Sweet People


How tasty are you?

Words by & photos by Sinclair Ferreira Maia

I think dreams are evidence that the unconscious talks directly to the visual cortex. For some artists, often driven by their intuition, it is natural that their work comes up as images first and then, as the body of work develops, the concept becomes more apparent. It is not uncommon, as well, that improvisation or happenstance overlap the deliberate in the creative process.

Ever since my early portrait sessions, I tried to include some objects in the scene to overcome my lack of experience with model direction. As such, a boy eating a mango once became the lead image of a whole photo essay.

Guided by that initial moment, I began to invite young models and actors to take part in an experience: they’d choose their favourite fruit to perform with and I would select a complementary or contrasting colour for the background. With a point & shoot analogic camera, I intended to emulate the snapshot aesthetics, while subverting the concept of the banal, spontaneous and non-staged picture. With its saturated colours and grainy texture, Sweet People simulates a fake technical precariousness, despite the images being carefully edited and even manipulated. The simplicity of the setup and proposal (nothing more than a person in front of a coloured fabric, either wearing their own clothes or naked) lets me focus exclusively on the composition and the performance.

In these carefree portrait sessions, the fruits are accessories to intermediate the relationship between the author and his subjects. This photo series suggests enjoyment and youthful eroticism but, in the end, these portraits should be considered as a reflection of the author.

Considering photography as a research tool which reveals, in its nuances, more about the photographer than what is in front of the camera, I started to recognize Sweet People as a shy, naive and unaware manifestation of my repressed, voluble and hedonic hypersexuality. Fruit has, after all, long been symbol for sexuality and desire.

Furthermore, the interest in young people and their representation is, in general, related to traits of narcissism. Mirroring the Picture of Dorian Gray, the portrayal of young people in its sexual and youthful splendour, ends up being a reflection of the author’s wish for eternal youth and hedonic pleasure. At this point, the creative process for this ongoing photo series becomes deliberate and aware.

From cautious posture to bold attitude, from dressed bodies to naked skin, from puerile sensuality to lascivious intention, Sweet People talks about joy, pleasure, and desire.

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A travel lover, Ferreira Maia escapes from his bureaucratic civil service day job making contemporary photography series and comercial assignments as a freelancer photographer.