Carandiru

When we are faced with a photographic essay of a Brazilian prison, the first scene that comes to mind is certainly the huddle of people under inhuman conditions, especially in case of the Casa de Detenção de São Paulo (House of Detention of São Paulo), popular- ly known as Carandiru. On October 2nd, 1992, this icon of a pre- carious prison system was the scene of a merciless slaughter, which culminated in the death of 111 inmates. The Massacre do Carandiru (Carandiru Massacre), as the tragedy became known, has called in such a way the national and international public attention, that, in 2002, it ended up being disabled and later demolished. Its history, worldwide known, gave rise to books, films and series. However, more than 25 years after the incident, the case of the massacre, as well as the tragic situation of the Brazilian prison system and that of many others in the world remains far from a solution.

Between 2004 and 2005, I frequented the place in order to pho- tograph it. At that time, the various pavilions of the prison were in differentiated situations: some, in the process of demolition; others, occupied and designed by the production teams responsible for the recording of the film and the series; and others simply abandoned and untouched. Reality and fiction were confused between the scenography that sought to identify the particularities of each character and the true marks carved in all corners.

The jail, its motto, rules and prisonal living are manifested through the emptiness. Contrary to the basic connotation of over- crowding, the absence of the human figure in photographs symbolizes only a corporeal absence, figurative, since the vestiges of those individuals, are squeezed and manifested themselves in other ways. The loneliness that prevails in an overcrowded prison can be the same that resides in this abandoned place. The sighs founded in the details are personality traits and memory of those who have been there for short periods of time, of those who lived there practically for a lifetime or of those who from there have never left.