Ilhéstico, 30 years of Porta 33

We all know how hard life in the peripheries is. Particularly from a cultural point of view, when the periphery is about 900 km away, with the Atlantic in between. When a structure is able to maintain regular work for 30 years, even for periods without financial support, this is the fruit of hard work and love of art. Cecília Vieira de Freitas and Maurício Pestana Reis opened Porta 33 thirty years ago with artistic production as their main objective. With various educational activities, debates or artistic residencies and scholarships that nurture the flow of creators that come and go from Funchal, Porta 33 has already brought to Madeira artists such as Pedro Cabrita Reis, Fernanda Fragateiro or Julião Sarmento. And also younger artists, with an already emphatic work, such as Edgar Martins or Vasco Araújo. Their art collection is also admirable.

To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Porta 33 invites curator Miguel Von Hafe Pérez, with whom they have a long-standing connection. Inspired by Álvaro Lapa’s Campéstico, and based on the words island and domestic, he creates the concept of Ilhéstico – an inner vision of insularity. A dialogue-route was born encompassing 45 young Madeiran artists, whose artistic path has met Porta 33 somewhere in time (Vítor Magalhães, with an exhibition at the Cowork space, was the association’s first trainee collaborator) and several Funchal locations; museological spaces or simple cafés. Miguel Von Hafe Pérez says that “the great challenge was to adapt the artists to the proposed locations. To create something that makes sense and that was also a challenge for the artists themselves”.

Ilhéstico is an urban pedestrian route – attentive to the city and the unexpected element in this pre-established relationship. But also to the relationship that the spectator (in this case, the walker) establishes in each place with the different works. There are emphatic works and subtle interventions. Among the latter, we have the interventions of Dayana Lucas in Edifício Porfírio Marques and Livraria Esperança (which is already ironic in its original form, due to its size and organization in space). Martinho Mendes’ work for the Funchal City Hall building is also striking. We can see it from a distance through the tower’s window. Under the evening light, it resembles a lighthouse. We also have Roger Paulino’s large-format painting for Mercado dos Lavradores. On the market itself, we can also hear Pedro Pimenta’s disturbing double sound installation in the bathroom. Also, in the restrooms of Jardim Municipal, Sonja Camara creates watery sounds (and not only that) that uncover an idyllic and disturbing space.

We can also see works in specific spaces. Among them, the aforementioned Cowork, where, in addition to the conceptual and procedural work of Vítor Gonçalves, there is the reinvention of a story by Hugo Brazão and Cristiana de Sousa on the walls and floor of the patio. Or the various works at Museu Quinta das Cruzes: the reformulation of the toy house by Fátima Spínola, with cabbage stalks; the detailed drawings of Andreia Nóbrega’s walks; or the photographs of dysmorphic landscapes by André Sirgado.

At Casa Museu Frederico Freitas, the artists create dialogues with the permanent exhibition. Ricardo Barbeito takes the family stories of the house, which is also his own, and recreates these small moments, including the homemade recipe for biscuits and the biscuits themselves. Nuno Henrique, at Casa dos Azulejos, spreads glass mosaics set on sand from the beaches of the Madeira archipelago.

Fortaleza São João Baptista do Pico welcomes the conceptual work inspired by the island’s water deposits, through the hands of Duarte Ferreira, João de Almeida and Hélder Folgado. The latter also exhibits a contemplative piece at Capela da Nossa Senhora da Oliveira that questions the faith.

All these artists – most of them from the diaspora – address issues of insularity or present a perspective on the places where they are exhibited. This path converges in Porta 33, where we can contemplate other works by the same artists and some others – such as Hugo Olim, who builds a delirious narrative based on the subtitles of other films in 35mm.

This convergence at Porta 33 is like a way home, a walk towards comfort. It’s the recognition of an emotional relationship between Porta 33 and the various artists. The affectivity and complicity have naturally expanded to the curator. He considers that the works on Porta 33 are signs of what is happening in the city and hopes that “this rediscovery [of the city] is also a sign that art can create this shockwave”.

With a career in film production spanning more than 10 years, Bárbara Valentina has worked as production executive, producing and developing several documentary and fiction films for several production companies including David & Golias, Terratreme and Leopardo Films. She is now working as Head of Development and Production Manager at David & Golias as well as a postproduction coordinator at Walla Collective. She is also teacher at ETIC in the Film and Television Course of HND - Higher National Diploma. She started writing articles for different magazines in 2002. She wrote for Media XXI magazine and in 2003 she began her collaboration with Umbigo magazine. Besides Umbigo she wrote for Time Out Lisboa and is still writing as art critic for ArteCapital. In 2010 she completed a postgraduation in Art History.

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