Casa das Sete Senhoras / The House of the Seven Women — by Tito Mouraz
“It is still said around here that the house is haunted.
At the house there lived seven women, all maiden sisters.
One of them was a witch.
On full moon nights, the ladies in their white garments would fly from the balcony to the leafy branches of the chestnut across the street. From there they would seduce men who passed by.
In the House of the Seven Women, chatting, getting to know what it was like before me, listening and imagining, was as important as the act of photographing.
I started by doing some portraits of people. They interested me because they have always lived here and are attached to land just like trees. They speak about time, about their memories; their losses … many of them already dress in black.
This series gives an account of a persistent return to the same place, so as to scrutinize its differences (the slow deactivation of agricultural practices, the gradual transformation of the territory, aging…), in spite of listening to the same owl, to the same fox, to the same stories.
Same as in legend, perhaps the magic and appalling features, this cyclical experience, were my greatest wound: night, fumes, corpses, moon, ruin, sounds.
A place of affections, after all I was also born here.”
In the Beira-Alta region of Portugal, where Tito Mouraz was born and brought up, there is a house that is said to be haunted by the ghosts of seven women, all maiden sisters. One of them was a witch. On nights of the full moon, the women, in their white gowns, would fly from their balcony over to the leafy branches of the chestnut across the street. From there they would seduce men who passed by.
One cannot help but imagine these women with their siren songs, their efforts to lure men toward the house, all in an effort to do what? Do them harm? Enchant them? Seduce them? Regardless, Mouraz’s surreal, dreamlike images take us to a world of mystery and visual metaphors for the world that surrounded him in his youth, and are re-explored in his repeated trips to photograph the same area and people.
Mouraz explores the myth of this place through raw, moody black and white images that capture the sense of the night, the fumes, the moon, the sounds of the trees. It is an environment where the past resonates deeply and within which the people portrayed seem attached, like trees, to the land in which they they live. Beira-Alta shaped Mouraz as a child and through his persistent return he searches out the slow changes of time through the gradual aging and transformation of a landscape.
Tito Mouraz is a gallery represented photographer in Portugal and France. He has exhibited internationally in Europe and has work in a number of public and private collections. To view more work by Tito Mouraz, visit his website at http://titomouraz.com/
His published book of The House of the Seven Women was released in 2016, and was selected as a top photo book of 2016 by The Guardian, 1000 Words Photography, Colin Pantall and Sean O’Hagan. You can find his book available for purchase from dewi lewis publishing at https://www.dewilewis.com/collections/new-titles/products/the-house-of-the-seven-women
Originally published at wobnebmagazine.com on December 23, 2016.