Another night begins in Porto Alegre and, with it, starts the Curimba of Quimbanda, in the African-Brazilian temple. The spiritual mediums come to the party with their best outfits representing their spiritual entities of Exu and Pomba-gira, and, in the midst of drums and dancing, will be possessed by them, to fulfill their tasks and evolve spiritually. These celebrations, especially made by underprivileged class followers, were in the habit of being humble and hidden from a prejudiced wealthy class.
The Quimbanda came from Angolan rituals, and its name came from Kimbanda, wich means “healer”. This religious belief can have good or bad intentions with the others: as you can kill and do harm, can also heal and help other through music, herbs, rituals, offerings, help of supernatural beings, and exorcisms done by so-called “leaders” of religion. The Quimbanda is a uniquely Brazilian religion that arose from a “mixture” of African and Brazilian creeds, so much so that those who believe in Quimbanda, also believe in Orixás, the African Gods. This African-Brazilian religion has hundreds of years and has been keeping their rituals and celebrations through the years, since its origin.
However, economic changes in Brazil in recent years enabled the Brazilian humble class to come out of poverty and had better standard of living. Digital cameras, computers and the Internet are incorporated into their lives and, with the advent of social networking, a new phenomenon rises among this new middle class: the promotion of faith through exacerbated virtual exhibitionism.
What was a hidden religious ritual practiced by descendants of African slaves, seeking for gods´ help, grace and faith, becomes into an extravagant spectacle of glamour and luxury for everyone to see. And these spiritual entities, before represented clandestinely by the spiritual mediums, becomes famous celebrities, posing with their fans, eager for a souvenir of their personified saint of devotion, without worrying about its legitimacy. What matters here is to become special to others and highlight from the multitude, leaving aside the initial interests of the Quimbanda: seek for illumination, receive a grace, develop their spirit and obtain help from the gods.
The photos are usually taken in public or private spaces, using a photographic camera or a mobile phone which capture different situations, gestures and poses of the “fan” (the believer) and the spiritual medium, which uses some predefined symbolic representations illustrating the presence of a spirit entity possessed in his or her body in the shooting time. In the end their cumulative effect produces the metamorphosis of a private African-Brazilian religion inspired by African rites into a public spectacle.
These images invite us to consider from different points of view and reflect on subjectivity and privacy in the age of technology, besides discussing the new direction is taking a centenary African-Brazillian cult, a seeker for grace and illumination religion, rejected and exclude before, and now, thanks to Facebook and other social networks, is endlessly exploited by a new born Brazilian medium-class that still has old working-class behaviors, who prefers to promote a show and theatricalize than develop themselves spiritually.