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Shot on the Brazilian Island of Ithaparica, Bahia, Maria is a project carrying the name of Pinar Yolaçan. The Turkish photographer shot 22 portraits of women between the ages of 27 and 90, all of whom are Afro-Brazilian and all residents of the island, which is a 40-minute boat ride from Salvador.
«I found a lot of inspiration in the African culture: Salvador was once the largest port for the slave trade in the New World, » explains Pinar. «And while Ithaparica is one the poorest islands in Brazil's rural northeast, people seemed very eccentric and sophisticated.»
Her choice for entitling the project Maria, has multiple reasons. «It’s a very common Portuguese name of course, and is either the first or second name of almost all the women I photographed in Bahia, » she explains. «And of course, the icon of Mary is ever-present in Bahia. Women wear necklaces with the Virgin Mary’s face on them and decorate the walls of their homes and stores with her image. Obviously none of my models look like these traditional depictions of Maria, so I am referring to this religious icon when I call the women Maria. The title is also a commentary on the colonial process of renaming (or creating an identity for) people.»