The Joanine Library — a pearl of the Baroque and a treasure of the University of Coimbra — was built as an imperialist gesture that aimed to encapsulate knowledge and flaunt colonial dominion. This fortress of knowledge (and power) is also the refuge of a small colony of bats that found there the ideal conditions to set up house. Under the cover of the nightly silence, the bats prey on the insects and larvae that would otherwise munch through the library’s 55,000 books. The night is their time of freedom, the moment when they come out of their hiding places and start working on the conservation of our shared estate. For us, the fact that there are bats living in the Joanine Library was a spark that triggered a cascade of thoughts. We hope that they can offer the same inspiration for everyone that visits the Biennial.
In our critical idealization of Meia-noite, we imagine the night as a fluid space, a space for breaking norms, open to other visions, knowledges, interactions, and bodies. We envision it as a space of resistance and freedom, a political, metaphysical and experiential place. Here, the night is a territory for symbiotic relationships between humans and other beings, a place for co-dependency and co-evolution. In this perspective, the night fascinates us with its plural capacity to “transvalue” universal normative categories.
The university is, pre-eminently, a place of knowledge and power. If libraries are the epitome of (a certain protected kind of) knowledge, and bats the embodiment of darkness, here we find them in a relationship of mutual dependence. Both the library and the bat become political subjects. A central idea of our research for Meia-noite was how to question the production of knowledge embodied by the Joanine Library. How can we propose alternative epistemologies? How can we learn from the intelligence of bats? How can we imagine other forms of interaction?
Our intention was to free ourselves from the narratives and normative dualism of modern thought that fracture our contemporary society and produce an imbrication of discriminations: racism, classism, sexism, ageism, ableism, to name just a few. With this in mind, we applied methodologies that help us to experiment with creative, unexpected and marginal modes of knowledge production. We placed the eyeglasses of these Coimbra bats over our feminist ones and invited a group of artists to share their artistic and critical tools with us. Tools that multiply and connect worlds, that come from some existing place after the patriarchy: tools of the future.
Inspired by the night, this proposal for the Biennial is an attempt to open a speculative fissure, one that does not propose any answers, but raises many questions. It is an attempt to invent other modes of existence, of relating, of being and living together.
Elfi Turpin & Filipa Oliveira
- Ana Pi
- Aurélia de Souza
- Beatriz Santiago Muñoz
- Candice Lin & P. Staff
- Carlos Bunga
- Christian Nyampeta & Obi Okigbo
- Daniel Steegmann Mangrané
- Diana Policarpo
- Elisabetta Benassi
- Elise Florenty & Marcel Türkowsky
- Euridice Zaituna LaKala
- Filipa César
- Gabriel Chaile
- Jarbas Lopes
- Jesse Darling
- Jessica Warboys
- Joana Escoval
- Julie Béna
- Lastenia Canayo – Pecon Quena
- Laura Huertas Millán
- ⓿ Lojazero – Rua Adelino Veiga
- ❶ Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Nova
- ❷ CAPC Círculo Sereia
- ❸ CAPC Círculo Sede
- ❹ Estufa Fria – Jardim Botânico
- ❻ Teatro da Cerca de São Bernardo
- ❼ Sala da Cidade
Anozero–Coimbra Biennial of Contemporary Art is an initiative of the Círculo de Artes Plásticas de Coimbra. It is organized in conjunction with the Coimbra City Council and the University of Coimbra and was first presented in 2015. Its prime goal is to foster reflection around the circumstances that led to the University of Coimbra – Alta and Sofia being classified by UNESCO as World Heritage.
Anozero’21–22 is grateful to all the volunteers who gave their time and goodwill to embrace this project.
Ana Meirelles Moutinho
Ana Paula Calmeiro
Isabel Ferraz Branco
Lidia Maria Labianca
Lúcia Lopes dos Santos
Maria Teresa Amaral
Renan Alves de Souza