The Collective Archive project starts from the personal photo collection of José Alberto Vidal de Almeida, my father, a Portuguese stipend student in former Czechoslovakia between 1978 and 1987 – an archive originally stored inside a shoe box.
Whilst this photo collection contents extensive documentation of a mix of both personal and historical events, the research conducted around this archive allows a parallel following of the final years of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, before the 1989 Velvet Revolution, and the first years after the left wing Carnation Revolution in Portugal that allowed the end of 48 years of fascist regime, as well as the end of the Portuguese Colonial War in April 1974.
Forming a network of complex and indelible relations between personal and national histories as well as between local and global history, my father's photographs are the substrate upon which I seek to research about what meant the group of happenings for both countries and at the same time to investigate how the individual awareness of the witnessed events was formed, hence aiming to address the question of how are actually defined and transmitted important historical marks.
One cannot dispose of the collocation of the individual understanding in the building of an historical narrative, emphasizing the individual position clarifies history’s arbitrary character. Each individual act of image production is an act of significance.
What follows is the transformation of the shoe box as a depository of photos into an archive and the articulation of the lived and of the transmitted (inscribed) experience with the macro-political and historical processes.
Opening the box will necessarily means, in a first instance, to give a voice to my father, which means the transformation of the essay into a gradual quest for finding more voices within the archive.
The theoretical and the artistic thought must be problematized, made distinct and at the same time entangled, and importantly they must be taken to their limits in order to re-establish them. The future becomes the issue of the archive and the voice that should be finally found is the one of a collective practice.