Monday, 26 November 2018

Where do we go from here? This is the real dope

My presentation at the ICOM Europe | ICOM Germany conference "Museums, Borders and European Responsibilities - 100 Years from WWI". Read here.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Who’s welcome to your home and at your table?

To Lambrina and Sam, Eleni and Nikos
To good friends and good discussions

Last June, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Press Secretary, was asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant. The request was made by the restaurant owner. 

In mid-August, the invitation to Marine Le Pen, former French presidential candidate and leader of the National Rally political party, to attend the Web Summit in Lisbon was followed by public outcry. The invitation was eventually withdrawn.

Both incidents raised questions regarding freedom of speech; whether one can fight extremist political views and address the roots of the rise of the far-right by banning or ignoring certain viewpoints; and whether by excluding some people you don’t also become like them yourself.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

How easy is it to put your children in a boat?

The fire in Mati (Greece, 2018; image taken from Facebook)

“Do you see how easily you put your children in a boat when in despair or in danger?”, someone wrote on Twitter on 26 July, when the whole of Greece was in profound shock after the tragic fire that claimed so many lives. As the personal stories of those who perished and those who survived, tried to save their loved ones or people they didn’t know at all were emerging, turning the tragedy into something less and less abstract, someone made this connection between the people who put their children in boats to be taken to safety during the fire and the refugees who attempt the perilous, often deadly, crossing of the sea. How many people made that connection? What kind of people made that connection? Would this connection ever occur to someone with a negative attitude towards refugees and migrants? Would this tweet be enough to make someone reconsider?

Saturday, 14 July 2018

“Whites only”: would you go in?

There are two recent incidents which made me think. They are lessons learnt and they influence my way of evaluating situations and making professional and personal decisions.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Does it concern us?

Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, murdered by ISIS in August 2015 (Photo: Marc Deville/Getty)
Translated from Greek, my article on the political role of archaeological museums in the 21st century. Read here

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Museum profissionals: new skills

My article in the latest issue of ICOM Portugal News Bulletin (Series III, June 2018, Nr. 12), available in english here.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Guest post: "Pioneer Cities of Culture and how Istanbul changed the narrative", by Filiz Ova

World Cultural Cities (Tianfu) Symposium, Chengdu, China

I am writing this article from from Beijing, on my way back from the World Cultural Cities (Tianfu) Symposium
 in Chengdu, China. I am amazed by their openness, friendly hospitality and, at the same time, their urge to westernize. It reminds me very much of Turkey at the beginning of the Republic, when scholars, artists, specialists from Europe were invited to implement the principles of high culture.  Contrary to China, however, not with the aim to become a global superpower, but with the somewhat naïve intention to become a secular democratic Republic.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Discussing the decolonisation of museums in Portugal

Photo: Maria Vlachou

I love museums. I love them for what they are; I love them for what they are not, but can be; I love them for their potential. I especially love them because of the work developed by a number of colleagues around the world so that museums may adapt to new realities, remain or become relevant for people, and even reinvent themselves. I particularly love them lately because of the controversies they cause or face, pushing our thinking and practice forward.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Can there be political democracy without cultural democracy?

Artemrede, Project Odisseias, "Histórias em Viagem"
This is the english translation of my article "Haverá democracia política sem democracia cultural? O lugar das 'periferias' em Portugal", published in Revista Observatório 24 | Arte, Cultura e Educação na América Latina, ITAÚ Cultural. Read here

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Cultural appropriation: less gatekeepers, more critical thinkers

"La Japonaise" by Claude Monet, Museum of Fine Arts Boston (image taken from

For Nandia

My first contact with the concept of cultural appropriation happened in July 2015 because of “Kimono Wednesdays” at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston (MFA). On the occasion of the display of Claude Monet’s “La Japonaise” (a painting of the artist’s wife, surrounded by fans, wearing a blond wig and a bright red kimono), visitors were invited to put on a kimono similar to the one shown on the painting and share their photos on social media. According to the museum, this was a way of engaging with the painting. For some people, though, the activity lacked any context regarding the garment, becoming just “fun”; others criticized it for reinforcing stereotypes and exoticizing Asian Americans; for others, it was blatant racism; (read Seph Rodney’s article). 

Saturday, 5 May 2018

“Lindonéia, the suburb’s Gioconda”: my first visit to the Pinacoteca of São Paulo

"Lindonéia, the suburb's Gioconda", Rubens Gerchman, Pinacoteca de São Paulo  (Photo: Maria Vlachou)

“Na frente do espelho
Sem que ninguém a visse
Lindonéia desaparecida
Despedaçados, atropelados
Cachorros mortos nas ruas
Policiais vigiando
O sol batendo nas frutas
Ai, meu amor
A solidão vai me matar de dor (...)”

Caetano Veloso, “Lindonéia”

One thing I noticed right from my first visits to the museums of São Paulo (Brazil) was that long introductory texts are greatly appreciated. The exhibition "Brazilian Vanguard of the 1960s – the Roger Wright Collection", at the Pinacoteca of São Paulo, was no exception.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

The Museum of (my) Discoveries

Exhibition "Return - Traces of Memory", Monument odf the Discoveries, Lisbon, 2015 (Photo: Maria Vlachou)

I'm Portuguese by adoption. When I arrived in Portugal, in 1995, the only thing I knew about the history of the country had to do with the Discoveries (of sea routes and spices, taught in my country in the 7th or 8th grade). Over the years, I have been "discovering" the rest (even with regard to the Discoveries and beyond the sea routes and the spices). The story I was taught in school was, as usual, only one part.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Towards Cultural Access and Participation in Portugal

My article for the magazine Howlround, on the occasion of the IETM plenary meeting that takes place in Porto this monht. Read the article

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Art, Community and Leadership debated at the ISPA Congress

Photo: Christopher Duggan Photography
My notes on the ISPA Congress, which was held in New York City last January.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Let's set Mark Deputter free

Image taken from the newspaper Público. Photo: Nuno Ferreira Santos

It was a good exercise for all of us the with conversation with the Municipal Councilor for Culture Catarina Vaz Pinto (CVP) yesterday at the Maria Matos Theatre (MMT). As it has been a good exercise all the discussion generated after the announcement of her decision to lease MMT and turn it into a for-profit space with programming for a larger public.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Still on Maria Matos: a theatre's ethos

"Have a Great day!", by Vaiva Grainytė, Lina Lapelytė, Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė (Photo: Simonas Svitra). Maria Matos Theatre, 2017

Ethos: (Greek éthos, -ous) noun
distinguishing character, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group or institution
Source: Merriam-Webster dictionary

Anne Pasternak became the director of the Brooklyn Museum in New York in 2015, succeeding Arnold L. Lehman, who had held the post for 18 years. Anne impressed me positively in her first interview for the New York Times when she stated: "I am excited to build on that ethos of welcome".

At the time of Pasternak's appointment, there were several voices criticising the choice of someone who had never worked in a museum before. However, this sentence, right at the end of the article in the New York Times, was enough for me to think: She got it! She understood "who" the museum she's going to work for is!

Sunday, 28 January 2018

TS Elliot, a terrible hip-hop artist

A photo of the project Contratempos in the This is PARTIS programme.

The Guardian recently wrote about a critique by poet Rebecca Watts, entitled “The cult of the noble amateur”, where she attacks the work of a cohort of young female poets considering it “the open denigration of intellectual engagement and rejection of craft”. The text resulted in a very interesting, and welcome, debate regarding the value of “high” and “popular” poetry. The answer of Scottish poet Don Patterson (winner of the TS Elliot award and publisher of two of the young poets in question) was captivating: " You don’t have to like what people do, but I think you measure it against its own ambitions. Otherwise it’s like saying TS Eliot was a terrible hip-hop artist. True, but so what.”

Saturday, 13 January 2018

What Maria Matos means to me (or, why did I sign the petition)

On December 17, 2017, the newspaper Público published an interview with the Councilor of Culture of Lisbon, Catarina Vaz Pinto, where it was announced that "[the theatre] Maria Matos (MM) will have a very different programming model, with longer running periods and a greater concern in attracting audiences, in order to be profitable". The news was surprising to me, to say the least. I would say more, I remember that, as I read, I felt a kind of physical pain.