#ListeAsks Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, Curator, Lisbon

Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, Credit: Gonçalo F. Santos
Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, Credit: Gonçalo F. Santos

As you won’t be in Basel this June, what are you doing instead?
I am Portuguese/Brazilian, living in Lisbon. The way people have acted in Portugal has been a really nice example of responsibility without exaggeration. I think people understood the message and began isolating even before the state of emergency was declared, so we’ve had very mild numbers. I say this to put in context that after two months of lockdown we were able to resume our day-to-day lives, although we’re always being conscious and responsible, of course. During the usual Basel week, I will probably take my kids to school in the morning, go to my office, go for nice runs by the river, have lunch, dinner and drinks with a friend or two, in addition to always working and staying in touch with my collectors and also working on Four Flags Lisbon, a project started in Amsterdam that I brought here together with Natxo Checa from Galeria Zé dos Bois.

What is something that you never thought would happen but that has now happened as a result of the lockdown?
What I find most impressive is the decreased number of flights: Sometimes I stop and think about the number of places I would have flown to in the last three months and it gives me a bit of anxiety. I simply would not have believed it if, in the beginning of February, someone would have told me that air traffic would practically come to a halt for so long.

In what ways has the current state of uncertainty and unpredictability changed your attitude or approach towards curating?
My curatorial practice is very much international. Most of my projects are not in Lisbon and all of the collectors I work with are not based in Portugal. So it took a bit of adapting and understanding that the many curatorial projects I had were not postponed but cancelled—I say this because I believe that even if the premise is that they are postponed, if things happen in the future they will happen in another present, in a different time, in a different world. I think my first reaction was a bit negative, as I was scared that by being unable to travel, I would be unable to communicate properly with the collectors I work with, but I have only had support. Everyone is in a different stage of the pandemic, but there has been dialogue and understanding. Another positive attitude to have is that we really need to be more local now than ever. I think this time has made it even clearer that being a global curator is impossible and unhealthy.

What kinds of actions do you think are most needed and/or most effective in supporting young artists during the current situation?
My answer to this question starts in my previous one: being as local as one can be. And working properly with the artists you really believe in. Providing a dialogue and, if possible, creating means and spaces—be they physical or virtual—for creativity to happen and platforms for artists to produce, exchange and exist within.

How can younger and less established galleries that are representing emerging and yet-to-be-discovered artists approach you as a curator in a time of online-only exhibitions, fairs, etc.?
I am quite good with emails. Even if it takes a bit of time to reply, I try to always reply and be informed, even more if they are personalised. I don’t deal well with being approached on WhatsApp; I find it confusing to have so much happening on my phone. For events it’s good, but for PDFs and artist info, not really—at least in my case.

Have you discovered any new artist during the lockdown?
I have reconnected with Max Hooper Schneider from Los Angeles who I really like as an artist and as a human being, I think he is a boiling pot of ideas and creativity. There are also two very young Portuguese artists who I definitely want to see more of: Lucia Vives, who I came across through social media, and Jaime Welsh, whose work I saw in an exhibition at Galeria Madragoa. Also, one of my collectors in São Paulo just started a residency programme, so I got to go through the work of young very interesting Brazilian artists I did not know—Denise Alves Ribeiro, Guilherme Peters, Rafael RG, Manu Costalima, Bruno Baptistelli and many more.

Can you tell us about one of the very first artists you discovered at Liste and how they’ve become important to or played a role in your curatorial practice?
I’ve been coming to Liste since I was 18 years old, so approximately for the last 17 years, missing it only one year when my son was born on the 8th of June and my husband had to make me not go! Going to Basel in June was always a father-daughter trip: My father collects art and I learned a lot from him. I remember very clearly discovering the work of Armando Andrade Tudela at Carl Freedman Gallery when Jo Stella-Sawicka worked there. It was also at Liste that I first met José Kuri and Mónica Manzutto, they were showing a project by Daniel Guzmán. Through this friendship I have learned so much and I have worked with so many of their artists – Damián Ortega, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Gabriel Kuri, Akram Zaatari, Fernando Ortega, Gabriel Sierra, Monika Sosnowska, Roman Ondák and so on.

A photo that for Luiza Teixeira de Freitas represents the current moment: "A photo that really represents my three months in isolation. I have never been so creative with my kids, what you see in the image are 14 snails we painted orange and then for days and days we followed their routes, until we finally gave up.", Credit: Luiza Teixeira de Freitas
A photo that for Luiza Teixeira de Freitas represents the current moment: "A photo that really represents my three months in isolation. I have never been so creative with my kids, what you see in the image are 14 snails we painted orange and then for days and days we followed their routes, until we finally gave up.", Credit: Luiza Teixeira de Freitas