An exhibition curated by me with a central piece by Luísa Bebiano and a photographic essay by Paulo Catrica about the Portuguese Parliament and the relations between space and power is opening today. The exhibition will be on display between February 17th and April 15th at Casa da Arquitectura, in Matosinhos.
Here you may find the sypnosis of the project.
THE HOUSE OF DEMOCRACY between Space and Power
The current Assembly of the Republic, seat of the Portuguese Parliament, was stage and scenery to important social movements and political regimes that determined our historical destiny: the Liberal Revolution of 1820, which two years later led/gave rise to the first Portuguese Constitution; the abolition of the Monarchy and subsequent foundation of the Republic in 1910; the dictatorship of the Estado Novo and its end after the Revolution of April 25, 1974, with the much‐desired restoration of Democracy.
The history piled on the building is also inseparable from the History of Portuguese Architecture. It hearkens back to the end of the 16th century, when the Monastery of São Bento da Saúde was founded, designed by the Architect Balthazar Álvares — and considered one of the most relevant examples of the Portuguese plain style due to the its monumentality and presence in the territory, two factors which certainly helped set up its later adaptation as Palace of the Cortes.
The histories intertwine over the centuries, stimulating an understanding, an effort to try and think about the very meaning of what political space is in our present time — an understanding that must not be confined to the mere succession of events. The political system has conditioned, on a number of occasions, the building’s architecture (including the choreography of bodies, and iconography) and the section of the city where it belongs — while architecture has, in turn, contributed to the creation and affirmation of a power or the city as an area of freedom.
Designed by Luísa Bebiano, the piece that occupies the centre of the gallery is an elliptical space. On one side are presented some of the hypotheses about the relation between space and power, crossing timelines in virtual ellipses. On the other side are Paulo Catrica’s photographs of the several spaces of the Assembly of the Republic — spaces that often remain hidden —, revealing at the same time the institutional building and the common space of work and debate.