A Tendency to Forget (2015) is a multimedia installation that the viewer is invited to inhabit. Bringing together photography, architecture, sculpture, and the moving image, it is punctuated with historical archival footage.
The work offers an insightful critique of the life and work of anthropologists Jorge and Margot Dias, whose research on the Makonde people (an ethnic group in northern Mozambique) earned them international recognition in the 1960s and 1970s. Their contemporaries considered the Diases’ studies essential reading for scholars attempting to fully grasp the historical and economical aspects, material culture, social life, and ritual of that society.
The artist’s research reveals the importance of those achievements while also highlighting the hidden political agenda behind the Diases’ investigations and their alliances to the Salazar Regime, disclosing the complicity between anthropology and colonialism, between power and the production of knowledge.
Ferreira invites the viewer to read between the lines of the anthropologists’ history, digging into it, and in particular into the diaries of Margot Dias, subverting the latter’s colonial gaze through a critical twist that transforms the researcher into the subject of another researcher’s study.
The work is particularly concerned with memory.
The events of an untold story and the institutionalization of this undelivered memory were concealed—until recently—in the archives of the former Portuguese Overseas Ministry, whose façade Ferreira replicates in the form of the sculpture. In doing so, the artist challenges our perception of the past and confronts us with the ghosts of colonial and post-colonial discourses, ultimately reminding us of the darker side of modernity.