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ARCOlisboa online edition Forums - Key Ideas

For those who could not follow the latest ARCOlisboa online edition forums, here is a selection of quotes from these exchanges. Be it in person or online, these forums have always aimed to be a platform for reflection and idea exchange, an exercise that was unavoidably conditioned by the current circumstances for this edition. Some of these quotes are obvious attempts to hazard a guess at what the near future will bring for the plastic arts, with a special focus on Portugal.

11 Jun 2020

All the posts were mediated by a group of independent curators who have taken an active part in the most recent editions of ARCOlisboa.

The place where we find ourselves

“The Covid has reinforced something that is quite obvious: we need art. In periods of crisis, people ground themselves in to their culture and art. This time really showed how necessary institutions like museums are to the construction of a community. Either you live in LA, Porto or Lisbon, the centrality or art and culture became so clear.”

Philippe Vergne
Director, Museu Serralves, Porto.

“Is it even possible to rethink a business model for a museum, taking this situation as a starting point?”

Beatrice Leanza
Executive Director, Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia (MAAT), Lisboa.

“One of the gains of this process was the fact that it brought to surface issues that the sector was experiencing. Independent artists, agents and cultural workers were experiencing these problems for years, and this moment brought them to surface in a very vivid and violent way. So, I think that amongst all, this was a success, it made us all - and by all I mean the Portuguese society – to came across this problem with a big wave of solidarity, and for the first time in years, the sector joint forces to shout”

Guilherme Blanc
Director, Contemporary Art and Cinema, Galeria Municipal do Porto.

“This crisis is much deeper than the previous that occurred in 2009, when I started to work as the cultural councillor for the city hall. This crisis will bring a change in the paradigm of the whole society. Also, the whole cultural system is much bigger, dynamic and diverse than it was before, so it is harder to understand what we should do to sustain it.”

Catarina Vaz Pinto
Cultural Counselor/Câmara Municipal de Lisboa.

“It’s funny, at the beginning of all this two months seemed so long, and now one year is not that much.”

Nadia Belerique

Artist

“This is a time to take action. It’s a time where you either try go back to normality or implement a new normality.  This is a crucial moment to define what we want for this sector and what has real meaning to us.

Guilherme Blanc  

Director, Contemporary Art and Cinema, Galeria Municipal do Porto.

“It is actually interesting to understand how as an artist you can interact right now and make things work out.

In the current situation, we have to change the way we work. Traveling with our works, for instance, is not sustainable right now.

Nadia Belerique

Artist

During this time, I rediscovered the real inter-institutional collaboration, and this is the direction I would like to take from now on.”

Barbara Piwowarska 

Curator and art historian; Artistic Director, Casa São Roque, Porto.

“More than talking about the reality of workers in culture – a discussion that is already going on all over the world, I would focus on the condition between the local and the international institutions and organizations. How to keep this relation active?”

Inês Moreira

Editor, researcher and architect

“Our purpose is to fund cultural production but what we have now is not a problem of that nature, but a problem of social existence and survival.

Within this, what could we do to amplify our ways of support, and continue our mission?”

Guilherme Blanc
Director, Contemporary Art and Cinema, Galeria Municipal do Porto.

“In some ways, this a bit of a gift. Having time to process during this extension of two years could be good. Some projects do need more time. I can do more research, I can read more, I can fundraise my projects better.”

Nadia Belerique

Artist

“We don’t get the opportunity to really deconstruct because of what the creative industry has partly transformed the museums in to, and I believe that this is truly an opportunity to let go some things that we already wanted to let go, and improve others.”

Beatrice Leanza
Executive Director, Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia (MAAT), Lisboa.

“It’s been a crisis since I started. The depression was in 2009, the time when I started my career. That crisis shaped the way of artists to be in the art world, in a good and a bad way.

There was a kind of a natural selection at that time, that made my generation of artists a bit more humble and grounded. All of a sudden being an artist wasn’t so much fun. But it was  also time to realise that if being an artist is what you really want to do, you just need to keep on doing it”.

(…) Right now I don’t know what will happen, but I believe that the goal for us artists should be to continue to be free.”

Eugénia Mussa

Artist

“We will experience a shortage of visitors for sure, so the way we deal with our strategy to reach, accessing and communication with people will have to change, and that needs to happen immediately.”

Guilherme Blanc
Director, Contemporary Art and Cinema, Galeria Municipal do Porto.

“For me what this crisis has been doing is reinforcing the core values of what institutions are standing for: giving creative voice, alternative voice, coming for artists because that’s what the community expect from us”

Philippe Vergne
Director, Museu Serralves, Porto

“One of the possible effects that I am afraid that might happen is having the immigrants escaping from our country. I am afraid of the impact of this economical condition on the Brazilians artists and students who came to live in Porto, attributing an international sense of living to the city. I am afraid that this situation could generate an impact on the immigration reality in general too. This is not just about local communities”

Inês Moreira

Editor, researcher and architect

What I am learning from being in Serralves is that I am learning from a model that it is totally inserted in the civic fabric, more than in any other place I have worked in.

Philippe Vergne
Director, Museu Serralves, Porto.

Looking at the future

“I think it is also important to open up questions like: How can a museum behave or appropriate methodologies from other type of collective cultural consumptions, like streaming services, or on demand contents?”

Beatrice Leanza
Executive Director, Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia (MAAT), Lisboa.

“I lot of the work that I do is based on the space itself, and a lot of it is done in installation form that has me present as part of the scene coming together. This kind of work won’t be an option in the foreseeable future. (…) As an artist, the idea of not being able to see the space or the show, is a very strange concept.”

Nadia Belerique

Artist

“Mainly, what the policy makers should do is to invest and promote the artistic education at different levels. It is thought the artistic education that people can enjoy and understand art, therefore creating a need for art, awareness and sensibility. This is what generates audiences for the overall system, and here, we are at a level where we still have a lot to do.”

Catarina Vaz Pinto
Cultural Counselor/Câmara Municipal de Lisboa.

“We were worried about economy of the cultural workers for a long time, and somehow the boom of tourism was allowing us to cover the situation. (…) Now, after the closure of the pandemics, what we drew was not culture but mostly tourism, so this is a lose - lose situation to the art scene.”

Inês Moreira

Editor, researcher and architect

“Some things we had conceived and planned will have to be conceptually revisited and re-contextualized within today’s concerns. I think this process may happen organically, it won’t be imposed. Curators and artists will figure urge to adapt and rethink the processes.”

Guilherme Blanc  
Director, Contemporary Art and Cinema, Galeria Municipal do Porto.

“What will happen in the future and what we are already seeing, is an important development of the digital contents. All the artistic areas will have to develop their online tools and some are not technically qualified to do it. This should be one of the areas where we should invest. But the physicality remains paramount, and the solutions to present now in physical events are not evident.

The whole question of the economical sustainability of the sector is crucial. We need to look and take care of the artists as a whole, as an ecosystem, including its diversity of areas, different business models, and solidarity between the different sectors since some have public support but others lost their income from night to day.”

Catarina Vaz Pinto
Cultural Counselor /Câmara Municipal de Lisboa.

“I don’t believe in this digital transformation. For my side, representing a small institution, it’s all about a site-specific experience. It’s very difficult to imagine transforming the experience of Casa de São Roque – the house and the park, in to a digital content. But hopefully the pandemic is getting over and we won’t need to do that conversion.”

Barbara Piwowarska 

Curator and art historian; Artistic Director, Casa São Roque, Porto.

“What it will change is the way we (museums) communicate to the outside.”

Philippe Vergne
Director, Museu Serralves, Porto.

“One of the big issues in young artists is wanting to become an artist itself. if becoming an artist is the ultimate goal, that will create a lot of issues, because then you have to think of what you need to do, or how to create a formula for that. You can see this effort reflected on the works, but the process should be effortless. (…)

My advice for young artists would be: go live your life a bit and come back with the story that you have to tell. Express it from yourself and do not compromise!”

Eugénia Mussa

Artist

ARCOlisboa

“ARCOlisboa was a major step in terms of development of the contemporary art scene in Lisbon. Not only because of the fair itself, but also all the parallel events and programing created around it, and the international collectors that were attracted to Lisbon. We are involved in the organization since the beginning and, because we really wanted the fair to be a success, we have tried to help in different ways. One of them was the idea of starting a collection of contemporary art to the City Hall.”

Catarina Vaz Pinto
Cultural Counselor/Câmara Municipal de Lisboa.

Collecting

“I believe less and less in amassing objects and more and more in dialogue.”

“Art has had an enormous influence on my political thinking. Really, a lot.”

“I was a very rigid person before I became interested in contemporary art.”

Armando Cabral

Collector – Lisboa

“I don’t have a collection of names but of work sites. I like to collect the various production stages of these artists’.”

António Cachola

Collector - Elvas

“In the 21st century, collecting art cannot just be about amassing objects. We want to use the collection more as an excuse for creating other opportunities for supporting artists. The goal is to broaden the range of options for supporting the system that is created by being collectors ourselves.”

Armando Cabral

Collector - Lisbon

“Responsibility and respect for artists are embodied in a policy that needs to exist, of knowing how to safeguard works, study them, display them and ensure that they circulate. When all this happens together, then we start to give a public dimension to collection.”

António Cachola

Collector - Elvas

“These were the books that made me what I am. They represented a search for a map of what I was seeing in the museums. Then, over time, I stopped looking for a map. I realised that one does not exist, and shouldn’t exist. But this process of moving on (for an engineer who liked the more or less “square” aspects of modernism) to post-modernism was tough.”

Armando Cabral

Collector - Lisbon

“The criteria for my collection? Portuguese artists, who started to exhibit in the 80s. I started to collect only established artists that had already had exhibitions, and then I also looked for up-and-coming ones with great artistic potential.”

António Cachola

Collector - Elvas

“The idea that works of art serve us and that they can make sense for a collection has always seemed to me to be completely the wrong way around, because it questions the autonomy of the works of art themselves. I see the issue in reverse: some works of art catch my attention.”

Armando Cabral

Collector - Lisbon

“I knew somehow that starting a contemporary art collection just with Portuguese artists could be considered restrictive, but I was aware that there were fantastic advantages in being able to think in this way as I recognised the great creative ability of these artists and I knew that if I just concentrated on them, the final result could only be interesting. In addition, I knew that it would make a contribution to national art.”

António Cachola

Collector - Elvas

“My way, and my wife’s way, of thinking as art collectors has changed a lot. Now we are opening a space to the public where the pieces on display almost serve as a pretext for talking about them and promoting dialogue. “

Armando Cabral

Collector - Lisbon

The António Cachola collection has been publicly recognised because many situations are grouped together in it that make anyone from the outside have an almost permanent link to the collection. There is a closeness to the artists and their works.”

António Cachola

Collector - Elvas

“I think that the only ethical thing to do with an art collection is to give it to a museum.”

Armando Cabral

Collector - Lisbon

“For me, the most interesting part of videos on art is their tediousness. The fact that the videos are long and boring, and are not made to entertain people. This has always been a very interesting aspect of them for me.

Armando Cabral

Collector - Lisbon