“It’s as though I really knew these people and photographed them all myself,” the artist Délio Jasse said earlier this year, referring to the images from his series The Lost Chapter, Nampula, 1963 (2016). Featured in Aperture’s summer 2017 issue, “Platform Africa,” Jasse’s screenprints combine 1960s-era documents, letters, and photographs that he found in a flea market in Lisbon. They depict the blithe lifestyle of a Portuguese family living in Nampula, a province in Mozambique, which at the time was still a Portuguese colony. Jasse, who was born in Luanda, Angola—another former Portuguese colony—has often used analog and historic photographic processes, such as the cyanotype, to reflect the mingling of past and present in postcolonial African culture and politics.
In the images from The Lost Chapter, the anonymous figures in family snapshots become symbolic stewards of Portuguese privilege: colonists enjoy the tropical lifestyle, but black servants are relegated to the margins. Jasse intervened further by overlaying the images with stamps and visas. “More than abstract stories, however, Jasse seems to have found that there is violence in documents,” Silas Martí wrote in his introduction to Jasse’s Aperture portfolio. “Jasse makes this clear by subverting these photographs rescued from oblivion—images of nonchalant innocence are overshadowed by the fluorescent weight of authority.” Here, Jasse speaks with Paula Nascimento about archives, citizenship, and the afterimage of Portuguese colonialism in Africa.