There is something intrinsic about the Portuguese. While they enjoyed their tide as the world’s once greatest navigators, they have always been undermined for their lack of consideration in things that fell off the aesthetics realm. Through earthquakes and numerous crises, Portugal’s golden palaces and intricately woven sculptures remain. And so does a strange commitment to humanity’s undying desire for beauty.
Locomotion is much more than a human need.
In Lisbon, each and every metro station gives you more than what you think you might originally need. See, whereas it is important for you to get from A to B, more important is the opportunity for you to do so in contemplation of art and poetry.
Portugal’s Fernando Pessoa, and numerous other key figures of Portuguese literature are celebrated in the meticulously carved inscriptions on the underground tiled walls.
This alludes to a certain sort of relationship between artwork and movement.
Why is it that subway stations are increasingly becoming the save haven for artwork? Perhaps it attests to the fact that art on the street is not always desirable. There is an aversion we seem to have towards artwork that disturbs the restrictions we have placed on its function. Art must, according to us, be neatly boxed in a gallery-like space, where we have the complete autonomy and undisputed authority to contemplate it whenever we want, for how long we want.
Underground, the rules are different.
The art exists despite you. In fact, you have little or close to no influence in its existence. Its predicament is not affected by our human disposition, as it continues to stand whether we choose to look at it or not, provided of course, someone doesn’t come and destroy it. That’s just mean.
This close contact with artwork as we move around helps us rethink the ways in which we interact with public displays of art.
You may choose to see it as a sneaky insertion of something colourful in an otherwise grey and metallic setup, but, ultimately, this unorthodox union between art and underground (literally!) feeds into the never-ending concern we have with aesthetics.
A train can takes us to places, but Beauty is what really drives us.