10th Edition of Jardins Efémeros: The beginning is uncertainty. The end is fascination.
The 10th Edition of Jardins Efémeros, which took place between July 8 and 16, 2022, bore the motto The beginning is uncertainty. The end is fascination. The programme included music and art, crossing Culture and Nature, Past and Present, Art and Exploration in Viseu’s historical centre. Jardins Efémeros’22, with the creation and artistic direction of Sandra Oliveira, organized by Pausa Possível – Associação Cultural e de Desenvolvimento, proposed thinking about Uncertainty as a quality of a course developed through experimentation, search, deviation and questioning.
The creation of a new notion of garden, although temporary, was based on a multidisciplinary and experimental program, which involved Visual Arts, Architecture & Design; Exploratory Sound and Music; Cinema; Literature; Markets and Workshops, in the granite streets and squares of downtown Viseu. And also, in Sé, with its imposing 17th-century façade; Museu Nacional Grão Vasco; or the Rococo-style Misericórdia Church. Jardins Efémeros’22 united cultural production with issues of current art thinking, nature and history, to make the city more dynamic and distinctive, decentralising the exhibition, participation and creation of contemporary arts.
In the Visual Arts, Architecture & Design programme, we highlight Alexandre Delmar’s video A Fala das Cabras e dos Pastores, one of the chosen from the visual artists call. This is a project to probe and map the sound language used between shepherds and their animals in Portugal. The moving images show, in close-up, several shepherds calling their cattle, in a rhythm that matches the vocalizations, fitting the festival’s premise: the connection between art and nature. At Torre Medieval/Posto de Informação, where the sound installation Comprida e Torta by Luís Antero was also exhibited, it proposed a journey through the sounds of Rua Direita, known for its traditional commerce. A collection of memories and sound environments, giving voice to the traders and showing the local culture. We also highlight the exhibition projects in the building at Rua Direita, 43 – 51, such as (In)certa Natureza by Ricardo Correia and Na Incerteza da Noite by António Silva & Paula Magalhães, as well as the works chosen from the visual artists call: the projection-video Viscous Electricity by Adriana João, whose transparent screen joined the moving images, the sounds of the sea and the artist’s voice; Coser é curar by Patrícia Geraldes, composed of seven wool sculptures, recovering a material that has been devalued, and completed with a plastic component; and the installation Bird’s Eye View & Neorama by Teresa Arêde, which brought us into a scenario with moving images, sounds, painting and sculpture, using the aerial perspective of the earth and the interior of built spaces, in a speculative and archaeological exercise. Among the installations exhibited in the public space, we highlight A Minha Praça é o Meu Jardim by Sandra Oliveira, composed of 190 flower pots on balconies, flooding Praça D. Duarte with colour. Cidade Invisível, a co-creative project about the meaning of art in contemporary society, through an installation at the Sé Churchyard. Cardboard was used to give life to a kind of imaginary city; and, in the same place, Mantra da Paz, a community creation with 2160 linen pieces, with the word Peace embroidered on them. The installation Éden X by Joana Pestana, Mariana Pestana & Kevin Gallagher stood out in Praça D. Duarte. The curtains, with prints of vegetal elements, showed screens and revealed the contribution of several people to an “online platform for discussion and deliberation, which rehearses a social model of non-hierarchical and decentralized organization of nature, where natural elements are self-governed by more-than-human communities”, according to the text of the JE’22 catalogue, with a striking design. To conclude this programme, Sondando Conflito: Uma Performance em Cinco Atos by Pedro Rebelo & Matilde Meireles at Museu Nacional Grão Vasco showed a filmed performance. Joe Loane and Keith Singleton, through cyclical gestures and actions on a brick wall, accompanied by a sound environment reminiscent of the destruction or reconstruction states of a house or city, as well as with references to hip-hop from Syria, Northern Ireland and Brazil, brought together different elements collected during fieldwork in the Sounding Conflict project, reflecting on the conflicts in these countries. We also highlight the photography exhibition Ressonância by André Cepeda, in the recently opened gallery Vem a Nós a Boa Morta (VNBM), part of the JE side activity.
The programming centred on Exploratory Sound and Music, the zenith of Jardins Efémeros, was at the Cloister, Churchyard and interior of the Sé of Viseu, in shows that combined music, light and sound, adorned by the building’s architecture and the site’s history. And also, by the installation Octógono em círculo (OC), created by Sandra Oliveira. An octagonal shaped sound amplification system, surrounding the churchyard pillory, wrapped around a circle of pine wood. This set up a stage for the concerts, making them an immersive experience, where the spectator could choose their preferred position.
The concert by Californian singer Ana Roxanne opened the JE’22 edition, playing songs from her second record Because Of a Flower, with sublime melodies and delicate sounds, transporting an unsettling ambience to Sé de Viseu. On the same day, Rachika Nayar, one of the chosen by the sound artists call, occupied the Cloister with processed, synthesized and multi-instrumental guitar sounds, in a melodic sweetness combined exploratory and pop music. On the second day, the voices of COBRACORAL (Catarina Miranda, Clélia Colonna and Ece Canli) created a plot with multiple tones, rhythms and dynamics at the Cloister. Then Mieko Suzuki, at the Churchyard, provided an introspective and meditative experience, combining sounds of everyday urban life, voices and electronic music, with subtle and creative modulations. The next day, at the Churchyard, Joana de Sá surprised us with the expectant sound of the record Shatter. And days later AGF, at the Cloyster, presented his e-poetry and digital sounds and melodies. Hatis Noit was one of the JE’22 highlights: a dazzling voice, with inspiration in Gagaku and operatic styles, Bulgarian and Gregorian chants, avant-garde and pop.
In cinema, based on the theme Uncertainty, Isabel Nogueira’s curatorship presented three sessions at the Cloister of Sé de Viseu: the classic film The Night of the Hunter (1955) by Charles Laughton, the contemporary film I, Daniel Blake (2016) by Ken Loach, and American experimental cinema with five short films by well-known directors. In literature, we highlight the publication Almanac Borda D’Arte, a collective daily exquisite corpse in time and space, reflecting on Europe. It can be consulted online. Lastly, the Sounds and Letters Market, organised by the well-known Porto shop Matéria Prima, dedicated to author publications and editions, books, records and art pieces. But also, the Biological Market at Largo Pintor Gata, packed with music from the curatorial project Pratos da Casa by the Viseu-based Vanessa Sousa. The Jardins Efémeros programme’s mainstay is the Workshops of the educational service programme, based on participation, reflection and democracy. In this edition, the activities took place in a new space: Casa da Imaginação. We witnessed the relevance of public mediation and education in a cultural project of this kind, especially in the country’s interior.
Jardins Efémeros’22 contributed once again to the decentralisation of contemporary arts, in Viseu’s historic centre. There was art, music and culture, but also a reflection on putting nature back in the heart of the city, establishing a connection with the plant and animal beings that live with us on the planet, so that we may live in balance. The Uncertainty of contemporaneity facing the future has tricky paths, choices and frustrations. But also experiences that allow us to continue walking. In the JE’22 catalogue, we can read this sentence by Patrícia Portela: “When we walk, we don’t know the amount of destiny. Movement and position are not measured at the same time. When we reach a goal, we lose speed. If we are stopped, we have no time. If we have energy, we have doubts. Either we are exact or we are alive.”