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A palavra, by Nuno Nunes-Ferreira

The installation A palavra, by Nuno Nunes-Ferreira, is at Convento São Francisco, in Coimbra, until December 13, as part of the programme Somos Livres. It features a text by Hugo Dinis.

A small room lined with newspapers. Each is a cry, a way of translating the revolt – they are post-Carnation Revolution newspapers. Publications collected and gathered by the artist that show, in the headlines, the about-not-to-be silence of the Estado Novo. The premise of this installation is the famous sentence of Alberto Martins, at the time the president of the General Administration of the Academic Association of Coimbra, who on April 17, 1969 dared to ask for the floor before the Minister of Education José Hermano Saraiva and the President of the Republic Américo Tomás. The request that triggered that year’s academic crisis: “I ask the table to speak” was the verbal version of asking for the floor, of him and the thousands of voices that opposed the Fascist State and its Colonial War, demanding Freedom. Publications such as Revolução, Povo Livre, Voz do Povo or Combate alert us, in situ, to the problems of capitalism, reinforce Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho as the solution or, for example, announce the liberation of the “Três Marias” and the arrest of the “Pides”. The word is squandered as a tribute to all the other forbidden words, which could not get this far.

Each of the words printed in this installation’s newspapers has basement and attic, using Gaston Bachelard’s approach in The Poetics of Space. We can look at them from different angles, perceive them in different ways, climb towards dream or abstraction. We may avoid looking at them directly or do it. To perceive their coating at the exact moment of contact and accept the importance of each. The political eye watches us during the contact with this installation, readable from left to left, regardless of what that means.

A palavra is a potential silence, an echo of the dictatorship’s gagged cries, a demanding and responsive action in the face of some acts against freedom of expression, which we even see in today’s context.

Daniel Madeira (Coimbra, 1992) has a BA in Art Studies from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Coimbra and a MA in Curatorial Studies from the College of Arts at the same institution. He has been leading the Exhibition Space and Education Project of the Águeda Arts Centre since 2018.

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