Toronto specializing in contemporary photography

Opera – São Carlos

Opera – São Carlos, 2005-2009

Artist Statement

This series proposes a cartographic reading of the São Carlos Theatre, in Lisbon, home of the Portuguese National Opera. It was made between July 2005 and January 2009 at a time when the building was undergoing significant changes. As such, most of the places pictured no longer exist anymore.

Not merely intent to document and “fix” the place before impending change, these photographs, in their ability to slow our way of looking at things, propose a hypothetical narrative which emphasizes the contemplative and comparative aspects within each image and between them. In this case they strengthen and contrast the relationship between the different kinds of spaces/places of the theatre—between the representational, essentially public places (the foyer or the main room depicted from the stage) and the working areas (the backstage, the dressing rooms, the storage rooms, the mechanism that holds the main chandelier or the back of the clock on the main façade).

Depicted during a transitional phase these workshops and storage areas can be seen as suffering from the impact of the new economic scale schemes which map contemporary cultural production. In fact, all the major opera productions are nowadays co-productions between different European theatres which in essence have made the working areas of S. Carlos obsolete or un-used.

Part of a larger series, which includes thirty photographs, these pictures should be understood as fragments of the place, tangential to the subject itself. Roland Barthes referred to the photograph as a ‘temporal catastrophe’, as the rescue of past events and their confrontation with the present. These photographs seek to explore the ambiguity of that statement: confronting an historic object, the Theatre, with its present condition (2005/2009), which is also past. Photographs are always past occurrences, therefore they maintain a strange bond with History. Whereas in fact they should be perceived in the present as memory events.

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