“Dear friend and fellow woman,
For those who don’t know me, my name is Camila Cavalcante, a visual artist from Brazil, settled in Scotland. I write this email to share my interest in your cause, our cause. I want to scream our issues, to show another side of a fight that so many avoid. Let me explain myself:
Since I began to understand myself as a woman, I questioned male privilege. We are all witness to a patriarchal society that does not give much space for mistakes, choices or freedom. This has always bothered me and women’s rights is one of the main things that shaped me, personally.
In 2002, when I started to take pictures, the way I saw the world was already through that perspective: photographing women has always interested me. The first time I received an award, in fact, was the National Competition Women Photographing Women, in Brazil, 2003. It’s only now, however, in the present context that surrounds us, that I decided to start a project about/with/for women.
This project is called ‘Us For All’, and it delicately explores one of the most important issues that we all, directly or indirectly, have to deal with: abortion. This is an ugly word that everyone avoids speaking, and in deeply Christian countries like Brazil, the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland, the debate around this issue tends to be an exclusive judgement of the woman.
The artistic vision of this project comes from the premise that every woman should have the autonomy over her own body. All of us; independent of the political and religious position or economic status of the country in which we live.
In Brazil, abortion is only legal if it endangers the mother’s life, in cases of a foetus without a brain and in cases of rape. As the debate about decriminalising or legalising abortion is in the shadow of an ultraconservative government, we run the risk of going backwards. Abortion happens all over the country and that is a fact. Criminalising it imposes potential death sentences on many women, particularly the poor.
In Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, abortion law is even harsher. It is only permitted if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health. Often women from those countries must travel to England, Wales or Scotland to do the procedure. Once again, this punishes poorer women, particularly.
What I propose on this project is to expose my face and my body in the name of all the women that directly or indirectly have had to deal with an illegal abortion. Whether because they made the choice to have an abortion and had to face the consequences of it, or because they were witness to the difficulty, the pain, the judgement and the danger that their sisters, partners, friends or daughters had to go through after making that decision.
I would like to make a photographic self-portrait in which each woman would be by my side, but only I would be showing my body/face. The women would remain with their identities protected, with their back to the camera, but they would be in physical contact with me (holding my hand, hugging me), so that metaphorically I would be exposing myself in their name, in the name of all of us.
I would combine the written word with the images, choosing quotes from the conversations I would have with them. I stress again that the identity of the women portrayed would be subject complete secrecy, yet their protest would scream with me around the world.
If you have any interest in collaborating with this project, please contact me. If you don’t identify with this cause, I urge you to forward this email to a friend who might be interested. I also ask you to be careful when forwarding this email, because I don’t want to expose any women and I know that this is a very delicate subject, particularly for more conservative and/or extreme religious ears. Discretion and union will make this project. It’s US women FOR ALL women.
I created this email especially for the project: [email protected], but if you prefer, do not hesitate to contact me via Facebook, personal email or phone number.”
It was with this text that I started this project on International Women’s Day, 2016. I have photographed 50 women between June 2016 and February 2018 thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign and the donation of 62 people who backed the project. Now I am looking for collaborators to keep amplifying the debate about this important issue for women’s rights. In Brazil, the strength of women on the streets has delayed the ultra-conservative agenda to go backwards on our current abortion laws.
Inspired by the chant that people took to streets to fight for our reproductive rights, I am creating, in partnership with Break the Habit Press, the bilingual book For the Lives of All Women. This book will only be possible with a network of supporters through a crowdfunding campaign. If you would like to help, please support and spread the word: igg.me/at/ftloaw
Together we are stronger!
This page contains some images of the project, but there are many images that are only available to be seen in the book For The Lives of All Women.
If you would like to have access a press release and for image usage, please email me on [email protected]