Heléna Elias [1], Francesca De Luca [2]

*from Latin mātrīx (dam, womb), from māter (mother)


This short piece tells about a mindful collaboration, one where the act of collaborating – intentional but not overly planned – resulted in an open-ended installation/dispositive that called for ulterior collaboration, enabling the spectators to play with the elements while generating, at same time, a reflection around the collaborative endeavour itself.

An introductory story in the form of a diary is followed by DIY guidelines, indicating a replicable formula for co-laborating – [from Latincum (together) + laborare (to practice)] – in transdisciplinary settings.

Atlas: MATRIX* emerged, at first, as a space of dialogue and confrontation where our individual research paths- a reflective practice generated by the creation of ceramic pieces (Elias 2016), and a genealogy of childbirth pain in Lisbon’s biomedical settings (De Luca 2018) – conjoined in an inquiry on the colonial legacy of the Tropical Garden and its surroundings.

The site-specific installation was elaborated during the first #Colleex international workshop (July 2017) in the Tropical Garden of Belém (the western area of Lisbon) on an invitation of EBANO Collective, host of the event.

The event constituted, for Heléna, an opportunity to merge a previous research carried under herPhD, regarding the public art and urban design of the Portuguese World Exhibition (1940) as the urban matrix of Belém riverside. It also propelled Francesca’s enquire into the colonial imprint on the epistemological and political configurations of childbirth pain and practices on the pregnant body in Portuguese obstetrics.

From such we developed a set of correspondences to stage our work at #Colleex. The matrix, referring to an object or concept from where something originates, was our common ground: matrix was the name given to the uterus until the 19th century in midwifery, but also the fragments from which ceramic objects may take shape; matrix referred to a geological structure that frames the rocks, but also an architectonic model that served as a paradigm for replications (as the ecclesia matrix, the “mother church”); matrix could be the portion of soil that encases, through a dominant colour, the main characteristics of the area, but also indicate a group of symbols organized in a rectangle used to solve particular mathematical problems.

All these connotations implied an idea of (re)production, indicating the condition of generative possibilities withheld in specific configurations. The matrix we were looking at and working on was a very material endeavour.

[1] EBANO Collective invited artist, FBA Faculty of Fine Arts – University of Lisbon, VICARTE, FCT post-doc Grant SFRH / BPD / 63249 / 2009

[2] Member of EBANO Collective, PhD candidate at ICS Institute of Social Sciences – University of Lisbon, FCT grant SFRH/BD/93020/2013



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