Friday, December 13, 2019

Oporto Offscreen #1

Oporto Offscreen #1

The success of any meal lies in the true nature of the ingredients, the mastery of the cook and, of course, the setting. But some would say the most crucial step is the choice of the guests. A 1964 short educational film by the Eames designer duo effectively explains the applied science behind the-art-of-dinner-planning. The goal: to siege the table with a human chain as strong as possible. The almighty host approaches the seating chart with the skills of a military strategist, studying the guests' profile to predict the flow of interactions and neighbouring alliances. The seats fall into place. The host, sitting among the guests, stays in command of the entire meal. 

This surefire recipe is unknown to a party of artists, philosophers, actors, musicians and pet owners that for years have wined and dined around a table where they had to find their natural places. At the centre of the cherry wood table, polished with oil and honey, taking up most of the space there's a collection of things, exotic spices and teas, rare wines, herbal infusions, all bottled in the most common glass.  This still life, lit in the dimmest Flemish light, is the secret to the success of each dinner, the leitmotiv to familiar stories, that newcomers get introduced to by the most experienced diners. João Simões hosts these remarkable dinners at his kitchen, not far from Oporto. Always standing by the stove,  he helms the swirl as an admiral, scripting the night with a menu that often includes cow heart, monkfish liver and octopus eggs.  

Out of sight, screened by the heavy wooden shutters of Simões' lean studio space,  rest two other tables made from splitting a Peter Zumthor design. One holds the Rega Planar record player, a NAD amplifier, a pair of carbon cone Celestion speakers, a vintage MacBook Pro computer and  a selection of records curated over time. The other is cluttered almost to excess with piles of first edition books, gifts and machines of a dying species, organised in sympathetic disorder: a dedicated poem by Jean Dupuy with GOD upside down, a Live in Your Head catalogue with a hand-painted cover by David Medalla, a garbanzo bean rainstick gifted on his wedding by Alison Knowles, Simões' three walnuts with shells that ridge in 2, 3 and 4 parts and his drawing of a line crossing the turn of the millennium, a Warhol deflated silver cloud, Henry Flynt's unpublished study on the so-called emotion and spirituality in art… 

These objects are constantly re-arranged in a provisionally definite place on the desktop. The shifting topology of this hamlet is a way of revisiting all time friends and creating new fictions by proxy. 
Among the piles is a rolled silver-print taken by Jeff Perkins in 1969 while touring around the desert corners of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah with Guy de Cointet. On the lookout for red buttes and mesas of Monument Valley, they discovered a film crew shooting a Western. 

Jeff's picture shows two guys in a dry landscape, one of them de Cointet. Out of the shot, John Wayne recalls spectacular horseback chases on the set of John Ford's American West. Seeing Ford in action was definitely enough food for thought for any aspiring metteur-en-scène, if it hadn't been for the site of a steaming plate of beef jerky and beans on the catering table. The starving artist, standing in the blind spot of the one-eyed director, patiently awaits an invitation to join the crew's lunch break.

Oporto, Lisbon

Thursday , Dec 19 , 9 pm join us for this Off Screen session followed by a hearty Western meal supervised by João Simões. 

Oporto :  Calçada Salvador Correia de Sá 42 2F  Lisboa

This session was made possible thanks to the support of DGartes

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Jornadas Lúcidas #4

Jornadas Lúcidas  #4 - Soltec

Sunstone  by Ed Emswhiller 
video, colour sound  3'55'', 1979 

Sun Flowers by Rose Lowder
16mm film, colour, silent , 3'00'', 1982

Salt Garden by Rose Lowder
16mm film, colour, sound, 16'11'' 2010

Patents  by Father Himalaya, Hellmuth Costard and Pedro Bandeira and reconstruction of Hellmuth Costard's structure for Sunmachine #1

There is no record of men taller than 170 cm in Portugal before the year 1911. At the point, the only man to stand closer to the Sun was Manuel António Gomes, a Portuguese Jesuit, also known as Father Himalaya. We don’t know if it was his colossal height of 200 cm that shaped his shadeless mind, but, since his formative years, he dedicated himself to shedding light over most eclectic subjects: astronomy, agriculture, chemistrybiology and military theory with a recurrent interest for the study of the Sun as an endless source of clean energy. His research led to the manufacturing of solar machines that could follow the movement of the Sun with clock-precision while channeling its power. 

His pioneer studies in alternative energies guided the construction of the Pirelióforo: a 1300 cm tall metal structure carrying an 80 m2 parabolic surface covered in tiny mirrors, able to concentrate solar rays into a single beam with the unprecedented temperature of 3800°C, basically a giant solar oven that could melt any terrestrial material. With this invention, Himalaya wanted to diffuse an inexpensive tool for the production of nitrates, a key element to the later manufacturing of fertilisers, as well as of explosives. In 1904, the device was exhibited at the Louisiana World Fair in Saint Louis, awarded with the Grand Prize and a diploma signed by Theodore Roosevelt himself. It was perhaps the military potential of the invention that made the U.S.government invite Himalaya to tour the country presenting his work in several scientific institutes. An opportunity that Himalaya seized to develop further studies into the Amerindian cultures and naturopathy. On his return to Louisiana, he saw his invention vandalised by children who, lured by the flaring engine, stole and scattered its 6117 small mirrors. Realising he couldn’t find financial partners for such a avant la lettre project, he left the country abandoning the remaining metal structure on site.   

In the late 1960s, Helmuth Costard, the tallest enfant terrible of the New German Cinema, was expelled from the Oberhausen Film Festival for his film depicting a talking penis. Disappointed with the festival board prudishness, Costard devoted the following years to another passion: the invention and building of precision devices for film cameras. In 1970, he developed a system that could synchronise several cameras in order to shoot Football as Never Before, a solipsistic movie that tracked the movement of English soccer star George Best during the complete course of a 90’ minutes match. This synchronised multi-camera system led Costard to do more studies on precision engines, such as solar machines that could chase the Sun and, a decade later, to build affordable solar panels out of recycled objects like beer cans. These Sun-tracking projects were prototyped and tested in the desert landscape of Almería, in southern Spain, where their remains remain until today. 

In 2011, Pedro Bandeira, a 170 cm tall architect known for his utopian projects, joined forces with his engineer brother, Filipe Bandeira, to design a rotating house. Their idea was to have the house move according to the trajectory of the Sun in the spirit of Father Himalaya. After some practical testing, they decided to add to the automatic rotation a manual control that could be accessed through a microwave button installed in the living room. The house could rotate for thermic reasons as for other purposes like having more light to read, cook, think... Eight years after the first bureaucratic battles, the building rotates on the top of a hill in the village of Banhos Secos, in Coimbra's district, as an architectural landmark of energetic efficiency, nominated for the 2019 Mies Van der Rohe prize.

On our 4th Lucid Journey, Oporto will dedicate the session to the Sun, its energy and technology. We will exhibit the Sun-tracking projects conceived by Father Himalaya, Pedro Bandeira and Hellmuth Costard under the radiant light of two films by Peruvian artist Rose Lowder and a video by American 3D pioneer Ed Emshwiller. The session will be held under the presence of a hexagonal solar panel made with 2037 bright Heineken tin cans, built according to the plans of Hellmuth Costard. 

Friday, July 26, 10.30 pm  

This session was made possible thanks to the support of DGartes , the Estate of Ed Emswhiller and  Central de Cervejas 

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Jornadas Lúcidas # 3

Jornadas Lúcidas #3-Mirrors with Accent

Mirrors by Pinto Pereira 1992
Au Bord du Lac  by Patrick Bokanowski
16mm film, colour sound Michèle Bokanowski, 6', 1993 
Trypps #7 (Badlands)  by  Ben Russell
HD video, colour, sound 10', 2010
The Birth of the First Image (production of a mirror) 
a re-enactment of Manuel Alvess' performance, 1976

On January 3rd, 1968, artists Billy Al Bengston and Ed Ruscha, in their best suits, met at a restaurant in Beverly Hills to exchange business cards they had designed for each other. The photograph of this ritual taken by mirror-master, Larry Bell, is in itself a mirrored composition with the artists facing each other and holding the card of one another. Drawing the card was to some extent an exercise of identity appropriation. 

Ruscha's card design used the blackletter Cloister, which became a trademark in his later paintings, while Billy Al approached the task conceptually and played with the pronunciation of Ed's name. Ruscha sounded like Russia, something to duck from during Cold War as it could hinder a young artist in ascension. So he wrote Rew-Shay, a name that inherited an accent reminiscent of French sophistication. What began as a joke, is to this day a phonetic practice imposed by ED Rewshay for himself and the art world. 

In 1976 a man with a heavy moustache engaged in the performance of making a mirror for a small group of art connoisseurs. This mirror's first image was the inverted face of its creator, the expatriate artist Alvess, who had recently added an extra S to his surname for a certain "air de Paris".

According to some Eastern traditions, when buying an antique mirror of unknown provenance, one should discard the mirror and keep the frame, as mirrors work as image and energy casters, constantly absorbing the life of its surroundings, as if life was an unfathomable part of the light spectrum. Older mirrors have a lot of character, and there are even notorious ones that for their dark emissions have to be kept in isolation in museum catacombs. Mirrors with past experiences also carry the accents of their times. The mirror of Alvess has undoubtedly a Parisien accent, while Gerhard Richter’s rimmed mirror "Spiegel" carries a strong Saxonic parlance. No one knows in which language the god of the Smoking Mirror spoke to Robert Smithson on his Mexican desert trip. We just know that the voice of Tezcatlipoca, coming from the cars' darkened rear mirrors, asked him to forget the soothsaying obsidian mirrors and use new mirrors to collide the mythical past and the present. 

On the evening of the 17th of May we are displaying in Oporto a collection of such rare objects: the shaped light mirrors made by the northern architect Pinto Pereira, careful compositions embedded in glass that reflect the infinitude of the cosmos as well as the mundane gesture needed to tie a tie; the film Au Bord du Lac by Patrick Bokanowski, whose warped mirrors trap the feeling of a hot summer day and a cool breeze by the water; Ben Russell’s film Trypps #7 (Badlands), an intimate portrait mirroring the psychedelically induced inner state of a girl; the homemade mirror by Alvess’, attempted by Belén Uriel, and Oporto’s 16mm projector lens, silvered on the suggestion of the artist João Maria Gusmão.

(programme sponsored by DGARTES)

Friday, May 17, 10.30 pm  

Monday, April 29, 2019


An 8 hour night shift run by Phill Niblock, Michel Giacometti, Martha Colburn and a chorus of master musicians fuelling the steam of resistance

Starting either at midnight of April 30th or at the zero hour of May 1st 
Every two hours of film followed by an hour long session of improv music 

Featuring the works:

The Movement of People Working, 1973–1991 16mm film transferred to video and independent sound track by Phill Niblock, 
O Alar da Rede, 1962 35mm transferred to DVD,  by Michel Giacommetti, 
Hammer-Camera-Scissors (The Workers of Jacob Lawrence), 2018, multi channel video installation by Martha Colburn,

In 2017, at the World Barista Championship in Seoul, the Japanese contestant Yuki Mishima asked for Coldplay’s theme The Clocks as a metronome for an elaborate choreography with the expresso machine. Her winning brew was accomplished by the flawless performance of the movements of double grinding coffee and serving it on a freshly made porcelain cup. For the barista, sound is used to attain minute precision on the product and works as a painkiller for the long hours standing producing latte art.

In 1962, Michel Giacometti, the Che Guevara of Portuguese popular culture, did a first attempt to record surviving “work songs” while aboard the fishing boat Nicete, in the Atlantic coast, he heard a sound that challenged his definition of music. As the fishermen pulled the nets they sang in a hummed continuum, much like an Inuit breathing game. Its unpaced modulation mimicked the anarchich individual pulls of the net, putting the workers in a sort of trance while atuning their energy to endure the herculean task of keeping the net in tension. The arrhythmia of this fishermen song is different from other work songs, such as the Blues or Calypso where the individual suffering is central to the catharsis against social injustice.

The independent animator Martha Colburn has spent long hours doing painstaking labour with camera, brush and scissors, moving things step by step. A true believer in arts power for social change, she fights bigotry with her “hand-to-hand combat films". In 2017, commissioned by the Black Mountain College, Colburn appropriated the work of Jacob Lawrence, an early modernist black painter, who had once taught at the institute. Lawrence's paintings exposed the hard living of African American communities from the beginning of the century until the sixties and Colburn’s animation unleashes a mix of individual despair trapped in miserable monotonous hard work and the joy of a community building a post-war America.

In 1973, intermedia champion Phill Niblock began a compulsive anthology of human activity, a world tour to film the movement of people at work. Instead of a subjective image of these communities, mostly rural and fighting against extinction, he focused on collecting samples of the rhythm of repetitive tasks. These behaviouristic portraits of high scientific value register the patterns of muscular adaptation to mechanistic work. Usually displayed in different screens, these perpetual motion machines are accompanied by the artist's rigorous minimal sound, a dynamic duo in muscular dialogue. Sound however is and always has been Niblock's elected medium for chance inviting musicians to collaborate in long and loud night owl sessions.

This all night session will be charged by coffee, made according to a Sephardic or Islamic recipe still in use in the region of Ourem's Castle in Portugal: 

Bring to a simmer 10 litres of water, mix in 2 kg of a ground mix of arabic-robusta coffee beans; before water starts boiling throw in a piece of live coal to decant the coffee giving it a smokey flavour.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Tonight  Friday, December 21. 9.30 pm, join us for the presentation of 
"O NATAL DOS 12" by António Júlio Duarte. The projection will be  followed by a Christmas communal supper. Please bring food and drinks.

António Júlio Duarte

Slide Diaporama 1989
Sound Program Borja Montes Caro

A "deser", or table centrepiece, is one of the most remarkable creations in the decorative arts of the 18th century. Present at most banquets, it was the crown jewel of the table setting, structuring the feast itself while remaining throughout the copious rituals of silver service. Among the most notable and famous "desers" are the ones created by Luigi Valadier who designed miniature architectural models, built with precious stones, meticulously detailed and mounted according to classic cannons, imprinting any meal with an ideal of civilisation – much needed among the barbaric imperial taste .
In the late 1980s, while the Iberian Peninsula hoped to join civilised Europe and waited in line for a piece of that E$E$C pie, two young artists (one younger than the other), photographer António Júlio Duarte and chef Jorge Paixão, began an intense collaboration for "Ementa", the weekly food section of the national widespread newspaper Expresso. Jorge Paixão, a man of the Lisbon Movida and a former Hilton chef with a cinema background, sought to expand the regional borders of Portuguese taste. Unburdened by commercial constraints, and with the support of thousands of eager recipe followers, they started experimenting with food and would become the pioneers of Portuguese food styling.

In these regular sessions, over 15 years, António Júlio Duarte staged uncanny Still Lifes using food as material to construct images. This continuous research in perception involved experiments such as hammering chicken to the wall, impaling fish and poultry, dissecting fruits and vegetables… a true challenge to the emotional brain.
In 1989, faithful to the tenet "truth to materials", Paixão invited postmodern architects Manuel Graça Dias and Egas José Vieira to join the collaboration on a Christmas special edition. The idea was to recreate and photograph twelve “traditional” recipes from the twelve EEC countries. The result was a fairly loose interpretation of the culture of the fellow member countries, an opportunity to rethink what Europe was or could be. The Christmas Council potlatch featured a mock turtle soup from the United Kingdom, a christstollen from the Federal Republic of Germany, a Greek stuffed turkey, star fritters from Portugal (a rookie state of the starred alliance), an Irish spiced beef, a cod from the French Provence, a Danish duck and a Spanish sea bream in the oven, a grilled eel from Italy, a Dutch Christmas wreath, a smelly boudin with potatoes and roasted apples from Belgium and, finally, a Christmas trunk made in Luxembourg. These recipes were religiously followed and prepared by thousands of untravelled readers who, unaware of adulterations, took them as trustworthy portraits of a cross-cultural region. Graça Dias and Vieira, like Valadier, staged Paixão's passioned chef-d'oeuvres with the most elegant architecture props, intersecting the raw and the cooked. All this was frozen by António Júlio's deep color cibachrome feast, a work in line with Florence Henri’s Bauhaus photographs.

On Friday 21st, Oporto will try to recreate one of these recipes, the mock turtle soup. The English cheaper version of an exotic delicacy, which originally came with its own bowl and pan, was Andy Warhol's favourite Campbell can for its taste of metal, meat and fish. This Pan-European repast will be accompanied by a diaporama: a projection of the 12 photographs of António Júlio Duarte, comprising the 12 recipes by Jorge Paixão and Vieira and Graça Dias’ 12 "desers”, each image triggering music from the 12 countries (a selection made by nuestro hermano Borja Caro Montes). This presentation is extended to the walls of the bakery Nita, in Rua do Poço dos Negros 127 (Lisbon's historical center), where five of these photos have been on permanent display since the 1990’s.

Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said to Alice, 
“Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?”
“No,” said Alice. “I don’t even know what a Mock Turtle is.”
“It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from,” said the Queen.

Alice in Wonderland   

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Tempo Perdido no Porto #4 - Daragh Reeves

Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo - Daragh Reeves
Video projection on drawing, variable dimensions, 2004, VHS transferred to digital MOV, colour, sound, 122’

According to the Greek legend, the Sphinx was a merciless female creature, half human, half lioness; a guardian of temples that devoured anyone who failed to answer her riddle, until one day Oedipus took the beast's life with the correct answer: HUMAN.
During the winter of 2001, in a skyscraping bar in Tokyo, the artist Daragh Reeves received a tipoff from a friend of a friend about a rare and unmissable Italian film. This would turn out to be the first in a chain of events along a mythical path that would lead to the resurrection of the Sphinx. 
Two years later, now in Milan, Reeves stumbled upon a street vendor offering a single item for sale on his rug, a worn out copy of the now legendary Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo. Sourcing the last surviving VHS player in Berlin, Reeves watched, laughed and cried at the tragicomic misadventures of public servant Giovanni Vivaldi. But let down by his pidgin Italian, he mailed the tape to England to his Roman grandmother, Mara Russell-Pavier (Nonna) for a full translation.
Back in Amsterdam, returning to his residency at de Ateliers, Reeves telephoned his grandmother to request a strictly impromptu translation and recorded her voice over the phone lines while she watched the film for the first time. Nonna’s narration of the film is an outstanding performance as it unveils the dark plot with great detail and elegant humour at a merciless rate. 
Unwittingly, the artist was only halfway through a trail of cues. During an exhibition installation, while projecting the film in a trance induced by his grandmother’s voice, he started tracing in black paint momentary forms appearing within its scenes. His doodling on top of Vivaldi’s mundane bureaucratic world slowly roused a cine-archeological being. As if rubbing a magic lantern, an unexpected critter began to emerge from the shapes he made: a chin coming from an elbow, a tail from a parking car, a cigar from a dropped ballpoint pen… “a shesepankh" as ancient Egyptians would call it ( “a living image” ). Thus the Sphinx found its way back into existence again – lying on the screen, simultaneously predicting and remembering the film and its own totality from its timeless standpoint.
Oporto has recreated, for the first time on canvas, the original 2004 mural, which will be reunited with the film on Saturday. A movie poster was also developed with the artist which doubles as a screen to summon the sphinx in the comfort of one’s own home.
Oporto’s first screening in 2007, presented The Fountains of New York,  recalling the intrepid daily life of the young artist in a portrait of a city that no longer exists. Un Borghese Piccolo Piccolo could be considered the follow up to this saga as within the film-based doodle, the sphinx retains all the bittersweet struggles of the artist during his Amsterdam period.
A self-fulfilling prophecy. Æ 
Saturday December 8, 10.30pm
This presentation is part of Reeves’ current one month residency “Tempo Perdido no Porto” hosted by Oporto that also includes the show Toucan Watch, on view at Galeria Madragoa
Calçada Salvador Correia de Sá, 42, 2ºF Lisboa

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Jornadas Lúcidas # 2 - Addictive Light

Slides de Cavalete, Ângelo de Sousa
One hundred 35 mm slides, color, 1978-79

Nobody Here, Daniel Lopatin 
Track from the DVD-R - Memory Vague 
color, sound, 2'05'', 2009

Although television has dropped to unprecedented levels of quality, we can all agree that it is impossible to shut or even extinguish the channel. Humans are addicted to the continuous flow of RGB light, regardless its content. A clear sign of this addiction is the recent shift from incandescent light to LED in public and private lighting around the world. Soon the planet will be fully led by Red Green Blue frequencies which, like television, will draw humanity into new levels of dependence and isolation.

In 1979, after winning the first prize at the Venice Biennale, Ângelo de Sousa was invited by the artist Floris M. Neusüss to participate in a traveling art exhibition. The participants were chosen for their conceptual use of photography. Ângelo decided to present an automated sequence of slides whose composition and color was created through the superimposition of Red, Green and Blue filters. According to the artist, the piece "Slides de Cavalete" [Easel Slides] was much like his other geometrical paintings, but instead of paint, it used the same additive light process television does. The contrast between the slideshow and the other pieces in the exhibition could not have been greater. Despite its degree of sophistication the curator was always reluctant to present the diaporama and left it isolated outside the main showroom, most likely for fear of cross-contaminating the black and white photographs with television frequencies.  

In this Oporto special session, Jornadas Lúcidas #2, we will present the infamous piece "Slides de Cavalete", with a newly restored set of slides. This automatic light painting will be projected along the video "Nobody Here", an "earworm" created by Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never) mashing a youtube sequence from a jurassic videogame (Taito's Laser Grand Prix) and a looped sound clip from Lady in Red by Chris De Burgh. This ever moving rainbow road is here to remind us that TV will continue its image stream regardless of human presence.

Oporto would like to thank:  Miguel Sousa and the Estate of Ângelo de Sousa, Sérgio Mah, Joana Silva and the Conservation Department of Nova University, Lisbon  -  Daniel Lopatin, Eliza Ryan, Nelson Gomes, Software and Warp Records