Maria Oliveira: Leakage + To Wander the Sea

Both projects revolve around the same fluid feeling of life. 'Leakage' is a poetic contemplation on oneself and nature through the imagery of river. A journey down a river has always been a major metaphoric experience.

Developed in the salt fields of Portugal, 'To Wander the Sea', is an exploration of the natural phenomenon of salt and its connection to people. In a way, not only do we tame animals, but also everything that is in the nature to serve our needs. How to tame the sea? "Salt cannot be rushed or trusted. When it is left for the night, no one can guess how it
will be in the morning. Only those who understand its whims
know how to bring back its whiteness."

'Leakage' series

'To Wander The Sea' series

About the projects
The waters’ movement is fast,
and fast is the sharp way they enter the body,
and recognize it as home, yard, shelter.
They can now call it riverbed, flooded are the veins,
and submerged the vital organs, on flesh lays the heaviest part of a river,
sands, the tiny fish, a haunting well.
I come to the summits’ challenge,
to the solidity of names,
I say mountain and my body reacts
I say, as a cradling place, a premature memory, a slap.
If I lose myself I won't survive without the name of rivers,
I decorate the hierarchy of the liquids.

‘Leakage’ is a poetic exploration based on the idea of interior, intimacy, fragility, in nature and body.

To Wander the Sea

We know about the animals that licked stones, about the first humans who walked into caves seeking the taste of salt. We know about the importance of the balance of the waters and the influence of the moons. Purification demanded by the sea as it serpentines down narrow channels. Water exhausted. A ground that only accepts bare feet.

Women no longer carry thirty kilos of salt of a single colour on their heads, shifting the weight, building white walls in wooden houses, but the bodies still guide themselves by the threads of land, day after day, as they bring order to the beaches and carefully work the seascapes. Salt cannot be rushed or trusted. When it is left for the night, no one can guess how it will be in the morning. Only those who understand its whims know how to bring back its whiteness.

Seemingly little more than silence, this place is an ancestral heritage of humans who learnt how to read nature, how to bring the sea ashore, using tides and moons. A craft open to randomness and the whims of the weather, but that has persisted for millennia and is intimately linked to the history of humanity. 

From this place, we look at the future. From a ground we prepare without guarantees. We know it will be reclaimed by the sea the moment we let it rest.
This work was developed in the salt fields of Figueira da Foz, Portugal, within the scope of the Project ‘Sustentar’ of Ci.clo Photography Plataform.

About the photographer
Maria Oliveira was born in Ponte de Lima (1982) and currently living in Porto, Portugal.
In 2021, as part of the Porto Photography Biennial, has participated in the exhibition ‘Sustentar’ with the work ‘To Wander the Sea, shown, among others, at Fotofestiwal, Lodz, Poland and at Cooperativa Árvore, in Porto. In 2019 she participated in the Photography Biennial of Porto and in the exhibition “Now, for the future” at Open Eye Gallery, in Liverpool, UK. In the same year she won the award Novos Talentos FNAC (PT), Scopio Magazine International Photobook Contest (PT), was finalist of the ESPY 2019 photography award (UK). In 2016 and 2017 she was a resident artist of Ci.clo Plataform of Photography, where she developed the project “Saving fire for darker days”, part of the itinerant collective that has been held in diferent places, such as CPF, Porto, Portugal; Fotofestiwal, Lodz, Poland and School of Visual Arts, in NY, U.S.A. The project “Under the surveillance of ancient animals” was exhibited in FotoRio (Rio de Janeiro) and More Than a Gallery (Paris).
She has participated in several publications and online platforms. Her work is part of the collection of MAR-Rio Art Museum and of private collections.


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