A story/ a history
In portuguese, the word "história" has a double meaning. It means history, as a way of organizing past facts and events in a progressive way, and it means story, as a fictional or non-fictional narrative. My work - "uma história" - was built around this double meaning.
I was invited to be part of a group exhibition that commemorated the 5th of October of 1910. On this day a republican coup d'état deposed a 771 years old monarchy and established the Portuguese Republic. The curator, having in mind a previous project that I did, called A Bedtime Story, asked me if I wanted to do a new version of that performance. Curiously enough, some months before I had been researching about the revolutionary period for Symbol.
On the 4th October of 2008, the exhibition opened in the Presidential Palace in Lisbon, and everyone would receive a flyer when entering the palace.
I had setup a blog for the project which was in progress throughout all the exhibition time. On the blog you could, for example check the reserved slots, access related links or information about the project (including the repertoire of texts) or read the instructions that suggest what you should do.
The texts I chose to read were not commemorative of the official Portuguese history. The texts I chose are from historians and researchers that unveil another side of History, the side of what was erased and forgotten. We never hear or read about it in school.
Before each performance I would choose the text based on previous knowledge that I had of that person, or from what I could sense from the emails that we previously exchanged to book the slot. Although most performances were just with one person, sometimes the performance was not one-to-one because there were people that asked to hear the story with their partner, a relative or a close friend. Once there was actually a small audience: an artist, his wife, their son, and a friend.
I would always start by an introductory conversation, assuring that the people were aware of what to do and that they were in a comfortable situation. Then I would start reading the text. Usually I would stop to add some personal comments, and I also decided as I was reading what excerpts to read or to avoid. Almost every time the reading would be interrupted by mutual conversation and comments, or exchange of common experiences -especially because oral stories of that time still run in a lot of families. And sometimes if I did not have a next performance the conversation would go on...
In some sense the performance established a place and time for an intimate experience, that was both a critical approach to our common past, and a bonding experience through memory and about who we are today.