Bolinhos Social Club

Salvador de Bahia, Brazil 2014

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® Erika ArrietaThe first in a long time that I teach to 5 students who have never studied with me. I take it as a special sign and, as always, I travel from far away to Bahia to meet with them hoping to help them better understand in only 10 days the simple and sacred meaning behind each soulful image.
After the first warm up days in which they struggle, we begin to start talking the same language.
I share with them my little microcosms of life that I’ve been slowly finding with the help of some very special families and the beauty of nature here in Bahia.
Almost by magic we stumble upon Arnaldo who continues to live alone with his animals in the farm; we meet up with Maria Cristina and get to know her adopted daughter this time; we spend an entire afternoon with radiant Agripina and her family while they are picking tobacco leaves. As she hands me the cigar specially made for me my mind drifts into my past. I close my eyes and I’m back on the island where I spent fourteen unforgettable years of my life.
As I share my recently completed Cuban trilogy, I ask them to reflect on the meaning of having needed twenty-two years of my life to make it happen.
They look at me partially in disbelief trying to fathom the meaning of all this time.
Slowly Erika, Francesco, Julia, Linda and Marco begin tuning in with the surrounding reality, they start understanding the simple tenet that poetry is everywhere; you just need to find within yourself the sensibility to discover it before your eyes.
As usual most of the images don’t go beyond, but I explain that this is part of the process. I emphasize that we need to become an organic part of our own images in order for them to reveal the poetry that we carry within us. I tell them that we have to take pictures that combine the immanent quality of the person, object, landscape photographed and that, at the same time. are able to transcend the subject itself and reveal the essence.
As the days unfold a sense of common support among all of us starts surfacing. I can see that in their images, in the way we share our wonderful simple meals of delicious Bahian food and the wonderful caipirinhas prepared with such grace by our sweet Ruben, who, every night, by calling me profesor, takes the order of the precious drink.
As we drink caiprinhas, eat bolinhos de bacalau (cod fish deep-fried balls) and edit their work the name of the group materialize. I leave you with the wonderful images taken by the group Bolinhos Social Club.
Many wonderful memories will stay with me. I”m glad that we brought several images back to the people that so graciously and generously allowed us to come into their life. It’s very precious. I keep reminding myself of that.



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