One hot morning in 1946 a young passenger comes down the ramp of a ship moored in the port of Rio de Janeiro. The temperature is already reaching the nineties as he wipes his long brow with a handkerchief where the letters C. P. are embroidered in light blue italics. As he waits for his luggage, he looks among the crowd for a person he only knows from an old photograph brought from Europe folded and creased inside his suitcase. His gaze wanders through the suntanned faces of family and lovers that await expectantly, taking turns beaming and shouting to each new arrived traveller, until it falls on a middle-aged woman far off, standing away from the crowd next to a rickety Ford T, whose long blond hair sways with the bay's breeze. Wearing too much make-up and a dress with complicated patterns in tropical colors, she protects her eyes from the blistering sun with the envelope of a telegram, while smoking a cigarette whose end is smeared deeply in red. Instead of examining the disembarking passengers, she seems to be looking distractedly over their heads, in the direction of the ship's funnels, completely bewitched by the white smoke still emerging from them. Carrel carefully approaches her and utters a few words in Dutch, confirming his suspicion that this is the woman he has spent seven years searching for. As I wait for the teacher, fifty-four years later in the cold basement of the Rietveld Academy, I study a grey strip of dried paint hanging from the peeling ceiling. On arriving thirty minutes late, the teacher apologizes from under her disheveled bangs, blaming the elevator which is always out of order and handles xerox copies, that had cost her a climb through three floors to find a functioning copy-machine. Xeroxes of xeroxes of a manuscript on my first day of class seemed to be instructing me in my first assignment, which I could make out from the almost legible fuzzy handwriting, to be an animation. But we weren't going to use any of those new and back then mystifying Apple computers, which I had become acquainted with in a more provincial art school — no, to my wonder we were going to learn how to operate a cranky 1950's Bolex camera to photograph hand-made drawings, frame per frame. I was nineteen years old and had no particular reason to move to Amsterdam, except for the contingency of an inheritance: a Dutch passport from a grandfather who had died a few months before I was born. I had no idea that I would end up studying fine arts — much less that someday someone would pay my tickets to travel around the world to install dusty film projectors in sterile bright rooms — I had actually no intention of ever studying again after finishing high-school, which had been a deeply traumatic experience to my quirky personality, that suffered enormously under the pressure of compulsory social normatization. I had decided to leave myself adrift rather than bound myself to another institution of any kind, and, the biggest volume of my blood being Dutch — the other seventy-five percent a cocktail of Portuguese, Native Indian, Lebanese, Spanish, Italian and Irish, in their respective proportions — I was pulled towards The Netherlands by the force of an ontological magnetism so to say. After I did a string of badly paid jobs, which sometimes made me wake up on dark rainy mornings, I realized, by making friends who coursed college, that I would have a much better life as a student, since I had the right to a grant and could do interesting things instead of smoking pot during most of my free time. The question remained only what to study. Since I was a film buff some people suggested to try the film academy, which I did only to find out that I should have already some short film under my belt to be able to apply. Confused with the conundrum of making films in order to be taught how to make films, and having absolutely no idea of where to start, i.e. how to metamorphose from a consumer to a maker, I decided to start by its most basic element. As a child I used to own a microscope set, where I examined and dissected all kind of materials and insects. Each time I would close one eye and look with the other into the micro-lens, it felt like opening a window in the cabin of a plane flying over an alien landscape. Canyons and rivers, sometimes obscured by clouds, of all kind of colors and textures would appear below. I learned then that to atomize familiar things was sometimes to encounter different planets under your nose. It was with this approach that I decided to engage the moving image and resolved therefore to begin by its constituent parts: still photographs. For that purpose I enrolled in a private photography course and learned to take black & white photos and to process them myself. Now I dissected elements mostly on 1:1 proportion by only fragmenting it. Baudrillard wrote that to photograph is to make the world around the frame disappear. That rings true to how I perceived it; by slicing the moment you would be creating new realities, like a forking narrative. For a while, quite enthralled with photography, I forgot all about the movies and applied for the first time to the Rietveld Academie with my newly made photographs of situations and sceneries I found compelling. I was rejected on the grounds that all I knew was technical and documentary — I wasn't creative enough. I quickly learned that the easiest way to show that I was creative was to have drawings and paintings besides photographs, but I couldn't draw a straight line if my life depended on it. I applied to another art school that same year using the drawings and paintings of an Indonesian girlfriend I had at the time, who wanted me to make sure I would stay in the country so badly that she acquiesced in borrowing me her art work, not forgetting to erase her signature from her pieces. Once enrolled I made sure to ease my guilt by working very hard and made for the first time something close to my own (non-documentary) art works by using photography as a tool for collage, as a ready-made machine. Sometimes taking pictures of people interacting with posters in the street, or juxtaposing pictures I had taken in the darkroom, or simply assembling magazine cut outs in order to create surreal images. It was then that I started playing with an old VHS camera given to me by a friend's mother and discovered a knack to tell non-linear stories using simple moving-images together with text and not much else. I applied for the film academy and had the opportunity to be officially rejected with a short film in hand. Shortly after that I met an art student from the Rietveld, a skinny and tall Italian-Dutch with bulging green eyes and a devilish smile, who would fit under the description of a Nicolas Cage stricken by a severe heroin addiction. Due to the nature of my films he suggested to call someone who could help me to go directly on board the department where he was studying in the Rietveld, whose name was constituted of three letters forming an acronym, which was only less enigmatic than what it actually meant. Either way they were mostly busy with videos and that's what I wanted to do. On a Friday at the end of August, after calling almost everyday to this guy from the Academy along the whole summer, I managed to have an audience with the department's coordinator, who was annoyed with my incapacity of looking into people's eyes while I talk; ten minutes after I had shown my photographic and video works (all done by myself), while I shlepped towards the bus stop with my portfolio and tapes under my arms, feeling rather dispirited, I received a call to my first cell-phone I ever owned giving me the news that I could start on the following Monday. Then, as you now know, I found myself on the the first day of class learning to create movement in 16 mm, by taking twenty-four pictures for every second. From then on process became my religion. In other words, I became somewhat indoctrinated in the aesthetics of Dutch Protestantism, which for me could be summarized into two adjectives: transparency and starkness. A great contrast to the cultural baggage that I brought from Brazil, which was mystical and fulsome. Immediately the weird quirk of the Dutch of not using curtains and not caring for privacy fitted with the Academy's obsession with process, the Rietveld building itself designed as an ant farm where the different departments could be watched from outside in full thrive. (Years later, its negative aspect would become also apparent to me, as the use of security camera became wide-spread and the Big Brother TV show started to be broadcasted.) More importantly, the school's encouragement to find your own voice, and this new found heritage, gave me the tools for stripping myself to the bare bones in order to retrace my history. I started by using the objective detachment I had taken from my homeland to piece together my origins, making for them a cartography constructed of duration rather than of distance. That's how I slowly learned, in the years that I spent in that basement in the Academy, that I had come to Holland foremost to discover my grandfather, and that my trip to Europe, likewise his, was a search for identity. I had been raised with the mythical story of the people that had fought the sea for land and had won. In my child's mind they were like a civilization of blond giants living in towering windmills found by Gulliver in one of his voyages. The epicenter of these legends was my grandfather, who was an entrepeneur with many kind of business, and who used to collect tropical animals in his office, on top of the Cinema Roxy in Copacabana, where he negotiated black exchange dollars for a while. Once he had a huge beautiful blue and yellow arara that escaped and somehow managed to enter the screening room and stopped perched on the top of a seat, scratching its legs with its beack while people watched a black and white film. It's ironic that my first real meeting with him was due to a holyday trip, while already coursing the Rietveld, back in Rio, where I found dozens of his Super-8 films he had made during his numerous trips around the world. It was a revelation to find out that he was, besides a traveller, also a prolific amateur filmmaker. I assembled these film travelogues and used it to layout his biography: From when he was abandoned on the stairs of a nunnery as a baby by his mother, who had given in to the pressure of her respectful family's wrath, for having gotten pregnant by a violin player she had met in a bar and who died shortly afterwards somewhere in Germany. Until he finally managed to find his mother in Brazil, where she made a living teaching English to children. After seven years searching for her through war rigged Europe and crossing the Atlantic, he immediatley disliked her and they never spoke again after that first day in the docks of Rio. He realized he had met her in order to reject her. Shortly afterwards, he met a law student from the Southernest state of Brazil of Spanish, Italian and Irish background who didn't seem to care for his blue eyes like the other Carioca girls did. I had seen pictures of him before, his face been likened sligthly to Kevin Costner during the nineties, but to see him projected on the Super-8 film felt like a real encounter. I have noticed many times that the first thing that brings recognition, or confirmation of recognition, of someone we spot on the street who we haven't seem in a long while, and who might even have changed physically, is the idiosyncracies of their body language. Like a finger print, I believe we subconsciously recognize the movements of someone's body, the way they walk or turn their heads, we being able many times to recognize them by a distance and by only seeing their silhouetes. Even though the films were mute I could imagine how the words that rolled from his mouth would sound, through the specific movements he made with his lips when talking and the way he blinked, giving away his gringo status by way of his heavy Dutch accent that he never shook off from his Portuguese. He never left Rio again, except for his numerous holydays and business trips. Brazil had become his home, and this detached feeling of being a stranger somewhere, the same feeling of foreignness he probably felt while growing up with his adoptive family in Laren, had become an inextricable part of him. The film ends with scenes of my grandfather skimming across the ocean with his newly bought speedboat that he purchased on debit when he learned he didn't have much to live due to a cancer prognosis. There's an image of the face of my mother on board — he was my maternal grandfather, and like him, for most people's amusement, I also use my mother's name — who was troubled yet beaming as always, maybe already pregnant but oblivious of it. (Pablo Pijnappel, One Hot Morning In 1946, 2016) [Made possible with the kind support of the Mondriaan Fund]