The photographer Alexandre Romariz Sequeira (1961-), mostly known as Alexandre Sequeira, was born in Belém, the capital and largest city of the state of Pará in the north of Brazil. He defines himself as a lonely traveler who has a camera as a companion (Alexandre Sequeira conference at TED, 2010). On the other hand, this loneliness, as we shall see, is a prerogative to new encounters, an openness to the world. Along his way, it is the photography that introduces him in certain social contexts, the starting point from which he engages with other individuals. Even in the most distant places, like small Andean villages in Peru or Nazaré de Mocajuba in his home country, photography subjects are of universal understanding due to their connection on themes of how we see the world, identity, memory, life and death. Maybe the most appealing characteristic of his practice is coexistence; the time he spends in establishing trustful relationships with others, what he calls of symbolic exchanges. In fact, time shelters the experiences of the processes he creates, and the works produced are the outcome of his contact with a specific group of people.
The importance of Sequeira’s research is how he undertakes his expeditions, interacts with different cultures in the most remote places and intertwines art and life. His travels do not have as a goal the materialisation of an object. His priority is allowing himself to be taken by his senses and emotions in each community. Sometimes, the work is not materialised, and, in other occasions, it is even difficult for him to realise when a specific work has begun due to its strong link with his daily activities (Interview with Alexandre Sequeira, 2016). This text will analyse two photographic series: Meu Mundo Teu (This world: mine and yours, 2007) and Nazaré de Mocajuba (2005). In the former, the artist acts as a mediator between two teenagers from different localities in exchanging letters and photographs over the course of a year. In Nazaré de Mocajuba we will follow Sequeira’s initial work as the official photographer of this fisherman village until the moment he decides to reproduce in old textiles (curtains, tablecloths, hammocks, blankets, mosquito nets or sheets), images of their owners in real size. Even though the focus of this essay will be the Nazaré de Mocajuba series, This World: mine and yours was included in order to provide a wider understanding of Sequeira’s trajectory and the original ways his living experiences are translated into photographs.
Sequeira’s appreciation for the realities experienced in a certain community over the production of objects brings us closer to the two main references that will be used here: Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, where the world is the natural setting of, and field for, our thoughts and explicit perceptions, and the Nicolas Bourriaud´s Relational Aesthetics, ‘a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space’ (Bourriaud, 2002:113).