Flower power time generally fades away by the end of May, but this year it seems to continue for much longer. Apart from carpets of colors the residents are inspired by flower scents, birds´songs and marble quarries.
In May we had two exhibitions: of Gaelle Pelachaud and of Andrea Brasch (see the slide show on this page for an impression).
On 5 and 16 May Dario Argentesi gave piano recitals including a composition that he created inspired by Evoramonte and the surrounding nature. Watch this video .
And on 26 May we participated in a local poetry festival in the Castle of Evoramonte. Azila Reisenberger, Linda Buckmaster and Phylis Olwande had a presentation.
Gaëlle Pelachaud (France) had an exhibition: ÁUREAS (Reflexoes duma Segonha), in the INATEL building in the Centre of Évora. It ran until 30 May 2018. During her artistic residencies in 2016 and 2017, Gaëlle made hundreds of drawings of storks, especially of the storks nest at the abandoned railway station of Evoramonte. She will show several these drawings, partly in the form of artistic installations. Ideas that still have to be developed in more detail are to make a “real” storks nest on a pole and to lay a drawing of the floor that shows the landscape in a birds eye view.
Gaëlle Pelachaud creates artist books (some of them will be shown in vitrines). For Áureas she found a collaboration with a bookbinder form Evoramonte: João Ruas. In this artist book several poems by Maria Sarmento are presented. Maria Sarmento (Evora) wrote a series of poems inspired by the work of Gaëlle Pelachaud. The poems are in Portuguese with a translation in French.
Gaëlle also established a collobration with Matthew Manowski (USA). He had a very productive residency in September 2017, with an obvious highlight being his “sound installation performance” in the fortress of Evoramonte on the occasion of the opening of Diaspora, the exhibition of Kevin Morrow. During his residency he met Gaëlle Pelachaud, who invited him to contribute with a sound installation to her exhibition. Matthew collected sounds from nature, partly manipulated them and composed a serene sound piece that beautifully combines with the visual parts of the exhibition.
Andrea Brasch (Denmark, currently living in Berlin) had an exhibition: Cartas de Amor, also until 30 May 2018 in the INATEL building in Évora. Andrea has a specialty in digital storytelling and game design. During her residencies in 2015, 2016 and 2107 at OBRAS she worked on a project in which central is an envelope that she got from her grandparents with their instruction to open it only after their decease. She came to Portugal to open the envelope on an inspiring place. It contained letters that her grandparents wrote to each other in the first years of the 2nd world war.
Andrea made a multi-media presentation that includes a collage of postcards and text fragments that she found in the envelope, a video that shows her opening the envelope and a virtual reality piece with which the visitor of the exhibition can experience act of discovering this type of both historical and personal information. In fact it suggests the experiences that Andrea had when she was a little child looking to the big world from under the kitchen table of her grandparents.
Dario Argentesi (Italy) is a highly talented young composer and pianist. He rehearsed for a concert that he will give in July in Italy and gave us the try-out. One of the pieces was the beautiful, 45-minutes Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky, for which Dario projected most of the paintings. Dario himself was also inspired for his compositions by what he saw in his surroundings. The titles refer to that: “Evoramonte”, “pre-historic grave” and cats”.
Paul Kohl (photographer; USA) and Izumi Ueda (visual artist; Japan) had a residency at OBRAS Holland. They felt living in paradise due to the exceptionally good weather and above all by the explosion of colours: the azaleas and rhododendrons, some three meters high, were in full blossom. Izumi uses the flowers to “decorate” her paintings of dresses. Paul was photographing, but also came in contact with our friend and ceramist: Hanneke van den Berg, and accepted her invitation to experiment with raku.
In 2015 Paul and Izumi had a residency at OBRAS Portugal. They liked Portugal that much that they decided to move from Singapore to Portugal to live and work.
Rob Monaghan (Ireland) came back to complete his project on the marble quarry lakes. He went in the night at fool moon to make underwater photos in these lakes for blob art, a highly ambitious project initiated by Mirjam Slaats. They started their collaboration during their residency last year and developed it with a month-long orientation in Abu Dhabi.
Last year the fishes came to Rob while he was swimming, but not this year, may be cause it was spawning time. This bad luck was more than compensated by a new collaboration: he made a video project together with Phyllis Olwande who performed in the quarry, partly on a submerged platform. See the slide show on this page for an impression.
Generally, Robert Franca (USA) makes half abstract paintings and sculptures. Although at OBRAS his work seemed largely figurative: he painted ornaments of ancient buildings, he was more interested in forms and light/shadows than in the object itself. This resulted in a series of intimate and contemplative images. During his final presentation he surprised everybody with a series of philosophical statements on art, perception ion and reality.
Colleen Franca (USA) painted in an impressionistic stile a series of landscapes, townscapes and objects around the house, such as a bunch of puppies or the laundry line. They show her fascination of observing. Her attempts to catch light were both playful and highly professional.
Currently, Phyllis Olwande lives in Denmark, but has strong Kenyan roots. Educated as dancer and specialised in flamenco, she recently realised that this may be a too narrow base for her future. She used her residency to experiment with cross-art and site-specific performance. She had collaborations with Linda Buckmaster (poet) and Ingrid Simons (painter). But especially the project together with Rob Monaghan (video-artist) brought spectacular results. Deep down in an abandoned marble quarry, standing on the edge of a ravine or until her knees in the water, she performed using a mix of flamenco, butoh, yoga and own inventions. Rob and Phyllis consider making a room-size video-installation of it.
Among the residents that we are still expecting this year are some who will have a public presentation:
Paul Godwin (USA) and Miguel Angel Noya (Venezuela) are both composer and musician (www.dogonsound.com). Last year they composed and presented an “acousmatic environment”. On this page is a slide show with an impression. In 2018 they will return with a piece that will be brought to stage in Évora : I Am the Size of What I See. It will become a live quadrophonic musical/multi-media performance based on the work of Fernando Pessoa during the years of World War I. It is provisionally scheduled for the first week of October 2018. More info will follow soon.
White Works is the title for an exhibition with Phil Moody (USA), scheduled for 29 June – 15 September in the Palácio dos Marqueses da Praia e Montforte, Estremoz. Phil Moody came in 2014 and 2015 for making photo portraits of workers in the marble quarries. Very exceptional was that Phil got permission to make a documentary of workers deep in a marble quarry of Estremoz. He intends making some ten 2x2m photo mosaics. In addition he wants to make a book where these images are combined with information on marble: the history, geology, economy and especially the life of the workers. For this he wants have marble workers interviewed by students of the industrial archaeology department of Évora University. He is especially interested in the stories of retired employees: they started when it was common to bring water to the workers with a donkey, they experienced the booming of the marble sector, but also the decline and the crisis that seems to be structural of this sector.
Yvonne Halfens (Holland) will get an exhibition of her ceramic work in the fortress of Evoramonte in August - September 2018 (exact dates will soon be announced). She prepared a beautiful artist statement for this exhibition:
My portraits do not refer to a concrete person, but to his reflections on human being. I created this exhibition after a few experiences in Portugal.
Recently I saw in Évora an old wooden statue of a saint, with an unknown creator. The statue was beautiful, but the woodworm had made it a masterpiece. The decay and the imperfection gave it history and extra quality.
Many Portuguese churches have statues of saints, consisting only of a head and chest on a wooden frame where the dress had been draped around. Somehow shocking to know that so much holiness is based on a few wooden slats. But it is also so much more human than it seems.
When you read the classical philosophers, it is surprisingly clear that nothing has changed in our psyche. My portraits in this exhibition are often forgotten people are often forgotten people, sometimes eroded by time. But also earthy, timeless, ordinary and unique, just like us.
Also good to know:
Duncan Hill (USA), resident in 2017, was selected to participate in an exhibition later this year in Ponte de Lima (North Portugal) with a mysterious, a bit “Hockney type” of photo of the petrol station of Estremoz in the night.
During his residency in 2015 Nuno Veiga (Portugal) made Boa Morte: a video performance together with Melina Peña (Mexico), with a dead tree and the “solstice rock” as the main elements in the scene. It can now be watched on https://vimeo.com/262525485. There is a lot of space for the viewer to make his own narrative.
And something completely different: Ingrid Simons has probably made all birdwatchers jealous. On the evening of 18 may Ingrid was photographing a beautiful sunset from inside her house, as it was still dripping after a heavy rain shower. Suddenly an Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo) landed on the rock some 10 meters from her house. He quietly overlooked the surroundings in all his powerful royalty and then left. Ingrid had a few magical, nearly surreal minutes.