Susan Long

Vaiya Rucker

Jonelle Smydra

Frank West

Fire Consumes Sao Paulo, Brazil

The focal point of the photograph by J.F Diorio is the blazing fire at the far end of the alley way because it is in the middle of the picture forcing the viewer to stare and wonder.  It appears that the fire is unstoppable and complete devastation is inevitable In a search for life and survival, the viewer discovers a solitary girl with no hope at all Her thin, fragile body is supported by a concrete wall that is about to be engulfed by the flames Her head, cast down in shame, is covered by one of her hands to tell the viewer that she has done something terrible this girl holds the key to the onset of the fire Her position and potential fate pulls out fear and frustration from the viewer The best is hoped for the girl, but it is very clear that the fire is more powerful than hope This girl lives in a village consisting of 300 small wooden shacks, drugs, prostitution, and violence Being the only one left to view the complete destruction of her home, the viewers believe that she was not able to escape A fight over drugs was taken to the extreme and she is caught in the middle with nowhere to go The picture is a representation of the effects of poverty and crime feeling they have no other solution, the residents of these shacks turn to drug dealing and prostitution as their way of income causing a constant war with money and society
Color is very obvious and separated in this photograph The red and orange tones of the fire are reassurance of the Hell that this village is about to face Red represents the absolute force and power of the fire There is gray smoke at the bottom and top of the fire Gray is everything that is uncertain because it is neither black nor white The uncertainty contributes to the fact that the origin of the fire is unknown as is the level of destruction to be caused by the fire The lonely girl is dressed in blue to match the walls, windows, sign, and cloth The girl's blue dress leads the viewer to believe that she is innocent in the desperate situation Blue also represents life and the girl will still survive if she makes the right decisions during the overwhelming circumstance There are many dark spots in the picture This represents death and mystery The fate of this village is certain, but the reason why is still unknown There are more dark colors in the picture than all the other colors combined letting the viewer know that a lot of suspicious things are go on in the village.
The different colors are the biggest contrast in the foreground and background The red in the background and the blue in the foreground represent a constant struggle between Heaven and Hell The fire in the background symbolizes hell while the blue tones in the foreground signify heaven and hope The artist places hope in the foreground suggesting that one should not dwell on past events but look in front of them to the future The girl, the only visible form of life, is placed in the foreground implying that the will to live is very strong despite life's disasters Although the fire is behind the girl, it has fully consumed her mind The fire in the background acts as both a physical and mental block for the girl She can not escape from the fire through the alleyway nor can she gather her mind enough to find a way out.
There are bars on the windows and doors that give the feeling of a jail and symbolize the girl being trapped As long as the girl is an occupant of one of these shacks, she will be trapped with nowhere to go and no way to grow She is stuck in poverty, horrible living conditions, and in the path of the fire The girl's head is cast down symbolizing that she has given up all hope and she does not know what else to do She shows her anger by tightening her hand up into a fist she knows her home is about to be destroyed for an unnecessary cause.
There is not a lot of empty space in the picture All the shacks are so close together, almost right on top of each other The viewer automatically starts comparing and contrasting the colors because they are grouped together and placed almost side by side The girl is positioned closer to the shack than to her only way out She is remorseful about leaving her home because she knows it is the last time she will see it None of her possessions have a place and they are all just sitting outside The rock walls are cluttered with haphazard items that she has collected.
The village has been labeled by a spray painted sign in the middle of the picture It is written in Spanish and the only legible word is vendos translating to sell This confirms that something is sold in this village but it is unclear whether it is drugs, sex, or some other mischievous habit There are also numbers on the wall above where the girl is standing It is an address to let the viewer know that this is in fact someone's house although it is about to be destroyed.
The most frequently repeated thing the viewer sees is the color blue It is present in the walls, bars, sign, the girl's dress, and the cloth on the rock wall All these objects are very close to each other when the big picture is looked at There are uneven and scattered lines in the flames of the fire and as well as in wires and cloth in the foreground These lines declare chaos and confusion The shacks are not in order but are cramped together preventing much space for anything else in the picture They create an alleyway that allows the viewers eyes to easily travel back and forth from the girl to the fire.
The picture portrays a state of economic despair The people that live in this village do not have enough money to keep themselves up and they will have a very hard time rebuilding what they now have after it is destroyed This fire will be a part of history that the people from this village will never forget one disaster will cause the village to be forever changed The fire shows how much devastation can be caused if enough people make the wrong decisions The language of this culture blocks the viewers understanding of the photograph because the sign can not be completely read This photograph represents how fear inhibits people from doing what they usually would, in the girl's case run away from the fire The girl is stuck in the present time and stranded by fear By not looking back to see the lessons that can be learned or looking forward to see that there is something better, the girl is stuck in her present state of emptiness and has no hope for a better future