Cubatão, 2014

V.O.D. stands for Valley of Death, the name once given to Cubatão, an industrial city in São Paulo state, in Brazil. In the 1980s Cubatão was held to be the most heavily polluted place in the world. The high incidence of infant mortality and diseases of the lungs, liver, and blood enveloped the city in gloom and led within a relatively short time to the monumental explosion of its cemeteries. Like citadels they still stand at the heart of the urban landscape, in silent testimony to the funereal customs widespread in Latin America. Urns and coffins are immured above ground in stacked compartments so numerous as to quickly comprise architectural ensembles and streets while the gravestones embedded in them appear fairly similar at first glance but are in fact all individually formed. Faith, grief, oblivion, and decay are the common threads spun over centuries in these sepulchral streets, and it is these that the V.O.D. photo series takes in its sights: not as a formal analysis so much as an inquiry into the inexorable forces so palpable among these human remains.