A Timeless Story

Queimada, my moniker, is inspired by the 1968 film by Gillo Pontecorvo, titled Queimada or Burn! in English. Queimada is an island in Antille, called like this because in 1520 the Portuguese had to set it completely on fire to overcome indigenous resistance: it means, precisely, burnt. In the intentions of the colonisers, a name that indicates purification. Yet, to hear it, it sounds more like a cry for revenge, coming out of the mouths of those slaves, or a centuries-old curse shouted to the heavens. I like to think that that was an extreme and ultimate act of resistance exercised by the indigenous. A brutal and powerful act of uncompromising opposition.  The film itself, with its documentary-like immediacy and raw realism, offers a visceral portrayal of the complexities inherent in the fight for independence and post-colonialism. It is a quietly bleak, unflinching presentation of slavery, post-slavery racial hatreds, the role of race in political power and the colonial manipulation of all of the above. There’s no glamour, no romanticised heroism—just the stark reality of conflict as the inevitable process of human transformation and society change. It is a timeless story, still relevant today, reflecting so many of the issues we still live with nowadays. When I watched the movie, I was actively involved in some political student collectives in Italy;  I found its gaze sharp and authentic. 

The Sweetest Hours: I am a photographer based in the midwest, United States. I’ve been taking photos on film for about four years now. I am a big fan of self portraiture, incorporating nature and the changing seasons in my work, and storytelling through images. 

The Sweetest Hours: For this series, I was connected with Queimada and given two songs of his to take photos based on. I photographed based on what each song made me feel.

“Lorne” – had more of a hopeful, all-encompassing feeling. The song sweeps into a crescendo of sound that makes your heart swell. This set of images was meant to be more pensive and intimate. The use of chamomile flowers, the warm light, pulling the petals off in a ‘loves me-loves me not’ fashion – I wanted to evoke the feeling of someone pining for someone else. That big, hopeful, sometimes-frightening feeling in the pit of your stomach, like you’re giddy but on the verge of losing control, like a roller-coaster before it drops.

Queimada: “Lorne” is the oldest track. They are actually several sound fragments I have created with different synthesisers, then joined together to form a simple and coherent resilient melody and harmony, which deteriorates more and more in the finale until it completely distorts its meaning. “Aprile” comes instead from several flute recordings I have taken. Then, I have reprocessed these recordings, bringing them to their extreme sonic limits, changing their texture and identity. It is fragile and powerful at the same time. 

Despite belonging to different periods and workflows, both tracks share a common intention—they represent an endpoint, a resolution reached after a long journey of overcoming obstacles and transformation.

Imagine raindrops falling, each one symbolising the challenges and storms encountered along the way in some people’s stories. These journeys vary widely, shaped by countless imperceptible variables. They are long and winding paths, stretching toward the horizon like constellations in the night sky.

Much like high-velocity stars propelled by black holes, our journeys can sometimes feel propelled by forces beyond our control, flinging us into directions we never imagined.

The Sweetest Hours: Photography has influenced my life in almost every way, actually. It became an outlet for me to express myself, a vessel to connect with others online, and it led me to meeting my current partner. Film photography connected me with a dear friend and led me to travelling to Scotland to meet her. It’s led to so many friendships, adventures, opportunities, and in a sense, has helped me find a stronger identity and sense of confidence in myself.

The Sweetest Hours:  The second track “Aprile” has a heavier, haunting, solitary feeling to it – like wandering through the dark. I had this song in mind while I took the black and white images for this series. This song made me think of the long, harsh, winter months – sometimes they can be beautiful and sometimes it feels never ending – the dead plants, the freezing temperatures, red knuckles and numb fingers, waiting for everything to thaw out. I wanted to create an image of someone wandering through these cold winter months, almost swallowed by the darkness. I really enjoyed this collaboration, hearing what the artist had in mind for his own songs, and the crossover between how I interpreted them and what he intended. I think this is one of my favorite parts of any type of art – it is up for interpretation – but what is important is that you can connect to it and it makes you feel something.

In what way has making music influenced your life and what does it mean to you?

Queimada: Again, it is precisely a question of one’s gaze, one’s attention to the reality one experiences.

Music, but precisely sound, guided my gaze, moved my attention and questions about reality. It has shaped my perception of the world.