IMAGE AND COUNTER-IMAGE: THE PLACE OF SALAZARIST IMAGES OF NATIONAL IDENTITY IN CONTEMPORARY PORTUGUESE VISUAL CULTURE

Ellen W. Sapega, "Image and Counter-Image: The Place of Salazarist Images of National Identity in Contemporary Portuguese Visual Culture," Luso-Brazilian Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, Special Issue: Portuguese Cultural Studies (Winter, 2002), pp. 45-64, University of Wisconsin Press. (excerpt) 

The first decades of the regime of Antonio de Oliveira Salazar present a useful and interesting starting point for the study of visual culture in twentieth century Portugal. During this period, the State actively sponsored a wide range of activities aimed at both memorializing the national past and drawing attention to the regime’s perceived successes. Events such as the Portuguese Colonial Exposition, held in Oporto in 1934, the Commemoration of Year X of the National Revolution, celebrated throughout the country in 1936, and the 1940 Exposition of the Portuguese World performed the dual purpose of fostering urban renewal and providing opportunities for new development. ‘ At the same time, the government also undertook many other ambitious public works projects aimed at modernizing the nation’s infrastructures. As universities, stadiums, housing projects, highways, and airports, for example, were commissioned, a fresh set of visual images appeared on the urban landscape and the government’s ideological stance of presenting itself as the restorer of lost moral values acquired a specific physical form.

Many of the cultural artifacts that were produced in the thirties and forties can still be viewed today. They range from the decorative motifs that adorn the interiors and exteriors of many public buildings to the organization of whole neighborhoods that were constructed during this period; from the statues that grace public parks and gardens to the historical monuments (castles, palaces, churches) that were carefully restored by the State. In each case, these works can be approached and interrogated as objects of visual and material culture the primary goal of which was to set up and maintain a picture of the world that was both constitutive and affirmative of hegemonic cultural and historical values