Kilombo - Signed - Maria Daniel Balcazar
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"The attentive eye of Maria Daniel Balcazar penetrates a mystical universe...
Each image of Kilombo is a rescue of African religiousness, full of symbols, understood only by those who have spent long periods of time in Brazil. In fact, the book of Maria Daniel Balcazar is a tribute to the millions of enslaved Africans, their struggles and achievements, and is a careful, documented work immortalizing African customs and traditions. It includes images that reflect the importance of oral history, the communicative strength of an ancestral heritage, and capture the fury of life in addition to the action.
In contemplating these photographs, it is possible to forget - for a few moments - institutional racism, an inheritance of slavery, which so badly afflicts Brazilian society. In contemplating these images, conflicts are ignored and the beauty of the side by side existence between the sacred and the profane is admired."
- Aderivaldo Ramos de Santana
Quilombo refers in Brazil to an autonomous community established by runaway slaves. The title of this book, Kilombo, was chosen to honor its Bantu origin, meaning “camp”, while at the same time highlighting its meaning as a haven from injustice and violence, as a symbol of dignity and freedom.
The vitality of the African legacy, within the richness of Brazilian syncretism, and its resilient presence in everyday life, drew my heart to Afro-Brazilian culture. During the Atlantic slave trade, around 4.8 million African slaves from various regions of Africa were forcefully brought to Brazil, bringing only their customs and religious practices, and nurturing them despite the imposition of new beliefs. Such demographic impact is still visible; approximately 54% of Brazilians define themselves as Afro-descendants. Their legacy of resistance and transcendence led to the unique Afro-Brazilian intertwining of Christian-European, Indigenous, and African traditions.
As of 2014, under the guidance and mentorship of David Alan Harvey, I began to focus my documentary work on this subject. After several years, thanks to his unstinting support, this journey has led to the publication of this book, as if fulfilling a cowrie-shell divination told to me by a mãe de santoin Rio de Janeiro.
Maria Daniel Balcazar
Maria Daniel Balcazar is a Bolivian-American documentary and fine art photographer. Her projects focus on the universality of traditions and symbols, the vitality of syncretism, and the beauty and the extraordinary in daily life. She has studied painting, communication, languages, and photography. Her work has been exhibited in Galleries, Museums, andin Universities in Bolivia, Peru, Brazil, and the United States.