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The year that Portuguese culture expanded from Bilbao to Guadalajara

From Bilbao to Venice, from Guadalajara to Cannes, Portuguese culture expanded in 2018 by various geographies because of figures such as Joana Vasconcelos, Eduardo Souto Moura, António Lobo Antunes and Gabriel Abrantes.

The most extensive international dissemination operation of Portuguese culture will have taken place this year at the Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, in which Portugal was the guest country.

At the end of November, the Portuguese presence in Mexico was translated into about 40 writers, among them António Lobo Antunes – in the year in which the publication of the complete work in the French Plêiade is announced, Hélia Correia, Gonçalo M. Tavares and Lídia Jorge, and a cultural program that went beyond literature, with theater, film, dance and exhibition events.

The practical effects of this presence in Mexico should only be felt in the coming months or years but were classified by the Government as “the priority project of Portuguese cultural diplomacy in the last year,” as Prime Minister António Costa said.

Nevertheless, beyond what was noted in Guadalajara, 2018 was marked, for example, by the award of the Golden Lion to the architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

In the visual arts, 2018 was also the year Joana Vasconcelos, who debuted an individual exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain, was invited to create public works of art for Paris and Nice and exhibited at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg.

Three other women excelled in the plastic arts at international level: Paula Rego, Helena Almeida, who died in September, and Maria Helena Vieira da Silva.

For decades, Paula Rego has been exhibited at Tate Britain (London), the Museum of l’Orangerie (Paris) and saw another show being a finalist for the British awards South Bank Sky Arts.

Throughout this year, the Portuguese artist Helena Almeida was featured, with photography and drawing, at Tate Modern (London), in a space focused on the relationship between the individual and the work of art.

Vieira da Silva, who died in 1992, made headlines this year by auctioning one of his most significant works, L’Incendie 1, which reached a record 2.2 million euros in London.

The international visibility of Portuguese culture also went through the urban art of names such as Vhils, who presented works unpublished in Paris and integrated a collective show in Singapore, and Miguel Januário, who took the project ± maismenos ± to the Danish festival Roskilde.

In the route of the international festivals, 2018 was again a year of prizes for the Portuguese cinema.

Among them were “Rain is singing in the village of the dead”, by João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora, and “Diamantino” by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, both awarded in Cannes, “Terra Franca” by Leonor Teles, distinguished at the festival Cinéma du Réel in Paris, and “Miragem meus putos”, by Diogo Baldaia, recognized in Vienna.

This was also the year in which the Portuguese became acquainted with two Portuguese descendants who had been nominated for the Oscars – Luís Sequeira and Nelson Ferreira – because of Guillermo del Toro’s film “A form da água”.

In the song, Salvador Sobral’s return to the stage was marked, after an absence for health reasons, having made a European tour through Spain, Germany and Switzerland.

There were also events in fado: Ricardo Ribeiro played for the first time in Iran, Helder Moutinho made his debut in Argentina and Colombia, Ana Moura took the stage at Sidney Opera House, Carlos do Carmo and Celeste Rodrigues shared a stage in New York, and Cuca Rosetta sold out one hour tickets for a gig in China.

With musicians and promoters defending an international strategy for Portuguese music, there were also those who had made 2018 a year for performances abroad, among experienced names such as Moonspell and The Legendary Tigerman, and recent ones such as Whales and Surma.

In the theatre, the highlight goes to Tiago Rodrigues, director and artistic director of the National Theater D. Maria II, for winning the European Theater Award – Theatrical Realities, this year takes place in Russia, for having presented in this country the pieces “Burning the Flag (work in progress), “By Heart” and “Breath,” and for having cancelled a festival in Jerusalem in June, adhering to the cultural boycott of Israel.

In the theatre for the young, together with the work done in Portugal, the pair Inês Barahona and Miguel Fragata made the opening of the Avignon Festival in France in 2018 with the play “From the forest to the world”.

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