AUTHOR: IVO MARTINS
EDITION: (Catalogue) Centro Cultural Vila Flor DATE: January 2015
Perhaps the spirit is nothing more than the memory and thinking that can recall the thoughts that we’re
When we look back at the past ten years of the Laboratório das Artes’ dedicated and uninterrupted public activity
in dissemination of contemporary art in Guimarães, the word that first comes to mind is gratitude. Celebration of
a decade of work also evokes the word “hosting” - is there any way that is more appropriate to externalize
gratitude than to open our doors? Especially for those who voluntarily wish to participate in an encounter of
sharing and communion of ideas.
From oriental manuals to books of etiquette, (between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment) passing through
the most recent publications of self-help and good manners, acknowledgement, based on a non-natural reason,
has often been addressed in human societies. Cutting across the entire practice of the community, emerging from
man’s genetic predisposition to honour, nurture, monitor and provide news of unusual, atypical, special acts ...
that by disrupting everyday routines also renew them. Selfless, volunteer, sincere, humble and honest work, is
exemplary in this regard, and is of interest to us all. In this sense, any celebration should invite the polis to
reflect, that through establishing an apology of the value and symbolism of uplifting acts, this will
simultaneously express deference, support and recognition.
Inherent to these practices, is an ideal of justice, the desire to elevate each form of behaviour to the category of
essential action, to which we attribute an ethic of collective exaltation. Courage, patience and perseverance found
in such evocation are factors of resistance against the attrition of time.
All gratitude precedes the act of playing host, whose contours are evident in the manner in which each person
receives others in their "home", and can be expressed either in terms of the words that are spoken, or the gestures
that are adopted for the occasion. This approach condenses inter-relational subjectifications, exhibited both in
the ritualization and layout of the persons’ bodies, and in the content and emphasis of the speeches, which
incorporate a discipline, the product of social construction.
It can therefore be concluded that there are many ways to receive and play host to others. However, it is necessary
to go beyond the traditional face-to-face encounter that is involved in all acts of homage - the ritual between the
person who is expressing thanks and the person who receives the statement of appreciation, in which different
kinds of behaviour tend to replicate one another, formalized in an endless chain of socially coded movements.
Individuality is blurred in a stream of words and polite gestures. The genetic component, socio-professional
status, cultural, ethnic and racial origins dissipate in an indistinct uniformity, while roles assigned to classes,
gender, generations, corporations, groups, are temporarily suspended. The contact with the other, whereby the
person who receives the other assumes responsibility, and must impose sincerity and truthfulness, in proof of
respect and consideration, which is reflected in an affectionate treatment of understanding and encouragement.
To play host is to accept, to agree, to cultivate a healthy tolerance. It is to encourage a reciprocal sense of
belonging. It is to be equally supportive. In recognition of the fact that it is necessary to give a warm welcome to
someone in a territory that is formally alien to them, there are multiple levels of intensity. In function of the
specific environment (home, office, institution, public space ...) one may determine the extent of the reception,
which is underpinned by an attitude of approval, agreement and mutual acceptance.
Without desire, effort, or critical reflection about human existence, the wealth of subjective constructions related
to recognition and appreciation, is invariably consumed in narcissistic illusions. Without research work,
retrieval, and organizational and documental systematization, i.e. the values that are naturally activated by the
pleasure of celebrating, there is a risk that they will be lost. In the absence of simplicity and highlighting
essentials, ceremonies can become mere bureaucratic routines, limited to the mere ostentation of courtesy.
Generosity is thereby replaced by the utilitarianism of the spectacle, which deifies the mediatized brilliance - the
promotional image, marketing and the battle for audiences takes centre-stage and sensitivity and respect are
thereby lost. An autotelic regime of behaviourist sensations is established, in which individuals dangerously
recopy each other in their acts and gestures, that are transformed into a trivial matter, into everyday words and
images. Today we choose the faster, more convenient, more enjoyable, more accurate and more economic path in
order to recognize what deserves to be valued. Everything is thought about and forgotten at once and at the same
speed, leaving only the symmetry of a stylized ceremony. Mass-produced celebrations are no more than events
that have a surface visibility of events and technical resources that, by highlighting the apparatus and the
emptiness of the acts, formats them, impoverishes them and thereby deprives them of meaning.
There will always be someone who argues that we now conduct an unparalleled level of planning, research, of
projects, investigations, discoveries, inventions, which indicates the existence of thought. This assumption makes
it impossible to deny, in the name of development, the utility or the importance of this expression of intelligence.
However, we should not confuse the nature of the thinking that is invested in the planning, organization or
management of a company, with that which results from a reflective attitude. When one organises, plans or
manages, certain conditions are imposed, that are drawn up on the basis of the objectives to be achieved. In the
attributes of the thinking that organizes and investigates, one anticipates previously established results. Using
mathematical and algorithmic operations, applied to ever wider areas, we can extend both the possibilities of
measurement and the horizons of calculation. This process becomes progressively more complicated in function
of the expectations or the problems raised, disclosed via excited speeches concerning the benefits, advantages
and economistic gains. Although different, reflective thinking still has to use powers of deduction. According to
Heidegger " Calculative thinking races from one prospect to the next. Calculative thinking never stops, never
collects itself. Calculative thinking is not meditative thinking (ein besinnliches Denken) it is not thinking which
contemplates the meaning which reigns in everything that is”. There are therefore two kinds of thinking, each
justified and needed in its own way for the future of humanity: calculative thinking and meditative thinking. It
should be however noted the need to make a careful review, throughout and beyond these two strategies of
The celebration of the 10 years of the Laboratório das Artes in Guimarães aims to recall the effort, courage,
generosity, commitment and utility of the dissemination of art, distinguishing a work whose implementation has
unleashed meditative thinking. Developing within a community that is focused on everyday issues, this activity
has never lost its connection with reality, and has disclosed to the city and the country an alternative praxis for
the dissemination of contemporary art.
The publication of a document about the activity of the Laboratório das Artes and the exhibition featuring many
of the artists who have collaborated with the association over the years, constitutes an the opportunity to
recognize the merit of the work that has been developed.
TRANSLATION: MARTIN DALE