Letters to the Sea
The series Letters to the Sea has developed over many years, but recently one year was spent creating images based on texts from Pier Valongo in Rio de Janeiro and testimonials from residents and traders during visits made to other port areas such as Valongo. This work resulted in a series of twelve mixed media photographic images, incorporating different processes such as the use of photographic emulsion on cotton paper, Kodalith and acrylic film applications.
It is known that almost sixty percent of the people brought as slaves to Brazil from Africa were brought to the ports of Rio de Janeiro. The Valongo wharf was created specifically for this purpose, and it received waves of enslaved men and women brought by sea from Africa. Valongo was the port of arrival, but it was also a cemetery for all who arrived dead or very sick due to the arduousness of the Atlantic crossing in the holds of slave ships.
Letters to the Sea tries to rescue some of this memory for later generations and talk about the resistance to slavery.
The darkroom work on these images, and the application of stamps and texts, in the postproduction of these works, make reference to time and memory. They symbolize the letters that slaves threw overboard in the hope that the future generations would find them.
All the images were created from photo files belonging to friends, family, as well as self-portraits of the photographer.
Eustáquio Neves is a self-taught photographer and video artist who studied chemistry and classical guitar. Since 1989 he has researched and developed alternative and multidisciplinary techniques, including the manipulation of negatives and prints, as well as electronic media, incorporating sequence and movement. He was born in 1955 in Juatuba, Minas Gerais, Brazil, an area that served as a refuge to fugitive slaves — the quilombos. From 1993 to 1997 he photographed a community of quilombos descendants in Minas Gerais to express his interest in the memory and identity of black Brazilians. In 1994 he was awarded the Marc Ferrez Photography Prize by Brazil’s National Foundation for the Arts (FUNARTE).
His work has been widely exhibited in Brazil and abroad including solo shows of his series Cartas ao Mar [Letters to the Sea]. He has exhibited this work at the Afro Brazil Museum in São Paulo and FotoRio in Rio de Janeiro (2015) Bahia Contemporary Art Museum, Salvador, Brazil (2014) The Pinacoteca Art Museum, Sao Paulo Brazil (1996). He has shown abroad in many group shows including AFRO-BRASIL, Fotografia Brasileira, Institute of Foreign Relations Gallery (IFA), Stuttgart, Germany (2013); Mythologies: Brazilian Contemporary Photography, Shiseido Gallery, Tokyo (2012) I Mostra Pan Africana of Contemporary Art, Bahia Art Modern Museum, Salvador (2005).