The Museum of Longing and Failure
Bela, Praia do Morro dos Veados, Luanda, 1973/74. Courtesy: Tatiana Macedo
Tatiana Macedo works with film, video, photography and sound, applying these media in an interdisciplinary approach to penetrate deep into specific contexts, documenting and discursively transforming them, via the editing, in a critical and yet sensitive way. In Künstlerhaus Bethanien is presenting a new body of work that reworks a private photographic ‘album’ belonging to her aunt Bela. But unlike an amateur album, these are portraits of Bela, taken by a professional Angolan photographer, a friend of the young woman, in the area around Luanda in 1973 and 1974. During Salazar’s dictatorship in Portugal, many inhabitants immigrated to Angola, many to escape difficult life conditions, especially in the rural areas. Macedo’s father was amongst the many who grew up in Angola, but also amongst the few that stayed long after its independence, one of the reasons being, that the artist’s mother is Angolan.
These facts may explain part of the apparent ‘easiness’ in the artist’s tackling of these subjects, in her words, “History is always made of small, private histories like this. These photographs are not about nostalgia, but if a certain degree of nostalgia is found, then it is addressed straight in the eye.”
It is the eye of the photographer, and the passionate way in which he portrays Bela, that drew the artist’s attention. Macedo is collaborating with, and paying a tribute to, the long-dead photographer. When we look at Bela via his eyes, he is being revived.