A Ciência Cura: Luísa Ferreira at Museu do Neo-Realismo

Behold a past which is still present for us. Perhaps the term past, which may point here to the overcoming of the historical moment portrayed, is misplaced. But those who visit A Ciência Cura, the most recent exhibition by Luísa Ferreira at Museu do Neo-Realismo in Vila Franca de Xira, walk through the venue as if they were detached from someone who, once upon a time, had to deal with uncertainty, risk and ignorance regarding the future[1]. Today, through Science, they find not all, but some answers that allow them to feel comfort and hope.

The historical moment was the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic, a theme that the artist worked on the first lockdown in 2020. Between March and June, she visited research centres in Portugal. The aim? To gather – or “remove” – a body of work from this odd, new reality to publish a book with the same title as the exhibition, published by Imprensa Nacional Casa da Moeda and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education. Commenting on the result of this project, Manuel Heitor says that it reflects “the potential of the collective engagement of scientists with public and private entities, including several industrial companies, in an effort to mobilise science[2].

At first sight, the photojournalistic angle is what catches our attention – and this is the artist’s academic background -, but this goes beyond her original thematic motivation, the knowledge in the fight against COVID-19, allowing us to enjoy an experience that is not only documental but also aesthetic, without getting lost in a poetics capable of calling into question her discourse’s ultimate goal.

For me, this aesthetic experience, which is not entirely selfless, is more present in the exhibition than in the book. This is due to two factors: the first is the aforementioned detachment, through which we manage to look at all these scientific apparatuses – whose function, usefulness and even name we probably do not know – with security, but above all with hope that that age of uncertainty will not return; the second is to see each fragment as an independent element, stimulated by the exhibition format.

The visitors’ reading experience of the photographs varies dramatically depending on the presentation format. In a book they are presented sequentially, which, intentionally or not, establishes a certain experience. This does not happen in this exhibition, where the images invade the venue with various dimensions, planes and framings that reinforce the discussed concept of photographic fragment, through which these images achieve their formal autonomy as discussed above. It is easier to get lost without it ever truly happening, as “the empathy and rigour of her testimony points to a sensory order where the virtuous image reclaims this thematic horizon in the present day[3]

The artist proposes a healing through art allied to science for the common good, where we have an aesthetic and documentary experience inseparable from its context, still so vivid in everyone’s memory, nurturing such an important feeling: hope.

A Ciência Cura, curated by David Santos, will be at the Museu do Neo-Realismo, Vila Franca de Xira, until March 26, 2023.





[1] Manuel Heitor on the exhibition leaflet

[2] Ibidem

[3] David Santos on the exhibition leaflet

Tiago Leonardo (Lisbon, 2000) graduated in Art and Heritage Sciences (FBAUL) and attended the Cultural Journalism course (SNBA). He is currently finishing his master's degree in Aesthetics and Artistic Studies, specializing in cinema and photography (NOVA/FSSH) where he focuses his research on post-photography within the Portuguese artistic context. In his work as a writer, he collaborates with several publications; such as the CineBlog of the Philosophy Institute of the UNL, FITA Magazine, among others.

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