The Adventurous Lives of Lisbon Statues is a series of semi-fictional stories about some of the monuments and street sculptures of Lisbon, past and present. It is presented online, as a sequence of web pages featuring photographs subject to variable amounts of manipulation, text and links to external resources. Though playful in intention, it also attempts to be informative to some degree.
Most of the sculptures under discussion were built during the Estado Novo (the authoritarian regime that ended with the revolution of 1974), though a few are older or more recent. The title of this work is somewhat imprecise because, though we mostly deal with statues, a couple of abstract sculptures are also mentioned. The main thread that links these stories is an analysis of the relationships established between the sculptures, their locations, and the people they share these spaces with.
Some monuments are of their time, others present themselves as survivors from times past, and sometimes it’s hard to guess exactly what time they belong to, but all of them tell us something about the present, in our choices to keep, remove, maintain or let them crumble. The selection featured in this series reflects some degree of personal preference, as there are many other true or fictional stories that could be told instead.
The series opens with a visit to Belém, where we look at the Praça do Império through the lens of its 1940 origin in the Exposição do Mundo Português. We’ll also be telling the stories of two sculptures that were removed from their places after the 1974 revolution.
Subsequent episodes will take us around Lisbon: from Chiado, with its poets, to the old industrial centre in the suburb of Damaia, through the monumental Parque Eduardo VII in the city centre.
In choosing to focus on relatively recent events, and pieces both well and little known, polemic and politically relevant to different extents, I hope to contribute something to the debate around these objects of decorative, instructive and celebratory intent with which we share our city.
Street statues are ignored by thousands of passers-by on a daily basis. Static figures, permanent, of the past, obsolete, they are part of the furniture, we don’t even notice them. However, in a certain way, they live. They are born of commissions or public contracts, they are sensitive to pollution, to vandalism and regime changes. At times, they move from their place of residence or are forced to retire. They rarely completely cease to exist. And in a certain way, through their lives they reflect how we live. In this project, Isabel Brison creates a website that reveals the stories of these same statues.