The many spirit mediums of Palmelo, Brazil, are featured in Captain Gervasio's Family (2013-2014) by Tamar Guimarães (Brazilian, b. 1967) and Kasper Akhøj (Danish, b. 1976). The 14-minute black-and-white film is a meditative look at the mediums who communicate with the dead and engage in psychic healing practices. By juxtaposing details of the modernist buildings for which Brazil is known and the mediums engaged in such activities as holding hands to form a healing "magnetic chain," the filmmakers suggest parallels between modernist architecture's ideals and social organization and that of the Spiritist community.
Guimarães and Akhøj will be in residence at JHU this spring. Throughout their work, the Copenhagen-based collaborators explore the structure of social space and hierarchies, within both small communities and geographically or racially defined groups of people.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.
Whether or not you go, John of God: The Brazilian Healer Who's Touched the Lives of Millions is the story of a seemingly average rancher from Abadiânia, Brazil, who offers a powerful message of love, compassion, and hope for humanity. João Teixeira de Faria, the healer and medium known as John of God, allows "spirit doctors" to take over his body three times a week to miraculously treat the thousands of people from all over the world who come in need of remedy. John of God has fulfilled his mission as a medium for more than forty-eight years, making numerous pilgrimages around the world. Drawn by the hope of instantaneous healing, over eight million believers have proceeded in front of him throughout his life, as tens of thousands journey to Brazil each year to see John of God and his home, the Casa de Dom Inácio de Loyola, which is designed to accommodate hundreds of visitors each day. Despite all the media attention paid to this internationally praised healer, little has been revealed about his personal life. Translator Heather Cumming and photographer Karen Leffler have traveled with John of God and chronicled his life and work. What began as an endeavor to document the testimonials of his remarkable healings has now become the first complete, authorized portrait of his world. Stirring words and vivid photographs -- many of which capture the haunting spiritual energy that surrounds John of God and the Casa -- take us on an affecting and deeply personal journey with the humble medium who offers hope for people with none. The result is an intimate portrait of an ordinary individual in extraordinary circumstances and a reading experience that will bring readers of every persuasion closer to their faith.