Angola is not a small country

In 1934, Henrique Galvão created a map entitled ‘Portugal is not a small country’, representing the territories of Portugal’s overseas colonies superimposed onto a map of Europe. This cartographic illusion aimed to promote the alleged grandeur of the ‘Empire’ in relation to the genuine smallness of continental Portugal. During the dictatorship (until 1974), this map helped to perpetuate the myth of Portugal as a great imperial nation.

Many years passed and the colonial paradigm changed. Angola, a former Portuguese colony, became an independent country and an economic superpower fuelled by a flourishing oil industry. Luanda, the capital, has attracted thousands of Portuguese in search of prosperity. Meanwhile, Angolan investment is influencing many sectors of the economic structure of the former colonising nation more than ever before. ‘Angola is not a small country’ is a provocative representation of the contemporary relationship between Portugal and Angola. It is an exercise in irony, not only due to its appropriation of Galvão’s original work, but also due to its effective representation of the ‘zeitgeist’.

The map has been presented at a series of exhibitions/installations in various institutional and independent contexts, supported by a collection of artefacts deriving from post-colonial observations, academic research and architectural practice.