From Coimbra, there is a time that does not pass
In this passage of a time that does not return
I moved to Coimbra in 2005 and lived there until the end of 2007. From the city, I have the memory of the fervent month of May and the deserted, endless month of August. Saudade (longing) emerges when, after leaving the city, we later return and understand that everything remains intact, as if nothing had changed. And that is how Coimbra pulls a trick on us. From Coimbra we took a lot but left very little.
Coimbra was the first capital of the Kingdom of Portugal and is currently the third largest city in the country. Due to its University, founded in 1290 by D. Dinis I, Coimbra is known as a city of students, the land of longing. Being a University city, transience is one of the great paradigms of Coimbra. A waypoint where many people do not settle.
It was by chance that I found Coimbra e Arredores [Coimbra and Suburbs] from 1927, a small book by Marques dos Santos edited by Coimbra Tourism Commission. The book presents the general situation and shows how the city looked like, and offers the visitor three itineraries through the main attractions and monuments. This Coimbra of 1927, still in the early phase of Estado Novo’s regime (the dictatorship period in Portugal), would undergo significant changes in its architecture, namely, the construction of the university campus [University city] and Portugal dos Pequenitos. Historically, events such as the academic revolution of 1969, would be remarkable for the city and even for the whole country. For many, the revolution began in Coimbra.
My proposal for the Grant Estação Imagem 2018 Coimbra, mirroring the book Coimbra and Suburbs, is to account the city’s present situation and landscape. Taking the book as a starting point, I choose the 3rd itinerary because I think it is the most nostalgic and the most appropriate to represent the city. The 3rd Itinerary includes: Aqueduto de São Sebastião; Jardim Botânico; Edifício de S. Bento; Hospital Militar; Seminário Episcopal; Penedo da Saudade; Convento de Santa Teresa; Instituto Geofísico; Santo António dos Olivais; Penedo da Meditação; Mosteiro de Celas; Cemitério da Conchada; Parque de Santa Cruz. However, I do not intend to limit the work to a standard catalogue of the places mentioned above. The goal is then to create a route through these locations here used as landmarks along said route. I think it is relevant to have a photographic survey of what was, what is, and what could be. Using the historical archive and photography practice, I intend to record and document the evolution of the city along a touristic route which has been active as such for almost a century. And because tourism has become a topic of increasing discussion in public opinion, it is important to establish links and look into the relation of what is a collective memory vis-à-vis Coimbra’s present time.