Portugal: Nine Winter Months and Three of Hell
With the title taken from a popular expression from the Douro and Trás-os-Montes region, this work reflects about the people that leave beyond the slopes of the Douro River, engrained in the land that sustains it’s hunger and the faith that points towards the skies.
Involved in a mythical image of a land with history, consecrated and celebrated by the aristocracy in the nectar that it produces, the beloved Port Wine, it denounces in the same way one of Western Europe’s poorest regions and last frontiers of rural life, where the ties with nature and religion are still very strong and visible.
However and despite the land desertification and low economic strength, the situation of hunger is never a chance since the basic needs are still guaranteed by the traditional work in agriculture and animal farming. Religion on the other hand continues to be of a sharp social relevance, well demonstrated by the recent referendum on the abortion, where the north-interior of Portugal mostly opposed and voted against, due to the major influence of the church and the conservative character of the region.
The many national and global economic, political and social changes of the last decades and it’s reflection on the local communities, together with the desire of younger generations to look away for better opportunities and future that home can not guarantee, left many small places with few habitants mostly elderly with the occasional younger face born out of a family still resisting the appeal of the big town.
However it rejuvenates temporarily during the summer holidays season when all those that went away return mostly during it’s religious and popular festivities to visit home, family and friends, portraying a very particular facet of Portugal recent identity.
A raw day-by-day of the human condition holding strengths with the elements that surround him either in harmony or conflict, so distant of the urban comforts of the city behind the horizon, conveying metaphors not always poetic of a particular time and place allied to a strong feeling of belonging.
The work represents a human relation with nature and faith vanishing in a pitiless confront with new social, economic and political realities and challenges, soon to be presented only as part of tourist broachers, and replaced with more urban landscapes of an always late modernity. It is a visual representation of the opposite end of the chain of evolution and progress that brings with it the disappearance of past values.
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