The reader will consent me the linguistic derivation and the appropriation of a neofuturistic plastic tendency to use the word as image, in the poetic bridge with the political message of this exhibition, one more, at gallery shairart dst (Braga), which is intended as a starting point, not so much for judgments of art criticism, but for a reflection on the contemporary, on time and on the global territory that is ours.

Politically, the term territory is defined as the physical space on which a state exercises its sovereign power, meaning, it is the scope of validation of the state legal order. According to the general theories of state, diplomacy, international relations and nationality, territory is one of the conditions for the existence and recognition of a country (the other two being the nation and the state).  As a result, certain cases of sovereign entities that are not considered countries, but states without territory (the Palestinian National Authority and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, for example) or nations without territory (such as gypsies). The territorial delimitation of the modern states was a consequent of the conflicts that marked The Middle Age. The concept of territory has, therefore, a Western nature and does not contemplate accidental facts nor fatalities.

Very recently, Donald Trump deactivated peace between Israelis and Palestinians, rekindling the differences between the State of Israel and the Palestinian National Authority, a landless state. Since 2013, the self-proclaimed Islamic State has transformed the Civil War in Syria into a scenario of absolute terror that as culminated in the largest refugee crisis ever since the World War II. Landless and homeless citizens, rejected here and there. People like us. Europe, in its great cities and capitals, as in its history, is a territory made up of migrations, acculturation and integration. The same applies to the United States of America, whose genesis and development was mainly based on large flows of European Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian migrants, but also, as a land of Liberty and dreams, has always welcomed people from all over the world, specially from Latin America. Donald Trump now heads the mission of distinguishing first-class Americans from second-class Americans (as the Portuguese were distinguished during the Estado Novo period, being the natives of the former colonies referred to as second-class, a denomination explicit on their ID’S) as seeking not only to restrict access to American citizenship, but also to promote a movement of returnees, never seen, which will end up as an unprecedent social scourge. Those who migrate, in most cases, are seeking for better opportunities to improve their quality of life. Denying this option is treason. From a geopolitical point of view and from a symbolic one, the question of territory, with so many other writable examples, is central to the contemporary, with a visible setback in respect for Human Rights, the greatest achievement of the post-war.

BE A PHOTOGRAPHER arises not only from the need for an increase in outstanding artistic expressions highlighted curatorially, but also from the challenge of integration in the agenda of the application of Braga as a UNESCO Creative City in Media Arts, which was approved. The nominee is a call to action, which adheres itself to the shairart slogan and pursuits the principle of democratic contact with the artistic object, from the point of view of the creation and consumption. The starting point, open spirit and absence of a conceptual convergence theme. It was the photography that interested us.

T-E-R-R-I-T-O-R-Y was a consequence of the occasional confrontation with the series Europe XXI Century, by the Spanish artist Gabriel Tizón (1973-), which is presented, in the relation with the expografy and with the architectonic characteristics of gallery shairart dst, as the central body from a selection of artists and artworks which intends, at the start of the new year, to put us in the skin of others. What if it was me? What if it was with those I love? The Greek Dimitri Mellos (1970-), living in New York for several years, brings us the theme, as the beauty of diversity, from, precisely, the USA. André Castanho Correia (1988-), expresses a special interest in registering landscapes (urban or other) in transitional state and/or abandonment. In another space seeks the reflection of the space configuration and conservation status of different areas of social housing them being foster care or self built. It includes three local contexts (Enguardas, Santa Tecla and Picoto, in Braga) a national one (Bairro 6 de Maio in Amadora) and an international context (Robin Hood Gardens in London). There are nations without territory in the imagery frames of André Castanho Correia. We have not yet been able to remain indifferent to the power of photography.

What the Photography reproduces to infinity has occurred only once: the Photograph mechanically repeats what could never be repeated existentially. In the Photography, the event is never transcended for the sake of something else: the Photography always leads the corpus I need back to the body I see; it is the absolute Particular, the sovereign Contingency, matte and somehow stupid, the This (this photograph, and not Photography), in short, what Lacan calls the Tuché, the Occasion, the Encounter, the Real, in its indefatigable expression.1

Photography, while a scientific innovation, matches with the facts of the Industrial Revolution and is in 1826 that the French Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833) performs what is called as the first picture: a still life. Later, he repeats the experience, photographing a landscape2. The history of photography is, moreover, of an expression, which at a certain point is instituted as artistic and composed of genres inherited from painting: still life, landscape, portrait, nude. The complicity between painters (or, if we want, plastic artists and photographers) was maintained through the 19th century and the first independent exhibition of the so-called Impressionists would inaugurate on April 15, 1874 in the studio of the photographer Felix Nadar (1820-1910), on the Boulevard des Capucines, in the center of the Grands Boulevards, a reference meeting point for the Parisian intellectual elite. The appropriation of photography as Art is gradual and will be in New York, after World War II, under the direction of Edward Stein (1879-1973), painter, photographer and curator, who developed in a more significant way the department of photography in MoMA. It will also be in the North American cultural capital that we will see the emergence of street photography, which, conversely, will influence painters such as Edward Hopper (1882-1967).

The street is like the scene of a theater that fascinates the spectator-photographer; in it are represented, day and night, all sorts of dramas, sad or happy, dramas in which are mixed characters of all kinds. (…) The street quickly becomes, in the history of photography, a privileged space, that lends itself to the most diverse compositions. As if modern life, as it is revealed in the city, had not found in the painting an appropriate translation.3

The suggestion of Miguel De (1992-) is a trip to interior territories, through a relationship between the male human body, from the formal and compositional point of view, and the landscapes that make the biography of the author. The body as a body. Photography in the possibility of communication of mimesis eye.

limamil (1973-) makes us return to the concept and call to action, in a proposal that fits the vanguards of the 60s and 70s of the 20th century, challenging public participation. Beyond the contemplation to which the artwork induces us, we are called to complete the creative process, interacting with the object imagined by the author. limamil is not limited by using the machine to produce images, exploring the technical possibilities of photographic devices and their accessories, integrating them into three-dimensional plastic constructions.

BE A PHOTOGRAPHER, more than a collective international exhibition of photography, is a public and civic action. An alert. It wanders between the possibilities of photography as an artistic expression and its documentary potential on our days. In this second domain, the selection is hard and objective. We cannot remain indifferent.

Helena Mendes Pereira

shairart’s chief curator

BE A PHOTOGRAPHER’s co-curator


¹ BARTHES, Roland – A câmara clara. Nota sobre a fotografia. Lisboa: Edições 70, 2008. Page 12
² BAURET, Gabriel – A Fotografia. História, Estilos, Tendências, Aplicações. Lisboa: Edições 70, 2006. Page 18.
³ BAURET, Gabriel – A Fotografia. História, Estilos, Tendências, Aplicações. Lisboa: Edições 70, 2006. Page 29.