Sites of Miscommunication: Practices of Re-inscription

This project centres around the Monument to Colonial Effort in Porto, researching the monument as site of miscommunication. My aim is to explore practices of research, experimentation and critic that stimulate the re-inscription of the monument to the Portuguese Colonial Effort (Located in the “Square of the Empire” in Porto, Portugal) in the space of the city and in public debate, considering the materiality of the object, the performativity of a critical process, as well as the history of its construction and allocation. The final result of the project is the writing and publication of an essay, but with the contribution of a series of practices, namely: historical research; co-habitation and creation of casts of the monument; a speculative workshop departing from the research and casts created. In this way, the project seeks to develop an exercise in allowing different perspectives surrounding the monument to become visible and part of public debate.

The monument today. Photos © Marisa Pinheiro

Above, images of the monument in the context of the Colonial Exhibition of 1934. The monument was disassembled after the exhibition and later rebuilt in 1984 at the Square of the Empire in Porto (photos below). The monument presents 6 figures marking Portuguese colonial efforts: that of the woman, the warrior, the farmer, the merchant, the priest, the doctor, each holding their symbol, behalf of the woman that is represented through her breasts.

The project is divided in 4 parts: Research, Intervention, Workshop and Publication. During parts of its implementation I collaborate with theater maker Pedro Manuel and sculptor Daniel Silva; the Faculty of Fine Arts in Porto and the cultural space Maus Hábitos. I am currently getting ready to start part 3 of the project, the speculative workshop.


The idea was to develop a symbolic practice surrounding the monument (and with the monument) that established a bodily, material and performative relation. The exercise was to, over the period of a week, create rubber casts of parts of each of the figures of Portuguese colonialism represented in the monument. In this way, creating negative spaces of the monument: as memory of contact and potential of reproduction. The casts are new objects, contrasting with granite in their materiality. These new objects open themselves symbolically to new appropriations, projections, readings.

The activity of creating the casts, due to silicon drying times, obliged a cohabitation with the monument, extending observation to a prolonged and bodily experience in public space, open to the opportunity of exchanges with the public.

Closer to the monument new details emerge, of the fungos growing, the patches of cement patching together, remains of red paint from a former protest and hidden love messages.

Speculative Workshop: Practices of Re-inscription

The workshop proposes a speculative exercise for re-inscribing the monument, working from the material collected during the research phase of the project and the rubber casts. Participants are invited to explore a critical process through a practical proposal, working from one or more of the following points:

– The history of the monument, its representations and symbolism, through a manipulation of history or generating new “histories”;
– The characters represented in the monument, considering the transformation of the subjectivities of the gure of the woman, the warrior, the farmer, the merchant, the priest, the doctor;
– The materialities of the casts as objects that can be reshaped, altered, moved;
– The negative space of the cast, exploring the potential of that emptiness;
– The materialities of the monument, for example, the granite, its erosion or the lichens inhabiting it, its dimensions, its shadow;
– Creating positives from the casts, which can be moved and explored to research new connections with the monument and its environment.
The workshop will include moments of debate, mapping, work on location and at the School of Fine Arts in Porto; there will be a public presentation of the work developed.