His Excellency Francisco da Costa Gomes, ComTE, GOA (Portuguese pronunciation: [fɾɐ̃ˈsiʃku dɐ ˈkɔʃtɐ ˈɡomɨʃ]; 30 June 1914, in Chaves – 31 July 2001, in Lisbon, Lapa) was a Portuguese military officer and politician, the 15th President of the Portuguese Republic (the second after the Carnation Revolution). [source: wikepedia and DuckDuckGo image search]
For most of us in the South Pacific the 25th of April marks the “anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.” It is a ‘time stamp’ that deserves the recognition of solemn reflection, poppies and biscuits, dawn services, the solitary bugle call and a time to pause and reflect on the senseless loss of life and ‘lest we forget’ a day of rest.
But it is also the date in the Portuguese calendar that marks the shift in the sociopolitical landscape of that small Iberian country. I will always associate this date with a memory jostled between not fully understanding the complexities of what had just happened and being witness to a moment in time when tension flips from one state to another. When ‘hope’ is transferred from a state of yearning into the possibility of attainment and ‘fear’ is released from one set of subjects and goes on to inhabit the life of others. It marks a time from my past where poppies are carnations, life is cautiously considered, when secrecy was always guarded and all individuals were suspects.
With this in mind, it is not surprising that Stan Douglas‘ filmic version of the classic 1907 Conrad novel The Secret Agent can be seen as a continuation of “his exploration of what he calls historical “interregnums” – moments when history, politics and collective identity are ruptured by upheaval, usually leading to a brief period of freedom followed by an uneasy stability” where the “the overall atmosphere hovers between melodrama and melancholia.” (Source: the guardian)
Victoria Miro gallery, London
A multiscreen rendering of Joseph Conrad’s novel plays with cold war spy thriller conventions in an elaborately constructed conceptual art film
Sean O’Hagan / Thursday 4 February 2016 14.57 GMT / theGuardian
Joseph Conrad’s novel transposed to 1975 Portugal … Stan Douglas, The Secret Agent, 2015. Photograph: Stan Douglas/David Zwirner/Victoria Miro (source: theguardian)
I consider photos to be like films without moving images,” Stan Douglas said recently. His images are cinematic, often nodding towards film noir or Alfred Hitchcock’s elaborate thrillers, but their complexity rests on their often oblique sociopolitical subtexts as much as their elaborate construction. With Douglas’s work, you often feel like you have stepped into a much bigger narrative that concerns, among other things, the lingering effects of post-colonialism and modernism.
Further reading : 1974 – Rebels seize control of Portugal / the carnation revolution