In spite of having fun making drawings and collages for ‘Os Lusíadas’, I began wondering if this wasn’t something too obvious and superficial. I wanted to make something more interesting and meaningful than just illustrations.
I started thinking about the message of ‘Os Lusíadas’ and ‘Mensagem’, another poem written by Fernando Pessoa in the 20th century, inspired by ‘Os Lusíadas’. Both these books were meant to raise the spirits of the Portuguese, making them be proud of their own people and hopeful for the generations to come. I was inspired by this thought and realised that, if these authors had made something like that through words, I could at least attempt to do something similar through images.
The first image relates to ‘Os Lusíadas’ itself. Camões, the author of the poem was part of the crew in the voyages of discovery that make the theme of the narrative. It is said that one of the ships (the one he was in) sank just when they were leaving Asia to return home, and he had to swim back to shore using only one arm; the other holding the manuscript, trying to keep it safe – thus the reference to Superman.
The next image compares Amália, a famous Fado singer, to Marilyn Monroe. Much like Marilyn to the world, Amália was seen in Portugal as an iconic figure, a representation of Fado itself. This is her singing in Cannes, 1962 (the English subtitles are not accurate but you can still have an idea of what she’s singing about).
The image below depicts Eusébio, a former football player, the first to put Portugal on the map.
Finally, we have an image depicting Fernando Pessoa, author of ‘Mensagem’, a poem inspired by ‘Os Lusíadas’. Fernando Pessoa is, similarly to Camões, also considered one of the greatest authors in the Portuguese literature.
The image relates to a characteristic of this author (his use of heteronyms in his works) and something I’ve learnt not too long ago: in Norway, there’s a man who loves Pessoa’s works so much, he goes from door to door, selling his books and telling people about his life; to him, his love for Pessoa’s poems can be compared to a religion – something I found quite extraordinary. There’s also a bookshop in Oslo that sells only the ‘Livro do Desassossego’, one of Pessoa’s most famous books.
Although we apreciate Pessoa’s works very much and they’ve been included in our national high school program, I don’t think we understand how important this author has become abroad.
After my Google Translate Whispers, phonetics and BACKWARDS/SDRAWKCAB experiments, I didn’t quite know how these could be used to create something else, to create a possible outcome. Since the first experiment was text-based only and I had transcribed the sound experiments, I thought the best option would be to create a publication.
The first two pages relate to the recordings I made of my friends reading the poem; page 3 shows some of the verses from the Google Translate Whispers experiment; page 4 depicts a portrait of Luís Vaz de Camões, author of ‘Os Lusíadas’ – the red mark refers to the fact that he lost an eye after being wounded in a battle; in page 5, I wanted to create something a bit different so I came up with this shape made of names of people mentioned in ‘Os Lusíadas’;
The verses from the original poem, in page 6, refer to the names in page 5 (“Those who, for their brave deeds, will free themselves from the principle of death” – meaning that they’ll keep on living in our memory); page 7 shows the poem written backwards, refering to my BACKWARDS/SDRAWKCAB experiment; page 8 includes an image referring to a legend that I’ve mentioned previously (see top of this blog post);
Finally, in page 10, I wanted to include another perspective of language barriers and use a different alphabet from the one I know – I used Google Translate (precisely for its imperfections) and translated a stanza from the poem to Ukrainian – the result was interesting as Google gave the same translation using both alphabets (two ways of showing the same reality – almost like a reflection).