In what we see, there’s always something more visible and something, though hidden, that seems to reveal itself little by little. It’s possible to approach this using the word distance. It’s possible to talk about distance. The distance between two things. The distance between something, macro distances or micro distances. Normally we speak about distance in physical terms: the distance between two countries or two cities, the space that exists between two points. Also the distances that exist inside us: distance in terms of affection or emotions. In Portugal we use to say, that we have one word connected with distance, when someone that you love is far away from home and you miss him: the word saudade. But there is no machine to measure this word, is something strictly human (some Portuguese’s like to say that this felling is something strictly Portuguese!).

This means that You could also bring the distance inside yourself. In your body or in your memory. I believe so: we always bring some kind of distance when we are far away from home, from our own culture. But with distance we can see better some things.

When I work in museums or galleries as an educator, and we are exploring paintings, photos or sculptures I always like to make one kind of experience. I ask the participants to put one of their hands just in front of his/her faces. In this way you can't see your hand, because it’s too close. But when you put your hand more and more faraway you will see much better, you will see all the hand. And with your culture is the same. If you are far away from your culture you can see some things much better: sensations, colors, sounds, smells, textures, memories, words, rituals.

So, in this moment I am in one subjective and personal process of cultural distance appreciation. Of course the equilibrium is very important: not too much closer, not too much faraway (like the hand, which equilibrium is given by the harm distance). Another thing very important if you want to practice this method: you must keep looking. You can discover more things when you are faraway, but you have to look, look as if was the first time you saw your own culture. If this works for your own culture, the same is true if you are in another culture, in another country. In my case, now I live in Poland and its exactly the distance that gives me the most interesting perceptions. Because I'm inside, but not completely (I have my hand not yet very close to my face) and its possible to see something’s better, with a more fresh point of view. Sometimes you can see the details. Once again the equilibrium: be careful not to fall down. Not too close, but not too far away. Its a question of time and space, maybe until they turns to us.

The trees have roots. People have roots. When you move yourself you bring your roots with you. But you don’t cut your roots. I prefer to bring the Tree with me and think on the roots like some kind of emotional lines that keep me connected with my origin. In this moment my Tree is in Poland. I like to climb to the her top and look to both sides. Quietly balanced in the word distance.

Antonio Xavier