A Portuguese State of Mind - A Disposable Camera Project initiated by Independent Curator
A Portuguese State of Mind
I remember seeing a call for participants for the “Disposable camera” project in 2011 and thinking that’d be a very interesting thing to do. The “identity” theme sounded so broad though, I suddenly felt how millions of ideas were crossing my mind. Nevertheless, I contacted Emma, the one behind Independent Curator project and was pleased that she considered my application.
A few months later I received a disposable camera and had a couple of weeks to take the photos before having to return the camera. It took me a while to decide what to focus my story on, but then sudddenly everything became clear. You can read the entire story of my project below and see the results of my contribution on the right. Despite the poor quality of the reloadable film, I prefer this project documented with a disposable camera rather than with my own camera. It is raw, imperfect, yet honest and meaningful. Just like a Portuguese state of mind in south London.
It’s been almost a year now since I moved (without realising it) really close to Portugal. Oh, no, don’t get confused, it’s just ‘Little Portugal’, an area in south London; however the little visual & architectural details somehow give you the feeling that you’ve just landed in the ‘real’ Portugal.
A discussion I had with a friend some time ago made me think more about the large Portuguese community that lives in this area and I became really interested in finding out how and why they’ve decided to create and enhance an identity of their own in this particular part of London. A Google search sent me to Wikipedia which offers a brief description of the community, however nothing really about the actual life of the Portuguese people (the majority from Madeira) who struggled to create an identity in what is known as a ‘cosmopolitan city’ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Portugal,_London
TimeOut recommends the area as a way to explore Lisbon as much as London and to try the renowned Portuguese baked goods.
But what is behind all this? I am intrigued by the thought that Portuguese traditions must be so alive inside homes that look entirely British on the outside.
As I didn’t have the time to gain access to what is happening behind red bricks of typical British houses, I have decided to dedicate my disposable camera project to exploring and documenting the Portuguese visual identity of the area I’m living in and the little details which can offer unexpected information on the Portuguese culture: the way their local shops and cafes are decorated, the way
the owners stand in front of their shops, smoking and having a chat, the atmosphere on a Sunday afternoon, the contrast between lively cafes and closed shops, the coexistence of Portuguese traditions and purely British symbols and many more. I wish I could’ve ‘recorded’ people’s voices on film, as the way Portuguese sounds to my ears is so beautifully contrasting to the articulated English.
Using a disposable camera was both exciting and scary, as the inability to check the resulting shot or to delete and retake the same shot made me value each photograph differently. I felt my heart beating so fast every time after pressing the shutter release, wondering whether I have been able to capture the state of mind unveiled in front of my eyes. I surely hope there will be at least a couple of shots worth looking at, able to make the viewer look at London with a ...Lisbon eye.