We, The Bones That Are Here, Await Yours

I got back from Portugal over a week ago. It was ten days of looking and walking and looking and walking. I paid for the trip with most of the money I made from art this year, and saw tons of things that will probably make their way back into art I do this year, making the whole endeavor somewhat self sustaining. It was hard to pick pictures to post here because we took HUNDREDS but here are some of my favorites.

One of my favorite things we did was a little day trip to Sintra from Lisbon. It's only a couple dollars on a train and the town has castles and huge gardens and public parks. We saw the Castle of the Moors ruins there and Pena Palace:
The best part of the day in Sintra was Quinta da Regaleira a huge house with expansive gardens built by an opera set designer, full of hidden alchemical symbols and experiences.

There are pitch black grottoes and catacombs underground the whole garden which you can wander through to come out of various wells with long twisted stairs leading up to the light:
We wandered around here for hours and it was great. The house itself is even aligned according to alchemical and astrological principles.

Portugal also has a lot of ossuaries. A LOT. We saw 5 but there are many more.

The first picture is of the Capela dos Ossos in Evora, probably the biggest one we saw, with painted ceilings covered in symbols and two mummies mysteriously hanging on a wall. The second is in Faro and was eerily situated mere feet from a daycare center where children screamed and ran around the completely silent outdoor chapel. Some are indoors, in churches or crypts and some are little outdoor chapels in tiny rural villages we had to hike several miles to.
In each of them we were alone or virtually alone and in one we actually found a skull cap just laying on the ground. While I'm talking about ossuaries I should mention this excellent book I got for Mike that contains pictures, information and insight into the culture of ossuaries:
There was also a lot of impressive religious art. I'm always really torn by my admiration for this stuff since it's funded by and an outward sign of the immense wealth of the Catholic church. It was made in a time when the most ambitious art was made for religious purposes so it's some of the most over the top, gilded, time consuming, intricate and monumental stuff you'll see in Europe and I can't help but be drawn to it. Also it's incredibly creepy.
From the Templar knight monastery in Tomar where made a bunch of stupid Tombs of the Blind Dead jokes to each other while we ran around unattended.
Stained glass in a church in....Evora? Maybe Lisbon.
Witchy window in the Acobaca Monastery.
We also saw tons of reliquaries but were denied access to the insanely creepy reliquary alters at São Roque because they were practicing for some sort of Christmas event but I managed to get a picture from pretty far away:
Who is creepier than Catholics? No one! Not even me.

I also spent a lot of time creeping around the cemetery in Evora. There were a lot of really interesting monuments with symbols I hadn't seen before in the US and a lot of family tombs with glass doors so you could see several generations of coffins.
Finally, I saw what is now the probably the oldest man made thing I've ever seen (older than newgrange), the Neolithic standing stone grouping of the Almendres Cromlech:
The best guess is that this functioned as a huge community solar calender with the sun rising over the center stone at the equinox. It's situated in the middle of a cork orchard and we got to see it on a misty atmospheric morning. There's also a huge dolmen not far away in a pretty tragic state of disrepair which was still fun to see. The cap stone had been BLOWN OFF WITH DYNAMITE during the excavation so you could actually stand above and look directly in.

I don't have pictures from it but we also caught an exhibition called Aljube a Voz das Vitimas: The Voice of the Victims. Staged at Lisbon's old jail the exhibition was about victims of Salazar's military dictatorship under the New State and the role of the PVDE (later the PIDE) in the surveillance, torture, imprisonment and murder of Portuguese activists and citizens. They did a great job of highlighting both the victims and their experiences and consistently naming and displaying photographs of the perpetrators to make a public record of who was responsible. They also list companies who collaborated with the secret police and spied on and reported their employees and unsurprisingly there were several american car manufacturers on the list. Anyway, really good exhibit we basically stumbled across.

I haven't been super productive this month because of the trip and the holidays but I have a few things to post around the new year hopefully if I'm not too lazy.


Daniel said...

Those photos are killer!!!!! I dig your ART!!!! and blog as well.

wandering genie said...

well, thank you!!