Some call it destiny, others the voice of the people. But fado is more than just a word; it is a cultural feeling of a country and a form of communication and relationship. And that is the motto of the second edition of Abecedário_Festival da Palavra, an event that for four days will focus on the various strands of the word “fado”, be it its musicality, emotion, poetry, feeling, identity, social practice, belief, value or soul. Basically, and according to Carlos Moura-Carvalho, director of the event, “what is intended is to highlight fado as an element that forms the Portuguese identity, the matrix of Lusophone culture and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.
A successful project
“The first edition of any event is always very important and a huge challenge. In the end, accounts are made, pros and cons are analyzed, and you get an idea of whether it is worth making future editions, if the concept and format should continue, ”says Carlos Moura-Carvalho. “And throughout the first edition, and afterwards, it became clear that the public and participants' adherence, and the repercussion in the media, of a format that favors small spaces, social gatherings, informal conversation, and which has an inherent nature proximity and intimacy, which characterizes more and more the current bookstores, was excellent ”, he congratulates. “Calculations done, we surpassed what was initially thought, which gave us the strength to move on to a second edition, but raising the bar with a more complex word. So far, with the growth of partners and support, everything points out that we are on the right track ”.
In 2020, Abecedário_Festival da Palavra will explore three thematic areas: Emotion and feeling, Identity and destiny and Representations of everyday life. And for everything to maintain the dynamics thought by the organization, it is essential, once again, to count on the support of partners. “This event is based on the challenge of bookstores and supporting entities, especially the parish councils. They are the ones who contribute with suggestions from speakers and actions that, within the programmatic and curatorial line, enrich the festival ”, explains Carlos Moura-Carvalho. To cement this philosophy, more people are supporting the event. “This year, we have more partner bookstores, more adherent parish councils, more support for dissemination, including international ones. To continue like this, in 2 or 3 years, we hope to be at the point we want, without losing the characteristics we defend, of informality and small spaces, without overlapping initiatives. We are not apologists for events where there are several things happening at the same time. In our festival, we can go to all initiatives. On the other hand, we want to preserve the dialogue with the public. Thus, in all panels, there are at least 20 minutes dedicated to public participation in the gatherings. ”
The voice of the people
When we asked Carlos Moura-Carvalho the reason for choosing fado as the motto for this year's edition of the event, the answer is emphatic: “We think it is the word that best defines us as a people. It has many perspectives, senses and associated feelings, some that do not even exist in other languages. All of this exudes complexity and provokes immense curiosity. Fado is music and poem, but above all the feeling that helps us to understand who we are. Let us know a sense of awareness of our strengths and weaknesses. It makes us more human, stronger and more whole. And it is our soul, being at the table, snacking, drinking, talking, dreaming, loving, suffering. In addition, in 2020, the centenary of the birth of Amália Rodrigues is celebrated, and fado and Portugal (also) are Amália ”.
More dynamic festival
The entry of new partners will transform the dynamics of the new edition of Abecedário_Festival da Palavra. Carlos Moura-Carvalho, explains: “Compared to the first edition, there will be some differences. This is directly associated with the fact that we have more adhering bookstores, which made us focus the gatherings in these spaces. In addition, we develop parallel programming. In this sense, the highlight goes to two exhibitions: one from the Letreiro Galeria project, dedicated to urban design and lettering, entitled Lights of the city, which is a tribute to Lisbon's graphic heritage (see box 4 questions about the Letreiro Galeria project), which will be patent at Stolen Books; and an exhibition with photographs by Rodolfo Contreras, which will take place at the Mercado de Alvalade. In parallel, we will record all conversations and transmit them in podcast format ”, he announces.
4 questions about the Marquee Gallery project
In 2014, Rita Múrias and Paulo Barata Corrêa, two graphic designers, started a pioneering idea: collecting signs and deactivated illuminated signs from our capital. To find out more about this project called Letreiro Galeria, which will present an exhibition on Lisbon's graphic heritage, entitled “Lights of the City”, in this year's edition of Abecedário_Festival da Palavra, the Observer was in conversation with its founders.
1. For what purpose was the project Letreiro Galeria born?
The idea is to gather material that allows to make a museum / exhibition warehouse with the signs of the city that we have been acquiring, where we can all enjoy a graphic memory of the city that has been disappearing. We have already gathered around 250 pieces among small and large neon signs, windshield doors, glass painted with techniques that have already disappeared, light boxes and metal letters. Examples of this are the signs for the Hotel Ritz and Pastelaria Suíça or the letters from the old bookshop Diário de Notícias. This collection has already allowed, between November 2016 and March 2017, at the Convento da Trindade, the exhibition Cidade Gráfica, in partnership with the MUDE (Museum of Design and Fashion) and the Lisbon City Council. In addition, we won the Time Out Magazine award as the best exhibition of the year 2016 and, more recently, we received an “Honorable Mention” awarded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation with the Maria Teresa and Vasco Vilalva 2019 award.
2. How do you get signs and signs to light up?
We have made a survey of the disabled signs. However, if there are stores still in operation and we know they will close, we present our project, to try to prevent the sign from going to waste. However, many stores have already contacted us. An example of this are the stamp house Aníbal Gravador, at Rua Nova do Almada, or Retrosaria Arco Chique, at Rua dos Retroseiros. Even the Alvalade Parish Council has already done so and we were kept with the sign of Charcutaria Riviera, on Avenida da Igreja, and of Sapataria Hélio, on Avenida de Roma.
3. How important is this form of language in the graphic memory of a city like Lisbon?
We believe that the city's history can also be told through its commercial signs. These objects being a graphic heritage, we consider an emerging project, at a time when in Lisbon, as in the whole country, urban changes occur that determine the fate of buildings. Unfortunately, signs from commercial establishments that identified streets and buildings disappeared completely from the facades without leaving any trace.
4. How will Letreiro Galeria be integrated in an event like Abecedário_Festival da Palavra?
Carlos Moura-Carvalho challenged us to participate in this event, and although this year's motto is fado and we don't have any signs of a Fado house, our project has to do with the city, with the word, with names , individual and collective memory, the streets, passers-by, commerce, day and night. And, even more interesting, is the fact that the Alvalade Parish Council is involved in this event, as well as because we have a series of signs from this neighborhood, some of them saved by the said institution.
Still in relation to the new partners, Carlos Moura-Carvalho updates the accounting: “In 2020, we have five partner bookstores, two more than in 2019, and the support of five parish councils. In addition, we will have nine panels in five bookstores, a publishing house, a fruit and vegetable market, a museum house and shares in trams and buses. In terms of international dissemination, there will also be some good surprises ”.
Figures and highlights
Carlos Moura-Carvalho points the spotlight to the participants of the event, because "they are the guarantor of stimulating and inclusive conversations, and where you feel like going and being". As for highlights, the festival director points out a quartet composed “by Sonia Shirsat, a jurist who became the greatest fado singer in Goa of all time; Stefan Lechner, Austrian director, in love with Portugal and who worked for five years on a documentary about Fado Vadio; Cândido Mota, a radio lord and responsible for the innovative Passageiro da Noite; and Francisco Geraldes, a young footballer who is passionate about books. As for street spaces (related to the design exhibition), 'we will invade' shoe stores, pastry shops, restaurants, hairdressers and public telephones, and we will trace routes between Avenida de Roma and Avenida da Igreja, and then assault Avenida Almirante Reis, the Rua da Prata, Rua do Ouro and Rua Garrett ”.