by Luciana Martins
Wednesday, 12 November 2008, 5:00 – 6:30 pm, Room 8C, Chesham Building, King’s College London, Strand
In 1927, the leading modernist intellectual Mário de Andrade spent three months in the interior of Brazil as a self-dubbed ‘apprentice tourist’, visiting the states of the Amazon and Pará, up to Porto Velho, Iquitos, and reaching the frontier of Brazil-Bolívia. One year later, Andrade set off again, this time for the Northeast, visiting Alagoas, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba and Pernambuco. In addition to registering his travel impressions in numerous notes in his diaries, notebooks, letters and loose scraps of paper, Andrade also took several pictures with his Kodak camera. In this paper, my focus is on the visual record produced in the course of Mário de Andrade’s travels, considering the ways in which a self-conscious photographic aesthetic operated to represent self and others. In particular, I am interested in the connections between this photographic experiment and the project of critical nationalism, which eventually took shape in Andrade’s proposal for the establishment of the National Service of Historic and Artistic Heritage (SPHAN). Delving into the archival remains of Andrade’s visual experimentation – together with his contemporary writings – what emerges is his attempt to make the intangible visible, mapping out poetically the cultural landscape of Brazil.
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