Portuguese Sea, a sea of accounting.

Lusophone memories lie embedded across the Malabar Coast

where the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean meet the Tagus River

at estuaries, around archipelagoes, at the confluence of the River Periyar.

Here, one walks the Mar Portugues in all its violent ruin

forgotten but not disappeared

enmeshed in the red clay and forbidding stones

of Castello construction at Kannur, Cochin, Kollam, Cranganore

At Fort Aguado, Goa, the Oublie stands a dark reminder

of a sea of accounting

 

 

Mar Português: Cais das Colunas in Lisbon, Portugal (May 2012)

a phantom longing haunts the riverside

immersing the senses in water

now Goa, now Lisbon

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MAR PORTUGUES : Cais das Colunas : Scenography/Architecture/Environment

Notes Towards a Surreal History in Dreamtime

Mar Português is a feverish haunting of Vasco Da Gama’s Ghosts. The performance is an exploration of striated time between fifteenth century maritime history and 21st century postcolonial memories. Staged as a dream sequence of Vasco Da Gama’s hallucinatory visions, as he lay dying in Cochin, India, gripped by tropical fevers – this piece is a conversation between violent colonial pasts and the translation of those encounters in the present.

In a collaboration that investigates what it means to unpack this colonial maritime history, May Joseph and Sofia Varino create a visual and digital landscape in Mar Portugues, to forge a merging of postcolonial sensibilities between Lisbon, Daressalaam, and New York, where the two artists now reside. In collaboration with Câmara Lenta and dancer Diana Bastos Niepce, Harmattan Theater presents a historical haunting in real time at Cais das Colunas in Terreiro do Paço.

Mar Português marks a liminal transition point in Joseph’s theatrical work. It brings to the metropolitan center of Lisbon a conversation about the linking of trade routes, maritime economies and the syncretic transformation of cultures impacted by Portuguese colonial expansion. Joseph prepared the groundwork for Mar Portugues in Lisbon by creating site specific installations at sites of Portuguese arrival in Cochin, India and Cape of Good Hope, South Africa.

Gigante Adamastor

Não acabava, quando uma figura
se nos mostra no ar, robusta e válida,
de disforme e grandíssima estatura;
o rosto carregado, a barba esquálida,
os olhos encovados, e a postura
medonha e má e a cor terrena e pálida;
cheios de terra e crespos os cabelos,
a boca negra, os dentes amarelos.

Luís de Camões, Os Lusíadas, Canto V, estrofe 39

O mostrengo que está no fim do mar

Na noite de breu ergueu-se a voar;

À roda da nau voou três vezes,

Voou três vezes a chiar,

E disse: «Quem é que ousou entrar

Nas minhas cavernas que não desvendo,

Meus tectos negros do fim do mundo?»

E o homem do leme disse, tremendo:

«El-rei D. João Segundo!»

Fernando Pessoa, Mensagem