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Penance & Privilege

patricia borges | Brazil

Penance & Privilege #1

From a privileged point of view I observe this religious pilgrimage in the streets of an Amazonian city, in the north of Brazil.

The extreme heat and humiditty strike me as strong as the devotion on pilgrimates eyes.

I strive to deal with social differences in my country.

Penance & Privilege photographic series is part of the project Things I Don't Quite Understand (But I Eventually Will) is composed of 88 color and B&W images; produced on the streets of Brazil, during a religious pilgrimage.


The essay is a form of documentation but also as a personal artistic expression that depicts the many layers of ignorance contained in a traditional pilgrimage as believers follow their deity idol. It can also be interpreted as a larger portrait of present political reality that submerges the country.


Main focus remains on devotees eyes through which we can guess their social hierarchy and question personal motivations of those who take part in this major religious manifestation. Eyes saturated with faith that look back to me as questioning the privilege of my own lack of credulity in such form of forgiveness.


I was brought up among the fundamentals of the catholic church. There was plenty of fear, guilt, punishment and morals. We will be judged for our sins (not just mistakes) by a flawless God.


There will be suffering, regrets and self inflicted pain all along the twelve hours of pilgrimage as there is in real life if truly devoted to religion.


Even a pray of gratitude is immersed in guilt as if every personal achievement wasn’t earned but bestowed on oneself as a grace.


Merely as an observer, an outsider in this particular manifestation of faith and being utterly attracted to the given images, I tend to remember what I was once taught about heaven and hell. And I seem to experience the materialisation of a conceptual definition that hitherto seemed vague.


One of the many questions that comes to my mind here is: what is it like to be so close to divine power?

Patricia Borges

Rio de Janeiro



Postal Address: Avenida Ataulfo de Paiva, 341 sala 202 Leblon CEP: 22440-032 Rio de Janeiro - RJ

Phone number: (+5521)997157175

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