In 2007, fifty years have passed since the beginning of the eruption of the Capelinhos volcano. Its activity initiated in the sea on the morning of the 27th of September of 1957, about two kilometers from the western coast of the island of Faial in the Azores, Portugal. Preceding the eruption – between the 16th and 27th of September – more than two hundred earthquakes ranging several intensities scared the island, which mitigated the perceived importance of the event.
The volcano remained active for one year and one month, going through several stages that included occasional explosions and lava expulsion and an almost constant emission of ashes and gases: such a prolonged activity made it an ordinary fact of the daily life in the Island. Houses were covered in ashes and the smell of sulfur, which also extended to the neighboring islands.
Since its first day, the eruption center was a point of interest and curiosity that lead people to go spend their afternoons admiring the raw beauty of nature in action.
I was born on the 22nd of June of 1986 in Ponta Delgada, Island of São Miguel in the Azores.
At that time, my parents had been living in the Pico Island for ten years, and my maternal grandparents in Faial. When I was 3, we moved to São Miguel, where my grandfather was born.
At home, memories of the volcano times mixed with tales of my mother’s childhood, were scattered around our family meals. These tales told about Sunday visits to the site, where my grandfather captured with his video camera both the volcano and the family time. My own memories of my grandfather are mostly about these stories he used to tell, which made the volcano somewhat of a family member.
The celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of what was considered a milestone in worldwide volcanology (it was the first submarine volcano eruption documented from day one) made me realize that something I considered a family memory was actually History.
Therefore, I decided to look for family videos and work with those images as a background to reflect on the family history.