Mário Caeiro started his career as a graphic designer for Editorial Caminho, later doing graphic design projects for other publishers, in particular Círculo de Leitores (ex. Complete Works of, among others, José Régio, José Rodrigues Miguéis, José Gomes Ferreira and Carlos de Oliveira – with Fortespolio – and Padre António Vieira – in his own name). He’d become editorial coordinator of several book projects realized in the framework of cultural associations and ESAD.cr.
Many of the cross-disciplinary concepts and projects created and developed since the late nineties by Mário Caeiro, parallel to his teaching and academic practice, promote moments of heterotopia in the urban realm. In Lisbon, this lead cultural theorist Malcom Miles to define his initial work during Capital of Nothing as cultural activism – some of his projects championing new forms of urban design and cultural renewal ‘from below’ while others were seen to develop challenges to the cultural amnesia and solipsistic urbanism of one of Europe’s most decadent cities (Anthony Iles). In Portugal and abroad, the theme of Light is recurrent in his initiatives.
Specific Light art works can be seen as standards for his experimental curatorial approach, such as Javier Núnez Gasco’s Misérias Ilimitadas, Lda. (Lisbon, 2006), Moov + Miguel Faro’s Soap Catharsis Wall (Toruń, 2009), Dominik Lejman’s 60’ Cathedral (Tallinn, Toruń and Durham, 2011)…
… and Alessandro Lupi’s Universal Spin (Toruń and Cascais).
This commitment with Light Culture led to a long-term cooperation with artist Jana Matejkova-Middleton or the curating of Light Curve, an in situ installation by Alessandro Lupi at Palazzo Bembo, for the 14th Architecture Exhibition – Venice Biennale 2014.
In such projects an essayistic background (João Barrento) fuels a curatorial practice first experimented in the transdisciplinary events Retratos da Alma (1995) and Um Cálice de Dor (1999) – both organized by the independent design studio Fortespolio. Eventually these actions became the model for tackling issues of urban form creatively and collaboratively, while connecting artistic work to theoretical production, be it in the framework of cultural associations he co-founded such as Extra[muros[ – associação cultural para a cidade [cultural association for the city] (active between 2000 and 2008) and Palavrão – Associação Cultural [Cultural Association] (2011-), be it as a curator and author for other entities. In this framework, he organized diverse cultural events, such as retreat symposia and several international conferences: Luzboa – Desenhar a Luz (2003), Efémero.Criação.Acontecimento (2009), Político.Criação.Valor (2010), Urbano.Criação.Interface (2016), key-note speakers being the likes of Christine Buci-Glucksmann, Malcolm Miles, Maryvonne Saison, Paul Ardenne and Krzysztof Nawratek. His theoretical output has been regularly printed mainly in magazine articles.
Mário Caeiro is the author and/or curator of several urban concepts, urban projects and exhibitions.
Urban Projects (selection)
Lisboa Capital do Nada – Marvila 2001 / Lisbon Capital of Nothing – Marvila 2001 is a flagship project in Mário Caeiro’s career. It was a transdisciplinary event which took place in Marvila, a peripheral district of Lisbon. Thirty days of public events including art, architecture, urban design and photography projects, publications, public debates and performance activities, directed by a mobile, versatile and informal coordination team, which ensured that a provisional community was created. In the context of debates on place, space, and identity in a period of globalisation, such collaborative arts projects can be seen as a means to identity formation for participants, outside consumption.
For Malcolm Miles, this kind of initiatives are situated perhaps between the arts and the development work of NGOs, and also imply a viable, democratic public sphere distinct from a public realm constituted conventionally by urban public spaces or marked by public art, in addition having a capacity to evoke the imagination of new social formations.
Participating artists in Lisbon Capital of Nothing included Vasco Araújo, Catarina Campino, José Maçãs de Carvalho, Miguel Palma, Fabrice Picard, José Manuel Rodrigues and João Pedro Vale. Following that project, and still in Marvila, Mário Caeiro developed again within Extra]muros[ the mirror project Sinais – a cidade habitada [Signs – the inhabited city], a participatory urban design action (signage) promoted by Centro Português de Design [Portuguese Design Center].
Luzboa is another project he created, with Marc Pottier, in 2003, to promote in 2004 and 2006 several interventions in public spaces In Luzboa – the name came from playing with the words Luz (Light), Lisboa (the city of Lisbon) and Boa (Good) – art (culture and the creative arts) and light (science and technology) were used to promote urban development and to revitalize public space. Luzboa was a pioneer project in Portugal, built at the intersection between economic (science and technology innovation) and socio-cultural trends (culture and arts). (Teresa Alves) Among the artists commissioned were Luís Campos, Javier Núñes Gasco, Ron Haselden, Yann Kersalé, Carlos Nogueira, Miguel Palma, João Pedro Vale and Jean-Luc Vilmouth.
Since 2011, Caeiro curated the Project VICENTE, dedicated to a creative revisitation of the myth of Saint Vincent, the Patron Saint of Lisbon. Below the links to each edition:
The Project contributed to the realization of the chamber opera CABARET VICENTE, by José Eduardo Rocha. A clip of this show here.
Between 2011 and 2012, Caeiro curated Lux Scientia, a trans-European collaboration within the British Light Festival Lumière. Three artists were comissioned to create a lightwork to create a unique programme of work shared across three international light festivals: Skyway in Poland, Valgusfestival in Estonia, and Lumière in Durham. Simeon Nelson, Dominik Lejman and Leonardo Meigas collaborated with a scientist to develop their lightwork and all three works explored both the scientific and aesthetic aspects of light. Lux Scientia aimed to act as a platform for debate about how the different artists’ vision related to the their installation in different spaces and environments, to raise awareness of a shared European heritage, foster mutual understanding, and celebrate the cultural diversity.
Cosmic Underground (2012), created with Jan Swierkowski from B61 Instytut, was defined by Mário Caeiro as a grand scale artistic performance connecting the East and West of Europe by means of a train trip. Presented in thirteen cities in five countries – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal – at the heart of this transeuropean artistic project connecting the European Capitals of Culture in 2012 (Tallinn and Guimarães) was the idea of connecting people, beyond the historical, cultural and linguistic diferences inherent in the European canon. The European railway infrastructure became a stream promoting dialogue and equality through audiovisual installations, theatrical performances and live music happenings by, among others, artists Raoul Kurvitz, Flo Kasearu, Elina Cerpa, Eva Tallo & Elo Liiv, Justyna Chowaniak, Mariusz Lubomski, Stefan Kornacki, Tomasz Cebo, André Banha and Pedro Bernardo.
Inside the city walls of the Historical Village of Óbidos, Caeiro curated during the Christmas of 2013 time Óbidos Luz, an event which included a monumental video-mapping projection, site-specific installations and artworks by Het Pakt, Joachim Slugocki + Katarzyna Malejka, Visual Stimuli and Limelight.
Lightcraft Belmonte (2015), co-authored and co-curated with Frédéric Coustols, was another event celebrating the spirit of a place, the 500 year old Palácio Belmonte in Lisbon. The show consisted in the presentation of outdoor and indoor artistic visions by Alessandro Lupi, Jana Matejkova-Middleton & Rory Middleton and Stefan Kornacki.
Previously in the same year, Lux Matrix Tallinn, Caeiro created with Indrek Leht from Valgus Festival an event consisting in a series of small and medium-scale installations, interventions and actions, acknowledging and exploring the character of the Old Town of Estonia’s capital through the work of artists such as Anita Ackermann, Marco Brianza, and Dominik Lejman, among others.
Urban Concepts (selection)
SKYWAY is a concept developed by Mário Caeiro in 2009 for the city of Toruń, in Poland.
He has been since the first edition the curator and artistic director of BELLA SKYWAY FESTIVA (former SKYWAY LIGHT FESTIVAL), the festival being the collective celebration of the urban identity of the town. The Festival happens yearly since 2009, combining scientific topics and the art of light. Artists commissioned (selection): Architects of Air, Rochus Aust, MOOV + Miguel Faro, Richi Ferrero, Raoul Kurvitz, Dominik Lejman, Limelight, Alessandro Lupi, Makula, Katarzyna Malejka, Jana Matejkova, Simeon Nelson, Bruno Peinado, Nuno Maya + Carole Purnelle, Nathaniel Rackowe and Joachim Slugocki.
In Lisbon, Portugal, Caeiro is since 2011 the author and curator of the Project VICENTE (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), a yearly interdisciplinary project on mythical public space for Travessa da Ermida, revisiting the myth of Saint Vincent, Patron Saint of the City of Lisbon, through contemporary artworks and essays. Participating artists (selection): Rochus Aust and Miguel Januário (2016), Alessandro Lupi and Gabriele Seifert (2015), Raoul Kurvitz and Krzysztof Leon Dziemaszkiewicz (2014), Xana and Régis Perray (2013), MOOV + Miguel Faro and André Graça Gomes (2012), Simeon Nelson, Jana Matejkova, João Ribeiro and André Banha (2011).
LUX MATRIX, firstly presented in Tallinn (2015) was realized in the framework of the local Valgus Festival. LUX MATRIX is the model for a Boutique Light Festival, consisting in a spiraled series of small and medium-scale installations, interventions and actions, as a way to acknowledge locality in a subtle and detailed way. Exploring the cultural atmosphe and the urban form of spiritual heritage sites, LUX MATRIX stands for a productive understanding of urban and cultural identity deliberately contrasting with the dynamics of mass tourism.
Mário Caeiro curated Retratos da Alma [Portraits of the Soul] in 1995, participant artists being Steve Cox, Fabrice Picard, Luís Silva, Pedro Ruivo. The book-catalogue inluded texts by António Ramos Rosa, João Lobo Antunes, Frei Bento Domingues, Nuno Porto. In 1999, curated Um Cálice de Dor [A Goblet of Pain] at Arquivo Fotográfico de Lisboa, with works by Fabrice Picard, Steve Cox; António Júlio Duarte, Cláudia Fischer + José Luís Neto, Susana Paiva, Luísa Costa Dias and Catarina Campino. The book-catalogue presented texts by David le Breton, Arno Gruen, Helena Barbas, João Alves da Costa, António Lourenço Marques and Maria Calado, while a conference was held, with speakers Alexandra Von Böhm Amolly, Domingos Neto, Odete Santos, João Barrento and Manuel Valente Alves.
2000s / 2010s
In the Library of FCT-UNL in Campus de Caparica, Mário Caeiro has curated since 2007 several exhibitions. There, solo shows by artists Pedro Calapez (co-curated by José Moura), Filipe Garcia, Bruno Jamaica / Bruno Lavos Marques, André Banha, Pedro Telmo Chaparra, André Graça Gomes, have been interpolated by thematic group exhibition projects such as Terroir/Graffiti (2009), A Arte de Furtar Desenhos (de A a Z): apear, mapear (2014), curated in collaboration with Philip Cabau, with artists Raquel Terenas and João R. Ferreira; Good News – To Communicate is to Complicate (2013) with artists Pedro Cabral Santo, Moffat Takadiwa, Cláudio Lima and Alexandre A. R. Costa; Esquecer Saramago! Doze partidas para uma homenagem (2012) with artists: Nuno Fragata, Mónica Landim, Pedro Penilo, Orphanus Lauro, João R. Ferreira, Ricardo Braz, Eunice Artur, André Graça Gomes, Bruno Bogarim, André Banha, Anabela Santos, Biana Costa.
In 2010, Caeiro curated a first show for Plataforma Revolver, Objet Perdu. The group exhibition included artists António Contador, Hugues Decointet, Simeon Nelson, Pedro Penilo, Anabela Santos, Julião Sarmento and Carlos Sousa.
Objet Trouvé followed in 2011, a group exhibition with artists Pedro Telmo Chaparra, Miguel Faro, Alexandre A. R. Costa, Biana Costa, Teresa Forbes, Javier Núñes Gasco, André Graça Gomes, Stefan Kornacki, Dominik Lejman, Melanie Manchot, Régis Perray, João Ribeiro, José Eduardo Rocha).
In 2012 Mário Caeiro developed the concept and curated MatrizCaldas. Fluxo. Cidade. Arte. Caldas da Rainha 2012-1512 [MatrizCaldas. Flux. City. Art. Caldas da Rainha 2012-1512], a public art project initially developed at ESAD.cr in 2008, in order to commemorate the 500 years of the city of Caldas da Rainha and the signature of the Livro do Compromisso by the Queen D. Leonor in 1512. Beyond mere celebration, contemporary artworks were added to to the permanent exhibition including medical instruments from different ages.
Again in Caldas da Rainha, Caeiro curated in cooperation with Museum José Malhoa the project MatrizMalhoa, a yearlong Contemporary Art accrochage with the subtitile Museu.Cidade.Arte [Museum.City.Art’] at Museu José Malhoa (2015-2016). Participating artists were, among others, Vasco Araújo, Cristina Ataíde, João Belga, Pedro Bernardo, Fernando Brízio, Alexandre A. R. Costa, Jorge Feijão, Filipe Garcia, Miguel Januário, Hugo Soares + João Gigante, Catarina Leitão, Alessandro Lupi, Teresa Luzio, Régis Perray, Ana-Pérez Quiroga, Samuel Rama, Joana Roberto and Pedro Cabral Santo.
Editorial coordination and Graphic design projects (selection)
Do proscénio de Plauto ao Plateau da Playboy. De Ovídeo ao Home vídeo. Uma compilação erótica, 2007. General coordination and pedagogical orientation.
People Work Light / Gente Trabalho Luz, Schréder Iluminação, 2006. Texts and project management.
Esquecer Saramago. Doze partidas para uma homenagem, Palavrão – Associação Cultural, 2012. Editorial coordination.
História do Futuro, A Chave dos Profetas, Escritos sobre os Judeus, Escritos sobre os Índios, Escritos do Advento, do Natal e da Epifania by Padre António Vieira. Temas e Debates, 2015. Graphic project.
Obras Completas de Padre António Vieira. Círculo de Leitores, 2013-2015. Graphic project.
Obras Pioneiras da Cultura Portuguesa. Círculo de Leitores, 2017-2018. Graphic project.