Júlio de Matos Photography




Every year, around the summer solstice, happens the S.João's popular festival in south of Portugal's Évora. The tradition decides that people of all walks of life, from children to the elder generation, in a word, everybody, will come to the fairground "Campo da Vinha", in Évora.

In 2005 I conceived, projected and directed a thematic pavilion "Évora - History with a Future". It was an audio-visual, sensorial, multimedia, and emotional experience. As part of the visitors' experience I created a "Portraits Installation" concept and executed it, photographing, printing and exhibiting the result.

After waiting an average of one hour, they moved inside. But just before starting their visit, I would make an aleatory choice of the group coming in, to make their portraits.

From the persons who did not accept my invitation to have their portrait made, some were shy, others were allergic to portraits. But most of them understood my game. The real challenge was to establish, in a matter of seconds, truly an empathy and communication with someone I've never met before. And, as you can feel watching the gallery, it was fun!

Of the minority that did not want to play the portrait "game" with me, some regretted in the end. Why? Because the last space of this exhibition, was not about the "Past" but about the "Future". During the visitors' 30 minutes inside the pavilion, I would print and exhibit in the walls the new portraits I've just made. It was an unexpected surprise for all, to find themselves and many others in the installation, and to be part of the exhibition.

On their way out I handed personally to each one of them their laser print Portrait. Many of them later did send their friends and relatives, wanting to have their portrait made and to be part of this collective experiment.

The exhibition visitors' portraits, in sequence or even better, covering the walls, project a sense of that community. Even the City Mayor is there, just like any other Évora's citizen or tourist.

Personally and as a photographer it was a rich and exciting experience. I enjoyed each and every portrait I made on the course of those warm 20 days in Évora, an Unesco World Heritage City.

Júlio de Matos
May, 7th 2009

Notes: All photos were made in daytime because I did not want to use flash or any kind of artificial lighting. The portrait rules were visibly on display at the entrance. All the portraits made inside the pavilion could be used in the context of this project. As this is. But if you dont´t want your portrait to be in this gallery please let me know.

All Photographs and Texts by Júlio de Matos | All rights reserved | © Júlio de Matos, 2009-2019