In the late 1980’s and until 1994, I travelled several times to New York. On one of the return trips to Lisbon, as I was waiting in a departure lounge at John F. Kennedy Airport, Amália appeared accompanied by her musicians to board the same plane. She had given a concert on the 2nd of November 1990 at the Town Hall of New York, which had, of course, been a success.
I couldn't resist and asked for an autograph. I took my graphic journal and a pen from my backpack and gave them to sign. She asked me my name and I answered: Ana. Amália wrote "to Ana, with a kiss, Amália".
When Sara Cavaco invited me to do a project about Amália for the second part of the exhibition Amália: Saudades do Brasil - The trajectory of Amália Rodrigues since her arrival in Brazil in 1944, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, the autograph I had asked Amália immediately occurred me. It seemed to me to be a great starting point to develop in my work series where I show 30 photographs and a story-telling text. It is an artistic protocol that I use to tell episodes of my daily life.
In the course of the conversation about the exhibition, I told Sara, I had met Amália briefly and she had given me an autograph. But I no longer had it. I offered it to my ex-girlfriend, who was living in New York at the time and who, coincidentally, is also named Ana. However, the story I wanted to tell was about the autograph.
To which Sara told me “but Ana Rodrigues has an Amália autograph who also says“ to Ana, with a kiss, Amália ”.
By luck this other Ana, not only had a similar autograph to the one I had but for many years, had kept clippings of news about Amália.
At that moment I thought the work would be done based on this compilation of news clippings and dedication. What I was interested in addressing was a set of questions around the emotional universe of those who share the enthusiasm of asking for autographs from figures we admire and who are part of our Pop culture.
When we ask an autograph from a famous person, we are immediately rescued from anonymity, we are no longer mere public, we have been granted the ticket to celebrity. Our relationship with that figure becomes personalized and the asymmetry seems to be diluted.
Idol, illusion, unconsciousness, individualization, importance, interest, id, immersion, are part of an idealization inventory that drives us to want an autograph.
“For Ana, with a kiss, Amália”, the same words, so generic, but my autograph will always be mine. For each autograph, there is an emotional universe associated with it.
Autographs always tell stories. In the case of Amália, I presume that the laconic and repeated words of the dedications contain stories full of emotions and always different.
Amália became a bigger star, no longer a fado singer, but the soul of a people without the ballast of the old Salazar regime, which had consequently penalized her. In the 1980's, Amália was rescued by a vanguard of a Portugal that wanted to become cosmopolitan, particularly in the music art scene, turning its taste and turning fado into a more widely shared phenomenon.
Fado is Portuguese. Fado also means destiny and some of the themes sung are nostalgia, nostalgia and love. Fado belongs to UNESCO's List of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Fado is universal.