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Maia Contemporary Art Biennale 2019 – Import / Export and the urgency to properly look at the city

The 2019 edition of the Maia Contemporary Art Biennale invades, questions and deciphers the city based on the Import / Export subject matter. In a city marked by hybrid territories, between the rural and the industrial, and as Maia celebrates the 500th anniversary of the attribution of the Manueline ‘foral’ charter to the town, its geography, urbanity and sociocultural perimeters are expanded and approached in creative labs fuelled by contemporaneity. With 16 containers placed in 7 strategic locations, the Maia Biennale establishes different axes of critical thinking between Architecture, Design, Plastic Arts and New Media.

The architect Andreia Garcia, the general curator of the 8th edition, explains: “This scenario as a laboratory, as a way to expand border-related questions, leads to a more focused reflection under the context of identity threats. Perhaps, the set of rules that orientate the drawing of territories is what instils their own breeding ground. These are dispersed constellations, augmented on antagonistic spaces. Quite possibly, the eagerness for a stable experience is at the origin of cities, but the territory of Maia is ready to embrace the abstractive dimension, through the discursive appropriation of a territory-creation. A creative anonymity that, with each new constructive step, generates new memories and new portraits”.

Import / Export chooses the public space (link to map here) as the quintessential area for the democratization of art and the direct relationship with issues concerning the city and the understanding of its micro-identities. It’s a poly-localized exhibition, whose premises are the city’s past-future relationship and the need to understand the interfaces between the local and the global. As emphasized by Andreia Garcia, “this discourse would only be feasible if it operated in a widespread fashion throughout the territory and if it was to operate under the sign of the binomial container – on the one hand, the symbolic paradox of the subject; on the other, the ability to (con)figure the (re)creation of the new plural experience focused on the different places, their senses and atmos(pheres)”.

In an exhibition with 40 artists and 24 new creations, several curators were invited to represent each field. The curator mentions “that, more than an attempt to create a narrative – for what can be said about this day and age –, this proposal intends to nurture a broad reflection on the contemporary road, which raises new questions and calls for new answers, resulting in a multidisciplinary network”.

Luís Pinto Nunes and Luís Albuquerque Pinho are accountable for the curatorship of Plastic Arts, having required from Sara & André, Dayana Lucas, Horácio Frutuoso, Mafalda Santos, Bryana Fritz, Tiago Alexandre, Francisco Oliveira, Carla Filipe and Carlos Azeredo Mesquita new challenges based on new perimeters. Diogo Aguiar and Javier Peña Ibañez are the architecture curators, with a new vision on the idea of ​​container/exhibitor, consubstantiated by a daring and visionary program, where, through 4 new commissions, present content capable of (re)shaping both space and territory. Sara Orsi is responsible for the New Media, whose curatorial effort is driven by local and global realities, brought to this Biennale in the form of import and export relationships of sharing models, inviting creators of different nationalities to partake in the collective reflection. The curator Vera Sacchetti was invited to take hold of Design, with city-scale interventions or immaterial creations, and artists who question the certainties of design specialization that preceded the first part of the 21st century.

This Biennale takes place on the territory of the real, timeless, local and global city. A bold edition that allows us to reflect the range of contemporary thought and the need to cross different fields, geographies and identities, to better approach city-related issues, thus fulfilling Andreia Garcia’s ambition: “with these different issues, stimuli and thought-provoking efforts, headquartered in Maia, we approach a new understanding of the city, the immaterial and material dimensions, the local and global identity, the borders and the invisibilities, Man and Nature, movements and pleasures, pains and desires”.

Open until 27 July, with a parallel program that includes performances, workshops, debates, guided tours and radio broadcasts, the catalogue of Maia Contemporary Art Biennale 2019 will be released on the last day, at 6 p.m., in Parque Cidade Desportiva. Until then, all containers can be visited for free. Tuesday to Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m.

Fabrícia Valente holds a degree in Architecture from the University of Évora (pre-Bologna) and has training in complementary areas such as video, photography and the production of temporary exhibitions. She is an active curator (eg KAIROS Pavilion), Critic (she is the editor of the online section of Architecture of the Umbigo Magazine and is part of the J–A editorial team) and works in Cultural Mediation (Museu Colecção Berardo and MAAT) on more than 90 exhibitions. She collaborates with several entities in the search for multidisciplinarity between Architecture, Plastic Arts and Music, areas where she develops research works.

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