Aceita-O – Um Álbum Português 1919-1979
The encounter with the face of an old photo was the starting point of a dream that seemed the outbreak of a major fire. A family secret will be revealed. The early silence of a woman, the mystery of an unknown and different father, a sister in a costume, the incomprehensible separation from a son, the silences appear in the obscure plot of this family’s history resembling so many others. Alone, and a widow, Fernanda, the lisboner, uses her own photographs and others received a year ago along with a letter from Catarina, the white woman from Guinea who claims to be the daughter of the same father, in order to unveil their family origins to her son Guilherme. It’s the beginning of a fresh look over them, about herself and the overseas Portugal previously unknown. This family which was spread across the Atlantic Ocean also refers to the Portuguese history and to its former colonial empire, dictatorship, and to the violence that this produced locally and overseas.
Céline arrived in Lisbon in August 2014. This idea to create and build an album of a fictional family was born from my desire to use private photos in order to create a narrative of collective memory. History books, novels, portuguese poetry and radio reports responded to her curiosity for the history of this country. Nearly half a century of Salazarism and the implosion of the colonial empire, after the colonial wars in Africa during the 60’s, seem to have kept the individual memories and darkened a collective memory, despite the Carnation’s Revolution and the change of political system in 1974. 40 years later, this past is still a delicate and often silenced subject. Although distant from this history, Céline Gaille chose to work on the silence that covers the boom of this vanished world, of which there are still many residues within our reach.
Between 2014 and 2016, Céline has bought some pictures at the flea market (Feira da Ladra), until collecting dozens of small and anonymous images, with no connections to one anothers. These family images carry a common asset, the kind that an artist wants to know better, a memory of a nation by which she had a great curiosity and interest. Between dreams and confusion, the images have made it possible to contemplate a memory that was not hers. Then it came the time to restore a living capacity of each piece of existence through the construction of a narrative fiction. I wanted to answer the question: what is the concerned memory? When looking at these pictures, I had the feeling of an odd commonalty between the people. Confident with the unknown, my thoughts led me to another kind of Portuguese, throughout their family life and their intimate memory. It is also about a collective and a private memory, of Portugal and Europe.
The exhibition was created from the book “Aceita-o – Um álbum português 1919-1979”, Ed. The Eyes Publishing, 2016