© Margarida Correia, Alison, from the series Saudade, 2004
© Margarida Correia, Rosário, from the series Saudade, 2004
“The Portuguese word, Saudade, the title of Correia’s ongoing photographic project, describes a sadness caused by the absence or disappearance of people, things, states or actions and is steeped in nostalgia and memory. To quote from Pablo Neruda’s poem of the same name, “Saudade is to feel what no longer exists.”
It is Margarida Correia’s intention in her recent work to illustrate this idea by asking her contemporaries to share items that they have inherited or saved, and the family photographs that picture an ancestor wearing these items. Informed by her own impulse to obsessively collect things—an activity that she describes as being “very Portuguese”— Correia joins copies of family snapshots, photos of treasured objects pictured in these snapshots and portraits of their “collectors” wearing the various clothes or accessories depicted in them, into engaging triptychs. The result is a hybrid form of documentary image that considers, at once, the nature of still life, narrative and portrait photography.
Her approach is simple. She solicits family, friends and strangers for photographs that may contain items that they have collected or saved over the years. Oftentimes these images depict significant family events—private moments made public and preserved through the act of photography. She then re-photographs the snapshots, carefully rendering the tears, creases and stains of every image with painful accuracy. The slight shadowing beneath each photo, together with the printing of each to their original size, creates a strangely illusionary effect, drawing attention to the physicality of these old photos. Correia claims that replicating them so accurately allows her to “start from a real thing”. This
is important for her as she seeks to move from the concrete to the conceptual in her pieces.
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