Joselita by Lita

Joselita by Lita


“I was born in the middle of the 20th century, in the neighborhood of Caixa d’Água, when Salvador was still a province and there were many vegetable gardens and farms around the center. I still have a vague memory of the trams circulating through Soledade neighborhood and the control of Salvador.


When I was very young, I would walk with my brother Rafael – who now lives in Germany, where he is a retired car designer for Mercedes Benz – From Caixa d’Água to the Marquês de Abrantes School, located, still today, on Rua Direita de Santo Antônio, in the Historic Center of Salvador. When I entered high school, at ICEIA (Instituto Normal Isaías Alves), I started doing children’s theater with friends from school, thus becoming interested in art, wanting to know everything about cinema, theater, arts in general. At the end of my adolescence, my family moved to Ladeira do Carmo – right in front of the stairs of Igreja do Paço – where O pagador de Promessas was filmed.


I come from a rural family. My mother, Maria Almeida, was from Amargosa, in the interior of Bahia, and my father, from Baixa Grande, in the Sertão region. The two lived, until they were adults, each on their own farm, when one day they met and lived together until my father died, in 1966. I am the seventh of eleven children – eight men and three women –, very well raised by Dona Maria. She was illiterate, but with an intelligence and cleverness that would leave anyone in awe of the way in which she educated us to face the world, teaching everyone to do housework, to sew, to cook, and giving us an example of honesty, which everyone followed. My family was and is very important in my life and education. Brandinho, my brother Hildebrando, younger than me, sociologist, and resident in Paris, is a unique scholar. I remember when I left school: very worried, he made me a list of books I should read – from Man’s Worldly Goods – The Story of The Wealth of Nations to Simone de Beauvoir. He protected me from the other brothers, and we talked about music, sex and politics.


I attended and took free courses at the Fine Art School and the Theater School, where I participated, for a long time, in the theater group of director Deolindo Checucci, in the musical production Nosso Céu Tem Mais Estrelas. At that time I also worked for three years as a photography producer and as an intern at the newspaper O Verbo, for actor and director Álvaro Guimarães. Between 1969 and 1970 I started living with friends in the Barra neighborhood and working in a trendy store on Rua Chile. I met interesting people, involved with art and politics. In 1971, left school, family and work. I bought sandals made of tires and went to Arembepe. Even today I have not forgotten my mother’s look at my sandals, with the mutter: “A girl who had several pairs of shoes!”.

And the sad look of seeing her daughter become a hippie!


In Arembepe, at the house of a friend, Sônia Dias, I met the best of Brazilian Cinema – Paulo César Saraceni, Vera Barreto Leite, Cláudio Marzo and many others. So, I joined them. They invited me to live in Rio de Janeiro. I’m still friends with them today. They were the ones who adopted me! I am grateful to everyone for the hospitality with which they welcomed me. At the same time, I met a group of journalists from São Paulo who worked at the magazines Bondinho, O Grilo and Revista de Fotografia and I went to live for a while in the community of journalist Amâncio Chiodi, then photo editor of the magazines of that group, which was directed by Sérgio de Souza (deceased), the same group that today edits Caros Amigos.

In 1973 I got pregnant and returned to Rio de Janeiro. I gave birth to Pedro Cerqueira Chiodi, a zealous and attentive son. I started photographing him and became a photographer.”


Lita Cerqueira

Salvador, Bahia, September 2009


Photo: Sami Korhonen