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ONE PHOTO – ONE STORY

26.11.2016

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In a village on the east coast of Brazil, Dom Smaz encountered the descendants of a German-Swiss colony – and of its exploited labour force. The particularity of Helvécia is that it was not, in fact, a refuge for escaped slaves, but rather that its slave population actively rid themselves of their masters. Perhaps this is why there is a palpable sense of pride among Helvécia’s residents, and it also explains why the proportion of black citizens is atypically high compared to other parts of Brazil. Despite this, in cultural terms, the European heritage still plays a dominant role.

“I love this picture! It shows the protagonists of the future, a new generation. Attila is standing in the middle, wearing a cross around his neck. ‘Just because of the style,’ he explained to me. In Brazil, Christianity is over-represented, and many actors in TV soap operas wear similar crosses. They are an inspiration for the kids, and, at the same time, they vilify their African or pre-Christian roots.

When I took this picture, an Evangelical service was taking place a few metres away in the village square. You could hear the black preacher trying to convince his black audience that all African traditions embody ‘evil’.”


You can read the full article in LFI 8/2016.

Dom Smaz

Born 1983 in Lausanne, Switzerland, Dom Smaz has worked for predominantly French-language newspapers and magazines. Black Helvetia is his second project with the Leica Q. “The 28mm lens of the Leica Q keeps you from being shy.”

www.smazphoto.ch
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