Kunsthalle Lissabon, an independent gallery in Portugal’s capital, marks ten years of existence in 2019—a significant achievement for a small art institution. In a statement on their website, the staff of Kunsthalle Lissabon notes that Lisbon has changed dramatically in the past ten years, with aggressive gentrification creating a climate that makes it much harder for small galleries like itself to launch today. To commemorate their anniversary, Kunsthalle Lissabon is doing something bold—ceasing activity for a year in order to reflect on its purpose in a changed Lisbon arts scene. Here’s an excerpt from the statement:
We decided to celebrate the occasion not by organizing a party of epic proportions or by writing a manifesto on how difficult it is to manage a small contemporary art institution. We decided to celebrate by simply disappearing from the cultural landscape of the city. Stopping to reflect. The Lisbon that was favorable to the appearance of the Kunsthalle Lissabon in 2009 has very little in common with the gentrified and touristified Lisbon of 2019. It would hardly be possible to start today as we did in 2009. We want to reflect on the responsibility that we have in this process and we also want to reflect on the critical role that we can have in thinking of other ways of imagining the position that contemporary art occupies under these circumstances.
Four international partners, four likeminded institutions will take over the space we will leave vacant. Not only the space but also our production and communication infrastructure, our resources and even our online presence. It will be as if each of these four institutions opened a pop-up version of themselves in Lisbon over a period of time. They will have to negotiate with and interact with a context that is not their own but for which they will have to work publicly.
Image: Amalia Pica at Kunsthalle Lissabon. Via Flash Art.