliat and Sergio Burgi
To João Guimarães Rosa exhibition
Curation: Maureen Bisilliat
The complete Maureen Bisilliat works, part of the Instituto Moreira Salles’ collection, is a total of 16,251 images that includes photographs, black-and-white negatives and color chromos.
Guia do IMS - Cadão Volpato. Tradução Flora Thomson-DeVeaux.
Tradução para o inglês dos trechos de Guimarães Rosa: Maureen Bisilliat e
Acknowledgements: Maureen Bisilliat, Thaiane Koppe e Felipe Lafé Isidoro Alves