Visitors 208
Between 2000 and 2010 I produced and filmed four documentary films about disappearing oral tradition, music and culture in some of the remotest rural areas of the Dominican Republic.

My work lead me to live in those areas for extended periods of time and eventually to become accepted, within the communities where I was filming, not as an intruder with a camera, but as someone who was trying, despite his limited resources, to preserve and safeguard the disappearing cultural heritage of the region.

While my audio-visual work recorded ancient legends, religious ceremonies and some of the oldest musicians performing nearly forgotten songs, my still photography, often perceived, with some relief from my subjects, much less technically obtrusive than the acquisition of motion pictures, allowed me to get even closer to the people, collecting a large number of informal environmental portraits.

Due to the casual and friendly level of interaction with my subjects, I feel, in retrospect, that many of these still photos might be able to tell their personal stories more eloquently than the movie footage and the extensive interviews I recorded.

This has been a long-term project in a specific region of the Dominican Republic, it lasted over a decade and produced four documentary films and a very large collection of audio recordings and photographs. Nevertheless, I still feel reluctant to consider it fully accomplished and I periodically go back to film, record and photograph more, before the elders, the last receptacles of oral history, pass away.

It has also been a personal learning process, which led me to re-assess my methods of field research and their validity, as well as to develop new and revised concepts about using still photography versus videography in the context of visual story telling.

Giovanni Savino
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