Sunday, 31 October 2021

National theatres: mission (im)possible?

On the occasion of its reopening to the public, after renovation works, the National Theatre S. João (NTSJ) organised a promising international colloquium on the theme “National Theatres: missions, tensions, transformations”. In its own words, this would be “an event of multiple-voiced reflection that is also intended as a self-questioning gesture: an international conference in which we will provide an inter pares diagnosis and prognosis for an institution that, though somewhat ancient, remains very much alive.”

With his opening speech, Pedro Sobrado, Chairman of the Board, reinforced our expectations through an extensive questioning:

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Visions of the empire

Visions of the Empire is an exhibition of photography and about photography. One more exhibition in the programme of Padrão dos Descobrimentos (the Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon), which is one of the cultural institutions that most questiones (itself and us) about the country's colonial past and about slavery. On the website of the Padrão dos Descobrimentos, one reads that “Photographic images were staged and commercialised with numerous goals. They changed hands, both officially and secretly, they were forgotten or destroyed. They documented individual and collective dreams and memories. They fuelled the imagination around colonial domination, helping to make it come true. They contributed to a vision of the “other” as essentially different ‒ regarding ways of life, customs and mentality ‒ and to the establishment and maintenance of laws and practices founded on political, social, economic and cultural discrimination and drawn along racial lines. Moreover, they served to denounce the iniquity and violence of colonisation, encouraging aspirations for a more humane and egalitarian future that spanned various political hues and orientations. Their uses in the past and their legacy in the present were ‒ still are ‒ vast, heterogeneous and long-lasting.”

Sunday, 10 October 2021

To provoke a sigh

This week, I participated in Territórios Públicos (Public Territories), the national meeting of services of education and mediation organised by 23 Miles, the cultural project of the Municipality of Ílhavo. I like the name of this initiative, which makes me think of words like “community” and “communication” – communication that creates community – the connection created by a shared task (to remember the speech “What is to love a country” by Tolentino Mendonça).

The beginning of the meeting was marked by the participation of Álvaro Laborinho Lúcio, by the worlds he brings along and generously shares in his public interventions, with a mixture of charming seriousness and captivating lightness. I could highlight several points, but, considering the theme of this post, what seems to me most relevant is to refer to the way he encouraged us to follow the impulse of our constant ignorance, which takes us from the stereotypes, to the interrogation, the questioning, the doubt…

Saturday, 3 July 2021

Propelled by love

Photo: Paulo Pimenta

The last chapter in Mike Murawski’s new book, Museums as agents of change, is entitled “Propelled by love”. While care, healing, humanity, community are very strong references in the book as a whole, it’s in that last chapter that Mike asks straightforwardly: “What if love, above everything else, was the core value that steered the radical change needed in museums today?”.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

Recent conversations


In the last weeks, I had the opportunity to talk to very interesting people. One of these conversations was in Portuguese and the other two in English. 

Centro Internacional de Artes José Guimarães: Fricções - Reescrever o museu

On the occasion of International Museum Day, a conversation with Gisela Casimiro, moderated by CIAGJ director, Marta Mestre. Check here

What is your crisis and how do you deal with it? Crisis within culture and cultural institutions in Europe

Invited by Creative Europe Germany and Kulturpolitische Gesellschaft, I had a speed date with Olga Brzezińska (City of Literature Foundation, Poland). Part of the digital event series “noFuture. The art of departing”. Check here

The Shift Inclusion Interview Series

Invited by the European Choral Foundation - Europa Cantat, I talked to Sophie Dowden, Project Manager, about inclusive recruitment, boards, membership and events). Check here

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Power to act

Photograph: Jon Nazca/Reuters (image taken from The Guardian)

Recent events made me revisit a post I wrote in 2014 referring to architect Zaha Hadid. When questioned by the Guardian about the deaths of migrant workers in the construction of a stadium she designed for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Hadid answered:

“I have nothing to do with the workers. I think that's an issue the government – if there's a problem – should pick up. (…) I cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about it.”

At the time, there were more than 500 deaths of Indian migrant workers and 382 Nepalese. Today, we are counting more than 6500 deaths of migrant workers since Qatar won the bid in 2010. In February this year, a Norwegian football team thought they had something to do with this and that they had some power to do something.

Saturday, 3 April 2021

What is the change we are longing for?

"Missing you", at the entrance of Musicbox.

Musicbox in Lisbon has made me smile more than once in the last months. I´ve never been there and, still, it has made me feel we know each other and we are going through this together.

I have repeatedly questioned why so many cultural organisations are unable to show their human face, share feelings, be close to people in different moments in life (both in people’s life and the organisations’ life – which should, actually, coincide on so many occasions). Back in May 2020, I wrote about Globe Aroma’s “Love Letter to a Caring Community” – a letter expressing sadness, concern, confusion in the face of the pandemic and clearly stating that the venue would close, not because of fear, but out of love and care. Every other communication I came across at the time of lockdown – but also when the time came to reopen – sounded like a decree. In that same post last May, I made a first attempt of creating a wish list, of defining the ingredients that could help us imagine a better post-pandemic world. There hasn’t been a second attempt yet: time, humanity, care, respect, appreciation and mission; this is what was – and still is - on my wish list.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

It is called "leadership"

"Today was one of the most important days in my professional life. The Republic Museum became a vaccination centre against Covid-19."

Ever since I saw this post by the director of the Republic Museum, Mário de Souza Chagas, I can’t stop thinking about it. I shared it by simply saying “This is called ‘leadership’”. The kind of leadership we are eager to see from other museum directors around the world.

Saturday, 6 February 2021

Curating the discomfort


Residents of Póvoa de São Miguel. Image taken from the newspaper Diário de Notícias
© PAULO SPRANGER / Global Imagens

English translation of my article published today in the newspaper Público.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

The 'city' goes to the 'periphery', does the 'periphery' go to the 'city'?

Screenshot from Netflix documentary "Emicida: AmarElo - It's All For Yesterday"

In 2016, Faustin Lyniekula, the Congolese choreographer, was the guest of Lisbon’s biennial festival Artist in the City. Watching his performance “Le Cargo” was the reason why I went to the neighbourhood of Cova da Moura for the first (and, so far, only) time. Many colleagues were there, people whom I normally meet in the city’s different cultural venues. And, of course, the local residents were there too. I remember that moment as an uncomfortable experience. I remember feeling an intruder, feeling that I shouldn’t be there, not in that context.