5 July 2018 Exhibitions

When a film director curates a museum…

… what will he show to the public? To be discovered after 20 July at the exhibition curated by this summer’s special guest: Joaquim Sapinho.

The Gulbenkian Museum invitation caused a few surprises. “How did they know about my secret passion for museums? Furthermore, this was the museum of my childhood, a model of museums of my life”, explained the film director Joaquim Sapinho, recalling the moment when he was challenged to bring another reality (his own) into the Gulbenkian Museum and set its works in dialogue with each other, seeing things how they had not yet been perceived.

Sapinho swiftly immersed himself into his memories of childhood and experienced all the feelings of a child on heading into the reserve of the museum collections, “just like Tintin and the Cigars of the Pharaoh, as if heading into the pyramid to discover its treasures”. He found “incredible news from other spaces, with infinite ramifications”. The difficult dimension was thus to choose and decide just what to do.

He decided when viewing the collection of Greek gold coins. “Gulbenkian ordered the making of a box to store them in, with very precise instructions; after which he commissioned the interior box lining from Louis Vuitton. All of this process, this obsession over how to store them, reveals the disquiet of a journey. It is the idea of voyaging that I wish to bring to the Museum.”

Sapinho is not only embarking on a physical journey but also a voyage through time and space because he sees the works functioning as a mirror: “I travel when I stare at a work of art. In looking at the coins, I imagine Gulbenkian playing with them and extending his hand out to somebody in Ancient Greece or in Syracuse.” This is the effect the director seeks to trigger in the viewer; to put the works in contact with Calouste Sarkis Gulbenkian, like a spiritualist game, “getting into his skin” and, through him, arriving in times and spaces in which he, through these works of art, was able to travel.

This exhibition begins with images of the opening of the St. Sarkis Chapel, in London, that Calouste built in memory of his parents and where his own ashes rest – these pictures were taken by Pathé Filmes in 1928. Then, simply check the different passports of Calouste Gulbenkian, connect, “pack your bags” and set off.


Summer Guest: Joaquim Sapinho 

20 July to 24 September
Modern Collection
Wednesday to Monday, from 10am to 6pm
Curator: Joaquim Sapinho