Isolated from the rest of Europe for nearly half this

3 century under a

totalitarian regime, Portugal has had some catching up to do. Judith Staines visited Lisbon to

find out how its status as European Cultural Capital is helping put the city on the artistic map.

Asked how she could recognise a Portuguese person abroad. a Lisbon friend replied: ‘lt‘s something about the eyes.’ Maybe it‘s not surprising that the Portugese have developed their own way of looking at things. Perched on the extreme edge of the continent. Portugal for many centuries gavejust a backward glance to Europe; its eyes were fixed on more distant horizons.

Elevador do Lavra


Gapital investment

So as the Cultural Capital of Europe shifts to its westernmost capital city.

I what can Lisbon offer in 1994'? The


Lisboa 94 programme promotes the underlying theme that Portugal‘s legacy to European culture is universalism; the ability to embrace the world and promote the meeting of different cultures. Lisbon becomes the cultural

? meeting place for Angolan sculpture, contemporary dance from Cabo Verde

and Brazilian architecture.

The Seventh Hill project is intended to inject new life into a central area of the city and is part of an attempt to use Lisboa 94 to kick start urban regeneration. Running from the river front at Cais de Sodre up to Largo do

: Rato. the Seventh Hill was the heart of

19th century Lisbon. But the area has become something of a backwater with many of its fine Romantic buildings falling into disrepair. Budgets won't

. run to a comprehensive restoration programme so a limited number of

facades have been renovated. Project commissioner Elisio Summavielle describes the strategy as creating “punctuation rnarks’ which he hopes will inspire adjoining property owners to make similar improvements. Exhibitions. walking tours and a roof

terrace cafe at the Convento dos

lnglesinhos with stunning views across

Lisbon ’67 a year and city that will be forever linked in the hearts of Celtic fans. As this year’s city of culture, Lisbon ’94 becomes a new landmark. The List finds out how to get there and what’s on when you do.

of images ofthe 1974 revolution. which marked the beginning of Portugal‘s delayed acceptance into 20th century Europe.

One measure of Lisbon‘s cultural and economic optimism has been the

F inauguration of two major cultural

spaces in the last year. The

controversial arts centre. the Centro 5 Cultural de Belem. was built by the city

to celebrate Portugal‘s presidency of the European Community in I992

, while Culturgest represents a major ; private sector investment. its

Lisbon are promised. Public art projects 5 , , a part ofthe rnassrve Caiaxa Geral de

include tile murals. illuminations. sound sculptures and the bizarre— sounding ‘Anima Mutabilis‘ by

f Sebastiao Resende. described as a series of suspended works, ‘reminiscent j 3 of enormous viscera; bladders, spleens

and stomachs’. The Cultural Capital coincides with

the twentieth anniversary of the

revolution which ended nearly 50 years

5 of cultural isolation under Salazar‘s ' repressive, right-wing regime. Huge

celebrations are planned for 25 April with a giant screen showing a montage

j Depositos bank headquarters. popularly -

auditorium and exhibition spaces form

known as the ‘cathedral’. Some critics have opposed excessive investment in

buildings when programming budgets

are squeezed and Belem in particular is seen as underused and expensive.

: Despite this, some ofthe most

§ interesting work in Lisboa 94 can be

1 seen at these two centres.

According to many observers. dance

is the current highlight of Portuguese culture. Several of the Portugese ' choreographers appearing in the Lisboa

if p ill '- e. ’t'ti'r

Canoes Square

'st‘i E": .

#77:: f


; 94 programme are being brought to a Glasgow for the New Moves contemporary dance festival. New

Moves organiser Nikki Millican singles

out Paulo Ribeiro and Francisco = Camacho for particular praise. "l’hey are finding an almost spiritual intensity

and a sense of their own history in their

- work.’ she says.

Style counselling

‘We’re big in Portugal,’ is a claim not often heard from British bands but apparently it’s one that Texas can legitimately make. For a slaeable section of Llsbon’s bright young things, the Glasgow rockers provide the soundtrack of choice during a night’s slinking around the backstreet bars and clubs. And for this activity, the dress code is strictly smart but casual, according to Jenny Fraser, presenter of TV travel show ‘Scotland

; During filming of a six-part series on f Portugal, Fraser spent some time checking out Lisbon’s nightlife. Her

initial impression was that young people in Lisbon are quite

conservative, with less of the f tribalism associated with British club

culture. ‘Everyone is tailored and well- groomed, in the same way that Parisians have got that chic look,’ she


Theomating game is certainly more

civilised - men don’t just wade in with - their best chat-up lines but instead try to find a mutual friend who is

i prepared to make the introductions.

They may mind their manners, but that’s not to say Lisbon kids don’t have a good time. There are plenty of sweaty clubs playing African and Latin music where the emphasis is more on dancing and less on looking cool.

‘There a real buzz about the place with

: a lot of people on the streets at night,’

says Fraser. But something that struck her was the lack of drunkeness, even though

alcohol is available throughout the day in Lisbon. Wine in the evening,

whisky at night and beer anytime is

; the running order but it’s bad form to

get drunk, and you definitely wouldn’t

make it into a club half cut. Getting

into clubs is difficult enough as it is, assuming you can find them in the first place. All but the most obvious

; tourist joints are off the main drag and ' most clubs have anonymous entrances

with a doorbell and peephole arrangement to keep the scruffs out. (Eddie Gibb)

Scottish lntemational is on Mondays on Scottish at 5.10pm.

88 The List 28 January—IO February 1994