Today Lisbon opens a shiny new museum to join the must-see landmarks situated on its historic riverfront. The majestic Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT) embodies an ongoing cultural renaissance that the Portuguese capital has been experiencing in recent years. With a venture dedicated to new media, this welcome addition is set to propel the city as a critical player in the global dialogue of art. Commissioned by the EDP Foundation, the complex spans a new elegant building and a renovated red brick power station. The cultural hub will explore contemporary arts through visual practices, new media, design and science. The MAAT offers a programme that spotlights Portuguese artists while also accommodating world-touring exhibitions, claiming the country’s place on an international level. The opening event features a series of openings and performances by artists including Nastio Mosquito and Fatima Al Qadiri, both of which SLEEK has featured.
Lisbon has seen a large influx of visitors wanting to discover the trendy city, while artists flock here to make the most of cheaper rents and the southern light. Even the local music scene has crossed national borders with acts such as Nigga Fox and Buraka Som Sistema packing out venues around Europe. João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva are the artist duo who’ve been making rounds in the international art circuit.
A building set to create a Guggenheim effect
Designed by London-based and award winning AL_A, head by Amanda Levete, the undulating new building is an instant monument that visitors can walk over, under and through. But the MAAT is also part of a large regeneration plan that will reconnect the city to its cut-off riverside. Contrasting with this new building is a renovated power station that has been turned into a state-of-the-art Kunsthalle for hosting temporary shows. Its strong architectural features also draw comparisons to the Oslo Opera House and Bilbao’s Guggenheim, both of which turned the respective cities into culture vulture magnets.
A programme to rival its European counterparts
To direct the new ambitions project, EDF has brought on the distinguished former curator from the MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design. Pedro Gadanho, who is also an architect and writer, has commissioned the artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster to debut the large round hall of the new building. With the theme utopia/dystopia, the artist represented by Esther Schipper in Berlin created “Psychon Park”. The site-specific installation occupies the entirety of the large round hall. The pieces combine sculpture, sound, light and performance, and are inspired by her large-scale installations at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. It works as an enormous human behaviour observatory for aliens while providing plenty of Instagram opportunities.
To strengthen the curatorial choices at the MAAT and to shape its future direction, Gadanho has also set up partnerships with other institutions including the Barbican. “The World of Charles and Ray Eames” is an exhibition organised and curated by the Barbican’s Catherine Ince and it features an exclusive insight into the lives and art of the Eames.
“MAAT will be a cultural space of discovery, critical thinking and global dialogue” – Pedro Gadanho
Current exhibitions (add details):
“Second Nature” (group exhibition) is on display until 17 October 2016
“Pynchon Park” by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster is on display until 20 March 2017
“The World of Charles and Ray Eames” is on display until 9 January 2017
More information on Lisbon’s Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology is available at maat.pt