Batismo by Gleeson Paulino

In Gleeson Paulino’s dreamlike photography series Batismo, water acts as a catalyst for renewal, forgiveness, and encounter.

In most cases, baptism is a religious rite that symbolizes purification, admission to an institution, or renewal. The rite of baptism can take the form of water or fire, a plunge into the holy or a challenging passage towards endurance. ‘Baptizein,’ a latinized version of the ancient Greek word, also meant to sink, overwhelm, or disable. Getting baptized can mean both coming to faith and being pushed away from it.

Gleeson Paulino’s evocative body of work Batismo explores baptism as a process of immersive reconnection. Born in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Paulino was raised in a conservative Evangelical family. His childhood and early adolescent experiences were bound by the strict rules of religion, overwhelming his sense of self.

Brazil is the fifth largest country by area, sixth largest by population, and one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse societies in the world. Over 214 million people reside across its 8.5 million square kilometers. Tracing and documenting bodies of water across this vast terrain, the route of his journey was shaped by a curiosity about this ritual. Batismo is rich in symbolism and atmosphere. Across the images, the process of baptism emerges as one of reconnection; an exploration of past and present. Tying together religious and secular elements, water runs through the work. It is a medium of renewal, forgiveness, encounter, and play.

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