The House of the Seven Women, or Casa das Sete Senhoras in the authors native Portuguese, is the result of five years of dedication from photographer Tito Mouraz. The project, inspired by a folktale from the Beira-Alta region of Portugal where Mouraz was born and raised, has recently been published as a beautiful monograph by Dewi Lewis Publishing, and it is outstanding.
“…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.”
Mouraz creates a sense of anxiety through his raw and mysterious black and white images. They bring with them an atmosphere of the uncanny sort, with peculiar happenings encountered out of the darkness. A ladder stands freely pointing up to the pitch dark sky; a goat stands on its hind legs as if performing a ritualistic dance; and gnarled trees present aggressive, unnatural forms, as if manipulated by outside influence. When the sun is up, Mouraz’s images continue explore this environment, seeking to reveal the slow changes of time, through the gradual ageing and transformation of the ancient landscape.
Alongside these landscape photographs, Mouraz presents striking portraits, the subjects of which appearing to emulate the characters typically found within a folktale: elderly women dressed head to toe in all black appear witch-like; a huntsman stands proud with his weapon; and other figures of an apparent timeless period appear before us. These elements marry together to deliver us the sense of the mystical, as Mouraz’s narrative evokes memories of Grimm fairytales.
The House of the Seven Women (Casa das Sete Senhoras) is a photographic feast and delivers in so many satisfying ways, especially when enjoyed in book form. Recommended. Grab a copy here or here. For a video run through of the book, head to the foot of this post.
Casa das Sete Senhoras | Normal Edition
Photos: Tito Mouraz
Texts: Nuno Crespo & Tito Mouraz (EN and PT)
Hardback, 300mm x 240mm
108 pages, 55 tritone plates, Offset
Design: Sérgio Couto
Publisher: Dewi Lewis Publishing
All images © Tito Mouraz