A Slice of the Countryside

Experiencing the Pandemic Onset in São Paulo, Brazil.

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My name is Marina Leal; I’m a 23-year-old Brazilian, nearing the end of my International Relations studies. Recently, I’ve been trying to find my way in the political art space.

“Room to Bloom." Smena 8, 40mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.

When they first declared the lockdown here in my city, Bauru, in the countryside of São Paulo, Brazil, I ran to an old store downtown to buy what would be a very important film roll for me. The options are limited since analog photography is considered an expensive hobby, so I had to stick with the Kodak ColorPlus 200 and rely on its versatility.

These photos were taken in early April when the streets turned empty, and our heads screamed.

Brazil is a turbulent place with many troublesome issues, which became more evident through this pandemic. None got solved in time, nor discussed as much as I think they should be. Our routines, however, have changed considerably.

“Half-Me.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.

I enjoy this first half-burned picture. It was pretty much how I felt at the moment.

As we experienced the first days of the pandemic, our faces turned blunt. Feelings of loss prevailed. We had to adapt to drastically different hygiene habits.

The days went on, and I was able to find comfort in walking around the blocks with my camera, noticing details in the deserted public environments.

It was an odd and freeing sensation. I could still find beauty in this vividly-unusual still-nature. But it felt too much. To distract myself from it, I took up walking every afternoon and rollerskating.

“Split.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.

Later, my friends and I created a tradition of admiring the sunsets from the fields on the city’s fringes and abandoned buildings. The photographs that came out portray a bucolic yet urbanized place. The “Third World” youths here are loud and vibrant, no less so than in any other place.

“Purple Grain.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.
“Stop.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.
“Fusca Azul.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.
Who are you now?. Smena 8, 40mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.
“We See Each Other.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.

Unhelpful statements and lack of action from the government followed. Death rates went up, and chaos ensued. Staying alive, sick or not, became a challenge for many.

“Stuck in The Middle.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.

Since the pandemic’s onset, I’ve shot about six more rolls and developed an ever-increasing passion for the double-exposure mystique. Recently, I found the courage to share my photographs, leading to collaborations with friends and even a new path for my recent-graduate life.

To all of you stuck out there: together we stand!

“Science Fiction Double Feature.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.
“Different Times & Places.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.
“Multiple Boards.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.
“Dear Gaia.” Pentax K1000, Pentax-A 1:2 50mm lens, Kodak ColorPlus 200.