Rui Vilela

Contact
 Non-historicised Histories in Guinea-Bissau (working title)
Full Text       Further images

Já anterior à minha partida para Bissau, tinha percebido que as missões geográficas e geológicas, conduzidas pelos portugueses, ao longo do século XX, que tiveram lugar nas ex-colónias, se ocupavam estritamente da agrimensura. Tais missões produziram imagens cartográficas, que contribuíram e altamente sustentaram a teorização do dito “território nacional,” durante o período colonial. Mais tarde, também a administração colonial portuguesa se esforça por manter controlo sobre as deslocações internas de nacionais guineenses, ao emitir documentos como as “guias de marcha.”

 

Questionei também o intuito e métodos das missões e inquéritos etnográficos efetuados na Guiné-Bissau. Apesar de elas terem já contribuído para um entendimento mais próximo da população guineense, em comparação a um estudo geométrico de território, elas fazem isso mesmo: a subjugação da individualidade a uma pertença etnográfica. Tais estudos são, ao fim e ao cabo, resultado do mesmo sistema imperialista e só nessa constelação e sob o olhar colonial, eles podem ter existido. As fotografias de dois catálogos, pertencentes aos AHN e do qual fiz reproduções videográficas, muito bem ilustram o sentimento de superioridade e direito, sob pretexto de estudos etnológicos, frequentemente exercido por culturasocidentais sobre culturas

Harbour-005

não-ocidentais. Num contexto colonial e predominantemente masculino, julgo que estas imagens fotográficas duplamente exotizam os sujeitos femininos retratados.

Bereits vor meiner Abreise nach Bissau erkannte ich, dass sich die im Lauf des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts von Portugal durchgeführten geographischen und geologischen Missionen in den damaligen Kolonien vorrangig mit der Landvermessung beschäftigten. Sie produzierten kartographische Bilder, die zur Theoretisierung des nationalen Territoriums während der Kolonialzeit beitrugen und wesentlich unterstützten. In Absprache mit den Nachbarländern bzw. deren Kolonialverwaltern fanden ebenfalls Missionen zur Abgrenzung des kolonisierten Territoriums statt, die die bestehenden sozialen, kulturellen und wirtschaftlichen Völkerbeziehungen außer Acht ließen, unterdrückten und sie als Bedrohung der nationalen Souveränität Portugals ansahen. Die portugiesische Kolonialverwaltung war darüber hinaus bestrebt, Kontrolle über jegliche Art von Wanderungen der guinea-bissauischen Staatsangehörigen innerhalb des Landes zu erlangen, z. B. durch die Ausstellung von Wanderscheinen (aus dem portugiesischen Guia de Marcha), von denen einige Exemplare im Bestand des Historischen Nationalarchivs vorhanden sind.

 

Während meiner Arbeit und im Gespräch mit dem Historiker Victor Ramos, Koordinator der Zusammenarbeit zwischen der Stiftung Mário Soares (Fundação Mário Soares, FMS, Lissabon) und dem

Settlement-008

Historischen Nationalarchiv (Bissau), wurde mir bewusst, dass das Nationalarchiv in Bissau hauptsächlich Dokumente aus der Kolonialzeit aufbewahrt. Die Rechtsvorschriften Guinea-Bissaus besagen im Gegensatz zu den meisten Nationalarchiven weltweit, dass das Historische Nationalarchiv nur koloniale Dokumente integrieren darf, wodurch es der Macht beraubt ist, offizielle Dokumente von öffentlichen Stellen seit der Unabhängigkeit aufzunehmen. Der Bestand des Nationalarchivs stammt folglich hauptsächlich aus der portugiesischen Kolonialverwaltung und deckt folgende Landkreise Guinea-Bissaus ab: Cacheu, São Domingos, Bolama, Bafatá, Bijagós, Bissorã, Farim, Mansa, Bissau. Dokumente der Landkreise Fulacunda, Catió und Gabu sind möglicherweise gar nicht im Bestand enthalten.

 Max Tischler
18:49 min, German with English subtitles; Text: Raimund Wolfert; Camera Berlin Weißensee: Elita Cuccarolo; Narrator: Luca Holland; Translation: Jyotsna Massey; Subtitles: Gustavo Reig; Sound Engineer: Axel Rosenbauer

 

In the making of the film Max Tischler, I collaborated with Raimund Wolfert, author and publisher in the field of international liberation movements of the 20th century, to highlight similarities between scientific and artistic studies. The film is an insight into Raimund’s research on Max Tischler (1876 – 1919), an employee of the sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld at the Scientific Humanitarian Committee. Raimund’s participation is not only a scientific contribution but also a language-based performative act, shaped into a voiceover and intercalated by moments of silence.

 

The film delves into the historic research on Max Tischler. I accompanied Raimund’s research steps, such as visits to the Brandenburg Main State Archive, where we viewed documents mostly from the Regional Finance Bureau Berlin-Brandenburg, including asset declarations of Max Tischler’s siblings, property inventory, pension records, notice of confiscation as well as correspondence between the Asset Reclamation Office and the Secret State Police, the Higher Finance Pay Office, the German Reichspost, bailiffs, notaries and home owners. The viewing of these documents was not included in the film and stayed as part of the historic research. It is at this point, that the film follows a different path from the research itself: it does not list findings or results. Instead, it focus on Raimund’s commitment and the compelling forces that drive his independent studies further. The film therefore does not intend to evaluate Raimund’s research on German-Jewish history but to depict research itself as a continuous, at times, introspective process.


The film bears resemblance to long shots of cinematic settings, consciously underlining the absence of a documental plot. In fact, if we may speak of a script, it began to exist only during the making of the film itself, when Raimund and I initiated a dialogue and, finally, formalised it in the process of editing. The images refer to specific moments of the research process, such as visits to the Magnus Hirschfeld Society, to the Jewish Cemetery in Berlin Weißensee, to the National Archives and the Royal Library in Copenhagen, but they do not depict them as events. By refusing sequence, the relation between image and text is not one of cause-and-effect but, instead, it relates to rather non-narrative film forms. The blank screen or the absence of image refers to the hiatus experienced by many historians, when faced with undocumented events, and contrasts with the examination of legacies.

1 – schwarze Leinwand – gewünschte Länge: 1:11 min.

 

///// Wenn Du Dich intensiv und über längere Zeit mit einem Menschen beschäftigst, /// der bereits verstorben ist und Briefe oder Tagebücher hinterlassen hat, /// näherst Du Dich ihm auf eine besondere Art und Weise.
/////
Die Beziehung, die Du zu ihm entwickelst, kann sehr eng und exklusiv sein. // Du liest, was er über sich und sein Leben mitteilt. // Du fragst Dich, warum er dieses oder jenes getan hat, /// und Du stellst Dir vor, was er wohl unter anderen Bedingungen, in einer anderen Situation, getan hätte.
/////
Der andere wird fast zu einem lebendigen Menschen für Dich, // zu einer Art Begleiter. // Nur ist er gerade nicht bei Dir. /// Du kannst das manchmal so erleben, als sei er kurz weggegangen, kehre aber später wieder zurück. /////

 

3 – Das dänische Nationalarchiv – gewünschte Länge: 1:26 min.

 

///// Angefangen hat die ganze Sache mit Karl Peder, einem Freund von mir. // Er hatte im dänischen Nationalarchiv sowie in der Königlichen Bibliothek in Kopenhagen Fotos, Briefe und Tagebuchaufzeichnungen von Poul Andræ, // einem dänischen Mitglied und Obmann des Berliner Wissenschaftlich-

still_max_tischler_2

humanitären Komitees, gefunden, /// sie ausgewertet und einen Artikel über sie geschrieben.
/////
Das sprach mich an, und ich habe dann den Artikel ins Deutsche übersetzt. // Es tat sich dabei aber eine Nebenspur auf, die Karl Peder nicht näher verfolgt hatte:/// die Beziehungen Poul Andræs nach Berlin ab etwa 1900. // Karl Peder hatte sich in seiner Arbeit vor allem auf die frühen Erfahrungen Andræs bis in dessen fünfzigstes Lebensjahr konzentriert. /// Mich interessierten aber auch seine späteren Kontakte zum Wissenschaftlich-humanitären Komitee. /////

Prologue
blank screen


When you intensely delve into a person’s life for a long period of time, a person who is already deceased and has left behind letters or journals, you come closer to him in a special way. The relationship you develop with him can be very close and exclusive. You read about what he shares about himself and his life. You ask yourself why he did this or that and you imagine what he may have done in other circumstances, in another situation. The person almost comes alive for you, a kind of a companion; only he is not with you. You may sometimes think that he has just gone away for a little while and will be back later.

 

Introduction
Research Methodology

 

When I research and question the life of another person, I carefully try to put together the pieces that I have found over time into an overall picture. Perhaps at some point new insights may arise, new perceptions may come to light of which I am not aware today. I must take that into account as it is a natural quasi learning and development process. It is something that needs to be explored with a certain humility. After all, a research always bears fruit if there is interplay and mutual influence. A publication can serve as

still_max_tischler_7

a basis for a question posed by another that may never occur to me or he offers answers that I would have never found. It is always like this: a finding forms a basis for another finding. It is only when you have experienced or accepted something that you are able to go a step further and open a new door. This also holds true if you make a mistake. You must always be aware that you are merely on a journey.

 Hvað er í blýhólknum?
presentation with Guðlaug Rún Margeirsdóttir, Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir, Margrét Steinarsdóttir and Þórhildur Þorleifsdóttir

 

The theatre piece Hvað er í blýhólknum? was written in 1970 by the Icelandic author and politician Svava Jakobsdóttir. Its original version hasn‘t been published or translated to any foreign language. The publisher Skrudda has published an edited version for television, in 2003.

 

I have found out at the Women‘s History Archive that some of the original writings by Svava are kept at the National Library of Iceland, eventually, also this piece‘s script. Her writings hadn‘t been catalogued by then and could therefore not be viewed. I watched the TV production of the piece, equally directed by Maria Kristjansdóttir, at the archive of the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

 

During my stay at the The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists, I conceived a presentation as a reading and discussion that gathered four guests with diverse backgrounds in literature, theatre and politics. The event began with the reading of an excerpt of the piece by Guðlaug Rún Margeirsdóttir. The guests discussed theatre practices during the 60‘s and 70‘s and the women‘s movement in the country.

 

Þórhildur Þorleifsdóttir has been a practitioner in theatre and politics since then. She mentioned the raise of awareness for women‘s rights as being itself one of the most important aspects of that time. Margrét Steinarsdóttir is the director of the Icelandic Human Rights Center and has gathered experience in lawmaking. Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir speaks of how Svava Jakobsdóttir appropriates diverse texts in the piece. She sees a new production with circumspection. Instead, she proposes that a work group takes Hvað er í blýhólknum? as a platform for a performance piece emerging from within its own contemporary social circumstances.

Kólbrun Halldórsdóttir: The appropriation of other texts was a complete new approach to playwright. The content and form of the play makes it a child of its time, strongly connected to the political circumstances and aesthetics of the moment.

still_max_tischler_2

humanitären Komitees, gefunden, /// sie ausgewertet und einen Artikel über sie geschrieben.
/////
Das sprach mich an, und ich habe dann den Artikel ins Deutsche übersetzt. // Es tat sich dabei aber eine Nebenspur auf, die Karl Peder nicht näher verfolgt hatte:/// die Beziehungen Poul Andræs nach Berlin ab etwa 1900. // Karl Peder hatte sich in seiner Arbeit vor allem auf die frühen Erfahrungen Andræs bis in dessen fünfzigstes Lebensjahr konzentriert. /// Mich interessierten aber auch seine späteren Kontakte zum Wissenschaftlich-humanitären Komitee. /////

Prologue
blank screen


When you intensely delve into a person’s life for a long period of time, a person who is already deceased and has left behind letters or journals, you come closer to him in a special way. The relationship you develop with him can be very close and exclusive. You read about what he shares about himself and his life. You ask yourself why he did this or that and you imagine what he may have done in other circumstances, in another situation. The person almost comes alive for you, a kind of a companion; only he is not with you. You may sometimes think that he has just gone away for a little while and will be back later.

 

Introduction
Research Methodology

 

When I research and question the life of another person, I carefully try to put together the pieces that I have found over time into an overall picture. Perhaps at some point new insights may arise, new perceptions may come to light of which I am not aware today. I must take that into account as it is a natural quasi learning and development process. It is something that needs to be explored with a certain humility. After all, a research always bears fruit if there is interplay and mutual influence. A publication can serve as

still_max_tischler_7

a basis for a question posed by another that may never occur to me or he offers answers that I would have never found. It is always like this: a finding forms a basis for another finding. It is only when you have experienced or accepted something that you are able to go a step further and open a new door. This also holds true if you make a mistake. You must always be aware that you are merely on a journey.