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Investigation Fields

I. Architecture

II. Visual Arts

III. Art History

IV. Landscape and landscape aesthetics

V. Theatre, Music and Musicology

I. Architecture

General coordinator: João Soares

(Department of Architecture, University of Évora)

Architectural and landscape culture in the Mediterranean area and India

This research area comes about in the wake of a project that has been running for some time (POCTI/AUR/42147/2001), with the current aim of giving greater relevance to certain aspects of architectural and landscape culture and of providing a basis for work on joint master’s dissertations. Priority is given to the continuation of research into the Medina at Marrakesh, with field work in partnership with local teams and the subsequent writing up of studies for publication, which together with other geographical studies constitute a plural, speculative reading that enable properly-grounded and innovative architectural interventions.  New dynamic of relations between Portugal and the Arab world, especially the Maghreb. Comparative study with other urban centres and analysis of the evolution and changes in architecture through a comparison that takes into account religious, morphological and climatic bases and their traditions, both architectural and historical.

Point zero of Architecture

Promotion of the debate of architectural needs for developing countries and regions of the world and for those that are in situations of environmental or humanitarian emergency. A probably decisive part of the future of architecture as an area of knowledge and of cultural output pertinent to life on the planet and for those that inhabit it is in the architectural practice in progress in the developing countries and regions. This is not just concerned with the ‘old’ problems of development – problems of basic sanitation, infrastructures, habitation essential equipment – but also with the ‘new’ problems of megacities where are to be found all degrees of development, of the explosion of global tourism, of the reuse of the historical built and natural heritages.  The commitment of architecture and of the project in the face of  the natural, environmental and political-military catastrophes that mark our age.  Architects, landscapers, urban planners, geographers, anthropologists, sociologists, historians interested in the culture of architecture, can all seek in architectural culture for development and emergency a practice at the service of humanity on Earth. Portugal has a number of advantages in setting up a course of this kind, as a developing country but also already a member of the European Union, because Portuguese architectural culture has a certain influence in international architectural circles and because of the historical and cultural relations that Portugal maintains with a range of developing countries, some of which are of considerable global importance for the present and the future. Lastly, the Portuguese Government has given clear indications and taken concrete steps to establish stronger economic and cultural ties between Portugal and certain Maghreb countries, creating a context that favours a field of research based on documental study of the constructed heritage and on the archives of the Portuguese heritage in the territories to which it expanded. Against this backcloth, architecture is being re-founded, it is at ‘point zero’. It is a matter of helping to detach architectural culture from the programmes of a Western culture exportable everywhere and rethinking its relationship with development, the environment and history.

Biography of a Territory

This research area arises from the project which has been submitted to the FCT for evaluation: PTDC/AUR/64981/2006. “Biography of a Territory”, with the scope extended to include the Algarve, as a place that has undergone important social changes and is a fertile case for approaching questions of identifying landscape. The area of research is situated in a space among the domains of questions related to land and landscape and to their meaning, the cultural dimension of landscape.  In its broadest sense, the object of study is land which, in its physical and cultural dimension, creates a third dimension/entity – that of landscape. Any attempt at a possible concretization should envisage a historical approach (relating to the past) and also an operational approach (related to the future). It is from this dialectic that may emerge a reading of what is permanent, replaced, updated or hybrid. Attention is focused on these dynamics, with a view to seeking to delineate interpretations and even to risk the possibility of intervention. To try out different forms of ‘development’ (in the photographic sense) of this interpretative device of the territory, we propose applying it to a specific place. In this place will be ‘separated’ from its present state both presences and vestiges of social dynamics – economic and cultural, which exist or have persisted impregnated in architectural artefacts, in the characteristics of elements of the landscape, signs and forms of occupation, manipulation and construction of the territory. Thus, we set out in search of places where situations of change of use and consequent physical metamorphosis are perceptible or foreseeable. In characterizing a cultural landscape, we will also choose the field of research of the study and the transformative evolution of natural materials that have characterized construction and the place. For example the stone, its historical root and its constant formal mutation. In this field particular attention will be paid to partnerships with companies and technological centres that work in this domain.  

Historiography of Computation. The pioneering position of Leslie Martin and the counterpart in Portugal.

Parting essentially from the work undertaken by Leslie Martin and Lionel March at Cambridge, UK, during the 1950s, through the foundation of the Land Use and Built Form Studies Centre (LUBFS), this project seeks to analyse the influence of this work on the theories of architecture in Portugal and how and where computational techniques related to architecture were implemented. The research work involves consultation of the Leslie Martin archive in London, as well as the LNEC archive. Case studies like the project of Álvaro Siza and of the headquarters of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation through the work of Luís de Guimarães Lobato are pertinent case studies that will constitute starting points for the research. Among the principal objectives is the aim of researching and publicizing a field of research as yet little explored in architectural studies in Portugal and to contribute to building up knowledge in this area.

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II. Visual Arts

General coordinator: Filipe Rocha da Silva

(Department of Visual Arts, University of Évora)

1. DOSSIER Art, Science and Technology

Projects concerning the relation between artistic and scientific forms of language. Truth and value in art and in science. Artistic projects and their technological materialization. Concept and execution. The contents of art and technical progress. Aesthetic implications in the new technologies and recent advances in science and technology.

Researchers responsible, titles and summaries of projects in progress:

Manuela Cristóvão

“Mixed techniques in the area of pictorial expression: painting, engraving and photography – sensitive manipulations”.

The aim is to carry out practical studies and reflections concerning the mixed use of painting, (non-toxic) engraving and photography, in order to develop ‘images of pictorial expression’ that use these means and techniques, connected and combined with informatic and digital means.

Sebastião Resende

“Lightness: Project, Processes and Contingencies”

  • Reflecting on these expressions in my own work.
  • Characterizing the reasons for lightness, on their symbolic and poetic planes, as attributes of intelligence present in many works of art.
  • Showing, if possible evaluating, how light, the experience of colour, magnetic fields, action in spaces without references like the desert and digital supports, in their immateriality support, indeed benefit expectations of lightness.
  • Documental and photographic survey, from among past works, of examples that I recognize as my ideal of lightness, as a discerned emotional quality.
  • Attempt to demonstrate this position of value in contemporary society.
  • To establish relations between materials that are solid, liquid, made of gas, of light, of sound and digital supports. Intermediability.

José Eduardo Machado

"Analysis of the pictorial language used in informatic circles"

The study and analysis of:

  • The non-preference of verbal language in interpersonal communication
  • Mechanisms that lead to written messages using ‘emotion icons’ instead of words
  • Mechanisms underlying the replacement of words by some form of shorthand
  • Whether there is a connection between the writing mentioned in the previous point and the sound of the original word or if it is just to save letters.

2. DOSSIER Art and Society

The general objective of this research area is to study how the arts fit into a social and human context. With this in mind, attention is paid not only to the contents of the visual arts produced yesterday and today, but also the manner in which these same are seen and recognised by the outside world. Also relevant is a survey and study of the outside reality, from an aesthetic-visual point of view.  Thus it is possible to have recourse to the writing of texts but also the construction of discourses including images and sound, when this is justified. Within this research area are included projects that interconnect in an interdisciplinary fashion the visual arts, the so-called human sciences, such as History, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Museology, Communication Sciences and Aesthetics.   The fact that they function within a research centre that combines scientific and artistic approaches  enables projects to use a range of methodological principles, with a creative freedom and recourse to intuition that are characteristic of the Arts. Though respecting the methodologies of various sciences, these are considered solely as means, to arrive at conclusions that fit into the domain of the Arts. Polymedia may be read here as the successive or combined use of different methodologies.

Researchers responsible, titles and summaries of projects in progress:

Pintor Pedro Portugal

"The Art that is"

The cause of the ‘art thing’ and the cause of art. The thing of art. When a thing becomes art. This study researches and theorizes about when, how and why symbolic representations come to form part of the category of Art. Initially there was drawing (40,000 B.C.). Drawing became writing (8,000 B.C.). Genetic evolution (mirror neurons) and civilizational evolution (culture), and the notion of universals of artistic practice. Cyclical metamorphoses of artistic periods: Archaic – Classical – Baroque + Modern/Contemporary. The ‘Artom’ as the aggregating element of the thing that is art. ‘Explainism’ as a form of explaining and doing art.

Prof. Doutor Filipe Rocha da Silva

"Observatory of Art Criticism"

Continuation of the project of surveying and studying the reality of art criticism and artistic journalism, after the publication of a book of preliminary notes made at the beginning of this project.

Under the auspices of this project:


Seminar: ABOUT LUSITANIA. January 2009.

Lusitânia was a periodical founded and directed by Martim Avillez from New York between 1988 and 2001 and which, despite the importance and wealth of its contents, is little known in Portugal.

Sub-theme of the Observatory:

"Anatomy of the unaesthetic"

The ugly is aesthetically much more active and consensual than the beautiful. In relation to it we may come to an understanding and detect considerable social consensus. Furthermore, it is generally an aesthetic impulse that leads the citizen to propose or promote public works that are ugly and that stand out from the aesthetically neutral background that constitutes the usual, everyday reality. The study of the unaesthetic is thus the best way, and maybe the only possible way, of discussing the beautiful.

Prof. Doutor Filipe Rocha da Silva

"Variations on Mannerism"

Publication of the conclusions of research carried out by FRS in the course of his doctorate.


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III. Art History

General coordination: José Alberto Gomes Machado

(Department of History, University of Évora)

Art collecting in Portugal

This aims to research and make known one of the least studied aspects of Portuguese culture, fundamental for a characterization of what it encompasses in historical and artistic terms. It concerns principally the 17th to 19th centuries and, in the first instance, will focus on the aristocratic collections, which are often cited but little known and of which only very few inventories have been published.

Connecting Cities

Virtual forum for the exposition and debate of ideas on the history of urban development, understood in terms of its many variables, from an international perspective. For 2 years the site will be open to contributions (subject to a process of selection), in French and English, from Portuguese and foreign researchers whose work and studies are encompassed by the following topics:

• Memory and Development – architectural and urban permanence in intimate relationship with the city in evolution. Elements that remain despite the transformations that cities have undergone over time and that have continued to stand out beyond the sedimentation of different periods, even when they have apparently lost their original purpose or meaning. What has survived because in some sense it has come to be regarded as a point of identity of a city and its inhabitants for successive generations.

• Place and History – cities that today are urban centres of small or medium size, but which at a given moment in history, because of some concrete factor, have had a particular importance and which still display architectural and urban features that attest to their lost status.

• Utopia and Habitat – Idealization of a city or cities, through projects that never came about, urban proposals of a theoretical nature, descriptions (travel narratives, travel guides, monographs) and representations (paintings, engravings, illuminations, frescoes, photographs). Understanding how discourse on the architecture and spaces of a city may alter our perceptions and experiences of the urban space – including historiographical discourse.

Franco-Portuguese artistic relations

This project aims above all to publish hitherto unpublished documents involving significant names in European cultural history, with a view to preparing an edition and subsequently publishing the following two studies: Les années parisiennes by Domingos Rebelo (1907-1913) and Francisco de Lacerda, L’ ami portugais de Claude Debussy.

III. Art History

  • Archaeology Sub-Line of Investigation
  • General coordination: Prof. Doutor Jorge de Oliveira and Clara Oliveira

Projects in progress

ARA Project – Rock Art of Arronches (2009-2013)

Study of rock art of the county Arronches and its archaeological context.

Funding: Arronches City Council approved by the IGESPAR

Actions 2009:

  • Survey,Tracing, photo and excavation of the Gaivões Shelter
  • Survey,Tracing, photo and excavation of the Igreja dos Mouros Shelter
  • Surveys on the area field of Esperança
  • X-Ray fluorescence analysis of the quimical composition of the paintings in the shelters of Gaivões and Igreja dos Mouros ( Universidade da Extremadura – Badajoz)

Actions 2010:

  • Survey,Tracing, photo and excavation of the Pinho Monteiro Shelter
  • Pollen and charcoal collecting for the ancient flora study (Universidade da Extremadura – Badajoz)
  • Organic substance colleting for C14 datation
  • X-Ray fluorescence analysis of the quimical composition of the paintings in the shelter of Pinho Monteiro ( Universidade da Extremadura – Badajoz)

ARFA Project – Rock Art of Alegrete (2010-2011)

Funding: Alegrete local government, aproved by the IGESPAR

Actions 2010:

  • Survey,Tracing, photo and excavation of the Cave of Nª. Srª. da Lapa hermitage
  • Surveys in the area field of Alegrete
  • X-Ray fluorescence analysis of the quimical composition of the paintings in the Cave of Nª. Srª. da Lapa hermitage ( Universidade da Extremadura – Badajoz).

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IV. Landscape and landscape aesthetics

General coordinator: Aurora Carapinha

(Department of Biophysical and Landscape Planning, University of Évora)

The notion of Landscape in Portuguese Culture

An idea of identity in landscape can be gleaned from a retrospective reading of recent changes in a place, which are obvious to the trained ‘eye’, whether of architects or geographers, landscape architects, sociologists and anthropologists, among others. However, to gain a true understanding of a landscape in terms of its culture and value, other readings are necessary – recourse to a much broader temporal framework and discursive perspectives coming from literature or art, become indispensable.  Thus we seek a theoretical basis for an identity from a landscape, founded on a notion of constructed value through a culture structured in time and in the indissociable relation with the ‘whole’, a picture that permits the formulation of other ‘visions’, and therefore a forward-looking vision of the identity of landscape, drawing from them future applications of the idea of landscape. Today, landscape has been mapped out and its processes and phenomena amply recorded and discussed by a broad range of disciplines. However, there is a lack of studies that encourage another understanding of landscape. In this project we propose an approach that, without bringing into question formal/material analyses, seeks rather to research contents that are not material, the part that represents an imaginary world or a matrix archetype, which may be manifested in the varied expressions of the discourse of a landscape. The aim is to refine criteria for giving value to landscape based on the specific features of Portuguese culture. Parting from an anthropological reflection on the basis of historical documents and documents from Portuguese literature, we will be identifying the fundamental characteristics of what could be designated as ‘the notion of landscape in Portuguese culture’.  This ‘notion’ or ‘archetype’ corresponds to a model (not physical but ideological) of landscape, ancestral, spread about in the course of centuries of popular culture, in an inter-generational legacy but captured too by erudite culture at certain historical moments.

The Transformation of the Landscape over the last 60 years

Cities are no longer characterized by a continuity of urban tissue and by a rigorous definition of their limits, which is not, in principle, a negative factor, but rather a distinct reality. The actual rhythm of change of technological, economic, social and demographic factors is what determines this fact. It is in the open, interstitial spaces, especially those located on the periphery, where this transformation is most fully felt. These, as well as constituting obvious problems, in terms of morphology, functionality and urban design, also offer great potential in terms of the use and opportunities for cohesion of the urban tissue and of the global city itself. These spaces, in other words, those that result from the growth of a city and those that have no particular morphological or functional typology associated with them, are places without form, without character, without purpose, which occur amid other urban elements.  On the contrary, we are confronted with a new concept of city which is not characterized by its homogeneity, but rather by the successive transformations to which it is subjected, where discontinuity, rupture and chaos are constants.

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V. Theatre, Music and Musicology

General coordinator: Christine Zurbach

(Departamento of Performative Arts, University of Évora)

1. The theatrical repertoire in Portugal: dramaturgy, translation and representation

Researcher responsible: Christine Zurbach

Rooted in ancient practices, linked to the origins of the art of theatre just as understood by scholars nowadays, the theatre repertoire – understood as a concept and set of practices observable in culture and in society –, have occupied a central function in theatre life in general, and also in Portugal. Representing the aesthetic and ideological choices of their creators (directors, actors, but also dramatists and translators, not forgetting publishers), it constitutes the principal means of communication between these and the public for whom the works staged are intended, also being a place for interchange and diverse contacts between literary and theatrical traditions. In historical terms the concept may contribute usefully to the deepening of our knowledge of Portuguese theatre on at least two closely related planes: that of the text and that of the interpretative practice in which dramaturgy and direction collaborate in the production of the show and of theatrical communication.  The repertoire understood as a textual corpus is divided, in turn, between the dramatic output by writers of the Portuguese language with its respective dissemination / concretization  in theatrical performance and in publication, and the contribution of translation as the prime vehicle for the importation of repertoires belonging to cultures with which Portuguese theatre has maintained and continues to maintain contact over the centuries, with possible influences in promoting original Portuguese writing.  The principal objective of this research project is directed towards a wish to integrate the study of repertoire (as a verbal and textual component) with the artistic practice of the creators with an emphasis on its programmatic dimension (discourse directed at an individual member of the body politic).

2. History of Theatre in Portugal

Researcher responsible: Laureano Carreira

Digital and critical edition of 6 works by the 19th-century dramatist J. M. Mendes Leal.

3. Theatre, Dance, Circus: interchanges

Researcher responsible: Tiago Porteiro

Through documental material in video format, we aim to structure and make known, in a panoramic fashion, the ‘Movement’ known as ‘New Circus’, which began in France some thirty years ago.  The material has hitherto been rather dispersed and never organized with a view to the characterisation and interpretation of this movement. Given our didactic concern, we gave defined the chronological parameters as those that most clearly demonstrate its career in France during the course of this time.  Within the historic period defined, four phases may be identified: the pioneers; the eighties; the nineties (years marked by the CNAC’s shows); the present (emancipation of certain disciplines, innovative projects, the return to the notion of number,…). From among the very many companies and artistic proposals that exist, it is necessary to select in each period the shows recorded that are most representative of emerging directions, tendencies and successes in each period.

4. ADiCT — Arquivo Digital Cultura Teatral (Theatrical Culture Digital Archive)

Researcher responsible: José Alberto Ferreira

The project ADiCT has in mind the constitution and establishment of a documental collection  in the form of a digital archive on perfomative arts, oriented towards research and whose sources are to be gathered through autonomous output (interviews, records), through exchanges, donations, loans, etc., leading to the building of a true archive for contemporary performative arts. ADiCT should also go about gathering documental sources (since it is they that bring about interaction between research, on the one hand, and documentation and contemporary creation, on the other).

5. The Permanent Actor

Researcher responsible: Ana Tamen


Practical research and theory on the methodology of training the actor/performer, specific to the global society of the 21st century, taking as a point of departure the work developed by two great avant-garde Russian and American masters: Polina Klimovitskaya and Lee Breuer. The Permanent Actor is a project that aims to develop laboratory practices in the training of theatre performers and a parallel theorization through the publicizing of the results obtained in the process. This is a project determined by specific practices of experimentation centred on the entity character (techniques: deconstruction/reconstruction) being observed and annotated.

We notice currently, especially in the North-American mindset, the active coexistence of a number of understandings of the ‘death of the character’ (see for example Fuchs, Elinor, 1996, The Death of Character: Perspectives on Theater after Modernism). There is one line that we can link to the utopia of the trainer of actors Uta Hagen, who continues to defend the necessity of studying the character as an indispensable tool for performers, dramatists, writers and directors; another line to which a number of artists subscribe, such as David Mamet and Anne Bogart, denies the actual existence of the entity character (see Wangh, Stephen, 2000, An Acrobat of the Heart, pp. 236 et seq.).

Lee Breuer and Polina Klimovitskaya find themselves in a problematic position between these two interpretations. Coming from very different geographical cultures (United States of America, the Soviet Union), they have evolved and find themselves (in the USA) on an exceptional platform (scenic experimentalism and university training) that has enabled them to confront their different matrices.


a) 2 international workshops (Lisbon and Évora) with the participation of students from the first degree and master’s courses at the Department of Performing Arts of the University of Évora, professional actors and actresses and students of the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema.

b) 1 talk in Lisbon on the work carried out on the theme The Permanent Actor, given by the two director-researchers Lee Breuer and Polina Klimovitskaya.

c) 1 International Course and various talks with the participation of various Portuguese and international specialists, among them Bonnie Marranca, Deb Margolin, given over to the theme “The ‘Character’ at the Dawn of the 21st century”. This course will naturally aim to take in the research of master’s students, benefitting, for example, their academic curriculum. The theme being studied will be linked in various ways to the master’s course at the Dept. of Performing Arts that the University of Évora offers (inclusion of the theme in the contents of the seminars offered during the year, object of study for research and for the students’ dissertation.)

d) Publication of a book, by Eugénia Vasques and Ana Tamen, where the training of actors is studied, a work aimed above all at the practice of actors, directors, students and teachers of theatre, but which can also develop thought and provide a theoretical contextualization for problems drawn from this same practice.

e) Publication on DVD of the exercises and lessons given by Lee Breuer and Polina Klimovitskaya, with the participation of professional actors and students.

We thus aim to restrict the work of these two researchers/creators, a field that is so fertile for research and to construct a learning platform that we seek to systematize and make known to students and teachers as well as professionals, both Portuguese and American.

This research area – reflection sustained by experimental practice – and the subsequent publication of results, has been virtually non-existent in Portugal. The collaboration with Bonnie Marranca, chief editor of the Performing Arts Journal (PAJ) and Deb Margolin, of Yale University, can provide this project with the necessary projection, both nationally and internationally, increasing the likelihood of the objective of publishing also in the United States of America.

6. The Santo Aleixo Puppets in the past and present of the theatre in Portugal

Autonomous project (POCI/EAT/60520/2004) in partnership with the Centro de História da Arte and the Centro Dramático de Évora (2005-2008).

Team : Christine Zurbach; José Alberto Ferreira; Fátima Nunes (CEHFC)

Coordination: Christine Zurbach (Universidade de Évora)


Seen as important for our knowledge of Portuguese theatrical life, both traditional and current, the autonomous bid of the research project entitled “The Santo Aleixo Puppets in the past and present of the theatre in Portugal” proposed jointly with Cendrev in 2004, for the community support programme POCTI/FSE/FEDER in the context of the Competitions for Research and Development Projects opened by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, was approved for funding, which supported all aspects of the work carried out between 2005 and 2008 in relation to the gathering and interpretation of sources relating to the Santo Aleixo Puppets and an analysis of their current reception.

The research team made up of three teachers from the University of Évora – Christine Zurbach and José Alberto Ferreira, specialists in theatrology, and Fátima Nunes, researcher into contemporary culture, began work on the collection of Puppets, accompanied by the project consultants John McCormick (Dublin, Eire), Brunella Eruli (Siena, Italy) and José Manuel Pedrosa (Alcalá, Spain).

In order to carry out the various tasks relating to the material component of the object of study – puppets, stage and props – the team had recourse to the competence of various specialists and a research assistant. Made available in digital format on the website of the Centro de História da Arte through the link escritanapaisagem.net/bsa, the material gathered was thus disseminated widely, making research into theatre carried out in Portugal known worldwide. Furthermore, in September 2007 the project published a set of texts of the repertoire performed today by the actor-puppeteers of Cendrev. The mode of performing the set of plays adopted in the work was drawn from the first transcription carried out in the 1980s, which was modified according to the criteria followed by the researchers of the project and also according to the first-hand experience of the actors involved in the present-day preservation of the theatre of the Santo Aleixo Puppets, in the difficult task of clarifying and weighing up the relative importance of the marks of oral transmission as well as the regional aspect connoted by the puppets’ speech. www.culturaspopulares.org

7. The Wire-strung Guitars of the Azores Archipelago.

Researcher responsible: Manuel Morais

Study of the instrument and its practice.

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