Last night was surely a grim evening for bar owners in Porto. With the exception of only a few house ridden teenagers and adults, I’m fairly certain the entire city attended the Serralves 40 Hour Party yesterday. I saw babies. I saw parents. I saw grandparents. You name the age group and they were all watching art band Chicks On Speed perform last night. I exaggerate a little — many of the small children had gone home — but not as many as you would think.
All this is to say, that the free event, which is a marathon of performances in various disciplines, draws an incredibly diverse spread of people, most of whom live in Porto itself. I expect most museums don’t have the ginormous amount of real estate Serralves has with its gardens – 18 hectares in total – but those that do might consider launching something similar. As evidenced here, it’s a tremendously effect way of getting people who might not normally visit a museum engaged in art.
I’ve only attended a fraction of the events at the museum over the weekend, but let me begin with the obvious: the circus is always a safe bet. Circo Contemporaneo, isn’t the best I’ve seen — it lacks the performer skill, tempo and sophisticated thematics of Cirque du Soliel and Cirkus Cirkör — but who cares. It’s free and you get to see people do crazy somersaults in the air. The next performance takes place at 4:30 pm (16:30) and at 10 pm (22:00).
On the artier side of the programing, Jack Goldstein’s Two Boxers, 1978, will be restaged several times throughout the weekend. The piece is more or less what you’d expect — two people boxing in a ring for seven minutes — but add to this strobe lights and a museum and you’ve got art. Compelling in the context of the museum’s Off the Wall show traveled here from The Whitney, the piece re-enforces the exhibition’s thesis as a decisive move away from the object to the body in the late seventies. The difference between the sport and art is a little blurry here for my taste, but that’s true of virtually all art these days which is always mimicking another medium.
So far, the best performance has come from Chicks on Speed, and it’s not just because their projections on stage featured a large amount of genitals and museum walls. Of course, addressing my two favorite subjects doesn’t hurt, but the music was really fantastic, and it was pretty great to see two open with Gil Scott-Heron’s in light of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised his untimely death Friday. They also performed a Porto specific piece inspired by Kuduro, a type of music originally born in Angola and now very popular in Portugal. Coincidentally, I had just attended a Kuduro dance club the night before. A man there who asked me to dance wisely summed up the music and my dancing ability that evening: “I love Kuduro music. It gets the body moving. Even for the white people.”