Return: Traces of Memory

Alfredo Cunha, André Amálio, Bruno Simões Castanheira, Joana Craveiro and Manuel Santos Maia

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The exhibition Return – Traces of Memory marks the 40th anniversary of the moment that became known as the return of the Portuguese nationals to the metropolis following the decolonization of Portugal’s African colonies, which reached its peak in 1975.

From 1974 to 1977, the majority of Portuguese or residents of Portuguese descent left the territories belonging to the former Portuguese Colonial Empire. These Portuguese were named the “returnees”, a term that took on a pejorative connotation and that betrayed the tensions accompanying the end of Portuguese colonialism in Africa, the return of this population to the former empire’s capital, their integration into a society undergoing profound social and political transformation.

The exhibition Return does not pretend to crystallise the name historically given to these displaced persons; it seeks, rather, to create a space for thought, reflection and openness toward examining the tensions, contradictions and perplexities that accompanied them.

Neither does Return pretend to re-enact history. First and foremost, it is an exhibition about memory of the return and, by extension, the memory of the empire — and the power of its demise — in contemporary Portuguese society. A memory created from historical sources, personal testimonies, photography and artistic concepts.

Return has been conceptualised to give shape to this complexity. Aimed at being a moment of reflection and critical thinking, it does not provide an interpretation of events; rather, it offers simultaneous interrogations of the post-colonial condition or the human condition of appropriation, exploitation, displacement and loss. Its presents multifaceted views originating from the fields of art, literature, anthropology, history and politics to reflect and think about this memory based on its weight in the present times.

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Public Programme

Date
Title
With/of
Category
Gallery
20151121
21.11.2015
Guided tour Return – Traces of Memory
António Pinto Ribeiro
Guided Tour
Avenida da Índia Gallery
20151121
21.11.2015
Páginas de Um Império Perdido #1 – Alguns que retornaram e outros que não quiseram [Pages from a Lost empire #1 – Those who returned and those who refused]
Joana Craveiro
Performance
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
20151128
28.11.2015
Stage reading of “O Retorno”
Mónica Calle, Pedro Santos Guerreiro
Stage reading
Avenida da Índia Gallery
20151201
01.12.2015
Living, literary and journalistic testimonies of the return
Diana Andringa, Helena Matos, Vanessa Rato, Isabela Figueiredo
Talk
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
20151205
05.12.2015
Guided tour by Miguel Vale de Almeida
Miguel Vale de Almeida
Guided Tour
Avenida da Índia Gallery
20160114
14.01.2016
Portugal não é um país pequeno [Portugal is not a small country]
André Amálio
Play
São Luiz Teatro Municipal
20160130
30.01.2016
A stage reading of Isabela Figueiredo’s book Caderno de Memórias Coloniais [notebook of Colonial Memories]
Beatriz Batarda
Stage reading
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
20160211
11.02.2016
A conversation on artistic journeys and the return
Ângela Ferreira, Manuel Santos Maia, Vasco Araújo
Talk
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
20160218
18.02.2016
The political conditions of colonialism and decolonisation – Causes, contingencies and consequences.
Diogo Ramada Curto, António Costa Pinto, José Adelino Maltez
Talk
Padrão dos Descobrimentos
20160220
20.02.2016
A guided tour by anthropologist Nélia Dias
Nélia Dias
Guided Tour
Avenida da Índia Gallery
20160227
27.02.2016
Returning: coming back to belong
Isabela Figueiredo
Guided Tour
Avenida da Índia Gallery
20160227
27.02.2016
Páginas de Um Império Perdido #2 – Alguns filhos disto tudo ou Bairro das Ex-Colónias [Pages from a Lost Empire #2 – Some of its children or The Neighbourhood of the Former Colonies]
Joana Craveiro
Lecture/Performance
Padrão dos Descobrimentos

Publication

Title
With text by
Retornar – Traces of Memory
Joana Gomes Cardoso, Elsa Peralta, Joana Gonçalo Oliveira, Maria José Lobo Antunes, Cláudia Castelo, Bruno Góis