Sérgio e Simone #2 | 2007-2022

“Simone is a transvestite who tends to a natural spring – Fonte da Misericórdia (the Fountain of Mercy) – as a sanctuary for Orisha worship. Sérgio is an evangelical pastor who fancies himself an envoy sent by God “to save humanity.” Simone and Sergio, or Sergio and Simone, are two identities of one person. In 2006, Virginia de Medeiros met Simone, who used to live at Ladeira da Montanha hill, one of Salvador city’s most run-down areas. Nurturing an interest in the place’s residents, the artist began documenting aspects of Simone’s daily routine in video. About a month after the first filming session, Simone had a crack-induced seizure followed by a mystical delirium in which she believes she met God. After that moment, when she “died of an overdose,” Simone readopted the name Sérgio, convinced she now had a religious mission to accomplish alongside Jesus. Sergio, then, tells the artist’s camera about his story of transformation and new identity. Eight years later, in 2014, Medeiros gets in touch with Sergio again and learns that after a short-lived relapse, he became a pai de santo (Candomblé priest) and established his own terreiro (Candomblé worshipping ground), where he assumed both identities, Sergio and Simone. The footage reflects the complexity of this constant physical and spiritual transformation process, set against the backdrop of a city where two religions clash. It also suggests the difficulty in accommodating a different demand in a binary society which, through discrimination, demands that we be either one thing or another.”

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