blog/Visualising the beginning
Visualising the beginning

What makes it complicated to reconstruct a house, a garment, or even the physical type of characters that make up such a clouded up period like the sixteenth century in Brazil is the lack of reliable reports about what was there to be found in here back then. What was left from the wooden and clay buildings of that period? Simply nothing. What do we know about the indigenous people that lived with the settlers? Very little. The few recordings made by the then Portuguese were not concerned like cartoonist Debret who only came here to register our landscapes and daily lives of the nineteenth century. The settlers were not exactly settlers per se, for back then there was barely any real interest in founding a colony in here. The reason for having Europeans living in our coast was basically to extract wood and keep possession of this territory. One of the few architectonical memories of this period was the Fortaleza dos Reis Magos, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, initiated in 1598. Our project, however, is not about military feats of the official history, but about the life of the common people, especially that of the children.

Therefore, I opted for a more cartoon-like approach to represent especially the characters. We know that the then Brazil was a rough land for the settlers. Men and women with tough life stories that lived here under precarious conditions made it up. Therefore I aimed at representing their faces marked by the hardship, their crooked bodies, their simple clothing resembling rags. Cinema has given us some clues to assemble my “caricature” of the old days. Films like “Desmundo”, “Hans Staden” and even “1492 – the conquering of paradise” (not aired in Brazil, but is set in the same historical period) and “A Missão” helped me think how it felt like to be a dweller in Brazil around 500 years ago. From then on, the challenge was to find my form to represent them. As I choose a less “naturalist” language, I hand you the task to wear each character, to imagine their textures, scents and paths. This way, we reconstruct together the people that might have truly existed.