Your Jesus is my Devil: transversal perspectives in travel photography

The exact place, I don’t know.

But I took this picture on a corner near Nivia Uchoa’s house, a photographer from Ceará(Brazil) that I met through Ruth Sousa, an artist and teacher that I met back in college – relationships that transcend institutions. We were traveling by car and photographing the landscapes between Brasilia and the hinterland of Cariri.

The image is a self-portrait entitled: “O Teu Jesus É meu Capeta” (Your Jesus is my Devil) was not made to attack the figure of Jesus, after all, Jesus was a revolutionary who traveled all over the world… Rather, the criticism aims at interpretations and people who use religion to oppress other people in the name of Jesus. As if Jesus is as a justification to inferiorize and make the existence of certain people invisible, which remains the legacy of Christianity and colonialism.

For me, the idea of traveling and photographing gives me the opportunity of creating art through everyday life. It enables a creative process based on one’s point of view and, in this case, my critical engagement with such relevant social topic. Sometimes we pass by certain places of our everyday life and will not see anything, artistically speaking. However, someone else or an external eye can look and think: “Wow, here is an angle, an interesting composition to do a certain project”. And that’s how I felt when I got to that corner, I looked and thought: “Wow, I could make a good photo here, look at that angle, that light…”.

I decided to do this self-portrait to explore the framing of how “Jesus” is situated. It was interesting to me to see how the name was written on that wall: JESU|S. It brings a question of perspective in the construction of this photograph as it offers a link between Jesus and Esú, right? Esú (or Exú) is an Orisha (divine entity) in Candomblé, the messenger, embodied as a gatekeeper and guardian of all paths for different worlds, communication, movement, sexuality and encounters. “Laroyê!” is the word used to praise and greet Esú. This Orisha was demonised by Christianity as the main antagonistic image of God, good, and purity in order to stigmatise Afro-religions and Afro-Brazilians in particular. Here, Jesus and Esú are together in my process of translating and situating this image.

Depending on how you read it… Jesus, Esú… Je Suis Esú.

You can see through the shadow that the sun was very strong at that moment when I photographed. I used a black and white photography format, with flash on, and programmed the click for 10 seconds. That was the time I had to set up the performative moment to fit into the scenery, in the camera angle, creating a composition and a record of the moment. As a black transgender woman, I include a provocation of the crossroads of sacred beliefs in which bodies like mine are often the target instead of the blessed, finding impositions to situate myself in the bin. In this case, my intention was to provoke such impositions by turning this frame into a game of words and possible new interpretations to what can be seen beyond the inferiorising characterisation of Black trans lives.

This self-portrait and travel photograph was an important experiment that is in dialogue with the category of traveling artists. This picture was exhibited at Sao Paulo-Arte, at the Central

Galery stand, and now it is also in the exhibition called “Casa no Céu”, in tribute for Rochelle Costi at Galeria Vermelho in Minas Gerais (Brazil).
July 1, 2023

Ros4 Luz is a black transgender woman, visual artist, rapper, performer and communication professional. Her multimedia work is defined by its autobiographical aspect as well as the tensioning of hegemonic standards. The plurality of languages with which she engages reveals the various visibility strategies employed by the artist throughout the years: whether through performances, photos, videos, songs or rhymes, Ros4 makes her nonconforming body a platform against violence, transphobia and racism. Ros4 Luz was born in Gama (DF), Brazil, in 1995. She currently lives and works in Sao Paulo.
YouTube chanel: Instagram: @ros4luz