She recently was accepted to VII Agency and their Mentor Program and that is how we discovered Luisa Dorr and her images of girls and women in Brazil. She explains her previous and on-going series of photos and stories documenting the women of her country, Brazil.
“Racism is, unfortunately, very common, even with most of our people being a mix of several different ethnicities.” How did this make you feel, given your close relationship with Maysa?
Maysa is proud of her skin, her beauty, her African hair. We are close friends, and we talk about racism. In Brazil I can count in my hands the times I see black people in the cinema for example. Things are changing, but unfortunately, racism in Brazil is also economic. We can divide the country more or less like this: in the south white and rich people and in the north black and poor. I’m generalizing, but in the beginning our relationship wasn’t like this. I remember the second time that I went to Maysa’s house, her family didn’t trust in me, not only because I was interested in Maysa, but also because I’m white and blond. Time passed by and they began to accept me, my colour, and we all became friends.
You focus mainly on female subjects, for example with your on-going series “womantopography” – is there one particular woman from your series who stands out in your mind?
This work is about female faces — portraits of the entire woman I find on my travels. I’m fascinated by the landscapes and topographies of women’s faces, their stories and contexts. I’m interested in the way life and time is writing on all of them — not just with physical marks but also with more spiritual traces. I started this work in 2014. I have a whole universe of images that started observing friends with a small smartphone, now loaded of faces and memories. I love snapshots. I realized it is something I do well, especially with women. I enjoy photographing my friends and this made me figure out that I could develop an entire body of work by taking pictures during my travels. There’s one that is not exactly special but it stroke me. Marina Bitten is a feminist and the day we scheduled a shooting she had very sad face, a sorrow expression. I asked her what happened and she told me that the night before she got involved in a street fight, trying to defend a woman that was being beaten by her husband. Marina tells stories like that quite often, they are sadly common in a chauvinistic country like Brazil. The result was as expected, the man left calmly and his wife followed him. Sadly many women still subject themselves to that. This project is also intended to give us voice against it.
When you photograph the women in Brazil, what is the sole reason that makes you most determined to show the female human condition?
For me, photography is not an end in itself; it is rather a way to tell stories with critical, social or cultural content that can bring out a more open and empathetic person within me, and hopefully a critical dialog with society. It is a way of life. The world is still a very male-dominated place where women still have less “power” than man. I believe this is slowly changing, and I think woman projects show our strength and equality somehow.
Are your photos a personal journey with what is happening in your country?
I’m working on two projects in Brazil. Firstly, I’m scheduled to work during the Olympic games about prostitution. During the World Cup in Germany, it was said that a large amount of women travelled to Berlin to work as sex workers. I plan to cover what will likely be a similar situation due to the upcoming Olympic Games, the idea being to photograph sex workers in front of the Olympic stadiums during the day. This is a secret, but you can share it if you want. If I make this project, I will photograph the women with dignity, as a beautiful portrait, in their body, their life; I just wanna tell the story. Secondly, another work that I’m doing in Brazil is about the Impeachment. This is a work in progress, expected to be finished before the final impeachment decision, in about two months. I will follow the upcoming demonstrations until the end of the process. I will focus on families only, and how they raise their kids with the same political values. I’m also working with Maysa (long term project); another one is about a city of dwarfs in the north of the country, with the largest dwarf population in the world (I was there once, and if I get some money I plan to go there to finish the work); and the third is about wealthy Brazilian people and their luxury collections. And I’m also preparing another body of work for the Joop Swart Mmasterclass from Word Press Photo that will take place in Amsterdam in this year.