The new Museum of Contemporary Art – MAC/CCB

The new Museum of Contemporary Art – MAC/CCB opened on October 28, 2023. With a new face and three additions to the museum’s collection, the expectations surrounding the opening also have to do with the future of the Berardo Collection, which is still undergoing legal proceedings. Putting that to one side, the MAC/CCB opens with three new exhibitions: the renewed permanent exhibition on floor -1 Object, Body, and Space, and the temporary exhibitions Or the continuous drawing (with works from the Teixeira de Freitas Collection) and Crossing a bridge on fire, a solo show by the artist Berlinde de Bruyckere.

The birth of the MAC/CCB follows the dissolution of the Modern and Contemporary Art Foundation – Berardo Collection, as a result of the court case involving Novo Banco, Caixa Geral de Depósitos, BCP and the collector Joe Berardo. Until the lawsuit is settled, the Berardo Collection will be deposited at the CCB by court order. At the press conference prior to the museum’s opening, Minister Pedro Adão e Silva said that the Ministry of Culture would be available to negotiate with any entity as soon as the process was concluded.

MAC/CCB’s novelty is the addition of new collections to the deposit: the Holma/Ellipse Collection and the Teixeira de Freitas Collection, with around 2000 works. In addition to these, the MAC/CCB is receiving increased support from the State Contemporary Art Collection (CACE). The goal is to encourage a more global dialogue on contemporary art, which will no longer focus solely on Western European art, as was the case with the Berardo Collection.

To celebrate its first partnership with the Teixeira de Freitas Collection, the MAC/CCB is dedicating an exhibition to its vast drawing collection. The show Or the continuous drawing is based on the title of the book Ou o Poema Contínuo [Or the Continuous Poem] (2001) by Herberto Hélder, and reveals the multiple expressions that drawing enables. The exhibition has been organised into eight nuclei, where visitors are invited to identify and even contest them, as the guidelines may overlap. The themes include relationships with the body, political intervention, maps and schemes for organising the world, the thematisation of form, the relationship with architecture, day-to-day life, writing as a drawing practice, and drawings that conceptually reflect on the medium itself. Olafur Eliasson, Gabriela Albergaria, Fernando Ortega and Mark Lombardi are among the 60 artists on show.

The dialogue between the four collections (Berardo, Holma/Ellipse, Teixeira de Freitas and CACE) takes place in the permanent exhibition Object, Body, and Space: The revision of artistic genres from the 1960s onwards. In a non-chronological journey, each of the seventeen rooms on floor -1 emphasises the dialogue between formally different works, but with common themes, from minimalism to post-colonial discourses. Geographical origins are widespread, but critical concerns are intertwined. On the subject of the body, the Portuguese Helena Almeida talks to Ana Mendieta of Cuban origin. On the colonial past, Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão dialogues with African-American artist David Hammons.

The ground floor is home to Belgian artist Berlinde de Bruyckere’s solo exhibition Crossing a bridge on fire, where she explores the angel as a symbol of mediation between the human and the divine. Between drawing, sculpture and installation, wax emerges as an essential material in building the different narratives. Eroticism and ambiguity run through the artist’s work, which also establishes a deep connection with the history of art. This connection is heightened by the presence of the painting Salome with the head of St John the Baptist (1510) by Lucas Cranach, on loan from the National Museum of Ancient Art. The atmosphere devised by de Bruyckere calls for reflection and silence, especially in the last room, where we explore the striking installation ALETHEIA [on-vergeten] (2019).

Despite the uncertainties over the Berardo Collection’s fate, the MAC/CCB emerges as a dynamic centre which, in this new structure, establishes bridges with the performing arts and Centro de Arquitetura/Garagem Sul.

The exhibitions Or the continuous drawing and Crossing a bridge on fire are showing until March 10, 2024.

Laurinda Marques (Portimão, 1996) has a degree in Multimedia Art - Audiovisuals from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Universidade de Lisboa. She did an internship in the Lisbon Municipal Archive Video Library, where she collaborated with the project TRAÇA in the digitization of family videos in film format. She recently finished her postgraduate degree in Art Curatorship at NOVA/FCSH, where she was part of the collective of curators responsible for the exhibition “Na margem da paisagem vem o mundo” and began collaborating with the Umbigo magazine.

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