(Santa Therezinha Souls)
Film photography
Salvador da Bahia

In 1996 the Santa Therezinha Hospital faced a curious problem concerning a group of elder nurses, doctors, technicians and caretakers. Being in the institution since its early years, those men and women were resisting retirement, afraid to leave the place where they spent a great part of their lives. I was invited to take their portraits.

The Santa Therezinha is a traditional sanatoryum for the treatment of tuberculosis and other loung infections in Salvador da Bahia. Its building is an impressive modernist structure located in a impoverished neighbourhood (more info below).

The photo-sessions took place amidst humbleness and nostalgia. Those men and women held vivid memories of their decades of dedication to chronicle and terminal patients.

Specially, they had striking recollections of the building, such as Mr. Gilberto, the oldest of the group. His eyes sparkled as he described the newly inaugurated sanatoryum during the night: “It was a wonder! The shining lightening of the round veranda’s made it look like a transatlantic!”

Yet, another layer of that story remained silent: my father died in a bed of that very hospital many years previous.

Without knowing, they offered me a glance on my own fragmented past. Had them any memories of him? Had them eventually listened to his tales (he who was known for being a great story-teller)? Had them comforted him while in pain? The possibilities were real since he spent a long year as an intern, before dying from cancer in one of those beds.

From behind the camera, I was albe to look into the very same eyes that looked into my father’s eyes in his last moments alive. I was only 10 years old when he passed away. His history remains full of gaps and blanks that no matter as much as I try, I won’t be able to fill in.

However, I did not ask anything. And I made photographs my own sincere tribute to them. My choice was an horizontal approach to better allow their expressions to continue speaking their kindness throughout the times.

Now their memories are submerse into the ocean’s waters of times.

“Is not the pastness of the past the more profound, the more legendary, the more immediately it falls before the present ?”
― Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain




The Santa Terezinha Hospital was inaugurated in 1942 in Salvador da Bahia, a modernist building following the principles of the “healing architecture” that considered light, ventilation and the environmental conditions for the treatment of tuberculosis.

The building was planned by modernist architects Jorge Machado Moreira (Rio de Janeiro, 1904-1992) and Diógenes de Almeida Rebouças (Bahia, 1914-1994) as an example of the use of architecture to support the health restoration, enhancing patient’s comfort and recovery, according to the medical paradigm of the time.

The solar incidence and cross ventilation as an aid in healing tuberculosis demonstrated architecture as part of the healing process. In the present day, environmental concerns and the humanisation of hospitals’ architectural space are back on the agenda.  (in CARVALHO. Antônio Pedro Alves de, “The healing architecture of Santa Terezinha Sanatorium”. Ambiente Construido. vol.20 no.3 Porto Alegre July/Sept. 2020  Epub July 03, 2020                 


Photograph and map taken from the refered article. 

(underwater) portrait of my father.

Neyde Lantyer 2021 @All rights reserved