Júlio de Matos Photography

PÚBLICO (11/2003) [back]

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PÚBLICO article

PASSAGE OF INDIA

Manikarnika Ghat is a crossing point of the mythical River Ganges in India. A quayside on its banks. But not just any quayside. It is an entry point into paradise, the last stage of bodily life, there transformed into ashes that are scattered over the river waters in a thousand-year-old purification ritual. The photographer Júlio de Matos went there and saw the glumness on the faces of those parting with their loved ones, the lines that pain carves on the serene faces of those saying good-bye. He photographed. And the pictures that resulted from his contemplation are now on show at the Centro Português de Fotografia, in Oporto.

The work resulted in distinct approaches. There is a collection of portraits of dignified people, resigned to death. There is the approach to the shore for a last farewell. Details of the materials that make up the ritual. The poetry of static bodies and the frozen landscape. All of it in starkly contrasted, grain-saturated, both sullen and luminous black-and-white – like death hoping for redemption. But, as Maria do Carmo Serén writes, “the poetic serenity that Júlio de Matos conveys to us with the rationality of these pictures” does not exist. Life ends, after all, at the gates to paradise.

Jorge Marmelo (Journalist/Writer)
November, 2003


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