A version of this article originally appeared on VICE Brazil.
If you live in São Paulo, Brazil, you know that when Carnaval comes to town, the otherwise calm streets turn into the venue for a raucous, multi-day mass celebration. In the same way that residents are used to watching people partying in full force, festival-goers are equally aware that whether they’re making out with a stranger or sambaing like there’s no tomorrow, a slew of others are watching them from the windows or terraces of their tall, residential buildings. It was this annual, voyeuristic exchange that prompted photographer and visual artist Raissa Nosralla, AKA Lady Gaia, to point her camera in the opposite direction of the street towards the audience on high.
"I've always liked taking pictures of street scenes, and Carnaval parades are perfect because people don't mind getting their pictures taken," the photographer told VICE Brazil. "Most of the time they don't see you, but if they do, they'll often strike a pose for the camera. It's all very spontaneous and—despite the fact that they're wearing costumes—I feel that people aren’t wearing any [societal] masks. They can be exactly who they are, without any filters."
Taken between 2015 and 2018, Lady Gaia’s photos focus on details that go unnoticed while people are partying, ranging from senior citizens bothered by all the noise in their neighborhood to other locals who appreciate that the party was brought straight to them. Some of them engage with the festival-goers directly, hosing them off with water to relieve them from the heat or displaying their children and pets through the window.
"There's more interaction between party people and local residents during smaller neighborhood parades. It's such a wonderful moment. I've seen some of the most beautiful things—the brotherhood and sisterhood between partiers and locals—and it's all based on mutual respect," she said.
Scroll down to see more of Lady Gaia’s Carnaval photos below: