Patrícia Portela and Christoph De Boeck

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03 – 19 Jul 2020


Gulbenkian Garden

In 2012, Patrícia Portela & Christoph de Boeck gathered to propose, through HORTUS, an ecology for the future, an acoustic space that could adapt to meteorological conditions and human activity. The future was the year 2020 and the theme was climate change, focusing on a central question: what if the best thing we can do to change the world is to stop?

In HORTUS, a maze of black boxes, scattered across the garden, measures the dynamics of wind, light concentration and the intensity of human occupation. An algorithm processes the information of these sensors that are installed in the garden and decides on the efficiency of each plant to process these three elements, but also redistributes the sound landscape we hear. Small speakers, in the bushes or on trees, mimic the sound of birds as if sound ghosts were present.

A set of micro-stories, printed in botanical plates made from e-paper compare the definitions – political, economic, social or ecological – of words as simple as “regeneration”, “beauty” or “time”. Growing is not the same for a fingernail, a person or the GDP of a country. The decomposition process of a human being, of a plant or of a rubbish dump comprise very different and specific aspects.


Concept and sound: Christoph De Boeck
Concept and text: Patrícia Portela
Electronics: Culture Crew
Algorithms: Luis M. Russo
Construction and design of the plates: Brian Rommens e João Gonçalves
Text Editor: Isabel Garcez
Post production, botanical e-plates and assembly: irmã lucia efeitos especiais
Prado and deepblue Production: Ilse Joliet, Pedro Pires, Helena Serra

Co-production and partnerships: Maria Matos Teatro Municipal (Lisboa) | Kaaitheater (Brussel) | ICA (London), Festival Van Vlaanderen (Kortrijk) | Embaixada de Portugal na Bélgica | Verbeke Foundation (Kemzeke) | Festival Escrita na Paisagem (Évora) | Câmara Municipal de Lisboa/Direção Municipal de Cultura | ZDB (Lisbon)

Christoph De Boeck creates visual sound-based installations. He has been drawn to sound in a performative context, treating the sonic as a force unfolding within the empty space of a blackbox. His exhibition work is marked by a tension resulting from discrepancies between what we experience as visual and what we hear. Recently De Boeck has focused on acoustic traces left behind by stress events. For example, cracks in infrastructure elements are revealed by ultrasonic technology. In this work the arrangement of sound marks relates to a man-made world under pressure. The acoustic image points to a larger event which is taking place within a horizon we cannot define. Sound, an instant of physical impact as much as an elusive trace, articulates the displacement of energy in bodies of architecture, of infrastructure and of humans. His work has been presented in Bozar Brussels, Verbeke Foundation Kemzeke, STUK Leuven, STRP Eindhoven, Netwerk Aalst, z33 Hasselt, Le Bon Acceuil Rennes, Concertgebouw Bruges, Museum for Art & Technology MAAT Lisbon and many other venues. Christoph De Boeck is artistic co-director of Overtoon, a platform for research, production and distribution in sound arts based in Brussels.

Patrícia Portela (1974) is an author of performances and literary works. She lives between the cities of Paço de Arcos, Viseu and Antwerp. She graduated in Scenic Plastic Conception at Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema and she has a master’s degree in Scenography and Dramaturgy of space by the University of Utrecht and the Central St Martins College of Art in London. She did a post-graduation in Theatricality and Performance at Arts, Performance and Theatricality in Antwerp, an internship at the European Film College of Cinema in Ebeltoft (Denmark) where she handled the sound and editing of documentaries. She also has a master’s in philosophy by the University of Leuven. Presently, she is working on her doctorate and studying arts and multimedia at Faculdade de Belas Artes de Lisboa. She travels frequently around Europe and the world and is recognized nationally and internationally by the peculiarity of her works and for having received countless awards (Prémio Madalena de Azeredo de Perdigão/Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation for “Flatland I” in 2005, an honourable mention for “Wasteband” in 2004, Prémio Teatro na Década for “Wasteband” in 2003, Prémio Revelação dos Críticos de teatro in 1998, or the honourable  for the “Flatland Trilogy” in 2006, among others). She has published several novels like “Para Cima e não para Norte” (2008), “Banquete” (2012, finalist of the prize Grande Prémio de Romance e novela APE) or “Dias úteis” (2017, considered one of the books of the year by the magazines Sábado and Visão), among others, all published by Editorial Caminho. She participated in the prestigious 46th International Writers Program in Iowa City, in 2013, at the University of Iowa City and was their first Outreach Fellow. She was one of the five finalists of the first Prémio Media Art Sonae (2015) with her installation “Parasomnia”, she was also the first to be awarded a literary grant in Berlin, by the Portuguese Embassy in Germany in 2016 and one of the first to be awarded with a literary creation grants by DGLAB. She teaches dramaturgy at Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema, at Universidade do Minho, at Forum Dança, in Portugal and at a school of creative writing in Curitiba, Brazil. She was a columnist at Antena 1 (Radio), with the programme “Fio da Meada”, from 2019 to 2020. She collaborates regularly with Jornal de Letras, Artes e Ideias and with Coffeepaste since 2017. She is the artistic director of Associação Cultural do Prado, of which she is also a founding member, and the artistic director of Teatro Viriato in Viseu, Portugal.


Jardim Concreto is made of three installations: “À Margem” (Paulo Morais), “HORTUS” (Patrícia Portela and Christoph De Boeck) and “ESTADO EROSÃO” (Berru). They intend to pay homage to sound as matter, to the flora and fauna of the Gulbenkian Garden and even to its organic matter. The idea is to bring out certain elements of the garden, analyse them and return them, as if amplified. The hope is that this act of mediation can generate a reflection about current issues: the new geological era, the environmental crisis caused by human activity and its repercussions on a social, ecological and economical level.

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