How to silence a poet
for the program As coisas fundadas no silêncio (The things founded in silence)
Curated by Marta Rema
10th of June to 30th August 2020

The book “Decadence” by the poet Judith Teixeira was apprehended and burned in 1923, at the Convento de São Francisco, in the old installations of the Civil Government of Lisboa with the entrance through Rua Capelo, today part of the National Museum of Contemporary Art. As Vítor Silva Tavares says, after 1927 Judith temporarily disappears from Portugal and there is a "definitive muting of a voice so incisively thrown into agitation". But the destructive power that silences artists is often reversed by the practice of maintaining themselves as a ghostly presence over the decades.

Literary history is tainted with silences, from those who hide to those who stop publishing, to those who never get to publish. In other words, there are two types of silence: one for what is said and what remains to be said, and another for those who have the right to speak and those who are forced to remain silent. Silence is the place of death, out of nowhere. But there is no silence without speech. There is no silence without the act of silence.

Integrated in the project Things based on silence, How to silence a poet, an original exhibition by Susana Mendes Silva, part of the apprehension of the book “Decadence” by the poet Judith Teixeira that was burned in 1923, in the São Francisco Convent, in the old Government facilities of Lisboa with entrance via Rua Capelo, today part of the National Museum of Contemporary Art.

The book had been the subject of a controversy about the (i) morality of art, which also involved António Botto and Raul Leal. Still, Judith Teixeira was the director of a magazine, wrote a modernist artistic manifesto and published two more books of poetry. The erotic tension and feminine insubmission inscribed in her work, denote the dimension of the transgression that she carried out. Buried alive, she was undeservedly eliminated from collective memory and literary history until recently, undoubtedly due to the lesbian content in several of her poems, which also makes the poet an exponent of Portuguese lesbian and queer literature.

Marta Rema

The exhibition project, based on the multipurpose room of MNAC, included two performances that focus on the translation of the poem "Flores de Cactus" by Judith Teixeira into the other two official Portuguese languages: the Portuguese Sign Language and the Mirandês - respectively "Translation # 1" and "Translation # 2" - and the performative reading of the manifesto “OF ME: Conference explaining my reasons about Life, about Aesthetics, about Morals" published in 1926.

In Translation # 1 - with the participation of Patrícia Carmo, deaf LGP teacher and researcher - the poem was previously translated and worked on in a three-day residency with the artist at the Victor Córdon Studios. In the performance, "Flores de Cactus" was learned as a choreographed language by all participants who worked in pairs and in groups. The presentation was in the EVC rehearsal room on the 3rd of July in the late afternoon.

In Translation # 2, the poem - with the participation of Alda Calvo, Mirandese speaker and jurist - was previously translated and during the session it was discussed and learned as a sound by all participants. This performance was presented at Rua das Gaivotas 6 on the afternoon of July 4th.

The Translations were, thus, a collective voice for two languages, today official, but both persecuted during the Estado Novo.

The performative reading Of me focuses on the only modernist manifesto written by a Portuguese artist in which the writer defends herself from the attacks and criticisms she has been subjected to since 1923. It is unknown if this speech, in which Judith defends " maximum freedom "for artists, it will have been read in public at some time and that is why we summoned the poet's phantasmatic presence. The curator Marta Rema read the conference and Susana played Valentine Saint Point and read the poems “Flores de Cactus” and “Ilusão” in the concert hall of Rua das Gaivotas 6.

Creation support
OPART - Estúdios Victor Córdon
Rua das Gaivotas 6

Thank you
Andreia Páscoa
André Tasso
David Sarmento
Emília Tavares
Filipe Otero Pureza
Francisco Queirós
Francisco Soares
Hugo Sousa
João Pedro Vale e Nuno Alexandre Ferreira
João Silvério
Maria João Gamito
Maria João Garcia
Nuno Soares
Pedro Barreiro
Pedro Filipe Marques
Luís Simões
Sérgio Gato
Sofia Campos
Tiago Peixoto

Acesso Cultura
Biblioteca Municipal dos Coruchéus
Divisão de Acção Cultural da CML
Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea

Production: Efabula
Setup of the exhibition: Setup