The “chilling” story of the devotion of the Viana do Castelo riverside to Senhora d’Agonia, “narrated” by Rui Carvalho’s photographs, wants to transmit, starting on Saturday, the “emotional charge” of one of the “strongest” moments of the parties of the city.
Viana do Castelo will enter in August, for the first time in 248 years, without living on the streets the party that was born to honor the “Mater”, patron saint of fishermen, but the “explosion” of images that will spread throughout the city will not let forget that it is a month of pilgrimage and make a “unique” devotion feel.
The veneration of the patron saint of the men of the sea, which has been carried out for more than half a century, “enters itself even if you are not from Ribeira”. For Rui Carvalho, who has been photographing the pilgrimage of the capital of Alto Minho since 2004, it is “one of the strongest and most intense moments”.
Grandson and son of city photographers, Rui, 43, signs for “Mater”. The author’s exhibition opens to the public, on Saturday, with a selection of thirty images, which portray a “look” that has allowed itself to be “involved” in the parties and “taken” by people’s “affection” for the saint.
“There are several images that pass the emotional charge present at that moment [procissão ao mar]. It is a very personal moment. There is a whole life story behind it. People who lost family members at sea, when boats want to enter the bar and things go wrong, it is for the saint that they turn around. This is felt in the image ”, told the agency Lusa Rui Carvalho today, with a degree in Communication Design from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto.
The cult of Senhora d’Agonia has its first reference written in 1744. The procession to the river and the sea, in her honor, has always been held on August 20, since 1968.
This year, because of the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, it will be celebrated in person in the church of Nossa Senhora d’Agonia, but with limitations.
The “narrative” built by Rui’s images tells a story of the “surrounding” of the river “before, during and after” the procession to the sea, from “the preparation of flower carpets, in the weeks before the pilgrimage, at night of the carpets , the procession to the sea, the return of the sea, with the passage of the andor through the streets of the river on the return to the church ”.
“There is a relationship between the river and Santa, and Santa and the river, which is very special. In certain families it is noticed that it is very felt. Due, day by day, when walking at sea, the difficulties they feel. It is not exactly the day of the festival that is important for the river, it is the whole year. Perhaps, the day of the party is when emotions come to the surface ”, he said.
From that relationship, the name of the exhibition was born: “Mater because she is the mother who takes care of the fishermen, that community and the people of Viana”. The show opens on Saturday, at 17:00, within the scope of the project “Pulsar Viana”, promoted in the commercial center of the city.
“On carpet nights, Dona Celeste from Rua Monsenhor Daniel Machado will not forgive me if I don’t go there to eat a slice of chocolate cake. I became part of the lives of those people. There is a great empathy and I now feel the devotion of the river to Senhora with another clarity ”.
In addition to the “Mater” exhibition, Rui Carvalho signs the 25 photographs of the exhibition “Feeling the carpets for Senhora Passar” that will open to the public, also on Saturday, on board the Gil Eannes hospital ship.
Starting on Saturday, 174 photographs of the most emblematic numbers of the parties will be exhibited in six locations in the city, all by Rui Carvalho who, in 1993, started an uninterrupted collaboration with the Senhora d ‘Agonia party committee, in the areas of conception, ‘design’, image and communication. Since 2015, he is also responsible for the photographic record of the pilgrimage.
“There is an explosion of photographs so that people can feel the holidays, despite the fact that it is an abnormal year,” he said, referring to the covid-19 pandemic that led to the cancellation of the normal pilgrimage format.
The panels with 170 photographs will be placed on the streets where the main points of the pilgrimage take place and that through the two-dimensional bar codes (‘QR Code’) installed in them, visitors can access the multimedia content on the emblematic paintings that, usually, take place there and will be available on a web page created for the purpose.
Reporting by Andrea Cruz, from Lusa agency