Um Império de Papel

Author: Leonor Pires Martins
Publisher: Edições 70
Year: 2012

Um Império de Papel. Imagens do Colonialismo Português na Imprensa Periódica Ilustrada (1875-1940)

Postface by Manuela Ribeiro Sanches

This book, as it is profusely illustrated, is risky. By gathering in a single volume a large set of pictures on the Portuguese empire, it may produce an effect similar to that of the colonial exhibitions in our country, through a visual discourse that assembled what was separated; and turned fiction into reality. Or, in this case, that produces new fictions – and, in particular, the idea that the abundance of iconography reproduced in this volume represents a general interest in visual documentation of the empire in the Portuguese society of the time.

It is true that, during this period, the iconography on the empire produced by the press was enough to produce a book. However, it must be noted that the empire – and all the information available on it – did not inspire any relevant cinema or literature. Likewise, if we wished to organize an art exhibit with colonial motives we would also be unable to find sufficiently relevant noble materials to justify that event. The empire’s propagandists and ideologists themselves criticized and complained about the evident indifference of artists and writers to the matters of the empire. We may say that the empire of paper that we allude to was mostly that of newspaper and magazines. It was not even a framed or hardcover empire – and even less a film one.