We are referring here to two of the venues that host exhibitions and events related to art and installations of twentieth century. The first of this is the newly opened MAAT-Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (October 2016). Located in the picturesque district of Belém
, MAAT consists of a newly constructed hall, a gigantic plate taking the shape of a sea creature like a whale, and facing the Tagus River, and coated in white ceramic tiles, to remind of the Lisbonʼs magical “azulejos”. The construction is authored by the British architect Amanda Levete. The opening of this gallery took place under the label of Pynchon Park-an installation by artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster whose works could be seen in Tate Modern, London, as well as in De Singel, Antwerp. The installation hosted by MAAT is inspired by Sci-Fi movies and, as the name suggests, by the writings of Thomas R. Pynchon, and it frames a dystopian reality in which humans are intently watched by the extraterrestrials under the surface of an innocent recreational space.
About the ever-changing nature of space and its modern overlay of meanings, the other section of MAAT is talking too. This building made of red bricks and steel, which reminds of British industrial architecture, is the ex-Electricity Museum, one of the most interesting exhibition places of Lisbon; it once hosted the Tejo Power Station. Indeed, established on an industrial site that was subsequently built in the period 1909-1972, the years of activity of this plant (e.g. providing electricity to the city of Lisbon), the construction is today a symbol of twentieth century Portuguese modernism (including the political downsides such as dictatorships), as well as a fine example of what is known as the reconversion of industrial spaces. Before MAAT overarching project, the Museum of Electricity fulfilled preponderantly a pedagogical function, re-creating a history of energy production and source tapping for Lisbon.
Now, MAAT is giving to this space multiple functions: a gallery that re-enacts the most dramatic moments of energy production by stressing the hard work of the people involved; a space of the dialogue between different ages; a new urban location that symbolizes the constant negotiation between man and nature. The unsettling “para-reality” presented by Pynchon Park is echoed here by the exhibition that presents the work of designers and multimedia pioneers-Charles and Ray Eames. Back in the 1950s, their sharp, minimalist, even abrasive design set many of the features suggested by Pynchon Park like fluidity of spaces, blurring of boundaries. The work Liquid Skin under the curatorship of Alexandre Melo plays with the chameleonic nature of art, emphasizing the interchangeability of genres just the way Pynchon Park looks like a relaxation place that proves to be an instrument of surveillance.
Some words about the second venue: we present the Berardo Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art. The permanent collection hosts on two floors works of artists of the years 1900-1990. The collection is not as wide as Pompidou Center or Moderna Museet of Stockholm, however it manages to gather the most representative names and currents of twentieth century, starting with Cubism, and including less known groups like De Stijl or CoBrA. Marcel Duchamp, Lucio Fontana, Arshile Gorky, Piet Mondrian, Tristan Tzara, Lucas Samaras, Roy Lichtenstein, Carl Andre, Bill Viola are but few of the names that can be found in this collection. Also worth to be mentioned is the fact that there is a special section dedicated to American Pop Art.
This autumn, more precisely between September 21st and December 31st 2016, Berardo is hosting a very interesting temporary exhibition called: “The Unfinished Conversation-Encoding/Decoding”. Consisting of installations of several artists, musicians, film-makers (Terry Adkins, John Akomfrah, Sven Augustijnen, Shelagh Keeley, Steve McQueen, Zineb Sedira), the works on display explore issue of identity, tradition, politics, oral history from a post-colonial perspective. The ambivalent attitude of the centers towards ex-colonies like Zair or Congo reveals once more the intricacy of center-periphery relations, the unfinished modernization and the rapacious transfers of powers.
These are the sites of the presented museums:
And they are also awfully cheap (MAAT has a discount entrance until spring next year). The admission to Berardo is free, even. So, take advantage!