Documenting silenced realities
Bravo village, Sertã
May 2022, I, Margarida Girão, raised in Sertã, was in the remote village of Bravo documenting (photography and video) the routines of its locals, mainly women who still work in agriculture and take care of their families.
For 6 days, I accompanied and participated in the family and work routines of 3 women: Cidalina, Laurinda and Helena.
In times of easy speeches about empowerment and courage, these 3 women showed, without realizing the impact they had on me, the absolute meaning of resilience, work and respect for life. The 3 portraits, illustrated and painted, present in the exhibition are theirs.
They are my artistic interpretation of Cidalina, Laurinda and Helena. I wanted to highlight the joy, faith and willpower of each one, and of the village itself.
On the last day of the residency, I met two sisters, Céu and Isabel. They took me to the field and showed me all the processes involved in the production of goat cheese and Bravo-style carcasses. In between, family and life stories.
For a week, I returned to my parents’ house in Sertã, always with vegetables, cakes and homemade bread. Gifts for those who like to share what they do and what they have. Respect for these women’s hands.
It must be understood that this exhibition is my vision. And, inevitably, my vision, on this or that particular subject, brings with it the weight of other experiences observed and lived by me. (This truth applies to anyone.)
And, being a professional in the areas of communication and content creation, the name MUTE has its irony.
MUTE because what I observed on Bravo was a reality that I don’t understand if it is muted or is, by itself, silent.
A reality that is repeated throughout mainland Portugal and islands. I found an isolated community on the slopes of a mountain range, with no public transport for easy access to the nearest villages. Absence of psychological follow-up. No offers of culture and leisure other than television and radio. An exception is Helena’s café, which is the center of joy in the village.
The pillars of society are not the exclusive responsibility of politics. They belong to all of us as educated and just citizens.
And so, MUTE for having walked mute in the face of such brave human realities.