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An image made of ink and blood
Print Edition 63 - 04.2001
(Page 2 of 2)

"What is important in a hermeneutic reading is the quest for the original message in archaic and
primitive elements of the approach", explains Francisca. According to the dictionary published
by Aurélio Buarque de Holanda Ferreira, hermeneutics is the interpretation of the meaning of
words, of sacred texts and of laws. Francisca would go still further. "It refers to an interpretative
experience, employed for the recovery and translation of the symbolic and allegorical
representations that belong to a given culture", she says. "Indeed, it loses a little of its character
as an instrument of theological exegesis, and may, as such, be applied to profane texts."

In her study, the researcher gives a place of honor to the photos that trouble the eye of the
observer. "Apparently naive, devoid of any more immediate intention, they shock us because of
some detail, that may even be the look in the eyes of the person in the picture," the teacher notes.
One of the photos on Francisca's desk that most calls attention was published in the newspaper,O
Estado de S. Paulo , on November 6th 1969. The image portrays the political left-wing activist
Marighella, dead - he had just been shot by soldiers in Casa Branca Boulevard, in the upper class
Jardins district of São Paulo. In spite of the activist being an atheist, his image reminds the
observer of a fragment of thePietá , by Michelângelo, in which Jesus Christ has just been taken
down from the cross and lies dead on the lap of the Virgin Mary. In that allegorical vision of
Marighella published in the paper, though, there is no trace of the mother's lap, he is completely
alone. "It is certainly a set up photo", says Francisca. The researcher recalls that Marighella was
killed in the street - in the photo, you can notice that he is inside a car. "The important thing is
the way that the photographer framed him, the message is swifter than the text, it puts the reader
in readiness and goes in search of its historical and cultural points of reference", she explains.

Nobody's child

"By bringing to mind the absence of a mother in this photograph, the observer is led to analyze
the character as someone who had no mother or homeland, nobody's child", is her assessment.
Photos of this kind - allegorical and metaphorical, also in the forefront in her work -, in her
opinion, shock the observer, but also activate the memory of those who see them. Indeed, she
observed that biblical allegories would become more recurrent as the popular rebellions were
intensified, over the period under analysis. "This is a strategy for the manipulation of the masses
of the people", is her analysis. "The biblical allegory is reminiscent of the memory of archaic
experiences of confrontations with nature", she observes. And so, for Francisca, history is
reduced only in its natural dimensions, as it provokes the remembering of fears long overcome.
"The fear of disappearance, of disunity, of exclusion, makes the subject melancholy and

"I consider that it is necessary to cast a look between now and before, so that the past is not
suspended in a poorly finished rite of passage", warns Francisca. Coming closer to the present
day, there is another photo that also calls attention for its impressive image of an event that took
place in 1997. In it, one can see a mugger shot in the back by the bodyguards of João Paulo
Diniz, in the course of an attempted robbery (see the photo on page 67). The dead youth,
disguised as a florist, is lying face down on top of the flowers, and a dribble of blood trickles
from his body. To the back, the boots of anonymous uniformed policemen. "They are the army
boots in full democracy", the researcher observes. "The image cannot be seen out of context,
since it contains multiple historical determinants", she comments. "But what we see is the set of
ideas of freedom under surveillance. It is a sign of the degradation of society."


"Photography is an object in a social relation", Francisca notes. "In this capacity, it is the product
of planning and an act of human wills", she continues. "Forcibly, in the relation of its production
and reproduction, it allows itself to be impregnated by this humanity", she concludes. To carry
out her research, Francisca handled more than 2,000 photos - almost always originals -
prospected in the Archives of the State, in her personal archives, in those of friends, intellectuals
and journalists, and, in particular, from the Mário de Andrade Library, which houses a good
collection of the newspapersO Estado de S. Paulo and Folha de S. Paulo .

All the photos were digitalized by a Mavica, a camera that records photos on a diskette, and they
are organized on cards, by theme. This equipment, as well as the Power 4 computer and a
scanner, she purchased with the help of FAPESP's technical reserve. "I have to thank them,
because it really facilitated my work", Francisca stresses.

Besides the text of the thesis, she produces an appendix that brings a historical survey, made by
the researcher, containing a synopsis of Brazilian history of the last 30 years, which works like
an itinerary. "I emphasized the conceptual aspects, and inserted my reflections in the attempt to
show the metamorphoses brought about by history", explains Francisca Eleodora on her work for
a doctorate.


Journalistic Photos: the Image of Violence as a Mirroring of the Metamorphoses of Brazilian
Society in the Process of Globalization
Grant for a doctorate
Waldenyr Caldas - School of Communication and Arts of USP
Francisca Eleodora Santos Severino - School of Sociology and Politics of São Paulo

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