The Azores are an archipelago in the North Atlantic that consists of nine small islands. The smallest, Corvo (Raven), is only 17 km2 and has about 400 inhabitants.
The largest one is São Miguel (San Miguel), where I was born and where I continue to live and work. This island has about 745 km2 and 130 000 inhabitants.
Officially, the archipelago was discovered by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century. The first inhabitants of these islands brought with them ancient religious practices, whose rituals are still practiced in a more or less pure manner. Those rituals take very different forms in each of the islands. These differences are a result of the isolation that each island was voted for centuries.
Historically, the islands have been affected by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and storms. They have also been attacked by corsairs and pirates. Isolated from the world and often abandoned by their king, the Azorean always sought protection in the divine by practicing rituals that still exist today. As an Azorean and a photographer, it seems important to document these rituals, before they are tainted by globalization, mass tourism, or power politicians who often appropriate from popular culture as a way to get support of the people.
For me, this series will always be a work in progress. While this small town insists on retaining its cultural identity, I will be here to document a combination of information and aesthetics, photography and anthropology.
Ribeira Grande, São Miguel, June 2010
Revised by Lauren Schneiderman, Visura Magazine