The birth of science was the death of superstition.
—Thomas Huxley (Darwin’s bulldog).
We always searched for answers.
Throughout history, through the ages, we have been continuously looking for ways to justify our existence, reasons to justify what our minds could not. Since ancient times, the idea of cosmos responded to the human need to rely on the order of nature and the world, that can link and put things in order. However, this design of the cosmos remained latent throughout civilisations, the dawn of monotheism gave ground to the divine and its providence.
Healers, men and women of faith, said to hold the cure for all ills, to have the answers to all concerns. Holders of wisdom or quackery that ordinary mortals could only imagine without ever understanding. Today, they seem to have disappeared, thrown into obscurantism by the euphoria of faith in progress, remain there, hidden from the gaze of modern world.
Behind the Hill documents the healer’s practice and its connection to native landscapes and plants throughout northeastern Portugal. In the physical and mystical realm, scenes often relate to nature and superstition. Proença catalogues rituals, artefacts, and performances linked to the land, otherwise overlooked by the western cumulative model of resource exploitation. The project points to the contest between technology and natural world, but also seeks to question how mankind searches for answers from beyond an empirical framework.
The series was exhibited during The New Talent (TNT 2019) at The Photographers’ Gallery.