Adventures Abroad: Eliane Lima’s Portuguese Travelogue

Eliane Lima’s ‘frozen pictures’ being constructed with photographs and resin at University of Lisbon – School of Fine Arts’ sculpture facilities. | Photo: Eliane Lima

Editor’s note: On occasion, 24700 includes guest posts from students to provide first-person accounts of their artistic endeavors and adventures. Such is the case for School of Film/Video student Eliane Lima (MFA 17), who traveled to Portugal this past summer to participate in three programs: the Encounter of Artists organized by Arvore Arts Co-ops in Porto; the International AVANCA Cinema Conference & Film Festival in Avanca; and an artistic residency at the University of Lisbon – School of Fine Arts in Lisbon. In her post, she describes the programs and the art that emerged from each of the programs.

By Eliane Lima (Film/Video MFA 17)

Let me describe how this trip came to take place. In my first semester at CalArts, while participating in Steve Anker’s Structuring Strategies course, I met the filmmaker Makino Takashi and I wrote a five-page paper about his filmmaking methods. The following semester, with the generosity and support of [Critical Studies faculty] James Wiltgen and the writing center, I was able to edit the text for publication and present at AVANCA Cinema Conference in Portugal. I decided to expand my travel by applying for the University of Lisbon’s artistic residence. Then, just a couple of weeks before my trip, the former director of CalArts’ International Students Office sent me an email about the Encounter of Artists in Porto. I contacted them—and voila—I had scheduled a busy itinerary.


University of Lisbon – School of Fine Arts in Lisbon, Portugal. | Photo: Eliane Lima

I arrived in Porto on the 4th of July, and stayed there for two weeks. Arvore Arts Co-op was located in the center of Porto. The encounter had more than 20 artists, the majority of them from Spain, so I spent these first two weeks in Portugal speaking Spanish! I met a couple of stunning artists, including Maider Bilbao Echeverria and photographer Amanda Ortega Suarez. Maider works mainly with video performance, which certainly caught my attention. I had the pleasure to participate in her video work, during which nine artists wrote their desires on a long piece of paper and hung the paper over the balcony, simulating the hanging of clothing. Then Amanda, who facilitated a digital photography workshop, took pictures with us in the streets of Porto. It was priceless!

Then Olga Barbosa, one of the organizers of the encounter, asked us to do work inspired by the city of Porto. I decided to develop a photo project, using some of what I learned from the photography workshop. I began the project of making “blocks of ice,” which I called my frozen pictures. I finished the project in Lisbon. Porto is gorgeous, overflowing with art-making. It is such an inspiring environment. We visited a lot of museums and art centers, and l got to see CocoRosie at Casa da Musica.


Eliane Lima’s Project ‘Frozen’ on view at a gallery at University of Lisbon – School of Fine Arts. | Photo: Eliane Lima

At the end of the first two weeks, I took the train from Porto to Ovar, a small village close to Avanca where the film festival and the international conference were to take place. AVANCA Cinema was a unique experience, a solid conference with international scholars and filmmakers from all over the world. I also had the opportunity to meet a couple of amazing people, the moderator of my session, Jouko Aaltonen from Aalto University, and the Brazilian filmmaker Helio Ronyvon. I truly enjoyed the presentations and a couple of them really spoke to me: Catarina Lee’s Exploring the Transmutability of Digital Data as an Artistic Concept and Practice, introduced me to contemporary artists who work with digital data installations, and in The Archive and Imaginative Acts, Anya Lewin presented her interactive set design installations, which she recreated using archival images of films.

From Avanca, I headed to the artistic residence in Lisbon. At the School of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon, I had a shared studio and access to the sculpture facilities, as well. I used these facilities to develop my frozen pictures, the little ice blocks made of resin. In one of my past travels, I visited Sintra and headed to Cabo da Roca, the edge of Europe, where I took a series of pictures inspired by a CalArtian, whose work I like very much, Yanyu Dong. To Yanyu is the third work of mine that was inspired by and dedicated to an artist. The first one was the video installation To George Kuchar, developed at SFAI, and with which I participated at the SF Art Pad 2012. The second, To Paik, is an installation-performance created last semester and was the work that enabled me to participate at the University of Lisbon’s residence.


Eliane Lima posing with her artwork ‘To Yanyu’ at a gallery exhibit at University of Lisbon – School of Fine Arts. | Photo: Chen Yi-Ying

The word Lisbon in Portuguese is Lisboa. Although the termination a as female term does not apply for city names, it implies it anyway, which piqued my curiosity because Lisboa felt more like a male-centric city. For this reason, I developed video work inspired by photographs taken in Lisbon’s male places. From its restaurants and cafes, we see males hanging out all the time. A strong example was the barbershop Figaro, where women are not welcome.

In concluding this fantastic journey, which such amazing experiences and opportunities, the nine resident artists had a great opening at the School’s gallery. All the work that I produced and exhibited at the University of Lisbon were donated to the School of Fine Arts’ permanent collection. This was my very first residence and also the first opportunity to have my work be included in the permanent collection of one of the most reputable universities in Europe.

Without a doubt, it was the best summer ever, and I want to bring this experience to bear in my academic and work development, and also continue to plan for many other summers like this one! Leighton Pierce, the Dean of the School of Film/Video, mentioned the importance of making assignments for oneself, to keep producing work. I realized that the network that I developed through this enterprise is a big factor. I am also certain that artistic residences are the venue for a productive experience. I am very thankful to be part and representative of CalArts, an open door venue for emerging artists.


Eliane Lima (back row, second from the right) with her fellow participants in the Encounter of Artists Arvore Arts Co-ops. | Photo: Javier Aguado.

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One Comment

  1. alexi // //

    Great story Elaine. Thank you for sharing. So happy
    you did this, and had such a wonderful experience.