Artistic Residency in Guimarães

Why choose this staircase and this site, here at Plataforma das Artes, to integrate this AMAR O MINHO project?

We are here facing the Plataforma das Artes e da Criatividade, where we have the Centro Internacional de Artes José de Guimarães.  And therefore, it is the site of the visual arts par excellence. And what we wanted was to promote this space as well, to broaden this notion of the city. Take corners that are not so well known and are often marginalized, as was the case with this staircase. And that suddenly we looked at it and it was a passion and we realized that it was going to give a new context to the Centro Internacional de Artes José de Guimarães.

And it would be able to put into context with a part aimed at the visual arts and it was a challenge for Mónica [Mindelis], that was to make this bridge to bring people from the avenue [Conde de Margaride] to the Centro Internacional de Artes José de Guimarães.

This staircase wasn’t used very much, just like this space. Do you hope that with this artwork in public space that can change?

I will confess something publicly. I am from Guimarães, I am 56 years old, and I think I have never passed in this staircase. I had the idea that there was a very small staircase here, I thought it was even smaller. And like me, there are thousands of people who pass this street, on this Conde de Margaride Avenue, which is a central artery of our city, and who do not know this space. And, therefore, the best way to bring people here is this new path that comes in here to be used and that this art invites us to walk. Also, because we are a city very concerned with the environment and, therefore, that this new path after confinement is a path through art and culture, and a path for the future.

The Municipality of Guimarães had an important mission here in the recovery of this public space through urban art. How do you plan to take advantage of this space after this staircase is finished?

This will fit into a wider context of a creative neighbourhood, in which we try through urban art to create some walking routes that are not so well known to people. And, therefore, we started in the best way possible, in this central artery where no one would imagine that we have a ladder of this kind here, thus inviting people and then articulating with other spaces. This is a space of culture, of art, it is a space in which we will have Mónica here with this “Amanhecer” (Dawn) inviting us to look at art differently. And, with this building that is one of our ex-libris in the city and with José de Guimarães here and with all the work we do in the field of visual arts.

Therefore, fitting in was our concern, that this was not something external to the city, that it was not something that did not fit within the city, but that it was something that connected. And I think that Monica has effectively managed to make this connection with us.

Is the result in line with what you envisioned?

This was just the beginning, now I look at the surrounding space and we already need lighting, we need some vegetation, we need to take care of the surrounding space.  Even this square, which is today a square that almost serves as access to the parking lot, will have a new dynamic and will force us to requalify and rethink this new space.  It’s this adding to the city, this unrest, these points that are given, that are added that make the construction of a city, which is Guimarães.  Nothing is ever done, there is always a part done and a part to be done, but I think we have achieved this path for a new challenge, which is to go ahead and show the people of Guimarães that there are still so many places that they need to see after all.

What has been people’s feedback?

People are engaged. As I mentioned at the beginning, I, too, did not value these stairs, I had never passed here. This happens to most people and therefore today, people are amazed. We have been posting on Facebook, there have been a lot of publications even from people who pass by on the street and, therefore, it is very interesting to see how many people value it. Afterwards, this painting in public space has much of the process. People passed by, they talked to our artist, they realized what it was that she was interlacing in these colours and this industrial tangling that she tried to bring here. And they were realizing these dynamics, and this builds our culture.

I believe that culture makes us better and this process of those who lived and the fact that Mónica was here, painting, talking to people, talking to us. It made us different, it made us better and that is an added value for all of us and for the city.

What is and what is it like to be the Culture Councillor of Guimarães?

It’s a headache [laughs]. It is a constant challenge, because it is this restlessness, this wanting more, for each step that is taken, there are two more steps to take, we are doubling. When this space didn’t exist, we never looked at this square. Today there is this space, which is already done, but now we will see the side, then we will see the square, and so on. How do we do? And as councillor of culture, how do we make culture accessible to everyone? The issue of equity is absolutely my watchword as a policy maker in this area. And everything that is public space has this equity, there is no barrier to an entrance door.

This museum [Centro Internacional de Artes José de Guimarães] is very important, but it has a barrier on a door and there are a lot of people that pass on this street and do not enter that door, either because they think they shouldn’t or because they don’t know. And this space is ours, it is everyone’s space. When people reach the top of the street and see this “Amanhecer” (Dawn) will be invited to go down. And when they are invited to go down, they go along the stairs trying to understand what the artist wanted to tell us. And then they will find this space in front and, therefore, they will be closer to another type of culture. This is the great challenge that I pose to myself as councillor of culture.