The present article aims to analyze the photographic creations by Portuguese artist Cristina Rodrigues (b. 1980) which constitute the basis for her research on the Portuguese rural interior. Since 2007 Cristina Rodrigues has been photographing villages in Portugal with the purpose of documenting the desertification and depopulation of the countryside.However, between 2009 and 2010 she started becoming interested in the people who live in these deserted areas, particularly in the bordering municipality of Idanha-a-Nova. In these field visits photography has been one of her main tools to capture the everydaylife and costums of the Raia region inhabitants. In parallel, Cristina Rodrigues has been collecting oral testimonies about traditional crafts, olive oil production and folk music. Ethnographic research has therefore become a strong influence in her creations. Through the practice of fieldwork, the participant-observer method and qualitative interviews, the artist has built close relationships with the residents, especially the women. The subsequent series “My Country Through Your Eyes”, “The People’s Wall” and “Women From My Country” include black and white portraits and landscapes with the purpose of illustrating and drawing attention to unbalanced demography and its impact on the Portuguese economy and environment. As a result, such photographs are not so much means of denunciation as of awareness of the living conditions of rural populations whose stories are then exhibited to global, urban publics. These works thus aim to foster the publics’ recognition of the importance of regenerating the countryside and to reactivate their sense of citizenship.
Keywords: Photography, Ethnography, Cristina Rodrigues, Contemporary Art, Portraiture
Inês Jorge tem licenciatura e mestrado em História d’Arte pela FCSH/UNL. Actualmente trabalha como secretária do Presidete da Faculdade de Belas Artes.