[A]SPACE is a series of reflections. Of different prodigies.
First and foremost, it is a physical space for encounters. Between people, and between people and art. The physical space is in an untouched corner of Alfama, in a building that survived 1755.
One reflection is that this part of the city and its heritage is often altered by fleeting visitors and renovation processes that disregard the important, inherent cultural value of the buildings. This is true not only from a structural perspective, but also from a socio-economic perspective for the people in these neighborhoods who see their surroundings changing.
[A]SPACE is located in a building that is currently being restored to its original glory, leaving all its historic value intact. No one knows how long this will take, as the building hides many secrets, one being the oldest Moorish defense wall in Lisbon from the 800s, which forms part of the building’s backbone today. During this time, [A]SPACE, a multidisciplinary art-led environment, will reign.
Another reflection is that while old structures, like buildings, are important torch-bearers of history, the same cannot be said about old structures in the art world. Lisbon, one of Europe’s most diverse cities, boasts a vibrant cultural scene, yet it is still difficult for new talent to show their work publicly. The art market in Portugal tends to be based on who one knows, rather than your merits as an artist.
[A]SPACE is a home for new prodigies, where work of artists with high levels of originality and skill is exhibited. Here, the focus is on talent, no matter the person’s age, ethnicity, background or preferences. What unites the art shown at [A]SPACE, is that it is produced in Portugal.
Yet another reflection is that Lisbon is being renovated a pace never seen before. Long lead times in the real estate industry cause whole blocks to be closed off, paralyzing and disrupting street life. Instead, many spaces could be used for activities that help the youth of Lisbon develop, allowing different projects to try out their wings, without imposing long and costly rental agreements.
[A]SPACE, while run commercially, has a not-for-profit agenda. The owner of the building, Travessa Fresca, is providing the space free of charge for exhibits and encounters, sharing the company’s vision of maintaining a dynamic inner-city life. For exhibiting artists, this means that they retain the lion’s share of revenue generated by sales of their work themselves. This is contrary to the conditions offered to new talent by established galleries – if, in fact, they take the risk of exhibiting new talent at all.
Bem Vindo @ Arco Escuro 6