In January 2017, I spent several weeks in the Indian state of Goa, undertaking research into the local literary culture as it existed before the end of Portuguese colonialism in 1961. Outside the opening hours of archives, between interviews with local intellectuals and meetings with contacts and colleagues, I spend my time observing the scenes and sights around me, using my camera as a way to reflect on past, present and future. I set myself no brief in this project, which I see as street photographic and so more open to the inspiration of the aleatory than documentary enterprises that commit more often a pre-established outcome.
The literary works of the past speak of Goa as a Catholic, colonial space, sleepy, provincial and conservative. My title comes from two collections entitled ‘Contos Regionais’ [Regional Tales], one published in 1923 and one in 1987, the bookends of my archival engagement. My experience of the present is of a place buckling under the pressure of the modern world in which more than 6,000,000 tourists per year visit a tiny territory with a population of just a fifth that number.
Photography for me was a way to reflect on the contrast between the past as I read it and the present as I drifted through, as well as on the gap between how I saw the world and how the world was being seen around me. These photos chart moments in which a fading inheritance is transformed by emergent forces that escape the dreams and logics of a bygone age.
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