This is a transdisciplinary festival of contemporary arts, which has been running since 2011 and has grown rapidly with local, national and international artists and promises a more experimental form of artistic production.
This edition of the festival
The festival encompasses: cinema, dance, music, performances, theatre, exhibitions, debates and educative workshops for children. The festival started on 4 November and is running until 20 November in various cultural places in Lagos, Loulé and Faro.
The festival, produced by cultural association casaBranca, is dedicated to the promotion of contemporary creation in the Algarve. “Each week of the event, a city will be the centre of the festival, with the mission of sensitising and bringing the community closer to new art forms. Additionally, the programme is strongly committed to an educational component, presenting an extensive list of proposals for schools and families.”
Festival Verão Azul is directed by the artistic duo, Anna Borralho and João Galente, with the support of curator, Catarina Saraiva. I had the pleasure of speaking with Catarina Saraiva about the festival and with Pauliana Valente Pimentel, about her intimate photography exhibition “Faro Oeste”, which was commissioned by the festival.
The festivals’ themes
This edition is primarily focused on debating important issues through contemporary themes such as “democracy, equal rights and the environment and was developed over the course of four years with a lot of love.” Catarina told me that “following the pandemic, we decided to focus on the question “what does it mean to live?” and “what is the role of art in this way?”.” The programme is made to “provoke people’s thoughts in a positive way as well as looking at topics that the public find worrying in society.” She added that this festival is all about “creating joy following the pandemic and is a programme that is focusing more on national and local artists as the culture section was hit badly in Portugal, during the pandemic.”
A look at the programme
The jam-packed programme includes 29 surprising artistic proposals and is accessible to all, with Catarina explaining that “most of the shows are in Portuguese and that they are low-cost events with some free events too.” The fun programme includes: a performance and fine arts exhibition entitled “The Car Cultural Centre” on the 12th and 13th of November at Cerca do Convento do Espirito Santo Loulé. Additionally, on 12, 13 and 14 November there will be a show by Alex Cassal at the Biblioteca Municipal de Loulé called “The end of the world Library”, which recreates the last night before the apocalypse. Followed by Bonneville’s performance called “The Importance of Being Alan Turning” at Teatro das Figuras in Faro, which Catarina confirmed “is great for English speakers and is a series of shows about the lives and works of artists and thinkers whose importance has been vital in his artistic journey.” “Za! Impossible Work Songs” on 20 November, which is a musical walking tour which includes “the traditional repertoire of Algarve working songs focused on agriculture and fishing” which ends at Teatro das Figuras. Finally, the festivals closing show will be “BlackBambi” on 20 November, which is an electronic music project at Associação Recreativa e Cultural de Músicos in Faro.
Photography exhibition “Faro-Oeste”
Pauliana Valente Pimentel is a freelance photographer born in Lisbon in 1975 and kindly explained her exhibition in the festival, in more detail. “Faro Oeste” focuses on the Roma community in the Algarve and is being exhibited at Museu de Faro until 19 December. She explained that bshe “has always come to the Algarve on holiday and I have always been interested in the strong presence of the Roma Community in the Algarve.” She is “fascinated by the way the Roma communities have kept their traditions alive as well as their nomadic way of life.” In 2019, she “started a project involving the Roma Community in the Algarve” and told me she was grateful for the festival and associations who support the Roma people, which enabled her to create this exhibition. Pauliana “calmly had to gain the Roma communities trust and slowly gained their trust from talking with them every day” and was given permission to take photographs for this exhibition.
She told me she “learnt a lot about the conditions they face, with no electricity and witnessed very sad moments.” The project aims to challenge the commonly held views of the Roma communities through photographing families in camps in the Faro, Loulé and Boliqueime areas. She went on to tell me that “Faro Oeste” shows “how the Roma Community lives and highlights their traditions and emphasises the prejudice, racism and stereotyping that they face, including the devastating way in which shops place frog ornaments outside to deter the Roma people entering their shop as they are superstitious and are too scared to enter.” She told me she wanted to “show the harsh reality of how they live and for people to not ignore them as they are part of our society.”
Through her photographs you can see their poverty, she added that the aim of her emotive photographs is to start “a very much needed conversation about the Roma community and to raise awareness of the positive efforts they make and to debunk stereotypes, sharing that she “witnessed parents worrying about their children’s education, washing their children and their long walks to take them to school over muddy and difficult terrain where the children would arrive at school all dirty because of their difficult journey.” Most importantly, this exhibition will also have guided talks and debates as Pauliana has invited Roma people to assist these discussions with visitors and have schools and associations participate.
For more information about Festival Verão Azul’s program and to reserve your ticket for any of their events, please see www.festivalveraoazul.com. Similarly, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 351 92 400 92 34.