BoCA Editorial 2019


In the sidelines of the common world

text by John Romão (Artistic Director)

Marlene Monteiro Freitas, Pedro Barateiro, Horácio Frutuoso, Meg Stuart, Jonathas de Andrade, Marina Abramovic, INMUNE – Instituto Nacional da Mulher Negra em Portugal, Tania Bruguera, Arca, Jonas & Lander, Jonathan Saldanha, Angélica Liddell, William Forsythe, Vasya Run… these are just a few of the names assembled for the second edition of BoCA, returning now to Lisbon, Porto and Braga, with intentions of provoking, reinforcing or reforming improbable relations. After all we are living in improbable, unstable, precarious and rootless times of tension and collision by ominous forces that range from sex and desire to war and annihilation. There’s something in the air, renewed motions of claiming one’s own rights, of extreme positions, that are bringing to the art form the experience of the threshold as well as a society in convulsion.

BoCA finds itself “out of place”, as “extradisciplinary”, daring us to change positions – as spectators or citizens -, following the transgressive shifts of the artists (as it happens with Chileans Ciudad Aberta that arrive here in a performative journey). In the spirit of the many crisis situations we are experiencing – of immigrants, of extremisms, of climate change, of inequality, of values and memory – these creators are in perpetual movement and disconcert between artistic languages, geographies, identities (nationality, sexuality…).  In this BoCA ’19, Beyoncé is summoned in a religious celebration led by pastor Yolanda Norton (USA), pole dancing from the New York underground is an expression of virtue and an inquiry on race, discrimination and identity (Gerard & Kelly) and photographer Wolfgang Tillmans surprises us with an electronic music concert. With this feeling of receptivity to difference and the ‘other’, Gonçalo M. Tavares & Os Espacialistas activate an ‘ephemeral space for Direct Art’ in a performance that is a ‘Laboratory of Ways to Feel Above Average’, which is also what BoCA is all about.

In BoCA ’19 we will sow our structural concepts as well as our practice through synergies drawn between cities, cultural equipment, artistic territories and between diverse audiences.

BoCA reaffirms and consolidates its place as active and decisive agent in a body of work that has its course in different scales: in the investment and diffusion of diversity, both cultural and artistic; in the integration and empowerment of different communities, minorities and ethnicities; in the decentralization of cultural supply within each city, each region and outside the main centers; in the research of event programming formats in local, cross-regional and national scales; in the promotion of both material and immaterial heritage, through programming in patrimonial property and investigating new urban dynamics that we associate to intangible expression that lays the foundations for our contemporary culture.

More than 50 institutional partners have collaborated with BoCA this year. In the biennium of 2019/2020, BoCA takes its life’s work to further steps, comprising a national dimension of a single core constituted by various complicities and extending to various regions in the country. Its scale supersedes boundaries and regionalisms, deepens relationships and affection, fosters new futures, appeals to inclusion, diversity and itinerancy as structuring elements of its identity.

In 2019, BoCA solidifies its programming line, grounded in an event schedule expanded through various cultural sites; in the commissioning of new creations by artists who have developed extra-disciplinary languages; in the challenge of creating new pieces in a foreign land different from the one where the authors remain specialists; in the presentation of works that reveal new (marginal) identities of international artists; and in the spatial re-contextualizing of existing creations that promise new readings, also being inclusive by reuniting new audiences stemming from diverse circuits and sensibilities. This communion, in my eyes, overrides the notions of what is multi-disciplinary, un-disciplinary or trans-disciplinary. As such I propose an “extra-disciplinary” practice (Brian Holmes, over Community Subjects) because we always keep searching for innovative and lush grounds that can enable the mapping of a new cultural and affective topography.

The event programming points to a contemporary dramaturgy in which the articulation of every element – the artists, the grounds for intervention and imagination, the places occupied by the program and the whole construction of ephemeral spaces – translates to a significant unity, where there is participation by the order of the uniqueness and plurality of the world we live in, of the co-existence of many differences: temporal, spatial, cultural, of spectrum. This unity contributes towards the building of a “common world” as Hannah Arendt once described, it being a world defined by what is publicly shared between distinctive individuals.

In a time of fractured identities, we embrace fragmentation and in its origins make an attempt at composing a drama about union. What’s this of belonging in a moment of worldly political and social fragmentation? What’s this of power erasing identities and biographies once pioneering? What’s this of History being reconstructed by power, re-written in its favor? And of the feminine being written by masculine hand? Retelling history, redefining identities, genders and nationalities. The program from BoCA ’19 emphasizes identity politics, as well as of race and gender, enduring the reflection over the aspects of what’s sacred and of the ritual present in our contemporaneity.  

Once again we are close to national and international artists, producing and co-producing 22 new worldwide debut creations and 12 new national creations. Every artist in this edition is fundamental piece in the construction of a bigger puzzle that is this program unraveled in three cities. Each one is a world that requires imperative and frequent attendance, deserving of more than just a visit, named in no particular order or hierarchy. Rui Chafes, Vera Mantero, Mariana Tegner Barros, Milo Rau, João Pais Filipe, João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata, Ryan Trecartin, Otolith Group, Joana da Conceição, Kukuruz Quartet, Volmir Cordeiro, Maria Trabulo, Adolfo Luxúria Canibal… While underlining that this is the arrangement of a program where all artists are equally crucial I must, in the meantime, reveal the enthusiasm towards our Artists in Residence in the 2019/2020 biennium: Marlene Monteiro Freitas, Horácio Frutuoso, Diana Policarpo and Gerard & Kelly, whose works we will present in different contexts throughout this cycle.

I thank each and every one of the partners that made this second edition possible, one that gathers the city of Braga together with Lisbon and Porto, the audiences and public that have been accompanying us and those about to discover us for the first time. Curiosity, risk and discovery guide us all in yet another edition.