All images from the artist's website
I returned to Portugal to speak with Cristina Regadas (Porto, 1977) in her Porto studio. We talked about navigating her personal archive, the photographic impulse, and portraying others. One of Cristina’s studio walls is filled floor-to-ceiling with boxes containing her collected negatives, contact sheets, prints, films, and other photographic materials. The files function as more than documentation; she revisits the archive at least once a week in search of images of specific places, periods, or themes, like white cars or women in kitchens. As she looks for relationships between photographs from the past and those from the present, the images are recategorized, put away, or brought back out. From this continual reexamination process Cristina identifies patterns in her practice and reorients her next steps; the archive is a tool that Cristina uses to generate new work.
FEEDBACKGROUND, Dunja Jankovic in collaboration with Oficina Arara
Oficina Arara is a collaborative, mixed media art and design project founded in Porto, Portugal in 2010. Originally inspired by currents in alternative culture, street art, and anarchist activism in Porto at the time, Oficina Arara’s focus is on political tensions within the city. Oficina Arara has produced books, prints, posters, and other graphic materials, as well as community events, workshops, and performances. Though rooted in Porto’s political life, Oficina Arara’s activities now also encompass an ever-widening network of collaborators from other countries through international exchanges, festivals, and print projects; their mission is to create their Arara “ecosystem” wherever they go. Current Oficina Arara members include Miguel Carneiro, Dayana Lucas, Luís Silva, Bruno Borges, Daniela Duarte, Pedro Nora, and João Alves. I spoke with Miguel and João at Oficina Arara in Porto in late November 2015.
Alejandra Pombo, Wild Palms (screenshot), 2015
I recently spoke with Alejandra Pombo (Santiago de Compostela, 1979) at her studio in the El Ranchito residency program at Matadero Madrid. Alejandra is a filmmaker, writer, and poet based in Madrid and Santiago de Compostela. Alejandra’s latest films incorporate video footage created by the artist with found clips from YouTube, movies, and other public sources. She works alone, and without high tech equipment; her work is “cheap in terms of materials, but expensive in terms of time,” she explains. Rather than working towards a set final product, Alejandra generates while making. Alejandra’s openness to instantaneous expressions and new leads is reflected in her practice, which includes improvised movements, introspective texts, and collaged visuals.
Fernando García’s first encounter with Canada was holding it in his hand: throughout his six month long artist residency there, he collected the nearly 500 gold Canadian dollar coins that make up his new installation Cañaveral, curated by Angel Calvo Ulloa at the Marco Vigo. In the installation, García limits himself to two modes (photography and sculpture) made up of four materials (coins, bamboo, granite, and photographs). The coins and bamboo are materials found abroad while the granite and photographs are taken locally. From this limited palette of disparate elements, García juxtaposes close and faraway, man-made and natural, and valuable and found to form something that is neither and both; indeed, the exhibition's title, “cañaveral,” (“reed bed”) evokes a place inside of and away from the geography of Canada or Galicia.
Cerqueira and Sousa's studio space in a former typographer's shop
Mauro Cerqueira and André Sousa are the founders of Uma certa falta de coerencia / A certain lack of coherence, an artist-run space near Porto's city center. Located on Rúa dos Caldeireiros ("Street of Copper Smiths"), a street formerly known in Porto's history for its craftsmen workshops, both the studio the art space pay tribute to and play with the historical site of creation and work. Through Uma certa falta de coerencia, Cerqueira and Sousa invite participating artists to create site-specific installations that explore, in Sousa's words, "the relation between artists (and) how they produce-think-view-support each other." Much of Uma certa falta de coerencia's dynamism comes from the space's many incarnations of identity through the years - participating artists respond to, with, and against its hidden and forgotten rooms, rough hewn walls, and dusty floors. Due to the Cerqueira and Sousa's travel schedules, exhibitions have slowed down, but their online archive shows the space as a host to a compelling variety of experiments and practices that have helped foment the Porto art community.
Cristina Regadas, Sin título, 2010
Cristina Regadas and José Almeida Pereira are artists in Porto, Portugal. Together with the designer Miguel Flor they operated Fundaçao / Foundation, an independent art space in Flor's basement from 2009 to 2012. In addition to their individual art practices, Regadas and Pereira are currently developing a publication in commemoration of the Foundation project through a residency.