Framer Framed in "A Tendency to Forget"
Evoking Trinh T. Min-ha’s book tittle, this paper focuses on how, in the artwork ‘A tendency to forget’ Ângela Ferreira reverses the gaze, transforming the ethnographic work of Jorge and Margot Dias into her research study. Not completely acritical to Anthropology and its primitivisms, modern Ethnography as seen by Clifford and its methodologies seemed increasingly suitable to artists after the 1960’s to work and respond to the fragmented world, and participant observation, fieldwork and the archive were adopted as methodological tools to experience, interpret and represent different cultures. The archival impulse has become central to many contemporary art practices since the 1980’s and the retrieval of lost historical information and the will to establish links between different events are some of the strands of this practice as defined by Foster in his seminal essay. For the critic Mark Godfrey the working with ruins and fragments of the past and the appropriation of the archive are important research tools for the 'artists as historians' who, through their work, propose an ' alternative ' knowledge of history. Intrigued by the absence of a critical discourse about the country’s colonial past, but at the same time conscious of the need to question the histories and representations of the past in order to get a different understanding of the present, the artist Ângela Ferreira has consistently engaged with episodes of Portuguese Colonial history to point to its lacunae or inconsistencies. The work ‘A tendency to forget’ is part of her practice based PhD research, in which by focusing on the Dias’, the artist points to the hidden political agenda of their ethnographic fieldwork in Mozambique, in an invitation to think about the past, to establish connections between events, characters and objects and to assemble these into an ‘alternative’ narrative of the colonial past and memory, different from the version disseminated in the wider cultural field.
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