Mario Cravo Neto


Mario Cravo Neto was born in 1947 in Salvador, Brazil, where he currently lives. One of Brazil's best known photographers, Cravo Neto has documented the city of Salvador and its inhabitants since the 1970s. Of his photographs of the city, the singer Caetano Veloso has written, "We can feel how he lovingly touches each wall, each grain of sand, each wrinkle. Each mind in the city: all is caressed by his serene expectation of light." Documenting the life of the city in all its complexity, he photographs it as only a lifelong inhabitant, thoroughly familiar with its rich past and its subtly textured present, could. We see the blue waters of the Bay of All Saints, which gave the city its name, shimmering in the late afternoon sun; Feira de São Joaquim, Salvador's main market—not only a place where goods are bought and sold, but a site where the pulse of the city's life can be measured most strongly; neighborhoods, such as the historical district of Pelourinho, where slaves were once auctioned; and landmarks, such as Forte de Santa Maria, Forte São Marcelo, and Elevador Lacerda, which links the Cidade Baixa (Lower City) with the Cidade Alta (Upper City). We also see the annual events that mark the cyclical rhythms of time, most of all Carnaval—rhythms echoed by the repetitive activities of daily life, of work and leisure, that shape the city's culture. And we see the Salvadorans themselves: street children, politicians, merchants, baianas (the Bahian women who sell food on the street in their traditional costumes), musicians, fishermen, pais and mães de santo (Candomblé high priests and priestesses), artists. Collectively, these images etch a portrait of a city in light and dark, in which reality and poetry are intertwined.

For his project, Cravo Neto worked with six children and teenagers from various units of Projeto Axé. Accompanied by Marcus Gonçalves, the supervisor of Opaxé, he took the children to Feira de São Joaquim for one day and showed them how to operate a digital camera. Afterward, the children shared the camera and filmed in the market, while Cravo Neto took photographs with another camera.