LUSO-TROPICAL *, 2012
Noordkaap, LX-Factory, Lisbon, Portugal / Dordrecht, The Netherlands,
installation, ca. 2,50 m x 3,80 m, photocopies, fabric, curtain, timber
Based on the colonial exhibition in Porto, 1934, and the Exposição do Mundo Português in Lisbon, 1940, we researched in different archives the aesthetics, the self-representation and presentation of the colonies, during these exhibitions. Our main interest lied in the colonial perspective and the way of presenting the alien in Portugal. The chosen photograph was taken by Domingos Alvão during the colonial exhibition in Porto and published in 1934 **.
This image shows four young Guineans in front of palm tree huts within a tropical vegetation. The setting conveys a sense of wilderness and nativeness in contrast to the constructed surrounding of the colonial exhibition including for instance a cable car and modern pavilions, not visible in this photograph. By enlarging the image and transforming it into a grid pattern, it becomes a hazy and vague copy of the original. Taken from its context and alienated, the image plays with the perception of the contemporary viewer. The technical and mathematic process of dividing and enlarging the image signifies the systematical and calculated way of displaying the alien and refers to the ethnological and anthropological categorisation and cataloguing as well as the mapping of Africa.
* The title Luso Tropical refers to the doctrine of Lusotropicalism, formulated by the Brazilian socioligist and anthropologist Gilberto Freyre. Its basic premise was first scetched out by Freyre in the early 1930s and received a definitive form with the publication of
"O Luso e o Trópico" in 1961 and was used as a political instrument of Portuguese nationalism during the Estado Novo.
** in: Album Fotografico II da 1a Exposicao Colonial Portuguesa, Litografia Nacional, Porto, 1934
The project was supported by Noordkaap, The Netherlands