Saturdays at six

A common idea unites cultural Saturdays here in Porto: interesting artifacts as starting points of most diverse talks and presentations around the city, throughout the year. Yes, “Um objeto e seus discursos” (“An artifact and its discourses”) continues in 2015!

005Many Saturday afternoons across the city, all the way to December, are already on my wishlist thanks to Objeto, a cultural initiative organized by Porto City Hall, touching themes of history, art and contemporary society. I will be visiting new places, mostly unavailable for general public, or revisiting the ones I know, to meet people and learn new things. So far, I have walked though the monastery of Santa Clara and seen remains of the city walls, and learned about “New Portuguese letters” and the censorship they were subject to in early 1970s.

The mondrianesque design of the little brochure reflects the simplicity of the idea, and, at the same time, vastness of possibilities to interpret and reinterpret one same object from diverse perspectives and in different epochs.

003Looking forward to seeing the Afonso Henriques’ sword, entering the House of Prelada and its labyrinths, seeing the Aliados avenue from the City Hall balcony, learning about the meaning of the traditions related to the St. John’s day, seeing Rosa Mota in person in her pavilion, revisiting the VIP hall of Casa da Música.

And all this for free……..or almost so!

Besides being in Portuguese only (not a problem for me any more, though!), my single remark is regarding the quite chaotic organization of practicalities: this lead to finding out there will be a sequel of the 2014 Objeto very, very late, as well as impossibility to buy all tickets at once, or at least at a central place, for example.

http://www.umobjetoeseusdiscursos.com/

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“Porto Desconhecido”

What’s heritage without the actual people it is meaningful to? What’s tradition if it isn’t a living thing reinforcing one’s sense of identity and belonging?

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These were the questions that came to me naturally after the “Porto Desconhecido” exhibition and conversation some weeks ago in the Soares dos Reis museum. “The unknown Porto” made public some local stories, memories and customs thanks to a number of caring stakeholders – common people, young and old, who worked together in representing their traditions (celebration of the day of Saint Rita in São Nicolau neighbourhood in Porto) in an animated film, as much as the people from cultural institutions who came up with the idea, gathered the stories at various points in Porto and organized the logistics.

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The conversation was meant to contextualize the activities done and inform on the work, gathering museum experts and other participants at the stage: acknowledging that both parties were equally important for the success of the project! After the short film projection, it was endearing to see the exhibition, with pieces of scenography created with love and care for the city and its traditions by São Nicolau social center users.

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Bonding the people between each other and with their city, as well as unpretentiously reminding us, the observers, of what living heritage values are, that was the message of “Porto Desconhecido”.

João Rapagão at CreativeMornings Porto

The world is small, indeed! Many years ago, I discovered an inspiring blog named swissmiss, run by a Swiss lady who lives and works in New York – Tina Roth Eisenberg. I revisit it often, and only now I realized that it has to do with my today’s theme – CreativeMornings! The free monthly breakfasts + interesting talks for the creative community began in 2008, when exactly Tina Roth Eisenberg founded the event in New York. But then, they started spreading around the world and currently 89 cities are “infected”. I am happy that Porto is one of them!

I know it’s the end of September, but my memory of the CreativeMornings edition for July still remains fresh! The theme (common for all the participating cities) was heritage, and the guest speaker was João Rapagão – a professor, a thinker and an architect from Lisbon (but, from what I deduced, teaching here in Porto), dealing mostly with the problems of built patrimony. The site was just right: the CreativeMornings of Porto take place in its Palace of Arts.

The first thing one usually does at CreativeMornings is presenting themselves through a sticker with a name and a personal view to the topic on the table. This time, the question was “Memory and heritage: why preserve?” (it’s me on the photo!).

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And then, so many more issues to think and rethink were brought up by João Rapagão:

  • “heritage as alibi for the fear of change”;
  • “demolition as a way to, actually, give value to heritage in certain cases” (because “there is also old that is bad”!);
  • “sense of loss that creates obsession” (this has to do with the non-existent Crystal Palace of Porto);
  • the role of foreign architects in Portugal (related to the above mentioned Portuguese fear of change and evolution);
  • the question of reuse – “our epoch is just another epoch in the monument’s life”. When conceiving the intervention, one has to keep in mind that current use might not be feasible in the monument’s future and that there has to be room for change.

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The summer has passed, and I am still “digesting” these questions! For me, CreativeMorning with João Rapagão was one of the most inspiring mornings since I am in Porto.

Related links:

http://www.joaorapagao.com/

http://www.swiss-miss.com/

http://creativemornings.com/

Photos: CreativeMornings Porto

Quinta do Santiago: learning through experience

Among the many palaces I was lucky to visit over years, discovering Quinta do Santiago in Leça da Palmeira some weeks ago was by far the most imaginative and memorable experience. And I think experience is the keyword here! Not the investment or state-of-the-art equipment, because this cost just some good will, creativity and an elegant suit (but no, the visitors were not expected to be in suits).

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The strange visiting hours were the first twist, as we were supposed to appear (in whichever clothes) at 9.30 p.m. And then, we became part of a play! One of the three organized in Quinta de Santiago in a year. This time, the charismatic Joel Cleto was the main character, and the play was about him as an elegantly dressed butler, leading us through the noble family’s house. Revealing its secrets, Cleto was intertwining stories about the family members, urban history of Leça and building of the great port of Leixões, and the broader context of Portuguese history.

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The palace was interesting anyway, researched and restored carefully, but no written or audio guide could compare to this way of telling the story, nor inform so well. And the great thing is, Joel Cleto is an expert, in acting as much as in history & heritage.

By the way, the house was built in eclectic style by the Italian architect Nicola Bigaglia in late 19th century. The architect just gave proper form to the ideas of the owner, João Santiago de Carvalho e Sousa, who was educated in fine arts. And obviously passionate about every little detail of his home!

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For example, the house has an excellent ventilation system, so besides being pleasing for the eye and the sense of touch (photos cannot reproduce the variety of materials and textures used!), it is also very fresh and dry and simply … lacks that smell of old houses where windows are rarely open!

The old photo of the owner comes from here: http://en.cm-matosinhos.pt/PageGen.aspx?WMCM_PaginaId=27819

In regard to the insider views from the event, I called M. for photos! A big, big thanks*

 

An item and its discourses

5529_1There is a huge problem about the cultural scene of Porto – the problem of what to choose among so many things happening around!

I will be keeping an eye on the diverse and imaginative initiative of the Porto City Hall named “Um objeto e seus discursos”, that started in March and will be going on weekly until the end of 2014. I already attended one event  last Saturday, that somehow got to span the vast space between 19th-century feminine fashion, higher education and the current economic crisis in Portugal!

Link: http://www.umobjetoeseusdiscursos.com/

P.S. It was also enchanting to see the audience was very diverse, all ages and backgrounds!

MOONtosinhos.

What a lovely night yesterday! The night of full moon, the night I discovered the MOONtosinhos!

MOONtosinhos is an event organized by the City Hall of Matosinhos and the archaeologist – historian named Joel Cleto. Joel is a charismatic person, passionate researcher and writer on heritage, knowing every nook and cranny of the city, including legends and stories of forgotten or neglected places around us.

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For a while now, on the nights of full moon, he organizes little guided tours around the neighbourhoods of Matosinhos. Not knowing what to expect, I was shocked when I saw 150 people late on this Sunday night, ready for a walk with Joel. A lot of different folks, youngsters and retired, or the middle-aged, of various backgrounds and education, but all curious and respectful towards the past and the inherited.

There was quite a lot to learn from this experience, as far as I’m concerned: bits and bobs about the heritage of Matosinhos, simple and creative ways to organize an event, and above all realizing the importance and love for heritage in everyday life of Portuguese.

More info on Joel Cleto and the future events: http://joelcleto.no.comunidades.net/index.php

Special thanks to M. for surprising me with MOONtosinhos!