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The Cave Photography | A contemporary photography archive

The Cave Photography, a new space for contemporary photography, coordinated by photographers Miguel Refresco and Rui Pinheiro, and cinematographer Diogo Castro, was inaugurated on February 1st, at no. 174, Rua 31 de Janeiro, in the historic centre of Porto.

The project is a place for sharing, selling and renting photography, which aims to democratize access to photographic proof. The main idea was to create a contemporary photography vault/archive, in other words, a place where it is possible to access the works, while maintaining high-quality standards.

The first phase of the project starts with a group of ten associated photographers (Bernardo Sousa Santos, Cecília de Fátima, Dinis Santos, Fátima Abreu Ferreira, José Bacelar, Paulo Pimenta, Pedro Magalhães, Miguel Refresco, Rui Pinheiro and Violeta Moura), with different artistic creations: photojournalism, plastic or autobiographical works. There are several eclectic and heterogeneous authors, whose differences provide the much-needed cohesion, being essential for the creation of this archive. From it are produced proof in three formats: postcards, author’s proof and exhibition proof, authenticated by artists and printers, serialized and limited.

The model wants to increase access to photography, through the sale of postcards. It is a circulation-geared format, whose common denominator is Porto, observed in its details, the author’s proof, the reflection of the work of each photographer and, finally, the exhibition proof in larger dimensions. The adaptability of each format allows meeting the needs of those who want other solutions. It is important to underline that most values derive from the will of each author.

Rui Pinheiro underlines that “The Cave Photography intends, like all spaces of artistic promotion, to emphasize the importance of art based on contemporary photography, stimulating the discussion between document and creation, feeling and reality – the path of the author’s work. Acquiring art, increasing knowledge through an aesthetic language, to discover the expression of emotions and authorial meanings”.

The location of The Cave Photography, on Rua 31 de Janeiro, gives more meaning to the project. It is an important place from the historical, cultural and patrimonial point of view. It is known for relevant political conflicts in Porto and is close to Aurélio da Paz dos Reis, a trader, floriculture and amateur photographer, a Republican revolutionary considered the pioneer of Portuguese cinema.

Casa Vincent, the empty building that houses the photographic vault, is an example of Art Nouveau, built in iron on the extinct Fernandine wall. The façade, designed in 1905 by José Teixeira Lopes, was built during World War I and was the home of the goldsmith Miranda & Filhos. The space where The Cave Photography is located was also a vault, where the jewels were manufactured. This is still visible in the existing furniture, used to display photographic proof.

Rui Pinheiro stresses that “history studies memory and time, photography does it as well. We want to be agents of the city’s future memory”.

At the opening, it was possible to see, touch and buy the author’s proof, postcards, lightboxes and photobooks. Besides the opening, an educational program associated with the group of ten photographers is planned. The encompassing approach of this project will allow the space to organize book presentations associated with the authors. This allows going beyond the idea of a vault, opening the business model to the rental of photography, allowing the interested parties to temporarily limited access to images.

In the future, Rui Pinheiro, Miguel Refresco and Diogo Castro, creators of the project, want to invite other Portuguese and international artists to the collection, obeying a rigorous curatorship. They also want to go beyond the physical space and allow the purchase through an online platform that reaches the global market.

The Cave Photography is open every day. It is accessible through Casa Vincent (Rua 31 de Janeiro, no. 174) or Ferro Bar (Rua da Madeira, no. 84), according to the building’s opening hours (3 pm to 7 pm).

Ana Martins (Porto, 1990) holds a degree in Cinema by the ESTC-IPL, Heritage Management by the ESE-IPP and has a Masters in Art Studies – Museological and Curatorial Studies by the FBAUP, with a thesis on “O Cinema Exposto – Entre a Galeria e o Museu: Exposições de Realizadores Portugueses (2001-2020)”. She was a researcher in the Projeto CHIC - Cooperative Holistic view on Internet Content based on the artist film integration from Plano Nacional de Cinema and the FBAUP’s content creation for the Catálogo Online de Filmes e Vídeos de Artistas Portugueses. She had a fellowship by the inED - Centro de Investigação e Inovação em Educação, and was involved in the production, communication and cultural event support areas. She collaborates in the filed of Art Direction in cinema, television and advertisement. She’s one of the founders and curators of the Coletivo Hera. She writes for Umbigo magazine.

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