Sunday, 30 October 2016

MAAT, a generator of expectations

Image taken from the website of MAAT.
I am still amazed at the way the recently inaugurated MAAT - Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, designed by Amanda Levete, is integrated into the landscape. When I approach that area or when I cross the bridge from Lisbon, I always expect to see a huge building overlapping or hiding the Central Tejo power plant. But no... The Central Tejo still emerges majestically and the new building stands at its side as a smooth and fluid note.
My first contact with the new museum was back in June. In fact, it was the reopening of the "old" museum (Museum of Electricity in Central Tejo), after its renovation, and the MAAT brand was launched. Afterwards, I followed the campaign for the inauguration of the new building and I read some interviews of the museum director, Pedro Gadanho, thus forming an initial opinion / expectation. The various criticisms that arose with the opening of the building, as well as some discussions with colleagues, brought me more "food for thought", just like my first visit to the new building.

Saturday, 22 October 2016


"Uma menina perdida no seu século à procura do pai", CRINABEL Theatre (Photo: Paulo Pimenta, courtesy of National Theatre D. Maria II)

Two years ago, I was questioning here the purpose of festivals that present the art of specific groups of people (gay, black, disabled, etc). It was September 2014 and the second edition of Unlimited festival was taking place at Southbank in London. “I keep questioning myself”, I was writing at the time, “who attends these festivals, exhibitions, activities and what happens after? Do they attract the already ‘converted’ or they appeal to a wider audience? Do gay or disabled or black artists become more acknowledged by the sector and the public? Are they seen as the professionals they are? Are we moving towards an inclusive representation, where they are seen first and above all as artists, or rather curators and audiences still go to see something ‘special’, confined in a specific space and time, its ‘own’ space and time? Do these festivals help us move towards caring more and more about the art and less and less about ‘the rest’?”

Monday, 3 October 2016

Justin Bieber and the fight against islamic extremism

The Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani, and the Italian Prime Minister , Matteo Renzi (Photo: Alessandro Bianchi / Reuters, taken from the newspaper The Atlantic)
A recent NPR article, entitled Italy's 'CulturalAllowance' For Teens Aims To Educate, Counter Extremism is a clear demonstration of the confusion existing, at various levels and in various contexts, in relation to access to culture and to culture as a panacea for many ills of this world.

The title is not an exaggeration of the newspaper. It was the Italian Prime-Minister himself who said, when announcing this culture allowance (€500 for every 18-year-old to spend on cultural products), shortly after the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015: "They destroy statues, we protect them. They burn books, we are the country of libraries. They envision terror, we respond with culture."