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By Marcelo Maia

The idea that became Prometheus began developing in July, 1994, when I started to make and edit portraits of African-Americans and to ponder the concepts of racism, sexuality, and politics.

In comparing the situation of black people throughout the Americas, from Brazil to the United States, it cannot be ignored that, despite differences in their colonial and republican origins, racism against them occurs everywhere. It appears in each and every country where black people form the base of the social/economic/political pyramid. Racism is a divider and each class's fear of losing power, among other factors, feeds this policy. People are segregated by the color of their skin without regard for their character. The rule of divide and conquer is real. We live it!

Sexuality is another divider. Sex is one of the few true universals in all of human experience and it amazes me to see how something that links all of us to our ancestors can still be used to dominate us. In the era of AIDS, sexuality must be more deeply analyzed. The vulgarization of sex will lead us to a dangerous state in which actions seem to have no meaning or consequence. It drives us back to barbaric times. It kills.

We are still unable to transcend our limitations and see all humans as equals. We fail to acknowledge the memory of the people who gave birth to our species. We are blinded by our hunger for progress and have thusly darkened our own future. The denial of self through racism, sexual repression, and cultural alienation is a major factor contributing to the overall confusion. The possibilities of happiness is left to some utopian dimension -- unattainable and unreal.

Prometheus stole the fire from Zeus and gave it to man. For that he was condemned to spend eternity chained to rock. Fire is associated with the arts, especially entertainment, and Prometheus, still chained, becomes a black man.

The politics of knowing what's happening but choosing not to involve oneself, the false security of the masses, of following without questioning, of refusing to assume responsibility -- these are the paths that lead to chaos. Man distinguishes himself in the animal kingdom by his ability to think and his capacity for self-consciousness -- attributes that, given our behavior, are so rarely in evidence.

I hope that by showing the world what I think is beautiful, I am somehow doing good. That beauty will somehow become the magic sword that cuts through prejudices, leaving behind archaic ideas like ashes after a purifying fire -- a fire that cleanses the ground, returns to the earth what was once taken from it, and provides the material to be once again transformed into life.

I have a vision of the future wherein the word "human" will carry with it connotations of a creator and not, as it so often does now, as a terminator. I dream of reclaiming the promised land and re-entering paradise. I can all happen, we need only to imagine and to act.

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