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Paulo Kellerman


Text: Paulo Kellerman | Photography: Teresa dos Santos

Translated by Maya Szaniecki


It’s hard to admit: we are locked down inside ourselves. The reach of our gaze is limited, the chances of our touch causing any interference are slim. Even so, we attach an infinite importance to feelings. What we see, what we touch: it is this that makes us believe we are in the world. We use feelings to escape ourselves; but can we really go beyond our body and our spirit? Or maybe it is the body itself which imprisons spirits and dreams.

And what if the search for the other is always an escape from the self?


Does true freedom only exist in each person’s mind? Is it an idea, a concept, an abstraction? And what is the use of conceptual freedom in the mind, if it can’t then take shape? What happens when the freedom of the mind and the freedom of the body aren’t in harmony with each other? Where would our freedom push us to, if we let ourselves be guided by it? Where would it take us? How could we give freedom a form?

And what if freedom is the only company we have?


I always walk straight ahead; this is the only direction I know, the only one I want to know.

This is why I don’t need a map.


“This mask thing does actually have an upside to it. It protects the smile. It’s like the body, which is protected by clothes. I don’t want any old person to get to know my body. Likewise, I don’t want any old person to get to know my smile.”

We look at each other. Eyes on eyes, eyes on the mask. I can’t tell if you’re smiling at me or not.


Just like dreams, our memory is chaotic and uncontrollable. How can we base our lives on something so erratic and intangible, something so unreliable, so undefinable and transitory, as a memory? Or a dream.

Maybe memories and dreams get muddled together, mixed up, they infect each other. What is memory and what is dream? How can we distinguish them from reality?

Do you remember the times when a hug would save our day? I still dream of your embrace. I still dream memories.


Where would our footsteps take us, if they could walk freely, if we didn’t impose compulsory directions on them, if we didn’t define the route for them? Why don’t we simply let ourselves be led by our footsteps?

Why don’t we step on the grass?


Why do we need destinations? Maybe this is what peace feels like: the feeling of not needing to leave.


Our breaths bring us closer together. And the night becomes less dark.


What happens when one loneliness passes another on the street? Why don’t they say hello to each other, why don’t they greet each other? Do they recognise themselves in each other? Or is each loneliness so focused on itself that it doesn’t see anything else?

How to recognise loneliness in the supermarket queue. That would be a good theme for a workshop, free and open to all; available on Zoom, Meet and Teams.


Calendars are stupid. It’s stupid that lives are imprisoned by them. That they restrict feelings and emotions to numbers, scales, formalities, patterns, concepts.

On Friday we will be together. On Friday we will hug each other. On Friday we will be happy. On Friday, only on Friday. Can you wait until Friday?

Only time is free; we are not.


Emptiness is the name of the space which exists between us. The one which we can roam together.

All these photographs by Teresa dos Santos are exhibited in our Gallery.


Paulo Kellerman has published a number of author's editions and contributions to the Portuguese press, has contributed to a number of literary anthologies (in Portugal as well in Brazil, Spain, Italy and Morocco). His work include short story collections, novels, children's books, theatre, picture books and essay. He has created a number of projects with photographers, illustrators, musicians, actors, film directors, architects, sculptors and painters. Among other distinctions, he was awarded the Grande Prémio de Conto Camilo Castelo Branco, from Associação Portuguesa de Escritores. He published the book AVIÕES DE PAPEL (Minimalista, 2020).

Teresa dos Santos was born in Germany and lives in Maia. She became interested in photography early in life, but only recently has she been exploring this area with more and more enthusiasm and dedication, turning it into a way of communication and emotional expression, a way of sharing her vision of the world, a way of getting in touch with her inner self and the others. Her work in photography can be followed at Instagram and Ello, and she has been featured in the newspaper Público and in a number of photography websites. She contributes to the collective blog Fotografar Palavras.

Maya Szaniecki was born in London to Brazilian parents. Grew up bilingual, speaking Portuguese at home and travelling to Brazil annually to visit family. She now studies French at the University of Oxford and has an avid interest in languages, literature, and journalism, which she hopes to pursue. She is currently preparing to spend a year abroad working in Belgium and France, to improve her spoken French.

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