2013 — Action/Research: ‘invisible art’ — presences in the sharing of artistic development in communities of Santo Antão Island (Cape Verde)

Action/Research: ‘invisible art’ — presences in the sharing of artistic development in communities of Santo Antão Island (Cape Verde).“

PAIVA, José Carlos de, e LOPES, Valdemar.

in ECER2013, Istanbul, setembro de 2013


Hey everyone, thank you so much for being here, I would like to give a special aknowledgment to Professor Fernando Hernández , who as been so close to our working network, as we can see by the recent network 29.

I would like to warn you, that this voice of mine, ressonates from a very implied action of share, from a group of four people, who live in the hillsides and uplands of the isle of Santo Antão in Cabo Verde. They are portuguese and Cape Verdeans investigators, who oscillate/are commited?) between the University of Porto, in Portugal and M_EIA (MINDELO_ International School of Art, Cape Vert).

I am Valdemar Lopes, born in Cape Vert and now a PhD student in arts education. Rita Rainho, also a teacher in Cape Vert, was supposed to join us today, but she recently became a mother. Leão Lopes, the rector of the MEIA, is in this moment in the Canary Islands, in another event, and my friend, José Carlos de Paiva, here with me, is the director of the PhD in Arts Education in the University of Oporto.

I’ll use my rough English while I read/present to you our paper, as far as I have CRIOULO in my head, is my mother-language(?), but also Portuguese is a very important language for me, within which, the four of us communicate while producing and conceiving theory and practice. In this way, English as a universal spoken language does limit my speech, but that’s something I cannot help.

So, as we start in this very hot September day, in the year of 2013. Is is not a special year, but it is so far our present moment. Here and in the streets of Istambul, in the refugee’ camps, im wall street, in the menaced Siria, under crisis in Portugal, in the isles of Cabo Verde, where development merges alongside a struggle for more quality of life.

We all live in the same present. That’s something not to neglect.

The lords of the world(?), with their unbearable gread establish the rules of a financial game, whose impact makes some of us anxious for peace and change while others do profit with this developmental model. Although, we all live in these days, days in which the nation-state(?) disappears while moving to other levels of decision. In this way identities and communities get merged or transform themselves into territories of resistance.

This is the time in which we present ourselves , hoping to get to you the breeze of the Planalto Norte in the isle of Santo Antão, the arid beauty of Lajedos’ hillside and the taste of capeverdian crioulo, its morabeza…

The ongoing interventions under study are being developed in communities.

This paper refers to the community of the Planalto Norte, in the isle of Santo Antão. In there seventy one people live, in fact seventeen families, three hundred goats and thirty donkeys. They live in this huge paradise, whose geographic caracteristics are not effortless, as such this population is undeniably resilient, in front of natural and economical adversities. For generations people face drought, extreme isolation, heat and poverty.

Among these people we investigate ways of doing, thinking and living, as long as we are able to trade knowledge. Our goal is to achieve a fulfilling state of osmosis within this community, while the reality of the mountain is prolific for our committed research. Therefore the constant search and inquiriy we engage in allows us to understand within this reality how to improve in order to get into wider artistic, educative, and investigational fields of learning.

This research came out from a starting action, by a capeverdian non governamental organization, the Atelier Mar, that established in 2007 a complex path of struggle in order to improve the life quality of this population, and their autonomy and organizational dinamics.

Under this frame of intervention was created the Cooperativa(?) of the Planalto Norte. As such, housing recovery and new methods for agricultural improvement were activated. From then on, with M_EIA(MINDELO_ International School of Art, and its pedagogical, educational and cultural purposes, some actions have been developed among this community, articulating members of the communities, teachers and art students, alongside with capeverdian and portuguese investigators.

So as we continue let’s share a concrete situation:

Men, children and donkeys, three hours of efforting way, up and down through the mountains, just to tranport twenty five litters(?) of water in each donkey. We can easily guess the importance of water for in this community.

So, the problem about water, primarily issue in the Planalto Norte, as mobilized many debates, among the population, students, investigators and teachers, conducted by the Atelier Mar, blending traditional knowledge with inventive thinking, as searching for sustainability and endogenous ways to face the problem. Beginning by studying the geography of the place, its waters’ courses, and levels of declivity, solutions were pursued, considering the available and local materials.

So, gradually, and with the support and implication of the community, three cisterns (?) were built to retain the rain waters, where ancestral technologies were used with the participation of Geometry students from the course of Design from M_EIA.

This intervention made possible, during these recent years to obtain forty two tonnes of water, in the most rainy years. As such the community has a reservation of water for a third of the cheese producers in Planalto Norte. As a matter of fact, the production of cheese corresponde to another importante area of intervention for our action/reseach. As the producers felt difficulties about the preservation of cheese itself, due to the absence of electricity, we had to study alternative solutions. To produce cured (?) cheese certain factors are essencial, but since electricity was not a choice, the only possibility remaining was to dig throught the mountains of pozalana, which has proper conditions of humidity and temperature. In the present, the goat cheese from the Planalto Norte, is already part of the international slow food network.

So objectively this paper intends to explore not how a populations can be ‘taught’ so solve its own problems, in fact we wish to show to evidence how some circumstances can represent, under a commited sight of teachers/researchers/investigators, an educational field of possibilities. In the arid territory of these communities, where learning and sharing are mutually presented, the educative potentialities of a critical, dissonant and questioning thinking may emerge from a diversity of solutions and procedures about ‘doing’.

What we intend to debate are what we would like to conceive as forms of being, that may allow the artist to dislocate from he’s usual and confortable ground, assuming a suspension from the ‘author’, as the invaded territory becomes perceivable, as soon as he mobilizes he’s wider perceptions, knowledge and utopias.

This action while apparently not agreeing with what we usually consider an artistic intervention, holds that quality as soon as artists, investigators, teachers, and art students leave in suspension their so called artistic concepts and knowledge. As they mobilize their inventive capabilities and their restless search for other possibilities to respond, they search with objectivity towards solutions facing these concrete problems recognized in the community.

Learning arising from this intercultural relation allows to investigators, a confrontation between: theorical issues regarding to ‘art’, ‘art education’, their empirical knowledge; andthe complexity of a territory to where they ‘do’ dislocate.

Within these territories of uncertainty, due to the many complexities that populations face, ‘we’, investigators are commited, we are involved with in that community as their belonging. We feel the