Where are you from? _ Contemporary Portuguese Art

De onde vens? Arte Contemporânea de Portugal

Faulconer Gallery, Grinnell College, Grinnell, Iowa, EUA

February 1 to April 20, 2008

Curated by Lesley Wright

An exhibition of work by 21 Portuguese artists who draw on culture, place, art, history, family, and theory in order to express where they are from in photographs, video, sculpture, and works of new media. Artistas:

Manuel Santos Maia

Carlos Bunga

Dina Campos Lopes

António Caramelo

Pedro Valdez Cardoso

André Cepeda

Teresa Furtado

João Leonardo

Eduardo Matos

Marta de Menezes

Rodrigo Oliveira

Miguel Palma

Nuno Pedrosa

Ana Pérez-Quiroga

Antonio and Paula Reaes Pinto

Pedro Portugal

Filipe Rocha da Silva

José Carlos Teixeira

Rui Toscano

Rui Valério

Panel Discussion Friday, February 1, 2008y 4:15 -5:45 Curator and critic Miguel Amado and exhibiting artists will discuss the nature of contemporary Portuguese art. (Snow Date: Saturday, February 2, 4:15 pm)

Opening Reception Friday, February 1, 2008 5:30 to 6:30 pm (Snow Date: Saturday, February 2, 5:15 to 6:30 pm)

Manuel Santos Maia apresenta: alheava_film

Texto – Narrador / Text - Narrator: António Manuel Machado Maia

Argumento / Screenplay: Manuel Santos Maia

Captação Original / Original footagee (8mm):António Manuel Machado Maia

Pós-produção de imagem / Image Post-production: José Roseira

Concepção sonora / Sound Design: Manuel Santos Maia

Mistura / Sound Editor: Pedro Lima

Engenheiro de Som / Sound Engineer: Pedro Lima

Edição Vídeo / Vídeo Editing: Manuel Santos Maia e José Roseira

Agradecimentos / Acknowledements: José Roseira, António Manuel Machado Maia, Pedro Lima, Anabela dos Santos Maia, Nuno Ramalho e família

Original 8mm film Edited in Mini-DV Vídeo DVD-Pal, Cor, Audio PCM Stereo, 35'10''

© Manuel Santos Maia, 2007

I am Portuguese, from Mozambique, born in Nampula in 1970, the year in which Portugal began to lose military control of the former Portuguese colony with the military operation Nó Gordio. After the independence of Mozambique following the civil war in 1976, my mother, my brothers and I were forced to come to Portugal to study. For the same reasons, in the 1980's and the early part of the 1990's, my father and uncles decided to return permanently to Portugal, the country where some had been born and had left when children. Since 1999, I have developed and presented the project alheava, which has as its central theme Portuguese colonial and post-colonial collective memory. The history of my family forms the base of the project and allows it to address other themes such as Portuguese identity and colonialism. With regards to the work process, and because it deals with a return to my origins, to my family's past, I began by recording in various texts (that were eventually integrated into the work), the memories that I had of the short time I lived in Mozambique. Second, I recorded in audio and video conversations that I had with family members in which they remembered their experiences and past stories from the time they lived in Mozambique, events that happened during the process of decolonization (coming to Portugal) and others that occurred during the process of adapting to the country, the different places where different parts of the family went to live. Then I made an inventory of all of the material items (consisting of decorative objects, furniture, collections, photographs, movies, etc.) that would allow me to (re)tell, present and make present the testimonies referred to. The conceptual phase of the project, the work that would be presented in the different exhibitions were designed and defined. The last phase of production, creation and assembly, does not follow the order defined in the conceptual phase because it depends on the exhibition spaces, the production conditions and the logistical possibilities. All together, the different works and exhibitions of the project alheava come close to being symbolic portraits; they constitute documental vestiges of a situation that defined the personal history of those who experienced Portuguese colonization and, from a more collective point of view, the history of Portugal.

Eu sou português, de Moçambique, nascido em Nampula, em 1970, no ano em que Portugal começou a perder militarmente a ex-colónia portuguesa com a operação militar "Nó Gordio". Depois da independência, de Moçambique, por motivos de guerra interna, em 1976, a minha mãe eu e meus irmãos fomos obrigados a vir para Portugal, para estudar. Pelos mesmos motivos, na década de 80 e início de 90, o meu pai e tios decidiram regressar definitivamente a Portugal, país onde alguns tinham nascido e saído ainda crianças. Desde 1999, tenho desenvolvido e apresentado o projecto alheava que tem como tema central a memória colonial e pós colonial portuguesa. A história da minha família constitui a base do projecto e permite abordar outras temáticas como: a identidade e o colonialismo português. Em termos de processo de trabalho, e por se tratar de um regresso às minhas origens, ao passado da família, comecei por registar em vários texto, (que vieram a integrar as mostras), as memórias que tinha, da pouca vivência de Moçambique. Num segundo momento, registei em áudio e em vídeo, conversas com familiares onde estes rememoravam vivências, experiências e histórias passadas em Moçambique, outras ocorridas a quando do processo de descolonização (vinda para Portugal) e outras ainda ocorridas durante o processo de adaptação ao país, ás diversas localidades para onde os diferentes elementos da família foram viver. Seguidamente, fiz o reconhecimento e levantamento do espólio material, (constituído por, objectos decorativos, mobiliário, colecções, fotografias, filmes, etc.), que me permitiria (re)contar, apresentar e tornar presente os referidos testemunhos. Na fase de concepção do projecto, foram desenhados e definidos os trabalhos que seriam apresentados em diversas mostras. A última fase, a de produção, rea lização e montagem, não segue a ordem definida na fase de concepção pois depende dos espaços expositivos, das condições de produção e das possibilidades logísticas. No conjunto, os diversos trabalhos e mostras do projecto alheava, aproximam-se a retratos simbólicos, constituem vestígios documentais de uma situação que marcou a história pessoal de quem testemunhou a colonização portuguesa e, de um ponto de vista mais colectivo, a própria história de Portugal. Translation by Kathy Lucini, Georgetown University, Washington, DC.

Curator's Statement

Exploring Portuguese Art in Iowa or If all art is global, why do we speak different languages? "The traveler usually neglects to speak to and about the homes they leave." (1) Where are you from? is an exhibition about curatorial and artistic exploration. It is an exhibition that acknowledges that the contemporary Portuguese artist wanders far from home, settling elsewhere in Europe, in the U.S., in Africa or Asia for a time, absorbing ideas and influences and then bringing them back to feed the art milieu of Lisbon or Porto or Évora. This exhibition also acknowledges the journeying of the curators (Jane Gilmor and Lesley Wright), colleagues from central Iowa who travel, often, away from the Midwest to see art and artists in other cities, other countries, and on other continents. In this particular exhibition, the focus is on art they found in Portugal. The resulting exhibition takes that art on its own unexpected journey, from Portugal to Iowa. Within the sophisticated art galleries and museums in that most-westward of European nations, the idea of Portuguese art in Iowa is resoundingly peculiar, beyond the boundaries of the known art world, and without any recognizable re ason for being. In the course of all this exploration, changes take place in the artist, the curator and the experience of the art. Every change of context changes us, changes how we see the art before us, and changes how the art functions within an environment. The oddness of seeing contemporary Portuguese art in Grinnell or Cedar Rapids or Cedar Falls, Iowa raises anew the question we ask of any new thing: where are you from? In turn, as we unpack the answer, we have to ask ourselves: where are we from? The answer, in every case, is not so simple. It is a construction built out of our histories, our circumstances, and our connections. The twenty artists brought together in this exhibition would never be seen together as a group in Portugal, primarily because curators from Iowa see the Portuguese art world through different filters. Perhaps this rearrangements is for the good and can open doors, make new connections, and inject the unexpected into both languishing and flourishing careers. Portuguese art in Iowa, and Iowa curators in Portugal, form an unexpected contact zone. (2) The term "contact zone," introduced by Mary Louise Pratt in her important book Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation in 1992, is defined as "social [space] where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other." (3) As a curator moving into the contact zone, I meet the art world first in a social space, and am fascinated with the place and the culture that surrounds the art. The art world of today, with its traveling shows, biennials, artist residencies, and art capitals, is a globe-trotting contact zone. But seeing the art "at home" provides a different context. In an exhibition like Where are you from? we pause to interrogate a particular place, to see what we might be able to comprehend as a visitor, and to shape a vision of that place into an exhibition comprehensible to an audience far away. Then we pick up that created exhibition and take it to our home, and in the process alter both what we select and the place we choose to inhabit. As I moved through the contact zone of Portuguese art in June 2006 and March 2007 and grappled with what I found, I looked at a lot of art, I met many artists and critics, and I experienced a wide range of art environments. Although much of what I saw was part of the greater globalized art world, there was still the barrier of a variety of cultural assumptions. As Pratt notes, the text - be it a book, a letter, or a work of art - is intended both "to be read, and to be readable." (4) In two short trips to Portugal, there was much that remained for me unreadable and opaque. As Portuguese artist Ana Perez-Quiroga astutely noted, an environment affects the ability to communicate (5) and when the curator is a traveler, much can be lost in translation. As a result our selection of these 20 artists is idiosyncratic, connected to the baggage we brought with us from Iowa. We selected artists with whom we connected personally, intellectually, and who fit the (eventual) core question: Where are you from? They are not all blue chip artists in Portugal, seen widely in the best galleries and in biennials from São Paulo to Liverpool. But each presented a facet of the complicated answer to the question we posed and together create an exhibition that may be at least somewhat readable to an Iowa audience, and even the wider American audience. What about that core question? What implications does it carry? Asking artists where they are from implies a past and a history, a time before the present. It also implies many places and many points of view. One might be "from" a location, or many locations, a theoretical point of view, a philosophical approach, an artistic movement, a point on the map, a series of journeys. But it asks for some specificity, some defining moment or place which could be construed as a demand for cultural identity. In today's globalized art world, the notion of cultural identity is suspect, ideally irrelevant, transcended by a worldwide multimedia feast that ties everyone together. If this were indeed true, then art anywhere should be comprehensible to everyone. At least to me, this is not the case. By basing this exhibition on the question Where are you from? we inject our, personal assumptions about personal, place and cultural identity as an irreducible part of the project that is art. Perhaps this is an old-fashioned restriction to place on an exhibition concept. Perhaps, for me, it comes from 15 years of living in an art world (the American Midwest) that is endlessly defined as not of the mainstream by those who assume they live in the hub of the mainstream (New York, Los Angeles). When the circle is not inclusive, one can only assume there is a difference between being in or out of the circle and that the global is not universal. Nevertheless, the limitations imposed by culture present their own opportunities for exploration. We present here an exhibition of these twenty artists that produce our peculiar view of Portuguese art, our image of where this exhibition comes from. Within our answer to the question are elements of many histories relevant to Portugal: colonial history (in the work of Manuel Santos Maia, born in former Portuguese colony Mozambique, and Ana Perez-Quiroga, a regular visitor to Morocco), economic history (the piece by Paula Reaes and António Pinto on the sardine industry), and art history (see Pedro Portugal and António Caramelo's pieces on Dada, sculpting and identity). There are stories of family in the work of João Leonardo and Dina Campos Lopes (who also happen to be cousins), and of the strains produced by gender in Teresa Furtado's work. These are starting points, as are the direct references to the place that is Portugal in André Cepeda's photographs, and in the tension between home and away in Rui Toscano's videos. Pedro Valdez Cardoso's sculpture and José Carlos Teixeira's video installation carry us out of Portugal to how the world beyond may look back at that place, while Eduardo Matos, Carlos Bunga, Rodrigo Oliveira, and Nuno Pedrosa focus in on the structures - mundane or fantastic -- of an omnipresent Portuguese built environment, and all that 'structure' implies culturally and artistically. Culture, and perhaps even a critique of culture, flows through many of these works. It is more explicitly expressed in Filipe Rocha da Silva's paintings, dependent on mark making and the perhaps futile urge to communicate with visual symbols, and in the video work of Rui Valério, a master of spinning the possibilities proposed by the culture created by the music industry. Miguel Palma steps beyond the arts into borderlands with science and technology, allowing the industrial aspects of these cultural expressions to obscure his role as an artist. Marta de Menezes walks directly into the science lab to find the tools for her art. Lest we assume there is something essentialist about being an artist in Portugal, it is important to note that the twenty artists presented in this exhibition have wide ranging experiences of living, studying and exhibiting their art around the world. Within this group there are artists who have made their way to Berlin, New York, London, Spain, San Francisco, Australia, Holland, Morocco, or Los Angeles. Some were born to families from former Portuguese colonies such as Mozambique, Brazil, or Angola. Currently, they all have a presence in the Portuguese art scene, even if they are crossing in and out of Portugal regularly. (6) Where are you from? is, in other words, a peculiar hybrid, a construction made of a place that is itself made of many inputs and expressed in many voices. It is the product of a reciprocal relationship between artists and curators, and it will be seen by a wide variety of people who encounter it in Iowa in 2008. In addition, a portion of the exhibition will be experienced virtually via the internet, and a portion will be experienced through the catalogue. Whatever the context, the work by these twenty Portuguese artists is part of the great, eternal flow of art. As anthropologist James Clifford has written, "…objects currently in the great museums are travelers, crossers - some strongly 'diasporic' with powerful, still meaningful ties elsewhere." (7) He notes that art is part of a great "unfinished historical process of travel" (8) where art made one place, perhaps out of experiences and materials garnered in another place, becomes art treasured somewhere else. For Portuguese artists, such travel for the self and one's art is highly desirable. The hybridity it engenders enriches artistic expression, artistic dialogue, and the greater understanding of art. It enriches the contact zone where art is encountered in Portugal. Taking that art to Iowa with this exhibition is an unexpected journey, transplanting the art of a nation of explorers to the center of a nation of pioneers. The core question, 'where are you from,' complicates the encounter, since the answer for both the artists and the curators, as well as the audience, is not simple. I am from California, before living in Pennsylvania and Massachussetts and then settling in Iowa. Jane is from Iowa but has traveled widely and often, to Greece, Mexico, Portugal, India and to artist residencies across the US to nourish her creativity as an artist. There is something about each of those places that has shaped us. But what makes us American, as opposed to Portuguese, is lodged in some other elusive place. Wherever we are from, we must be able to locate ourselves in order to enter into a conversation with this art. We know the exhibition is from Portugal, from the title. How then is it different from other art we know, or is it? What new thing do we create by bringing Portuguese art to Iowa, and once it has been here, then where is it from? For these twenty peripatetic artists, a home in Portugal matters at some level in their lives. We hope we can also make it matter for the viewers of this exhibition. Lesley Wright Grinnell College Grinnell, Iowa

(1) Joe Wood, "Notes to a Prologue to an Introduction to a Book about a Powerful Fiction Called Home," Negotiations in the Contact Zone/Negociações na Zona de Contacto, edited by Renée Green (Lisbon, Portugal: Assírio & Alvim, 2003) 206. (2) Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London and New York: Routledge, 1992) 4. (3) bid. (4) Ibid. (5) Ana Perez-Quiroga, in conversation with the author, Lisbon, June 12, 2006. (6) It is worth noting that there are approximately 200 million Portuguese speaking people living outside of Portugal today, the result of a rich colonial past (former colonies also include Cape Verde, Guinea, and São Prince in Tomé) and a strapped economy that has sent thousands and thousands of guest workers and emigrants beyond Portugal to look for work. (7) James Clifford, "Museums as Contact Zones," in Negotiations in the Contact Zone, 277. (8) Ibid.

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Major support provided by Instituto Camões