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#banhodeprata at aDrogaria

Inaugurated on October 30, 2021, aDrogaria is Porto’s newest cultural project. For one year, in a cycle of five exhibition projects, it will present the work of national and international contemporary artists.

aDrogaria does not have its own venue, but this exhibition cycle can be visited in Corujeira – parish of Campanhã. Hosted by aSede Amarela, a cultural association with autonomous and independent programming, aDrogaria, whose programming is supported by the municipal programme Criatório, allows us to see its first exhibition, #banhodeprata, until November 20.

The evocative name of the artistic project is justified by the fact that the spot was once an old drugstore, Drogaria da Corujeira, perpetuating the memory of the old commerce shop. A non-commercial establishment of artists, druggists and many others, co-directed by Beatriz Chagas, Francisco Correia, Manuel Fonseca, Nuno Pires and Sebastião Pires, aDrogaria intends, according to its founders, to experiment cultural moments based on the concept of slow curating, on the need to re-evaluate the taxonomies associated to the artistic practice and on the urgency of placing them in non-institutional contexts and with increased value – widening the access to art and diminishing the hypothetical borders that define the usual target-public and rooms.

With works by Débora Silva, Henrique Palmeirim, Max Siedentopf, Rebeca Romero and Teresa Dantas, the collective and eclectic show is based on the memory of the estate and space of the old drugstore, now operating on the opposite side of the street. The evocation of the old shop that inhabited this new exhibition spot is felt as soon as we enter the venue, when we are welcomed by a huge wooden counter, quite like memorabilia, the same where once upon a time the problems of former clients were solved. On the counter, folded and laid out, electric orange cloth gowns catch our attention, in a reference to the gowns used by old drugstore employees. Mixing concepts and humour, as we approach the gowns we see that each has the biography of the exhibition’s artists printed on the fabric. It is as if each one personified the figure of a new drugstore employee. Using the typology of the commercial activity of drugstores as a metaphor for the accumulation of different objects and know-how, without hierarchy or separation between them, the collective thought and conceived the first exhibition having as a motto the question of objects and the diversity of contents in the same space. In #banhodeprata, we enter an aesthetic and visual realm composed of different mediums, colours and materials, with works by artists from different areas that question the functionality of objects. From the ironic photographic work by Max Siedentopf, where we recognise objects from a drugstore, which the artist subverts and metamorphoses to give them a new function: that of being weapons; to the fabric pieces by Rebeca Romero, which combine icons from the South American indigenous tradition with advanced printing techniques, in an exercise that unites past and future, through which we are challenged to question the function of the symbol and how objects can be updated. We also highlight the parallel universe presented by Henrique Palmeirim in a video game; the contemporary jewellery pieces by Teresa Dantas, which we can define as non-utilitarian jewellery, true sculptural objects; and the two works by Débora Silva, a 3D animation and an installation with icons resulting from 3D printing, both with a political side for which the artist resorted to the pill object, without forgetting the wordplay: drugstore, drugs, medicine.

Regarding the logic of accumulation and encounter that inspires the collective, we must mention the presence at aDrogaria of a ceramic piece by Rebeca Romero, A Slice of Shining Sun (2020), to which objects from upcoming exhibitions will be accumulated. An exhibition venue and space for artistic reflection, aDrogaria is a place of encounter and discovery that intends to bring together and unite in the same space several contemporary artistic narratives. Hence, the screw as the project’s image: For us, the screw is a symbol of fiction and a promise to unite and hold together.

#banhodeprata was on view at aDrogaria until November 20.

Mafalda Teixeira, Master’s Degree in History of Art, Heritage and Visual Culture from the Faculty of Letters of the University of Porto. She has an internship and worked in the Temporary Exhibitions department of the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. During the master’s degree, she did a curricular internship in production at the Municipal Gallery of Oporto. Currently, she is devoted to research in the History of Modern and Contemporary Art, and publishes scientific articles.

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