OF STEEL AND (UN)STILLNESS
Of steel and (un)stillness is a collaborative project that explores routiers’ social, cultural and material worlds through ethnographic and artistic practices, namely visual and sound art. Routiers are men of African origin that recurrently drive old vehicles from Southern Europe to West Africa carrying with them spare parts, clothing, money remittances, bicycles, appliances, cosmetics, rice, personal luggage, etc., that are delivered, traded and/or bartered along the way. The uses and meanings of carried items lay beyond the mere functional and utilitarian approaches, or monetary value. All the exchanges and (dis)encounters generated by them are culturally located and play an essential role in the production of social relations and of social recognition while in mobility. At the same time, this activity articulares a set of mobilities (of other people, of other items, of other ideas, etc.) while connecting the urban peripheries of the geographies it traverses.
Of steel and (un)stillness results from the collaboration between two anthropologists and filmmakers (Pedro Figueiredo Neto, ICS-ULisboa and member of the UTH, & Ricardo Falcão, CEI-IUL) and an artist (Paulo Morais), and is embedded in a wider research and documentary film endeavor currently in post-production. Of steel and (un)stillness is one of the four Creative Commissions 2019, under the theme “Variations on Mobility”, organised by the Department DiSSGeA of the University of Padova (in the framework of the project ‘Mobility and the Humanities’) and the Royal Holloway Centre for the GeoHumanities.
A reflection on the geography and representation of sound and another on the process of (re)assemblage and (re)signification of some of the items involved in this activity are some of the preliminary outputs that can be already seen.