Seminário: Curated Research_The Academy as Medium at Colégio das Artes da Universidade de Coimbra
Part of the Convergent Programme of Anozero’21-22: Bienal de Coimbra, the Seminário project is a response to curators Elfi Turpin and Filipa Oliveira’s challenge to the College of Arts.
Based on the Biennial’s context and Coimbra’s identity, Seminário features one of the conceptual mainstays of this Anozero: the idea of observation, creation and production of alternative epistemologies, considering the academic sphere, artistic practices and the city. The starting point is the Biennial’s theme Midnight and, with this, Semináriobrings together new perspectives, subjectivities and thoughts on several knowledge outputs.
Through the curatorship, the academic field is seen as an essayistic arena. Curated by the College of Arts and coordinated by Ana Rito, the Seminário project reflects and articulates areas of knowledge and research in a plural perspective, which sees the Academy as a medium. This makes us reflect on the investigative side of artistic and curatorial practices, showing a thought and its construction. Bridging the gap between the work of teachers and students, Seminário has four exhibitions at the educational institution – Comer a mesa; The art of Teaching; Syllabusand Teach us to sit still. And the participation of five curators from outside the University – Lori Zippay, Luís Alegre, Hugo Barata, António Câmara Manuel and Irit Batsry. There are works from the Electronic Arts Intermix archive and the archives of the Festival Temps d’Images, FUSO – Annual of Video International Art of Lisbon, Loops.Lisboa and Private Collections.
The plurality of the Seminário project, based on the idea of hospitality, is founded on the links between artists, curators, teachers and researchers from the College of Arts and the University of Coimbra and guests. They constitute a constellation divided into meetings, workshops, conversations and seminars. The curatorial exercise as a communion, which privileges the constellation process, through actions that do not merely entail the exhibited object, seeking open forms of production, draws closer to the practice of research, becoming research in itself .
In this context, we highlight the attribution of the name Seminário to a project that ponders on the notion of curatedresearch and the academy as a research field. Without overlooking the relationship between the idea and definition of seminary and the history of the College of Arts – a former university hospital and ecclesiastical building – today. An academic institution that arranges scientific and cultural meetings and discussions, that produces knowledge, that intends to curate an exhibition-research-choreography, that will be a place of contact, a trans-positional spot. This reclaims the idea of the seminar as something germinative, that gathers and connects.
Curated by Luís Alegre and Hugo Barata, Comer a mesa starts the journey. The idea of hospitality and commensality is a curatorial strategy and investigative methodology, in a true practice of communion. The object-table and the amplitude of its concept, a place for meeting and sharing, but also for study and research. The table around which we share food and ideas, which may have several forms and functions. The table can be the protagonist when it is absent, as shown in the work Regressamos ao Presente e deste em diante by Nuno Sousa Vieira. It reminds us of the expression uttered by the Trojan soldiers to Aeneas: Etiam mensas consumimos, synonymous with sacrifice, but also with resistance. In the same space, on the room’s floor, we see the humour and irony of the signs in Figura C- Renwall of a table transmission, 2022, by Miguel Vieira Baptista and Marta Guerra Belo, where we try to follow and decipher the clues; the enigma in the poetic side of Fernanda Fragateira’s work, Laboratório de Materiais, a partir de Le Corbusier, 2016. It is an open and suspended piece, a continuous archive that reveals working and research processes and methodologies, materials, images and the embodiment of thought. The images and their study, the investigation and experimentation in the workspace seem to become reality in Waterfront, 2022, by Batia Suter. Like a game, a puzzle that the artist constructs and presents, the black and white images of aquatic landscapes – selected from the artist’s archive – are intense. The dialogues and readings created due to the tabletop layout is an invitation that Suter makes us to dive in, in a limbo between represented and real, interior and exterior. The inverted glasses over some of the prints further reinforce this. Linking elements-utensils to highlight analogies and to suggest new categorizations and encourage subjective readings, the artist presents Tool, 2022, four prints with fold creases; we see the performativity of an everyday action in Andy Warhol eating a hamburger (by Jorgen Leth), 1982. It is a tribute to equality and democratisation, to mass culture and consumption, and to the idea of American life. We are seduced by the unbalanced cup in Haunted China by António Olaio. These artists are joined by others – national and foreign – in a narrative dialogue within the same physical space. This allows a reflection on processes and work by questioning the concept of table. We enter a conceptual, aesthetic and visual universe, with several mediums.
The second exhibition The Art of teaching, curated by Lori Zippay, Luís Alegre, Hugo Barata, António Câmara Manuel and Irit Batsry, presents us with films and videos by artists who extend the ideas explored in Seminário into the realm of the moving image, shown for eleven weeks until July 15.
Our journey continues with Syllabus. This exhibition showcases some artistic and pedagogical strategies of the teacher-artists of the College of Arts. Together they explore concepts of research and action. We see the performative action of António Olaio in Kuenstlerleben, Vida de Artista, the choreographic movements of the body, whose face is invisible, wearing the academic dress that flies to the rhythm of the Academy’s progressive wind; the fragility and contingency of Rita Gaspar Vieira’s work, where sheets of cotton paper hang delicately on the wall. As if they were a skin, they bear the marks of passages and places, gestures, time and memory. This memory exercise is also found in the photographs of the series Arquivos e Vestígios, by José Maçãs de Carvalho – as archives. They display spaces for the maintenance and research of archives, in an exercise in curation, as backdrops for his compositions.
We feel the call towards the fourth and last exhibition Teach us to be still, by the artist Marcelo Moscheta, curated by the students of the Masters in Curatorial Studies. This is the outcome of a partnership between the UmbigoLab platform and the Curatorial Lab.
Adhering to the title, Teach us to be still is a call made by the artist and curators. They want us to sit and listen to what the elements are saying. An exhibition based on dialogue and construction, in a site-specific context; a moving exhibition with an activating side, which unfolds in a mediating programme – conversations, debates, trails and walks. Communion and sharing feature in Seminário’s organicity. Marcelo Moscheta’s multidisciplinary art takes shape in this exhibition, with works whose conception and installation required communicating with archaeology, anthropology and sociology. The tactility of Moscheta’s working process, the importance he attaches to material and the action of time are visible in works whose execution stems from a stringent investigative process – beyond the exhibition room – that requires collecting and selecting materials. Desterro and Terrain Vague are like cabinets of curiosities. The artist – as if he were an archaeologist and investigator – is interested in researching the landscape, territory, memory, time and local identity. He proposes an exercise of re-signification of objects as materialized memories, which begins with the College of Arts. Moscheta collects stones from the cloister, turning them into structures designed by himself. They are geological elements that float in a new space, in a diagonal balance. And they sustain as stairs – the ultimate symbol of ascension and valorisation – the landscape elements, in a connection between earthly and transcendental worlds. The landscape we find again in collages with postcards, landscapes unfolded in diagonal cuts, folds and crossings. New places and ruins are brought together in an exhibition born from the body’s perception in relation to space.
 Exhibition text.
 Idem, Ibidem.