West Coast is a nomadic collective of research and artistic creation around the territory and its different dimensions – aesthetics, cultural, social, environmental – which is composed of Álvaro Fonseca, Francisco Pinheiro, Laura Marques, Nuno Barroso and Paul Morais.
The collective started residences on different rivers in the country, integrated into its Guarda-Rios project. Taking several riverside territories, this project aims to investigate how the relations of human beings with their environment (natural or anthropoized) are reflected in the landscape. The first residences took place in the Tagus and Douro International regions along the border between Portugal and Spain, which is partially defined by those two rivers or their tributaries. On the banks of these rivers and streams, West Coast found traces of the recent history of human occupation of their respective territories, such as the different activities and technologies that took advantage of water resources – from fishing and waterways, to the dams that tamed their and converted those rivers, once free, into reservoirs, profoundly changing the landscape. It also observed that a sense of abandonment lingers along these landscapes, derived not only from a disinvestment of central power but also from the disappearance or devaluation of activities linked to land and rivers, which give the expression ‘no man’s land’ an almost literal meaning.
From the stories linked to the rivers, West Coast highlights the ones they hear from the mouths of fishermen who speak about the techniques and fishing gear specific to the different species of fish but also of the gradual disappearance of indigenous species, with the construction of dams or the introduction of exotic species. Other changes in agricultural and pastoral activities have resulted from the progressive abandonment of subsistence or small farming, sometimes replaced by larger or more intensive farms, and the reduction of flocks of sheep or goats and the number of shepherds. These changes were made evident not only by reading the landscape but also by the state of abandonment of several buildings such as walls, shelters and specific structures: the waterlets and the holes, in the Tagus, and the pisões and lofts, in the Douro. The extreme drought, felt throughout the territory, allowed the collective to walk on various dry beds, lunar landscapes that revealed ancestral architectures and residual objects of a reality of proximity to the river.
Ivo Louro is a PhD candidate at the Interuniversity Center for the History of Science and Technology (CIUHCT), where he is studying the history of vernacular modes of sonification and use of sound as an epistemological tool in science, technology and professional settings, focusing on the particular case of Portuguese windmill buzzers. He is a member of the Anthropolands Project where he has contributed with published works on the relevance of Anthropocene concept for the history of technology and ecocritical essays about works of film director Hayao Miyazaki. He is the organizer of the biennial workshop, Soundscape Campus, that takes place at the Faculty of Sciences and Technology of the NOVA University of Lisbon, since 2017.
He holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering from the same University. He has been affiliated as a research fellow to the National Laboratory of Energy and Geology (LNEG), where he worked on Sustainable Public Procurement projects. More recently he has been increasingly engaged with developing sound art works and interfaces using sonification techniques, which he has exhibited in festivals like Immersive (Lisbon, June 2018) and Lisboa Soa (Lisbon, September 2019).
Margarida Mendes‘s research explores the overlap between cybernetics, ecology and experimental film, investigating the dynamic transformations of the environment and its impact on societal structures and cultural production. She curates across the world and was part of the curatorial team of the 11th Gwangju Biennale (2016) and 4th Istanbul Design Biennale (2018). In 2019 she launched the exhibition series Plant Revolution! that questions the interspecies encounter while exploring different narratives of technological mediation and in 2016 she curated Matter Fictions, publishing a joint reader with Sternberg Press. She is consultant for environmental NGOs working on marine policy and deep sea mining and has directed several educational platforms, such as escuelita, an informal school at Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo – CA2M, Madrid (2017); The Barber Shop project space in Lisbon dedicated to transdisciplinar research (2009-16); and the ecological inquiry curatorial research platform The World In Which We Occur, (2014-18). She is a PhD candidate at the Centre for Research Architecture, Visual Cultures Department, Goldsmiths University of London with the project “Deep Sea Imaginings” and is a frequent collaborator of the online channel for exploratory video and documentary reporting Inhabitants.
Daniel Paiva is a cultural geographer. He is currently working on the research project ‘Sounding Lisbon as Tourist City: Sound, Tourism and the Sustainability of Urban Ambiances in the Post-Industrial City’ (PTDC / ART-PER / 32417/2017) of the Institute of Ethnomusicology – Center for Studies in Music and Dance (INET-md) at the School of Social and Human Sciences of NOVA University of Lisbon. Daniel Paiva has also been a researcher at the Center for Geographic Studies of the University of Lisbon since 2011, having collaborated in various research projects in the area of urban, cultural, and historical geography (Chronotope, Agora, NoVOID, Geographical Knowledge, Phoenix). Daniel Paiva’s research focuses on the experience of urban space, with emphasis on the experience of time, sound, and urban nature. His studies have been published in several journals, such as Geography Compass, Urban Geography, Social and Cultural Geography, Cultural Geographies, Journal of Historical Geography, Space and Culture, Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, and Tijdschrift voor Economische en Sociale Geografie.
Iñigo Sánchezis currently a research fellow at the NOVA FCSH Ethnomusicology Institute – Center for Studies in Music and Dance (INET-md) in Lisbon (Portugal), where he is the Principal Investigator of the “Sounds of Tourism” project, funded by the Portuguese Research Council (FCT). He holds a PhD in anthropology and his research interests focus on three interrelated fields of inquiry: music, identity and migration; sound studies; and the study of music and sound in urban contexts. In 2017 he worked as a research fellow at Queen’s University Belfast (2017) in the context of an AHRC research project that explored the relationship of sound and conflict in Mozambique. He has been recently awarded a Ramón y Cajal research contract from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities and he will be joining the Institute of Heritage Science (Incipit) at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) in 2020.
Pedro Moura is a comics critic, teacher, scriptwriter and curator, writing mostly for his own blogs (Yellow Fast & Crumble). He has penned a TV documentary, a PhD, and organized a couple major exhibitions in art museums, all on contemporary Portuguese comics. He has also authored a number of short stories and his first book-lenght project, Os Regressos, with artist Marta Teives, came out in 2018 (and has been translated into Polish). More recently, he’s in a business partnership: Tinta nos Nervos, a bookstore-gallery specialized on the drawing arts, including comics.
Rita Natálio (Portugal) was born in Lisbon in 1983. She lives in Lisbon/Portugal and São Paulo/Brazil. She studied Choreographic Arts, holds a Master’s degree in Psychology and is currently preparing a double doctorate in Art Studies and Anthropology with an FCT scholarship. She has been working with writing, dramaturgy and performance, combining the creation of texts and shows with academic studies in anthropology and arts. Her poetry book Artesanato has been nominated for the prize “Prémios Novos 2016” and she published Human plants in 2017, together with (não)edições. She is primarily active in the fields of dramaturgy and accompaniment of artistic and research projects. Rita has assisted training/research projects around Real Time Composition, and has taught in the Choreographic Creation and Dance Research Training Program at Forum Dança in Lisbon. She collaborates in documentation projects connected with performing arts.