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Ewa Priester, Photographer – Maker Profile

Ewa Priester, Photographer – Maker Profile

There’s so much to love about the STMT X Brazil sourcing trip despite all the crazy. A definite highlight was meeting Rio-based photographer Ewa Priester.

Ewa Preister

photo courtesy of Ewa Priester

Married to a Carioca and born in Germany with German and Swedish roots, Ewa has a wealth of knowledge about all things Rio – which turns out is super lucky for all you RAHstrs.

We’re super stoked to kick off our Maker Profile series with Ewa. BIG hugs to Ewa for taking time to answer our questions and for creating a RAHstr-edition guide to Rio!

1 - First, the basics: pencil or pen, ruled sheets or grid?

A black pen is my favourite. I don’t know if the reason is that I also like to work with black-and-white photos, but I think I need more contrast. With a pencil I like a really soft one, and I am also making sometimes much force to get it darker.

I discovered once, when I have the choice, I like grids more. Normally I write in really huge letters and the grids help me to get more on one page.

2 - What’s your favorite Brazilian food to grub on? Brazilian drink to sip (or guzzle, you know how we do)?

Always, when I get a chance, I go to a small juice-coffee store called Cultivar Brasil in Santa Teresa. Five Minutes from our house. It is not designed a lot, but that is what’s comfortable about it, and I like the combination of different chairs and tables.

There my favorite combination is pão de queijo (cheese bread), accompanied by Açai. Pão de queijo are small cheese balls, really typical for Brazil and you can find them everywhere. But in this store they are homemade, and even Brazilians say that they are really special.

RAD AND HUNGRY: Cultivar Brasil Açai

Açai is like a smoothie. Ice cold and you eat it with a spoon. The first time you taste it, it has a taste like earth, but you have to give it a chance and eat the minimum of 3-5 spoons and then you will love it! Even my Brazilian husband didn’t like it for a long time, until he introduced it to me. He wanted to show me, then he tried also some spoons and now it is his favourite at juice stores.

The berries of this smoothie come from the north of Brazil. Actually they are eating it there in a different way, like a sauce to fish, I heard. But because it is a fragile berry it is frozen for the transport and becomes a smoothie in Rio. It became really popular through the surfers, who don’t want to eat something heavy, and they liked the Açai because it gives a lot of energy for the whole day.

3 - Describe the Rio art scene in three words.

Graffiti: Compared to Berlin, I am really impressed of the Graffitis in Rio. It is present everywhere and much more accepted. I think a lot of artists, especially with not many chances coming from the favela, do not have the possibility of living out their art. So if it is really strong inside them, they can express themselves with the graffiti.

Cultural Centers: In Brazil there are a lot of cultural centers from banks and other institutions. They are for free and have good exhibitions. The favourite ones are for me Casa França Brasil and Instituto Moreira Salles, because I like how the exhibitions are curated in exhibition design.

Ewa Priester: Rio 1
Ewa Priester: Rio 2

photo courtesy of Ewa Priester

Nature is really strong and present in Rio. You are looking down a street and there is a green mountain at the end. Some streets have large trees, which are important for cooling shadows in the three months of hot summer. Every tree has another plant on it growing, exploding of natural power. It is the rainforest, which you can enjoy and I always like to recognise it and make it present to my mind, to relax in the daily routine.

4 - What’s the one thing everyone should experience in Rio?

Largo do Curvelo

photo courtesy of Ewa Priester

It is really difficult to decide, because there is a lot in Rio, but when I have to choose one thing, it would be the Sunday samba in Largo do Curvelo in Santa Teresa. It is a square where you have a beautiful view of the sea with sailing boats, and even though you are in Santa Teresa in the mountains, the sea feels really close. The samba is presented in the classical way around the table, and with the public standing around, you always find people who brought their tambourine to accompany the music. The public has all kind of people. Almost only locals, old and young people, artists and craftsmen. For me it is an important Rio experience, and the typical Brazilian way of living you imagine and love when you are coming here. You feel here the music, Brazilians opening their hearts and smiling in the most beautiful way, singing passionately.

5 - You have a jet all fueled up and ready for your own personal World Tour. Where you headed?

Ewa Priester: Öland/Sweden 1
Ewa Priester: Öland/Sweden 2

photo courtesy of Ewa Priester

I would first go back to my roots to Sweden. My Swedish mother built up a strong connection to her original country for me and my brother and sister. Almost three times a year, we were travelling 14 hours with the car in the north from Germany.

I feel always divided emotionally between Sweden and Germany, Berlin. Sweden has the nicest childhood memories. In the summer at the beach, we’d bicycle through the forest and it was the first area I discovered more intensively with my camera. The food, the nature, the language, all this I am always missing when I am somewhere else.

I grew up in Germany. I am really happy about my studies in Weimar, Germany (Bauhaus University). It was a small city, but so I learned to make projects somewhere you thought you could not find anything new anymore. That was a nice challenge.

In Berlin I got to know a lot of galleries, museums, bookstores, a lot to discover in photography. There are many possibilities in Germany and I think I identify myself with the German photography, the clear and pure photography, like Michael Schmidt and Joachim Brohm for example.

Japan would be exciting to discover, because it is so different and I love sushi. Tjeljabinsk, in Russia, would also be a journey going back to my roots, because my grand grandmother is coming from there. Iceland I would also like to see because my other grandmother has a family from there, and I think sometimes my appearance with small eyes and looking really young is influenced by these roots.

I don’t have many personal destinations, but get them more through other people. People I meet, like and want to visit and get to know more about their origin and what they like in their cities. Through my photography, I lost judging places. For all sides of a city can get interesting and worth documenting. And it is important for me to discover places beside the normal sightseeing, like also the living and working areas.

So through Hen I would head now to Seattle, because it sounded really nice with the connection of mountains and sea. The sea is also a strong reason for me to go to places.

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