This exhibition curated by Inês Valle happened firstly at Plataforma Revólver (Portugal) from 16.05 to 28.06.2014 with the financial support of Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and afterwards travelled to the United Kingdom, being shown at Bermondsey Project in London from 17.07 to 03.09.2014 with the support of Crisis and Bermondsey Project.
In recent years Portugal has been facing a financial crisis that has destabilized and questioned the foundations of the democratic system. The role of the state would be to ensure the country’s stability and the welfare of its population. However, the overall economic interests still speak louder than ethical and moral values to suit a European Union (EU) that supposedly works for the common good, thus devaluing the country’s identity and penalizing the true national interests. According to Giorgio Agamben’s point of view, we live in a permanent state of exception, where the executive power has absorbed both judicial and legislative powers, while at the same time continues to lecture about the separation of powers. Today democracy is a floating despot, i.e., a concept that can be seen as a despotic signifier in the contemporary political discourse: occupying almost the entire geographical and ideological space. Despot, of course, in the sense that it appears to have eliminated the possibility of alternative concepts, a mandatory reference that makes it the end of the history of political ideas, like a password that automatically legitimizes the holders of knowledge and/or power. […]
Portugal’s entry into the EU has boosted the country’s development, influenced by several imposed requirements or investments from the EU as well as by the economic opening of Portugal to the other member states. These investments, in the form of funds, focused mainly on the least developed countries, such as Portugal, Spain, Greece or Ireland. On the flip side, Portugal had to give up some of its main sources of income [...] interestingly, some of the referred countries are the ones that make up the PIGS, countries that are acclaimed as being the root cause or the catalysts of the European economic crisis. But to what extend did these policies force countries to give up their main sources of subsistence? Weren’t these same measures, applied by the EU, responsible for turning countries like Portugal and others into subsidy-dependent countries? Were these measures not the ones responsible for the outbreak of the economic crisis that we are facing now? [...]
In a country that does not strongly appreciate or respect Culture, where Culture is looked at with superficiality and even deemed unnecessary to human life, by a government that is guided by democratic dealings, it was without strangeness that artists attended the extinction of the Ministry of Culture and the subsequent drawback in these sectors […] As Jacques Rancière points out, “those who believe to be cunning can always say that equality is nothing more than a sweet angelic dream of imbeciles and sensitive souls. Unfortunately for them, it is an unceasing reality and which is proven anywhere. There is no service that is done, no knowledge that is transmitted, no authority that has been established without the master or lord having spoken, however slightly, as “equals” to the one they command or instruct”.
We have witnessed in Portugal, and also in many other countries, numerous socio-political events, which not only demonstrate concern over the prevailing democratic models, but also point to a desire for profound changes seeking to stimulate the introduction of new models of democracy and government. However, according to Slavoj Žižek, most demonstrations that took place in recent years did not materialize into concrete proposals, they were rather an incentive for the reflection of the existing paradigms [...] We look to escape the utopian dangers of the idea of a purifying democratic society. Democratic overflow is contaminated and it does not draw into the end of politics. Its strength resides in the ability to mobilize the will of emancipation in times of cynicism and disillusionment. The issue at hands is not only, or even mainly, the dream of an unpredictable outburst of true democracy as an “event” but the concrete strength of this idea in helping the political current, more or less underground, that is the policy of the oppressed, as well as the need to evaluate this strength, analysing the strategies that it carries, its efficacies, and its counter-hegemonic effects.
In this context art emerges as a dialectical motive of the protest’s verbalization. We encourage the audience to intuit and perceive the socio cultural reality in which it lives, in order to be able to direct their self-determination in the midst of these on-going power games.
Text by Inês Valle extract from the Catalogue text
Beatriz Albuquerque (PT), Jorge André Catarino (PT), Susana Chiocca (PT), Paul Eachus (UK), Joana Gomes (PT), António Lago (PT) , Manuel Santos Maia (MOZ) , Filipe Marques (PT), Paulo Mendes (PT), José de Almeida Pereira (PT), Pauliana Valente Pimentel (PT), Hugo de Almeida Pinho (PT), Fernando J. Ribeiro (PT) Alexandre Sequeira Lima (PT), Inês Teles (PT), Angela Tiatia (NZ)
From 1pm to 6pm
Or by appointment