Aparecida do Norte from the Ex-votos series (Ceiling with fans), 1992, C-print

Aparecida do Norte from the Ex-votos series (Ceiling with fans), 1992, C-print

Antonio Saggese (Brazil)

In his latest series entitled Ex-Votos, Saggese explores how the photograph is used as an object to represent the self or the individual.  The series documents a Brazilian tradition in which people go to their local chapels and place photographs there so that God may see them and answer their prayers.  The pictures people bring are formal family portraits, snap shots, ID cards, and other personal effects.  Parishioners will also leave before-and-after pictures of themselves, expressing to God their thanks for having blessed them. Pictures of the deceased relatives are also left so that God may recognize them in Heaven.  It is thought that the more pain and suffering you show in the image, the more God will grant you in your suffering, while an after shot expresses the testimony of the grace achieved. Each person tries to display a unique image that will stand out in the crowd.[1] The portraits in Saggese’s images are collaged together and overlap each other, covering entire walls and ceilings as in a mosaic. The mosaic is inlayed by small and large sized portraits. In these mosaics the viewer can follow the technical evolution of portrait photography. While the photographs show multiplicity in the Brazilian population through a multitude of unique faces, they ultimately seem to blend with each other and dissolve into patches of colors. Saggese’s study, on the sea of faces in the chapels, utilizes color photography as a way to comment and reflect on Brazil’s highly baroque society and the individuals within it.



[1] Nelson Brissac Peixoto, Antonio Saggese: A Sua Imagem e Semelhanca, exhibition catalog, Fundacao Cultural de Curitiba, Brazil, 1992.