When the artist and her colleague João Sousa Cardoso heard the news that the small village Luz in the south of Portugal would be submerged in favour of a water reservoir in 2002, they decided to do a project together on the subject. Both artists were well acquainted with the story of another small village, Viralinho in the north of the country, which had suffered the same faith some thirty years prior. One of the pioneer filmmakers of visual anthropology, António Campos, had made a well-known movie on the subject in 1971. Inspired by the movie and intrigued by the similarities, the artists embarked on a six-month field study of the two villages to explore the possibilities of telling the history of these villages and the villagers’ stories using their artistic tools. A professor in Anthropology from the University of Porto monitored their study and served as a consultant.
Both Viralinho and Luz were ancient villages where some customs and ways of organising society dating back to the Visigoths were still in use. The inhabitants of Viralinho had been relocated to a nearby city. The artist managed to trace a number of them and conducted interviews. Something rather extraordinary happened in Luz: in consultation with the 300 inhabitants, it was decided to rebuild Luz a couple of kilometres away on higher ground. The artists followed this process and tried to understand ‘communities on the move’. By the end of 2002 the artists decided to extend their research to Rotterdam and Porto. Rotterdam seemed like the opposite of the two villages. It thrived because of water, yet because of the Second World War bombing, no water is to be found in the city centre. Porto at the time was a shrinking city; resulting in many empty houses scattered throughout different districts. What effect does this partial spatial abandonment have on the communities? How do you live next to a ‘black hole’ and what effect does it have on your narrative about your built environment?
The Puzzel | Publication
During the course of the research, three public presentations were held at the Paiva University in Italy, in the botanical garden in Porto and at a squat in Rotterdam presenting the audiences with video material, photography and correspondence with members of the communities. Each presentation was used to discuss the interim results of the field study and the methodology behind it and also to collect different viewing points on the concept of storytelling. The project resulted in an object that can be described as a hybrid between a book and a game that at the same time represents the concept of a journey. During their research the artists realised it would be impossible for them to tell a linear and coherent story without falling into the trap of either mythification, as had happened with Vilarionho, or mediation; reducing the subject to spectatorship, as had happened in Luz. Movement Book is a loose-leaf book that the readers have to organise themselves in order to read it. It does not need to be read in a certain order; you can start reading anywhere you want. Next to that the readers have to place ‘rings’ on top of the leaves to be able to follow certain histories. Within the limitations of the material given, readers are constructing and deconstructing their own stories on what really took place within the communities the research covered.
Video stills Movement Book Film I - Aldeia da Luz ST - MiniDV - 4:3 / 35’00” PT