Délio Jasse and Carlos Noronha Feio – Zero/zero
Délio Jasse was born in Angola, but developed his photography-centred keenness and work in Portugal. His artistic life in the diaspora is the central theme of his work. Carlos Noronha Feio lives and works between Lisbon, Moscow and London. He is also an artist in the diaspora, whose work is centred on local and global culture and identity. Both artists work in various forms and formats, issues of identity, belonging and memory, using historical, geographical and iconographic references.
Zero/zero is curated by Filipa Oliveira, at the Municipal Gallery of Almada, as part of the 9th edition of Mês da Fotografia de Almada. The artists share a collaborative project on these themes, including a very important subject for Jasse: the Portuguese colonialism. They work with various materials – photography or cement – and scales. We cannot easily distinguish where a more significant intention or work of each artist is. But, although it may be a curiosity, the important thing about this exhibition is to find this collaboration between two artists, who share family and personal relationships with Angola, and the way they use existing materials to create new narratives about a colonialism still under an ongoing study. This collaboration has another common starting point: the ethnographic book A Maravilhosa Viagem Dos Exploradores Portugueses (1946) by Fernando Castro Soromenho, a strong critic of the Salazar regime.
In zero/zero, the artists use archive images, manipulating them, in some cases, to create new narratives and re-readings of private memories, bringing them into public space and asking questions about the collective memory.
They use various aerograms (at the time of the colonial war, they were exchanged between the soldiers and their families in Portugal), which they expand to a larger scale, far from the functionality of correspondence, but which shows us impressions and affections that, although private, were never so. After all, the aerograms had no envelope and were censored by the Estado Novo, a regime that supervised all foreign correspondence, especially that exchanged by soldiers and their families, not allowing the scrutinize the written words. Aerograms which, as the curator writes in the exhibition text, can be found for sale at any fair, almost as an archaeological object that has entered the public domain.
We can see several large format prints, which aggregate various photographs and sources, where the European us mix with the African other, and whose titles like uma Lição de história, nova L, terras ultramar, among others (printed on the works themselves), refer to a questioning of the collective memory and the way we see ourselves in that memory.
Radio e Televisão de Portugal (2019) is a double video with images from the archive of RTP, of different programs from the 60s and events related to the distorted multiculturalism of the time. The editing is fast, in several cacophonous scenes.
Tipo-dado (2019) shows a photograph of a girl from the Gingas tribe, who undergoes progressive modifications and disfigurements until total fading. The photograph of a man goes through the opposite process, from fading to the portrait. In the end, it is a metaphor for what happens to the collective memory, which is the object of collective forgetfulness and suffers from blurring or even bleaching and alterations.
We see the word metropolis recurrently, which today seems laughable. At the time, it had an absolute weight on those who lived in the diaspora or were Africans, and news about the great constructive breakthroughs we made in Africa. Zero/zero is still about global and local identity and also about artistic identity. Two artists with such an individual work, like Délio Jasse and Carlos Noronha Feio, focus on what they have in common, to build an exhibition project that belongs to both.