Author: Ana Escobar
Institution: Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa
Contacts: cargocollective.com/projectoemaberto ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Projecto em Aberto was created in 2011 having as a purpose studying and thinking the surrounding objects responsible for the imagery of the artisanal portuguese culture. The project comes along understanding the need to address the great gaps of documentation and of recordings of the great majority of artisanal techniques that see their continuity depend solely on the great craft masters’ production and knowledge transmission, who act almost like empirical encyclopedias within each craft.
To the previous equation is added a constant interest on learning new forms of ‘how-to’ with the ones who master the skills and dexterity, result of the transmission of such rich and specific knowledge throughout many generations. The solution grew through a plan of action drawn to create a physical registration, palpable and transmissible, of the different existing craft techniques, from north to south of the country, in order to stop and avoid their predictable and, in some cases, effective disappearance.
According to the long known principle that you only really learn something by doing it, several editions of registered and illustrated knowledge were created, so that all interested public can access certain specific know-how. Valuing the accurate and inventive craft masters’ skills, I believe they should not depend on mere verbal transmission, that may or may not happen and therefore compromise the survival of centuries of local raw materials’ comprehension and transformation – their value, tools, small tricks.
Projecto em Aberto focuses on the research, documentation and reinterpretation of artisanal techniques that we can find throughout the country. The work methodology repeats itself, in a pattern logic, beginning by travelling to a selected region and learning with the craft masters and with other locals; followed by the recording of all the gathered information and then by its final application in a new object, redesigning the original foundation of great technical skills.
This collection of knowledge aims at being as vast as the many artisanal techniques that are to be re-discovered and registered, becoming a growing series of editions, much like teaching guides of all different sort of items, and covering all technical details – not only the most general ones, but also, and specially, the processes and ways of practicing certain techniques, as well as the necessary raw materials and tools to be used.
Projecto em Aberto‘s collection already counts with a series of three edited posters on different artisanal techniques mainly used in the south region of Portugal – Alentejo. The first edition focuses on the stool weaving technique; the second and third, being two separate parts of the same narrative, talk about the processes of artisanal clay brick production as well as a type of wood fire oven which has almost no documentation due to its ephemerality, as it is made with the only purpose of burning the previously hand shaped bricks.
As a consequence of the real object of this project – the construction guide poster – new objects are created. They are reinterpretations of tradition that support ancient knowledge in a necessary exercise of contemporaneity. It is crucial to preserve the know-how, the expression of every movement, of every action, the marks of a past that must become present.
Edition N.1 – Stool weaving technique
Edition N.2 – Artisanal clay bricks production
Edition N.3 – Artisanal wood fire oven construction