The Archive is Present

Performing a Story of Dictatorship Through the Family Album

The Archive is Present

Performing a Story of Dictatorship Through the Family Album

From the Fernandes archive. © 2019, Ana Janeiro

This essay describes an investigation into a family photographic archive that belonged to my grandparents and represent a period in Portugal’s past (1940–1975) scarred by one of the longest dictatorships in history. The research carries out an ‘iconographic’ analysis of the photographs in the family albums and on how these were influenced by the consistent and highly visual propaganda of the New State regime (1933–1974). It demonstrates how the iconography of this visual propaganda embedded itself into the family album, specifically regarding its propaganda strategy and its ideology and politics towards women. Later these findings were explored through performance photography, creating a photographic body of work. Focusing mostly on the figure of my grandmother and exploring pose and gesture, which were subsequently re-performed for the camera. The information contained within the archive images is re-written within the performance images.

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Photography was key to the regime’s propaganda and one of the most widely used tools to spread the ideals of the New State and of the ‘politics of the spirit’.
Reading time: 8 min.

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