15 min. 1990 in English

written, produced, directed, camera and editing by Caterina Borelli ©1990


“… A meditation (or a mediation) about traveling … that is the subject of” The Discovery of the Tropical World ” by the Italian Caterina Borelli; of ” Trip to Patagonia “by the Argentine Luis Valdovino (in collaboration with Dan Boord); and of “Serenata” by the American Richard Sullivan. By incorporating various fragments of memories, the viewer will have to answer some questions: What is traveling? What remains of the experience once it is over …? In these films, the emphasis on tourist places, cultural topics, exoticism, language changes … constitute a trajectory related to these places, as well as a “practice of space”, already elaborated but also changing with displacement. If you want to understand the new place, even if only temporarily, the traveler must develop a reference point based on pre-existing images and cultural constructions … “

“…Una meditación (o una mediación) acerca del echo mismo del viaje…ese es el argumento de “The Discovery of the Tropical World” (Descubrimiento del mundo tropical), de la italiana Caterina Borelli, de “Trip to Patagonia” del argentino Luis Valdovino (en colaboracion con Dan Boord) y de “Serenata” del norteamericano Richard Sullivan. Al ir incorporando diversos fragmentos de recuerdos , el espectador habrá de responder a algunas preguntas: ?que es viajar?, ?que queda de la experiencia una vez terminada…? En estas cintas, el énfasis en los lugares turísticos, los tópicos culturales, el exotismo, los cambios de idioma … constituyen una trayectoria relacionada con estos lugares, así como una “practica del espacio”, ya elaborada pero también cambiante con el desplazamiento. Si quiere comprender el nuevo espacio, aunque solo sea de forma temporal, el viajero debe elaborar un punto de referencia basado en imagines pre-existentes y construcciones culturales…”  Berta Sichel “Idea de lugar – videos sobre Latinoamerica” Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, April 1998


A trip to Rio de Janeiro: expectation, experience and memory of a foreign place.


Similarly to my previous videotape “Passeggiate Romane”, “The discovery of the tropical world” explores the relationship between media, personal experience and memory.

The video accompanies the viewer in a non-narrative visit to Rio de Janeiro. Starting from the media images created by Hollywood in the ‘30s and ‘40s, the journey begins from above – in the air – taking off from Hollywood and literally landing in the city with a baggage of ‘already made’ views.

When we finally enter the city it unfolds under my gaze with unexpected views. The darkness of the tunnels that inevitably carry me from one neighborhood to the next accentuates my sense of discovery. I then run back in a reverse trajectory, putting distance between what I have experienced and its context. Automatically a selection goes on in my mind through memory. And then…which of the memories will survive the challenge of media images?

While I choose Rio de Janeiro as a setting, I could have followed the same route in many other situations. Rio was an obvious choice for a place that has a strong and predetermined – for different economical and social reasons – media image.