Pedro Cavaco Leitão
Hosted for residency in Novi Sad, 2019


Emerging artist: Pedro Cavaco Leitão (representing Moradavaga collective, Portugal)
Residency place: Novo Kulturno Naselje (Novi Sad, Serbia)
Practice: architecture, design
Curated by: Marko Jozic & Tatjana Mateša


During his residency in Novi Sad, the Portuguese architect Pedro Cavaco Leitão, similar to his colleague-in-residence Gildas Aleksa, worked on possible future scenarios for the local Cultural Center, presented through a sub-event “A Few Years Later”. According to Pedro, during his residency, he experienced a situation of being immersed in a different cultural reality, surrounded by a diverse social environment, a foreign unknown language, different alphabet, different currency, different gastronomical habits, and many challenges for adaptation and communication. On the other hand, it presented opportunities for learning, exchanging and developing/consolidating skills.

In Novi Sad, Pedro created a movable object called “Show-Case” that presents many opportunities for the local community that is to experience transformational changes within the next several years. The object he has created explores the mind perspective of closed/open spaces and their purpose. The possible function of this object, on the other hand, is left blank – the decision regarding its use belongs to the community. It can be suitable for many cultural and art uses, such as a gallery, projection screen, scenography, etc.

The first part of Pedro’s residency period can be referred to as an “absorption” stage, during which he got acquainted with both the physical as well as the sociocultural local ecosystem and tried to gather all kinds of information from different sources in order to inform the artistic process. From the meetings with the curators Marko Jozic and Tatjana Mateša, given their long-term experience working in Novo Naselje with the local community, he got a lot of insights regarding the overall outcomes the work could have, the types of cultural communitarian activities that could be developed from it and the envisioned and desired goal to reach a broader socio-cultural community, stretching beyond the geographical (and mental) boundaries of the neighborhood and linking it to the rest of the city. From here, the second stage of development was more directed at the realisation of ideas and overall goals previously outlined in the meetings with the curators and other local actors. After scouting for materials, Pedro started on one of his passions – woodworking surrounded by skilled and experienced craftsmen and with access to professional machinery.

The final outcome, as it happens with most projects, was the result of an intersection between local influences (needs, aspirations, interests), conditions/constraints (timings, budget, logistics) and the previous artistic experience and the body of work. Based on the concepts of interactivity and performance, “Show-Case” is a multifunctional mobile object that intends to act as an instigator, a “trigger” for communication and artistic expression by the local community, both in a pragmatic and playful manner. It can serve as an open gallery space for exhibitions, a stage for performing arts, a screen for projections or a ludic playground for young and old alike. With its main structure built from untreated wooden battens and plywood boards, it features reused yellow plastic corrugated tubes (found during a guided visit to the Academy of Arts of the University of Novi Sad) that can be used to speak and hear to/from a centralized point at the front of the piece, a narrow and long interior space and two big rotating panels that allow for different spatial configurations.

It was expected that after the residency period was over, this kind of “blank canvas/magical box” would be appropriated by its users and that it would be able to support a diverse set of cultural uses in the future, transforming according to needs. “Show-Case” clearly shows the necessity of investing sufficient effort to create culture and art, and significantly highlight the free will in creating the content through constantly reminding that communication must take place between different parts of the community. This work is a symbolic presentation of the future steps in creating a healthy atmosphere, playful and game-oriented show-case where active subjects of the community are open to different possibilities.