Since 1990 I have been developing at the Serralves Foundation, rather systematically, around the major contemporary issues but there is always an artistic thinking behind.
An exhibition is particularly a problem, and it is primarily a will to enunciate it and after you try to solve it, don’t close it but until complicate it and give it other opportunities that before been formulated the problem doesn’t had. I don’t delivery for an exhibition with a list of artists to stick in place, I delivery with an open mind. Of course everything is very contingent because there are affinities, which somehow influence the curator. There isn’t a white, generic, pure curation, curation is always made of knowledge’s of tastes and affinities with artists with whom we live and work, and so this decontamination is never possible.
The artists who have more success in Portugal, at least apparently, don’t have galleries in Portugal, as the case of Joana Vasconcelos or Pedro Cabrita Reis. The Julião Sarmento has a Portuguese gallery, Cristina Guerra and then has international galleries.
The figure of gallery is a bit bizarre, often because the private collector always tries to dodge paying a substantial percentage of the value of the work, 30 % to 40 %, and is looking to buy directly to the artist. The relationship between artist and gallery is very complicated, it is an almost marital relationship, and as such the size of betrayal is implied. The history of Portuguese artists and galleries is made up of these small betrayals.
The competition is increasing, the artists are desperate to get a gallery, gallery owners promote artists but when they gain some notoriety jump to another gallery owner that promote him in a more effective way and thus these relationships are relationships of interest.
Due to the crisis we are witnessing the creation of a kind of union of artists, artists associations that try to protect these malevolent figures of some galleries, which in this case will still suck more blood from the poor artists.
From the conversations I have had with major galleries, the domestic market is completely stopped, and international conditioning with regard to Portuguese artists.
The role of art criticism has been dimmed a bit and has been occupied by the figure of the curator, the artist feels closer to the curator than to the critical, because the curator is one that you can put the works in the exhibition, and curator is also a critic, also has a speech about the works.
Situations looked great promiscuity between critical and more private and personal situations of critics who ought to have some pure, some asepsis. The independence of criticism is one thing that is very questionable.
I think in the future there will be two main parts, the curator - critic and the curator - producer.
The Art Institute results from the merger of the Institute of Performing Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art, there was no contest, the doorbell rang up and people who were friends of those responsible had an easier time making their exhibits or put in charge of the schedule than others they weren’t. When I was president of the Institute of Arts, I started to introduce the support to the program of the arts in 2003 and 2005.
The internationalization is closely associated with the brand of each country, and Portugal is a country that has a very weak brand, and so the ability to the country to drag his artists is highly conditioned, very doomed, no systematic approaches.
Joana Vasconcelos is a popular artist, created a great empathy with the public, i.e., she created a short circuit between the public and her work that isn’t created by the system, no critics, no curators, no galleries, she as created a direct relationship. Because she created a mechanism for very fast desubjectivation, her work is somewhat inter-subjective, and is work as an immediate empathy, easy empathy.