Extranjero is a very, very clever autobiography. It is, in a way, a universal autobiography that reminds us of how we feel when being abroad, of understanding just enough to get by, yet not enough to fully engage with what´s going on, to fully belong. This video piece is a meeting of contradictions, just like real life - funny without being silly, dead serious without being pompous... And it singlehandedly illustrates how this whole deal about us all being inside a global village may just be a bit far away, really, even as we try out the early stages of a 21st-century esperanto, I´m afraid.

I particularly love how the unknown foreigner gives up at one point and takes off on his own mantra, acknowledging his inadequacy rather than confronting the invisible authority contained in the inquisitive written words: a nod to the not-so-fine art of Portuguese bureaucracy, maybe? Or something rather more universal, an interrogation by a customs officer in a post-terrorist world? Either one will do just fine: Extranjero is as hilarious as it is unsettling.

Heitor Alvelos / 2008

Ph.D (RCA, 2003), MFA (SAIC, 1992)
Head of Communication Design
Head of International Relations
University of Porto - School of Fine Arts