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Factory of Disposable Feelings: Edson Chagas at Hangar

 

In his second solo exhibition in Lisbon, Edson Chagas (Angola, 1977) presents the photo series Factory of Disposable Feelings at Hangar – Centro de Investigação Artística, about the collective history and individual memory of the Fábrica Irmãos Carneiro, in Luanda, Angola: a symbol of a country marked by colonial traces.

The Fábrica Irmãos Carneiro, in the district of Cazenga, Luanda (Angola), founded during the colonial period, produced textile materials such as bed sheets, diapers and military uniforms. After Angola’s independence in 1975, it continued to work until 2002 facing the various phases of the Civil War. The factory was partially abandoned, not withstanding the recent invasion of the Chinese and Western textile industry in Angola, marked by capitalism and globalisation.

What remains of this legacy are the people, the owners of this space. But, mainly, its former workers, who become the protagonists of a photo work marked by dialogue, sharing of memories and feelings of this abandoned place. Edson Chagas, as if he were an anthropologist, executed his field work in the factory for two years (between 2017 and 2018), discovering the memories of the people who related intimately to this place, and the dreams that remained unfulfilled. The result is a series of photographs of the interior and exterior of the building. In a long and attentive look, the artist uses the close-up as a magnifying glass of investigation.

We start inside the building, where the image immediately shows the destruction and abandonment. In a first set of photographs, we see the details of the passage of time: cobwebs invade the walls and materials; dust floods the bowels of the machines and lines left unused; we see piles of bags with materials and fabrics. The camera lens is not afraid to approach the objects, the dirt, the rust, the dust. The search for materials, shapes and textures is constant. The close-up transforms the objects into almost abstract images, marked by the geometry of the materials, colour and dust.

In another set of images, we see the stagnant structures of the factory. They are racks covered by cloths, stacked materials, or degraded furniture. At the end of the first wall, the focus is on the exterior of the building, where we see the architecture and geometry. The facade of this factory is also degraded, the paint on the walls is slowly falling away, and the floor accumulates waste, discarded materials and furniture. The building’s fragility is visible, in the deteriorated interior and exterior. But the factory remains standing, supporting the dreams and expectations of those who passed through there.

Objects and machines are important, almost as if they had in them the wishes of those who worked there. In another image, a loom, and bobbins, with threads of different colours, seem to have just been positioned, waiting for the movement of human hands. But time passes, bodies step away and dust accumulates. These objects have an affective memory, they breathe the past and the present. Photography is also a documentary archive on the failures of industry and commerce in a suspended country.

Edson Chagas resurrects the experiences of the Fábrica Irmãos Carneiro, carrying in his body the memories of those who worked there, as he walks through the spaces he is photographing. And, with a slow gaze, he shows us an affective portrait of a place in the Angolan present, marked by the weight of Portuguese colonisation.

The exhibition Factory of Disposable Feelings by Edson Chagas is at Hangar – Centro de Investigação Artística until November 12, 2022.

Laurinda Marques (Portimão, 1996) has a degree in Multimedia Art - Audiovisuals from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Universidade de Lisboa. She did an internship in the Lisbon Municipal Archive Video Library, where she collaborated with the project TRAÇA in the digitization of family videos in film format. She recently finished her postgraduate degree in Art Curatorship at NOVA/FCSH, where she was part of the collective of curators responsible for the exhibition “Na margem da paisagem vem o mundo” and began collaborating with the Umbigo magazine.

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