Exhibition from 6th to 18th July 2015
Opening 6th July 2015 19h
Belgrade Design District, 1 Sprat, lokal 96
Brazilian Packaged Miracles
Are you a victim of “evil eye”? Is your husband with another woman and you want him back? Or, maybe, you need money urgently? If so, you must visit the Brazilian esoteric shops, where you can buy all the necessary material to perform your own “miracle”, ingredients that, in other countries, would be reserved to people who are training to be healers, magicians, sorcerers, and initiates.
These products are specially developed in small factories, -often even in the backyard of a house-, and the owners are responsible for their production and distribution. They create an incredible variety of home remedies, such as powders, perfumes, incense and soaps. Each product is usually made by hand and has a specific type of packaging that is attractive, competitive and easily understood, specially made for a lower-class audience. The graphic art is generally rich in colors and shows images (drawings or photographs) quite descriptive, and the package presents information of use as well as prayers.
The vast majority of these magical products are intended to provide sex, money, health, protection, love and control over others. Because of their low price, they become an easy and accessible form of spiritual self-medication, representing an important part of the town’s business. Although the largest group of consumers corresponds to men and women of the popular classes, all kinds of people frequent these shops, if only to satisfy their curiosity.
In Thaís Medina´s photographs, it is interesting the way in which is represented a part of Brazilian society that, even today, is completely different in a cultural and historical context regarding beliefs inherent to the very beginning of civilization – such as magical practices.
It is known that humans are affected by natural forces beyond their control and the need to direct them towards their interest and will, i.e. the Homo Sapiens and his cave paintings. However, in the present, such practices remain in some parts of the world. It´s almost as if such spiritual heritage isn´t gone, located somewhere deep inside all of us. Thus it is possible to say humans are still fascinated with magic, even though rational thinking shouldn´t allow supernatural beliefs; after all, since the Enlightenment period, Western cultures have been associated with reason.
The word magic comes from ancient Persia, where the Magi was a class of priests. The Greeks then turned it into mageia, later becoming magia in Latin, both mageia and magia having negative associations that still exist nowadays. A dictionary definition of magic reflects such negativity as it describes the word as “the pretended art of influencing the course of events by occult, hidden control of nature or spirits and witchcraft (black, white, natural)“.
In Anthropology there is a theory that magic is actually a manifestation of high imagination. Etymologists trace it back to the Persian Magi, badly described as “fire worshippers“, despite having obvious connections with collective fantasy. It certainly has much to do with images, for they are the visual representations of both imagination and magic.
The ability to creatively manipulate images is Thaís´ way to invite the spectator to wonder about beliefs and superstitions on the premise that one doesn´t need to search for external help, such as healers, magicians, sorcerers or priests: Brazilian esoteric shops are widely available to provide the necessary material in order to perform one´s own “miracle”, allowing self-confidence regarding the power of life changing. The vast majority of these magical products are intended to provide sex, money, health, protection, love and control over others and, because of their low price, they become an easy and accessible form of spiritual self-medication.
sponsor: Vinarija Čoka & Jump Inn Hotel
Dragana Kostica is the Belgrade-based editor in chief and founder of Still in Belgrade art, culture and club scene magazine. She holds a Master of Arts in Cultural Policy and Management in Arts (MA of Arts) and a Bachelor degree in Archaeology.