5 Cultural Suggestions: Maribel Mendes Sobreira
Once a week, UMBIGO invites one person to share their 5 cultural suggestions. What can we do at home? From a book to a podcast, album or film: here are recommendations from artists, curators, gallery owners, cultural activists, friends.
We will share the recipe for what makes us better, and we remain united and positive.
Umbigo has been publishing this section since the beginning of the pandemic.
An Apartment on Uranus
Paul B. Preciado
This book has been with me since January, I have read it in the Spanish version and I’m now reading the Portuguese translation, published by Semiotext(e). Each chronicle he wrote for the newspaper Libération is a pleasurable read, puts us in an uncomfortable position, showing us that there are scars where we do not conceive them. His reflections are made from a body positioned and aware of the time we live in and the changes needed to alter it.
How is it that a simple element, hair, has so many complex issues such as its objectification as part of a hegemonic device? To think and dismantle these devices together, my suggestion is to read this fanzine, complemented with this quote by the artist Risseth Yangüez Singh (Panama): “‘It’s just hair’: yes and NO. This hair was denied to my body. This hair has been cut, burned and mutilated for hundreds of years. It’s still used as an object of mockery, inferiority, desire; as something ‘exotic’ and always as a thing, never as part of a human being. I wish it was hair and nothing more. But I re-appropriate it and turn it into my shield and impetus. Into a grenade that opens the way to questioning and searching for what was taken from me”.
Ethos and Small Axe
Netflix and HBO
I recommend Ethos (2020), a Turkish series, one of the most insightful representations of the different layers of a society that could be Portuguese. This series questions the influence of religion and culture on our individual and social identity, what we inherit and how to deconstruct it. When we see in detail the psyche of each individual, each character – like the trappings and prejudices, for example – we get to the universal themes, like alienation and trauma, arrogance and otherness, as well as healing and mutual understanding, and the role of women in a conservative society opening up to the world. A poetic series that becomes political. Available on Netflix.
Steve McQueen’s magnificent miniseries Small Axe (2020) also has a political tenor; it combines five independent but interconnected films about the Afro-Caribbean community living in London between 1960 – 1980. Each film tells a true story of discrimination, racism, the struggles that had to be fought and the survival of a renegade system, but most of all it is about powerful unity and resistance. Themes that are prevalent today. Available on HBO.
Exhibition / Online Courses
To those interested in architecture, I recommend following this project at Moma: Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America. Like me, take the associated (online) course, the completion of which depends on each person’s pace. This course begins with the question about occupying space: who actually gets to create and occupy it? Focusing the question on the United States, a country with a long history of spatial and racial inequalities, we hear from artists, architects, researchers working to make American cities more inclusive and equitable. And, of course, I can’t help but mention the post-amnesia debates: Dismantling Colonial Manifestations, available to (re)view online.
Loe Loa (Rural Recordings Under the Mango Tree)
Betsayda Machado with La Parranda El Clavo
Lockdown needs rhythm, so I suggest the album Loe Loa (Rural Recordings Under the Mango Tree) by Venezuelan artist Betsayda Machado, with La Parranda El Clavo, where she brings the Afro-Venezuelan ‘drum’ to life. The songs talk about the dense and complex reality of the Venezuelan people.
Maribel Mendes Sobreira lives and works in Lisbon. She is an architect, curator and researcher. Her areas of interest are philosophical reflection, art and architecture. With a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon, a PhD in Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Lisbon in the field of Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art, she was an FCT scholarship holder from 2016 to 2020. She is a member of the Centre for Philosophy at the University of Lisbon (CFUL), ISPA (International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture). She designs and leads outreach activities in the fields of arts and architecture, collaborates with the Museu Coleção Berardo since 2007 and with MAAT since 2020. She taught between 2014 and 2018 in the subject Aesthetics and Ethics of Landscape in the Integrated Master’s in Landscape Architecture at the Instituto Superior de Agronomia, and in the Master’s in Philosophy at the Philosophy Department of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon. She began her curatorial practice in 2019 with the project ARQUIVO EXQUIS. She is co-founder of ColectivoFACA – a curatorial and active citizenship project, which questions the narratives of visual culture, not erasing history and crossing the various narratives.