The Void You Left 2019
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) presents the exhibition "A falta que você faz" (The Void You Left) from August 30, 2019 to September 29, 2019 at the Dragão do Mar Center for Art and Culture in Fortaleza. With photos by Marizilda Cruppe and artistic direction by Rogério Costa, the immersive show depicts the difficulties and uncertainties faced by families of missing persons in their daily lives.
Experienced by thousands of families throughout the world, this situation arises from a number of severe conditions, such as urban violence, environmental disasters, armed conflicts, migration and other humanitarian crises.
From August 2016 to May 2019, Marizilda and the ICRC team visited homes in Curitiba, Fortaleza, Maceió, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to portray the stories of parents, children, grandparents and uncles of people who disappeared – and whose fate and whereabouts are still unknown.
The assembled descriptions and testimonials for the exhibition were edited in video mapping by Rogério Costa specifically for the Ceará museum venue. Visitors to the exhibition can fully immerse themselves in the drama these families endure.
Mirian dos Santos Almeida's son has been missing since August of 2013. "Have a good night, mom, and sleep well. I love you mom." It was the last conversation Mirian had with her son by phone on a seemingly normal evening. Since then, the Almeida family has been searching for Alison throughout São Paulo. The family banded together to carry out a tireless search, bolstered by other families from the Mães da Sé (Mothers of Sé) group.
"What makes me happy and offers me some comfort is when someone says to me: "Don't give up. You'll find your son, it's all going to be okay." – Mirian dos Santos Almeida, mother of Alison Santos, who has gone missing.
Since 2007, Dalva and Carlos Campioto have been searching for answers on the whereabouts of their son, Leonardo de Souza Campioto, who disappeared when he was 27 years old. The last time they saw him, Leonardo was playing with his newborn son on the couch at home. Leonardo had been unemployed and was doing delivery jobs here and there. He left home one evening to make a delivery and did not come back. His parents' lives have since been filled with pursuing news about their child – a continual pilgrimage between police stations, medical institutes and lawyers.
"My life ceased. I didn't even go to the doctor's office anymore. My family crumbled. There are days when I awake and my whole body is shaking. Then they give me sleeping pills, but I don't sleep. I'm wide awake at three in the morning. It's a horrible experience. I'm thinking about him 24 hours a day." – Dalva Campioto, mother of Leonardo Campioto, who has gone missing.
Maria Carolina Capistrano has been waiting for over four decades on any information about the fate of her husband, David Capistrano da Costa,. He disappeared along with a friend in March 1974, and since then his family has been searching to discover his whereabouts. Like Maria Carolina, her two daughters and granddaughter are also hoping for some closure to this story. Cecília Capistrano Bacha, David's granddaughter, believes in the importance of continuing to gather information on her grandfather. Cecilia says the family only accepted his death after the 1979 Amnesty Law, when, contrary to what they expected, he did not return home.
"Our expectation for these missing person searches, after so much time has clearly passed, is to be able to tell this story as close to reality as possible. Our interest has always been in getting the word out (on the issue of missing people). We're talking about more than 40 years." – Maria Cristina Capistrano, daughter of David Capistrano, who has gone missing.
On January 21, Girliany Costa's birthday and just two days before her son Francisco Douglas Barros turned 18, he left home to take a dip in a creek near his grandfather's house in Itaitinga, Ceará. He never returned. Girliany has been tirelessly searching for any news on her son since then. She has resorted to going on social media, where her statements have made thousands of people aware of what's going on. Douglas has two brothers and a sister. The family awaits his return. "It's a room just for him, with a bed and a fan. It's all there, with the same comforter and the same pillow. And I don't let anyone go in there," his mother states. "When I wake up, I try not to believe he's not here. This is really hard. It's heartbreaking. My heart is overwhelmed." – Girliany Costa, mother of Francisco Douglas Barros, who has gone missing.
"I miss my brother so much. And I don't know how long I can keep missing him. But hopefully it will end soon. That they will soon find my brother." – Rhian Costa, brother of Francisco Douglas Barros, who has gone missing.
Robson Roberto da Cruz, son of Leonardo da Cruz and Izilda Maria Pesolato, disappeared on his mother's birthday in June of 2016. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he left home with just the clothes on his back and was never seen again. In May 2018, the family received a phone call: Robson was found by the São Paulo rescue service, hospitalized for a month and later passed away. He was buried without identification and his parents, who have been searching for him from day one, were never notified. The family is now struggling to finalize the legal and administrative procedures needed to assure a new grave and a rightful resting place for their son.
"How may Robsons are there out there. How many people have vanished? I see the people who are in the Sé (church), people who have family members who are missing. We are beaten down, we feel it. It's really frustrating, this is agonizing." – Leonardo da Cruz, father of Robson Roberto da Cruz, who had been missing and was found in 2018
Lucineide Damasceno has been looking for an explanation on the whereabouts of her son Felipe since November 2008, when he left the house on his motorcycle to visit a friend and did not return. Since that time, Lucineide began to suffer from panic attacks, particularly in crowded places. She has faced many difficulties in properly investigating the case of her son's disappearance. As a way to remember him, she got a tattoo on her back. It was something that Felipe had always wanted to do.
"There's a 50% chance of finding them alive, and a 50% chance of finding them dead. But it doesn't matter, it's 100% that they will come back to us. We have to be prepared and we need to be sure of what happened to our missing people. And even if he's found, I won't stop helping others. " – Lucineide Damasceno, mother of Felipe Damasceno, who has gone missing.
Ivanise Esperidião's search for her daughter began on Christmas Eve in 1995. Fabiana Esperidião da Silva, who was 13 years old at the time, had gone to a friend's birthday party along with a classmate her age. The home hosting the birthday celebration was less than 300 meters from where she lived. On the way back, Fabiana separated from her friend and has not been seen since. The difficulties in finding support and information led Ivanise to establish the Brazilian Association for the Search and Advocacy of Missing Children (Associação Brasileira de Busca e Defesa à Criança Desaparecida) in 1996, an organization later known as the Mothers of Sé.
"Each day that passes, every year that goes by, the pain increases. It's like a wound that keeps getting worse. If I had buried my daughter, I would have been used to the idea of no longer seeing her. Now, what's been killing me bit by bit is not knowing what happened." - Ivanise Spyridon, mother of Fabiana Esperidião da Silva, who has gone missing.
Lucila Maria França da Costa has been looking for her brother Leonardo França da Costa since October of 2013, when he left Fortaleza to accompany a truck driving neighbor and disappeared in Divisa Alegre, Minas Gerais. Lucila began the search for her brother in the Minas Gerais town, and has not stopped since. She has been going to the Children's Park for five years to talk about Leonardo's disappearance on the "Missing" ("Desaparecidos") segment from the Ceará TV news program. 81 year old Antonieta França da Costa's hope for some news on her son has not faded either. But the impact on the family is tremendous. The father, from whom Leonardo inherited his shoemaker business, passed away in 2018. Antonieta holds on to the tools in hope that her son returns.
"Lots of people say they don't believe that he's alive. But then I say, I believe. He'll come back one day. And then we'll know what really happened." – Antonieta França da Costa, mother of Leonardo França da Costa, who has gone missing.
"Our missing brother makes us feel empty. When we see someone on television who finds a missing person, we get so happy. Because we're thinking, one day it'll be our turn. " – Lucila Maria França da Costa, sister of Leonardo França da Costa, who has gone missing
Débora Inácio has been searching for her son, Kaio, who disappeared in 2013 after going to a party at the house of some friends and sleeping over. She was even able to speak to Kaio by phone one last time, when he explained he had to deal with a few things. There has been no news since then. Débora has been to countless police stations, hospitals and morgues in search of her son. After a prolonged bout with depression, she found support and was able to face the trauma of returning to the coast, where Kaio had disappeared.
"I saw the sea and wanted to run, hug you and tell you how much I missed you. All I have left is my longing to see you, and the hope of being able to once again say: I love you, Kaio." – Débora Inácio, mother Kaio Alves Inácio, who has gone missing.
João Massena Melo, a former city councilor and assemblyman for Rio de Janeiro, disappeared in April of 1974. Decades later, the subject remains taboo for the Massena family, although they all admit the possibility that he has passed on. The disappearance of João Massena made the family feel stigmatized, triggering a psychological suffering that has crossed through many generations.
"They (his children) have grown up. They all left and I stayed here by myself. I will turn 100 years old, and I hope that by then there will be something from that disappearance, some truth for us. I believe that when we live in one place for a long time, we grow roots. We cling to the house, to the memories. João was one who built this gate. It used to be out front, but we brought it into the garden." – Ecila Massena, wife of João Massena, who has gone missing.
Journalist and lawyer Jayme Amorim Miranda disappeared in 1975, leaving his wife Elza Miranda alone to raise their children. There were a lot of struggles throughout the years. Because he had not returned after the 1979 Amnesty Law, the family believed he was deceased.
"I have a right to know where my husband's remains are, don't I? My children and I, the whole family, we are trying to find him, to bring this story back, and it's been really tough. After all, I've spent my whole life in this battle, always waiting for news, constantly wondering. I think it's everyone's right." – Elza Miranda, wife of Jayme Amorim de Miranda, who has gone missing.
Born in Ceará and the middle child of a family with 12 siblings, Teodomiro Bernardo dos Santos lived, along with most of his family, on the outskirts of São Paulo, where he moved as a young man in search of opportunities. In November of 1995, while undergoing psychiatric treatment at a city hospital, Teodomiro walked out the front door of the facility and was never seen by his family again. Shortly after his disappearance, the whole family was called on to search for him. Over the years, his sister, Zélia dos Santos Nascimento, and particularly his brother-in-law, Valmir Nascimento, took on the mission of keeping the search activities going – which they continue to do.
"We know that when a person dies, there's nothing more that can be done. But when they are missing, we don't know if they are eating, if they're drinking, how they're sleeping... It's total despair." – Valmir Nascimento, brother-in-law of Teodomiro Bernardo dos Santos, who has gone missing.
Vilma Teresa Padilla lives with her family and pets in São Paulo. She was 13 years old in 1972 when her father, truck driver José Padilha Aguilar, went missing. Since then, she has searched for him using her own resources. Whenever she gets a hint that her father might be somewhere, she travels throughout Brazil in search of him. After all these years, she has never given up the hunt. The primary concern of her and her family is receiving a definitive answer on the fate and whereabouts of her father.
"He went out to take a look at a part for the truck one morning and never came back. Will I ever have an answer?" – Vilma Padilla, daughter of José Padilha, who has gone missing.
Maria Rodrigues Santiago, known as Cleide, has been looking for her brother since 2004. José Ribamar Lopes Santiago was 45 years old when he disappeared one Sunday after leaving his home in Fortaleza.
"He left early in the morning and no one saw him again. He was loved, he joked around a lot. Everyone was very worried and went out looking for him", says Cleide, the oldest of the 16 siblings and the one spearheading search efforts. Over the last 15 years, the days have been filled with the persistent hunt for José Ribamar. Cleide went to hospitals and police stations, pursuing any avenue for some information. But it was on the Ceará TV news segment "Missing" where she found some solace. Taking part in the program has filled her with encouragement for a number of reasons, mainly because it feeds the hope of finding her brother and also allows her to meet other people. José Ribamar's sister says that it's more about facing the pain with the support of other people.
"It's horrible, because no one knows if he's alive or dead. It's bad, it's sad. There wasn't a funeral, and there's no way to know if he's dead." – Maria Rodrigues Santiago (Cleide), sister of José Ribamar Lopes Santiago, who has gone missing.
Silva Mesut Family
Grenaldo Erdmundo Mesut did not know anything about his father, who vanished in May of 1975 when he was 4 years old. For over 30 years, he never had any information about Grenaldo de Jesus Silva, a seaman. Grenaldo Erdmundo only began to learn more about him when, years later, one of his wife's relatives happened to see a news report about his father.
By 2000, Grenaldo began to do some research to find out the truth about his father. He still gets emotional when talking about him.
"I didn't know who my father was. Nor had any idea." – Grenaldo Erdmundo da Silva Mesut, son of Grenaldo Jesus Silva, who has gone missing.
A student, Hiroaki Torigoe went missing in 1972. His parents, farmers from Piracicaba in Sao Paulo, searched for their son with authorities and were given information that he had passed away. But they never received his remains. The parents and grandparents did not tell the children in the family, like Naomi, who was 5 at the time, and Celia, a bit younger, about what really happened to their uncle. The subject was taboo throughout the years. Only in their teens did they learn the truth, that their uncle had gone missing.
"They didn't tell us anything. His name couldn't even be spoken, because they were filled with dread. I even called on other family members, but they didn't want to (participate). They are all upset." – Célia Torigoi, niece of Hiroaki Torigoe, who has gone missing.
Joel Vasconcelos Santos disappeared in 1971. Since that time, his mother Elza set off on a search for her son, a quest that she pursued until the end of her life. She regularly went to places where Joel could be. Her daughter Altair, who has continued the search, witnessed as her mother penned letters and headed out each day to the town square, pleading for any information on Joel. But even with all this activity, her family has never received any official information as to his whereabouts.
"I think the best reminder of my brother is talking about my mother. She wrote to all the agencies, to everyone. She even wrote to the Pope! My mother had a fourth grade education. She would go to Cinelandia with a sign reading: Today is three days, today is four days, today is 31 days, and so on." – Altair Vasconcelos, sister of Joel Vasconcelos, who has gone missing.
Rodrigo Correia Santos has been missing for more than seven years. He left for work one Friday in 2012 and never returned. Rodrigo was 22 and a taxi driver. He lived with his parents, Alberto Correia and Zuleide Santos, along with three brothers. From that day forward, the family has been on a relentless search throughout the neighborhoods of São Paulo.
Rodrigo's mother has found resiliency in concerning herself with other children as well: "When I was going to cry, I went upstairs so I didn't have to show everyone how much I was suffering." "We are stronger these days, because I said: we have three more children, and if we surrender we will not look for him nor take care of the other children," Zuleide says.
"Hope is the last to die and I intend to find him at any given moment." – Alberto Correia dos Santos, father of Rodrigo Correia Santos, who has gone missing.
A son of American missionaries, Paulo Stuart Wright was a state representative in Santa Catarina. Active in a leftist movement, he went missing in 1973. Since then, his family has been searching to uncover his whereabouts.
"There's this never-ending thing about disappearing. We get up in the morning thinking about it, it's a constant thing. We never had a funeral. So we have this person whose presence is always there. We really need, at least for me and those closest to us, a ceremony to take place." – João Paulo Wright, son of Paulo Stuart Wright, who has gone missing.
About photographer Marizilda Cruppe
With stints as a mechanic, engineering student, and even a prospective airplane pilot, Marizilda Cruppe finally found her calling in photojournalism. She has worked for print media outlets, became a freelance professional, and founded a collective with other female photographers – EVE Photographers, who have had their work exhibited and published in ten countries for the last five years. Marizilda was also a photography instructor and took part in numerous international photographic contests. These include the World Press Photo, the largest and most prestigious photojournalism contest in the world, in which she twice served as a judge. She has photographed for Greenpeace, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Doctors Without Borders, Oxfam and the World Bank, and collaborated with The New York Times, The Guardian, National Geographic France, The Global Post, Svenska Dagbladet, Expressen, Trip, TPM and GQ.
About Rogério Costa
An artistic director, designer and visual artist, Rogério Costa managed the art direction for video mapping 'The Void Left Behind' exhibition. He is an artist and, for nearly four decades, has been working in movies, television, theater, shows and events. Among other videography and video mapping projects, he created motion graphics for projection in video mapping on the ecosystems cube at the Museum of Tomorrow and produced video graphics for the Radio Room at the Football Museum.
About the exhibition
'A falta que você faz'
(The Void You Left)
From August 30 to September 29, 2019
Tuesday to Friday: 9am to 7pm
Saturday and Sunday: 14h to 21h
Museu da Cultura Cearense, of the Centro Dragão do Mar for Arts and Culture.
R. Dragão do Mar, 81, Praia de Iracema - Fortaleza