Through a reflective and mirrored apparatus, such as the photographic camera, Shai Andrade proposes a critical reflection on the past, writing a visual narrative for the future. This epistemological duality is a critical analysis of the erasure of black histories, added to the attempt to whiten the fruits of miscegenation and cultural hybridisms that take place in Brazil. The meticulously listed genealogies of the white families demonstrate an artificiality plastered, contrasted and opposed by the broad movement of forces photographed by Andrade.
Like a palimpsest, parchment that is periodically scraped to make way for a new space for writing, black stories are continually victims of an ephemerality of the oral narratives that structure them, lost in a system where only the documentary record is considered valid and manages to to be perennial (whitened, scraped paper, wouldn’t it be paper without history?). Make no mistake: the iconoclasm of black culture is historically planned.
For years, Andrade has recorded, through photography and video, performances and expressions by black artists who share her same narrative values. Recently, Andrade has set herself up as an artist, writing her own narrative by investigating her family, cultural and spiritual genealogy, portraying everyday scenes that combat the stereotyped exoticism that parasitizes these images. The artist does not only propose an isolated individual investigation, but inserted in an articulated structure that involves several voices, discourses and realities. As in a healing ritual, Andrade moves and glorifies these images, which dance and drag the light in her photographs, behaving like ever-present entities that inhabit the world of matter and idea, claiming the divinity of the human and the humanity of the divine.
In Andrade’s photographs, the movements of affirmation and denial referring to historical identification assert themselves with protagonism. The artist gives back to her subjects the look that has always been neglected, usurped by force by the dynamics that revolve around the white man. In Andrade’s photograph, there is no “pretending not to be seen”. In addition, the artist questions the patriarchal paradigms that direct social dynamics and proposes a matrofilial structure, centered on the female figure as the root of collective memories. The dynamic between master and apprentice, therefore, becomes a respectful hierarchy of female priesthood.
Andrade constitutes, from these dynamics of intergenerational narratives, a heritage to be inherited and rescued. In a reality in which almost everything was taken from her, the artist resumes the construction of this cultural heritage of the black people, rebuilding the house, the temple, the structures, the lights, the colors and the history.