“Viver um Mundo Antigo”: Exhibition and Conference at V Congress of the Portuguese Association of Anthropology (Vila Real, PT)

Viver um Mundo Antigo (“Living in an Ancient World“)
Artistic Creation and Production of Memory in Rural Context
Exhibition and Conference under the parallel activities of:
Anthropology in Counterpoint
V Congress of the Portuguese Association of Anthropology
Vila Real (PT), 8 – 11 September, 2013

Retrospective exhibition
Foyer of the Municipal Theatre of Vila Real
9, 10 and 11 September, 14h00 – 24h00

With works by :

Duncan Whitley (GB)
Joana Nascimento (PT)
Manuela Barile (IT/PT)
Rui Silveira (PT)
Steve Peters (US)

Contextualizing Conference
By Luis Costa (President of Binaural/Nodar)
Auditorium of Municipal Theatre of Vila Real
9 September, 21h30

Binaural/Nodar, a cultural organization with its epicenter in the mountainous region of Gralheira mountain range (São Pedro do Sul municipality) is engaged in the production and hosting of sound/ media art projects and audiovisual archive of anthropological and landscape realities, always acting with a deep connection with the surrounding geographical and social context,  features a sound and video exhibition divided into several narrative nuclei, which intend to discuss some aspects of memory production and artistic creation in connection with specific territories and communities: field work typologies and the influence of the artist’s subjectivity, the relevance of the real as a creative canvas and artistic creation as part of the future memory.

Specifically, the exhibition “Living in an Ancient World ” focuses on five artists associated with Binaural/Nodar who developed artistic work in the Nodar area between 2008 and 2011. A narrative itinerary was definied, one that accompanies the process of conceptualizing and development of art works until the final art pieces, documenting, for each encounter between artist and context, its motivations, conditions, challenges, elements of real and system of representations in play.

The narrative elements presented in the exhibition for each artist are:

1 – Initial artistic project proposal
2 – Photographic documentation of fieldwork
3 – Video interview with each artist about their art project
4 – Final text by the artist about the work process and the piece produced
5 – Final sound/video art piece

Artists and art works:

Duncan Whitley | “G.D. Parada” | October 2008, September 2009
A sound/video project centred on a small amateur football club, Grupo Desportivo de Parada, in the town of Parada de Ester (Castro Daire, Portugal). GD Parada is very much a source of local pride, playing in the top tier of Portugal’s regional league structure (Divisão de Honra). The project sets out to explore the significance of GD Parada within the community of Parada de Ester, through detailed soundscape work focused on the team in training and in competition. Recordings at training sessions involve a variety of stereo and multichannel recording techniques to capture the sounds of training drills and exercises. The Project had a first residency in October 2008, which preliminary results were presented as a sound and video installation in GD Parada’s clubhouse, preceding a fierce derby match against local rivals Lamelas. In a second residency in Septmber 2009, additional sound and video recordings were made and a final multichannel sound installation was conceived.

Duncan Whitley studied BA Hons Fine Art at Kingston University from 1996 to 1999, where he worked almost exclusively with sound installation. In the following years his work continued with a focus on site-specific interventions, producing work in both sanctioned art spaces and ‘non-art spaces’ (from domestic environments, to derelict flats, to Church of England churches). From 2004 his practice shifted towards stereo and multichannel ‘field recording’, developing a significant archive of project-specific phonographic studies. His sound recording work documents the ritual of social events: the highly formalised Semana Santa processions in Seville; football spectatorship across different tiers of the British football league; the controlled demolition of high-rise flats in cities around England and Scotland.

Joana Nascimento | “SimLugares” (“YesPlaces”) | April 2009
“SimLugares” (“YesPlaces”) is a project that has an interest with territory and landscape, in the sense of a connection between people and their (rural) context and of interaction between people and space (of its uses and ownership). Trying to resist Marc Augé’s interpretation of non-places, Joana is more interested in a concept of commonplace associated with a psycho geographic recognition of a place. Following Henri Léfebvre’s (a Marxist thinker) words, the activation of a place is made through its own dynamics and the meaning of a specific space is less related to its construction than with the uses that it allows.  In this project the artist sought to produce a series of maps (mental, conceptual, cognitive) based on oral indications from the local inhabitants about the personal practices in the space of Nodar.It is a question of seeking to understand a place through associated images, memories and uses, and with these elements to expose the way people connect with the surrounding landscape.

Joana Nascimento is a Portuguese visual artist. She holds a BSc in Fine Arts – Sculpture by the Fine Arts Faculty of Oporto, where she is currently developing an investigation called “Territorialization of Spaces,

[In] Visibilities – An approach to ‘performative’ Space and Time in Artistic Practices for Public Space”, in 2nd year Master of Art and Design for the Public Space. In 2006/07 she studied Scenography and Intermedia at Akademia Sztuk Pieknych w Krakowie, Poland. She is also a member of the “Inner-city” multidisciplinary working group, whose main concerns are local approaches to public space and participated in several collective exhibitions in Portugal, Spain and Poland.

Manuela Barile | “Rheîa Zóontes” | February 2010
Happiness is the understanding and the feeling of our own limitless expansion seen around as encounter and merging. Happiness is usually thought as a momentaneous condition but in fact it can endure throughout life. Rilke spoke of the “immense moment,” the one that expands as if time would become space. When the ancient Greeks claimed that the gods were happy, they used the expression “reia zoontes”, their life flowed unhindered. Happiness is like a river flowing. A river flowing always in the same direction. In its constant flow, it meets obstacles; it changes its shape and its identity, welcomes memories, traditions and experiences. The Paiva River and its subsidiraries is characterized by places (such as Pendilhe, where the field work was carried out) where small communities have settled. These places are considered invisible by urban people, yet they represent for these communities an extension of their own home, places to which they cannot resign. Here people live in simplicity and essentiality. These people live the same way the river flows.

Manuela Barile is Binaural/Nodar’s artistic director. She is an italian artist who lives and works in the region of São Pedro do Sul, Portugal. Since 2006, she develops place-based projects in the rural region of the mountain range of Gralheira (S. Pedro do Sul Municipality) working in close contact with the local communities. Her artistic works combine sound and visual antropology, installation, performance and voice used as an instrument. Her artistic approach is a continue investigation on reality, about being in the world, about personal experience. It takes in account several aspects such as the natural conformation of the territories, the architecture and history of the places, tradition, memory, ritual and sacred symbolizations deposited as indelible signs in the ground. As a singer, she embarked in 2001 on a personal journey in the field of vocal experimentation applied to free improvisation, based on the use of “extended vocal techniques” focused on the relationship between voice, body, soundscape and acoustic properties of places. Manuela Barile is currently artistic director of Binaural/Nodar, a Portuguese cultural organization dedicated to the promotion of sound and intermediate arts in the rural context. Her films have been screened at several festivals: Australian International Experimental Film Festival, Cologne OFF, Optica, Videoholica, International Film Festival of Camden (U.S.), etc.

Rui Silveira | “Abrigo” (“Shelter”) | April 2009
In a region where the traditional architecture has suffered profound transformations – both as a result of new materials and building techniques being introduced and of the importing of foreign architectonical models – we often feel that there is a different time surrounding autochthonous buildings.Theses houses, many of which were abandoned in recent years, more than simple shelters, were essential places for the families’ daily lives. These extinct gestures and actions still echo in its stone walls. These are memories invoked throughout the empty rooms, recollections of its inhabitants who still remember the time when those rooms were filled with life. Also, the objects that were left behind tell us stories. We could speak of a different time inside these houses, a time indifferent to our presence, indifferent to the present, a time that speaks about territorial identity, about a particular way of building and inhabiting it, by the use of materials, that connects with landscape in an almost mimetic way. From recordings of both the inhabitants’ memories and from the overall soundscape, an hybrid audiovisual object emerges. One that is both connected with a documentarian vision and with a more experimental language developed around the sonic universe of the two major materials used for building houses – the stone and the wood.

Rui Silveira was born in Campo Maior in 1983 and presently lives in Lisbon. He holds a BSc in Communication Design by the Fine Arts Faculty of Lisbon and even though his formative years have been devoted to graphic design, he always tried to focus his work towards an audiovisual practice. The possible relationships between sound and image (video or photography) have captured his interesting since the beginning. He participated with his own pieces in the Collision Festival (London) and in Rencontres Internationales  (Paris).

Steve Peters | “Lessons from the Ancestors” | July 2011
Steve Peters created a  sound work combining the following elements: field recordings of environmental sounds, namely church bells, collected in the civil parish of São Martinho das Moitas; electronic processing of some of those sounds; spoken text consisting of single words and place names that evoke the regional landscape; the names of local plants and animals (possibly endangered species), some of which sung in Latin. These various elements were woven together to create an evocative portrait of the regional landscape and the collective human relationship to that place through language.

Steve Peters (b. 1959) makes music and sound for a wide range of contexts and occasions using field recordings, found/natural objects, electronics, various musical instruments, and spoken text. Attentive to the subtle nuances of perception and place, his work is often site-specific and tends to be understated and contemplative. He performs occasionally as a member of the Seattle Phonographers Union, and also works as a freelance producer, writer, and curator. Since 1989 he has been the Director of Nonsequitur, a non-profit organization presenting experimental music and sound art, currently via the Wayward Music Series at the Chapel Performance Space in Seattle. His music has been released on such labels as Cold Blue, Palace of Lights, Sirr, and Dragon’s Eye.

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