Brazil (dates unknown, c. 1940s)
Raimundo Borges Falcão, an illiterate black man of uncertain age, lives alone in a windowless wooden shack on the rural outskirts of this seaside capital. The interior of his tiny home is filled floor to ceiling with materials he scavenges from scrap heaps which he gradually transforms into wearable fantasies that he reveals at Carnival. Once a year, this seemingly unremarkable man shines brightly. Traversing the historic city center on home-made roller skates, he proudly shows off the costume he has prepared for this purpose, to be worn only once. In one example plastic dolls become glittering mermaids on a striking headdress; tinfoil-wrapped fish sculptures share space with a gilded seahorse and a sparkling octopus; sequin-studded crabs extend their claws; shoulder cape, wrap skirt and bracelets look like they were caught in a magician’s fishnet; and scepters resemble those of the Orixás, the African ancestor gods of Salvador, whose avatars in glittering costumes hold staffs and mirrors symbolic of their powers.