Curated Programmes

Opening Lisboa

Le Grand Monde

One can say that one of the raison d'être of art and culture is to expand the world. Different from Imperial and colonial expansions, ours is an expansion of views, ways of doing, knowledges, practices, wisdoms, tastes, experiences and also, economies. We expand the world to be able to acknowledge others, to stay curios, to be empathic, to learn from others, to keep ideas in circulation. Sustaining the idea of a large and open world requires a great collective effort. Sections such as this one entitled OPENING are a great example of this effort. Galleries and artists from very different places come together not only to have a market, but to have a reception, a recognition, an exchange that leads to the consolidation of a dialogue between the different participants that constitute the art system or—better said—the art systems. This section has been conceived as an opportunity for you to get closer to the work of artists you may have never heard of. Let's try to imagine for a moment the work of thousands of artists working in their studios to give a new form to the experience of the world. Thanks to them we can have different experiences of the multiple dimensions that make life something relevant, worthy of being lived.

As much as they try to convince us otherwise, we cannot get a deep and meaningful experience of life in our working hours, in our offices, in our homes plagued by screens and series and disastrous news. Nor is it easy to reach those levels of reflection through the experience of sport, however useful and wonderful it may be. We dare say that only art and nature provide us with those genuine and profound moments of conversation with our innermost selves. An intimacy that makes us perceive others –human and non-human—around us with more affection, that makes us a little better. If each of us expands our world by one millimeter, the world expands by thousands and thousands of kilometers. It is for this reason that we must approach all those who make it possible for us to approach the works of artists. In this sense OPENING is a section that only asks for one thing: a little time to engage in conversation with those who are part of this space and curiosity to listen to the multiple stories that nurture the generation of each of the works presented. There is no time better spent.

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As Formas do Oceano (The shapes of the Ocean)

How many forms does the salt water that makes up the Atlantic Ocean take? What happens when artists from different Atlantic ports occupy a central space in the city of Lisbon?

These and other questions are among the many issues raised by the presence of a group of galleries from different parts of Africa, America and Europe. This year, Brazilian galleries are also joining the programme, presenting the Afro-Brazilian production, that is, the work of those men and women who were born in the country with the largest black population outside of the African continent.

What the forms of Océano seem to reveal is an artistic production of extreme sophistication that from its beginnings flirts with a dimension that transcends national borders and extends transnationally, bringing together experiences that affirm the centrality of black poetics in the international contemporary art scene.

During ARCOlisboa, actors from different parts of the world art scene will have the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with the production of an art that is inevitably born with the language of the Ocean, which in many ways invented the modern Western experience. That fact that this is happening from Portugal is further proof that the forms of the ocean are as brave as they are poetic.

Bringing together artists and galleries that connect the notion of Black America to a broader perspective of the Atlantic dimension of the world is one of the guidelines for understanding the different ways in which black people produce their poetic experience. Undoubtedly, there are artistic practices of extreme rigour that are presented here because of their proximity, but also because of their particularities.

This curatorship is based on a conversation between two curators and aims to address these (dis)connections in terms of visual arts: poetic exchanges between African and Afro-diasporic and Brazilian artists. Designed to reflect on Afro-Atlantic relations in an extended manner, not only limited by territory and geography.

Paula Nascimento & Igor Simões, curators

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