The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art presents the first major exhibition dedicated to the pioneering artist and performer Silvestre Pestana (b. 1949, Funchal, Madeira).
Emerging from a group of experimental poets in the 1960s, the Porto-based artist has produced a singular body of work in drawing, performance, photography, video, and installation for nearly five decades, centered on the political and social dimensions of art and technology.
The exhibition at Serralves, the result of extensive archival research, highlights the artist’s conviction in the critical function of art as well as the transformative effects of technology on society and the body. Between 1969 and 1974, as a political exile in Sweden, Pestana created public interventions concerned with ecology and the nature of exile. In his early performances in the late 1970s, prescient issues of biometrics and the technological extensions of the human body meet the tradition of experimental poetry, the body literally writing in space.
Always an early adopter of new technologies, Pestana utilized video and computing in the 1980s to address how technological forms of socialization also aid the increased monitoring of contemporary life, exerting both fascination and control. Pestana’s recent performances, utilizing drones and gaming software, continue his decades-long dedication to artistic forms of resistance.
About the artist
Silvestre Pestana concluded his studies in Graphic Arts and Design at the School of Fine Arts of Porto, in 1980 and a Master’s degree in Art Education and Design from the De Montfort University, Leicester, in 1998. His most recent exhibitions include VERTIGEM04: sociedade aberta in the 3rd part of the Maia Biennial, Portugal (2015); Sufoco, Galeria Múrias Centeno, Lisbon (2015); Sufoco ― Intermundos ― Drones V, 2014, Espaço Mira, Porto (2014); Anos 70: Atravessar fronteiras, Centre of Modern Art, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (2010); and FÉNIX acção: socialmente reprovado por envelhecimento prematuro, Uma Certa Falta de Coerência, Porto (2009).
The Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art is the foremost museum for contemporary art in Portugal, and one of Europe’s most renowned institutions for contemporary art and culture. Uniquely sited on the grounds of the Serralves Foundation in Porto—which also comprises an 18-hectare Park and the Serralves Villa, a landmark art deco building—the Museum designed by Álvaro Siza opened in 1999. Through its exhibitions, collection, publications, performing arts, and public programmes, Serralves fosters the understanding and appreciation of contemporary art and culture in Portugal and around the world.
Silvestre Pestana: Technoform is organized by the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, and is curated by João Ribas, Deputy Director and Senior Curator of the Museum, assisted by curator Paula Fernandes.
A fully-illustrated monograph, edited by João Ribas, presents the work of the artist over 50 years. The book includes new essays by Adam Kleinman, Verónica Metello and António Preto, and an interview with the artist conducted by João Ribas and Mauro Cerqueira. A programme of tours and talks accompanies the exhibition. A conversation between the artist and João Ribas will take place on June 11