Saturday, December 7, 2013

Review: O Grande Incêndio do Chiado

O Grande Incêndio do Chiado (The Big Fire of Chiado) is a photography book compiling the photographs of four professionals that here witness to the fire that ravished this part of town. On the 25th of August, 1988, Chiado, a historic part of Lisbon, suffered the biggest urban fire on current years in Portugal and these 4 men where there to document it for posterity.

I was but a toddler at the time but I do remember seeing this on TV and being overwhelmed by it. My parents had no memory of fire of that magnitude, and luckily there hasn't been anything like that in Portugal since, at least not in an urban setting.

Another odd (but positive) fact is that only two persons died in this fire. Despite the massive impact the fire had on the city only an elderly gentleman and a firefighter died as a direct consequence of the fire.

How is it?

Page after page you feel more immersed in the days between 25th August 1988 and the 5th of September 1988. From the first hours of the fire to the last days of the aftermath Alfredo Cunha, Fernando Ricardo, José Pratas and Rui Ochoa describe, like only a black and white photo can, the struggle of the firemen and the scars of the city.

There are some truly striking images in this book. My only complains are that the photos aren't credited (there's no indication of who made what photo) and that the book is glued and not stitched. This makes the two page spreads difficult to see without spreading the book wide open and possibly damage the bindings. Apart from these minor complains this is an great book.

2 Firemen

Lisbon from above


The Photographers


Even if you don't speak a word of Portuguese you can enjoy this book. Its all about the pictures. Get it, its cheap (for a photography book at least).

I would love to meet these guys. They must have some fantastic stories to tell.

PS: Today its a different kind of Graphic Novel, hope you don't mind :)

PublisherTinta da China
Year: 2013
Pages: 136
Authors: Alfredo Cunha, Fernando Ricardo, José Carlos Pratas, Rui Ochoa
ISBN: 9789896711740

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  1. Amazing photographs! It's nice to see you're including other forms of art besides comics, in the same way that I post about contemporary art twice a month or so.

    1. Hi Arion,

      I love (most of) the shots in this book. It was a big thing back in the day and its beautifully documented in this book.

      About the parallelism with your articles, I guess you're right.