Nem Gregos nem Troianos / Neither Greeks nor Trojans, by José Bandeira
The photography exhibition by José Bandeira «Nem Gregos nem Troianos / Neither Greeks nor Trojans» was inaugurated on Thursday 2, 2014 at the Biblioteca de Gambelas (Univ. Algarve), with the presence of the author, as a special event during the fourth Imagines conference: Sailing in Troubled Waters. The Ancient Mediterranean and its Legacy in the Performing and Visual Arts
In the course of 18 months, José Bandeira photographed the old Dafundo neighbourhood, in the outskirts of Lisbon. First drawn to the place by its unusual buildings and riverside landscapes, he eventually met Euclides, a Cape-Verdean immigrant who runs a modest tavern by the roadside.
In José’s frequent visits to the place he got to know many of the locals, mostly inhabitants of the Clemente Vicente building – an austere construction built a century ago to lodge the working men of two factories in the vicinity and among whose current inhabitants abound retired elders, immigrants, and unemployed workers.
Seen as a whole, the hundreds of photographs José gathered in the last year and a half are as much an artistic pursuit as they are documents of a soon-to-disappear world. At some time José, who has an interest in the Classics, saw an photographic connection between the close-to-martial façade of the Clemente Vicente building and the Troy citadel. The fact that the locals kept small boats, tents and furniture, vegetable gardens, bird cages, and all sorts of strange objects in a land strip adjacent to the Lisbon-Cascaís railway line, which runs parallel to the Dafundo beach, helped construct the similitude.
The land strip became a Greek camp and the railway line a defensive wall and ditch (“What’s a suburban train but a moving wall,”) To complete the picture, the hazardous Ivens Avenue, a straight, busy road with no pedestrian crossing, became a stretched-out Trojan plane. After a geography was defined, José started to develop the idea of posing some of the inhabitants as characters of the Iliad and the Epic Cycle.
How would people who never heard of the Trojan War respond to the narrative and the moral issues it poses? Were there points of contact between the vulnerability – sometimes even hopelessness – of their lives and that of the Greek and Trojan contenders after ten years of war?
When Professor Adriana Freire Nogueira suggested that “Neither Greeks nor Trojans” could be integrated in the Imagines IV Conference and hosted at the University of the Algarve, what was little more than an idea became a project. José spent the months of July and August 2014 shooting “Cycle” portraits, some of which were part of the exhibition. In the last few days of August, José and the Clemente Vicente inhabitants learned that works to complete the Maritime Walk between Algés and Cruz Quebrada, at both ends of Dafundo, were to begin. With the collaboration of the locals, the debris were collected and filed in a tall container with the word “Rebirth_” painted ion it. When José saw the green, conspicuous container in the middle of nowhere, facing the Clemente Vicente building, he couldn´t help but ask himself: “Could that be a horse?”
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