ESSAYS FOR DISAPPEARANCE | photo-rites | - PhMuseum

ESSAYS FOR DISAPPEARANCE | photo-rites |

Marilene Ribeiro

2020 - Ongoing

[technique: analogue photography using 15-year expired films, digital photography, video, performance, text]

This project aims to contribute to the debate on women’s imagery in society (in its historical and political realms). It also intends to enrich discussions on creative processes within the field of photography and on the blurred boundaries between fiction and reality in an autobiographical work.

In 2019, I had two hearts beating inside me. Both beautiful and loved. A choice was demanded of me, which felt so difficult to make that I kept postponing it. I kept hoping that, in midst of all the overwhelming feelings, a moment of sudden clarity would show me which heart to keep, and which to cut off. But that instant, magic insight never came, and the situation became unbearable. For reasons too complicated to be put into words, in January 2020 I made one of the hardest decisions of my life: to vanish from the life of someone I loved. From then onwards, I would need to find ways of erasing our 15 years of love, commitment and care. That prompted me to undertake Essays for Disappearance, in which I construct a fictional narrative by interacting with ordinary elements that had populated our story, performing a cathartic play with these representational characters. What started as an experimentation with materials and an interweaving of visual narratives to distil and give shape to my dense and painful process of killing and mourning, ended up taking the form of womanly rituals, as my sister, my female friends and colleagues – who collaborated in the making of this work – and I would gather and engage with the shots in an atmosphere of shamanic rites. The uncanny situations revealed in the visual essays undertaken both evoked and affirmed the aura that has surrounded women throughout History. An aura to be celebrated with pride, rather than hidden with shame. An aura that connects us with healing powers, with powers that dialogue with love and death. Powers which are naturally inherent to the female being, but which were labelled as ‘witchcraft’ and, consequently, socially repressed.

In her widely debated book Witches, Witch-hunting, and Women, American writer, social scientist and activist Silvia Federici argues that witch hunt is back, albeit disguised in contemporary social norms. Federici calls on twenty-first century women to not only acknowledge the atrocities inflicted upon hundreds of thousands of women in the past, but to also embody this imagery of the witch and take action to prevent contemporary forms of female oppression from taking root. Therefore, echoing the chant of thousands of women on the streets of Buenos Aires in recent years – “We are the granddaughters of the witches you did not manage to kill” –, Essays for Disappearance absorbs this call, embracing the freedom to celebrate women’s powers in their unique way to deal with love and death, to heal and nourish, reclaiming women’s resistance throughout History.

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  • | Essay #1 |

    "Through the process of ‘remembering to forget’, the funeral ceremony intends to destroy the marks of the departed, to forget him, to erase him and, at the same time, to exhaustively create his personality, the singularity of his corporeality."

    (Sílvia Guimarães in 'The drama to the Sanöma in their ritual of Death', 2020)

  • | Essay #1 |

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  • | Essay #2 |

    "ee um fah um so
    foo swee too eem oo –

    the voice of no age or sex, the voice of an ancient spring spouting from the earth like a wind-beaten tree for ever barren of leaves which lets the wind run up and down its branches singing

    ee um fah um so
    foo swee too eem oo –

    and rocks and creaks and moans in the eternal breeze.
    Through all ages – when the pavement was grass, when it was swamp, through the age of tusk and mammoth, through the age of silent sunrise – the woman stood singing of love – love which has lasted a million years, she sang, love which prevails, and millions of years ago her lover, who had been dead these centuries, had walked, she crooned, with her in May; but in the course of ages, long as the summer days, and flaming, she remembered, with nothing but red asters, he had gone; death’s enormous sickle had swept those tremendous hills...

    ee um fah um so
    foo swee too eem oo –"

    (Virginia Woolf in 'Mrs. Dalloway', 1925)

  • | Essay #2 |

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  • | Essay #3 |

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  • | Essay #4 |

  • | Essay #4 |

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  • | Essay #5 |

    She realised that everything that was left there about him was perishable.
    In other words: the finitude of his presence there was declared.
    As the days would go by, he would decay, taken by the relentless voracity of the fungi.
    This was unavoidable.

  • | Essay #5 |

  • | Essay #5 |

  • | Essay #1 | video performance |

    Brazil | 2021 | 3 min.
    Video by Marilene Ribeiro.
    Performance by Marilene Ribeiro.
    Production crew: Anelisa Cardoso-Ribeiro and Clarice Marotta.
    Poem: 'Mathnawi II, 716-718' by Rumi.

    This image is a still from the 3-minute video that is part of this work which can be accessed at: https://vimeo.com/568167615


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