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Group show: Res Publica 1910 and 2010 A Face-Off / Floors 0 e 01 of the Foundation central building and gardens (over)

8 October 2010 until 15 January 2011
  Res Publica 1910 and 2010 A Face-Off / Floors 0 e 01 of the Foundation central building and gardens
  Centro de Arte Moderna - CAM - Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian

Centro de Arte Moderna - CAM - Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian
Rua Dr. Nicolau de Bettencourt
1050-078 Lisbon
Portugal (city map)

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tel +351 217 - 82 34 74 / 21 782 3483

Curators: Helena de Freitas and Leonor Nazaré

THE EXHIBITION offers the comparison between works from the beginning of the 20th and 21st centuries taking into account problems which debate the context and nature of the Res Publica and of the republic’s social heritage in the current globalized work.

With a national blueprint, the exhibition also includes works from foreign artists underlining or even enhancing aspects of the developed approach.

Public causes, their emergence and community strength are necessarily present in the artistic act, from the more private to the utterly political or simply collective one.

In the beginning of the 20th century in Portugal, the Res Publica is reviewed taking into account ideals and critical perspectives wishing for the renewal, but the facts portray an estranged reality of it.

In the beginning of the 21st century the Res Publica is the subject and the object of not only social but civilisation’s lack of guidance.

The exhibition aims to map out these realities, exhibiting works from those two moments, a century apart, and yet united by their theme.


The monarchy downfall, patriotism and historic facts concerning the beginning of the republic are the triggering factor.

All the iconography and national symbols become an obligation of memory: the flag, the anthem, propaganda, oaths and celebrations, rallies, and glory exhibitions.

The empire and the colonies, or the participation in the First World War also define of the awakening of the Portuguese 20th century.

The world as we now know it makes us revisit continents and cultures, deviant and exaggerated forms of nationalism, anchored vices of the general republican models of nowadays, and the post colonial situation.


At the dawn of the 20th century, emigration, ageing and poverty do not add any dignity to the general picture, hence, the pertinence of revealing representations of the people and of several and different social and professional types, or the associations of a bourgeoisie despising the people.

Gender, social class and race inequalities, as well as wealth distribution and exclusion, are unavoidable themes, which did not fade away.


National education becomes a priority, in a context where the possibility of a new man arises in an enthusiastic manner.

Psychiatry and education skills become the foundations, of the mentality and spiritual forces change. The belief in progress and crowd’s psychology interest the ruling class.

Primary school teaching is then carefully reviewed. At the same time, a new space is made for the cult of nature, sciences, sports, health and medical research.

A century of technical progress in essence and of neoliberal social engineering made the models failure quite apparent and threw mankind in a globalised unparalleled deconstruction.


The republican secular world which the Constitution proclaims until today, has always made strategic alliances with the Catholic Church, which knows but to well how to be too influent upon society.

The 1st Republic tried to take away the Church’s power. The state of the 21st century has grown very much apart of a model of agreed upon cooperation. They both fight upon domination and power territories, matters of ethical influence or of underlying alienation.

The war of religions, as a social and civilization pathology has deep roots and a much more ancient history, but goes on today as being the focal point of the most serious problems.


The press is an absorption and projection institution for big public issues, and supposedly a space of freedom. In the beginning of the 20th century, magazines keep flourishing and being the small Lisbon enlightened society mean of critique and clear propaganda.

Today, Violence keeps on multiplying its forms of permanent resurgence in the press and in all other levels of organization of affections and reasons, in working and social clusters.


Public art, by its existence in a public circulation space is a very old practice. But arts public dimension has found in its contemporary shape very different means of support and must be seen beyond that propaganda framework it had during the 1st Republic.

Can art be political? Can it have an intervention role? Must art be realized as life?

Interior spaces and public spaces; construction and ruin, politics, economy and ecology, individual celebrity and historic collective destiny; this is the background of the current gathering of art and life which enable us to analyse the Res Publica integration in the arts universe.


The passion for the real or its apparent come back has fostered in the very much enlarged domain of contemporary art, the mixing of languages which are the inscription, centre and fine cut of it.

Utopia drives the not resigned world of a minority and the imagination of those who do not see themselves in what exists.

The future always starts today and demands a profoundly diligent work. It demanded from the just born Republic tools of conscience it could not have; it demands from the world of today a radical questioning of forms of knowledge and the management of human life priorities.

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