On the definition of POLDRA

"POLDRA, noun (…); See Alpondras.

Alpondras; noun, plural (corruption of bridge and rock with the article al from the arabic) walkways, stones that are placed across a river [or water way] for the comfort of people; commonly known as poldras."

(in Diccionário da Língua Portugueza de Eduardo de Faria. 4ª Edição Refundida, correcta e augmentada em grande número de termos antigos e modernos, por D. José Maria de Almeida Correia de Lacerda – Deão da Sé Patriarcal de Lisboa. Lisboa, 1859)

One of the possible meanings of “POLDRA” – despite being a term more suited to specific local uses – is “rock”. One of the multiple rocks/stones that constitute a bridge, of a sort, across rivers or waterways. At a time [the present one] of simultaneous territorial abandonment [inland Portugal, for instance] and occupational increase [at and in cities, built of rock and concrete]; one can acknowledge the ever-mounting need and importance of Natural and Native Space where to build and to be built. That Space from where the incentive for human settlement had begun. A city was, before all else, a “free” territory which allowed for an ecosystem to be developed upon. It was then a geography with a human component; a new ecosystem developed from the initial one. And so on, in succession, up until one other – divers or simply distinct – may come and replace the previous, ancestor to it.
This project, at a time of global cities, intends to be an element to help build bridges. The first of which between the city of Viseu (Portugal) and its surroundings, including its Natural traits and derived human interpretations – by means of an artistic language. The second of those bridges, between historic constructs and contemporary add-ons, open to all, in particular to those who will become the agents of a near future.
Lastly, as a guiding premise, to be a bridge between distinct geographies; between Viseu and its surroundings; and further, wider, dynamic, and eco-aware geographies and cultures. It intends to be a bridge; one of the possible bridges. Or simply one the POLDRAS, one of the stones of a more global bridge, across the gap between margins.
The Organizing Committee wishes to thank and acknowledge, all those who, institutional or individually, helped this challenge to get underway…

2018 Summary

Following the placement of the works by Cristina Ataíde, Neeraj Bhatia and Pedro Pires, at Mata do Fontelo and the inauguration of Viseu’s Public Sculpture Route, on the 8th of September 2018, a set of POLDRA TALKS was programmed. The first one took place at Solar do Dão, on the 15th of the same month, with Emília Ferreira (Director of Portugal’s National Museum for Contemporary Art) and Stella Ioannou (Co-Director of London’s “Sculpture in the City” initiative).

Later in September, the first POLDRA WALK also came to place, symbolically setting forth the intent to bring together Contemporary Art and young public’s – through a partnership with Agrupamento de Escolas Grão Vasco, a public education body of schools from Viseu – kick-starting the “Junior Curator” program, destined to children up to 10 years old. Both initiatives underwent a recording and assessment process, that will translate (late 2018) into a POLDRA KIT, for all those wishing to visit the sculptures to be able to download a set of materials that will contextualize and eventually “explain” what POLDRA is and what the artists and their works intended to create and communicate.

The end of 2018 will also be marked by the first edition catalogue, including the works, part of the creation and installation processes they underwent, as well as texts by Emília Ferreira (indicated above) and Laura Castro (Professor at Catholic University, of which she was the former Director of the Arts School, Curator, and Researcher on Public Art).

POLDRA has also been considered a case study of the newly formed Network for Public Art Research and Practice (an initiative led by the Portuguese Catholic University), which will lead to being brought up and accompanied by the universities and researchers of the initiative (both Portuguese and international wise), as well as granting new information towards the development of POLDRA and more awareness regarding POLDRA.

POLDRA has also been considered one of the projects to be part of the Portugal entre Patrimónios [Portugal between Heritages] initiative, coordinated by the Portuguese National Museum for Contemporary Art and set to go through between 2018 up to 2020.

2019 Follow-Ups

POLDRA – Public Sculpture Project Viseu, is set to continue its contribute to the creation of a public art and sculpture route, in the city of Viseu. For each year and edition, a minimum of 3 new works are to be integrated into the route – that are set to be part of the exhibit for a period of around 18 months – allowing for multiple editions to overlap and communicate.
Joining the invitation works, there will be an international Open Call, allowing for POLDRA 2019 to incorporate the first work(s) derived from this process. One other goal of the Open Call is to aim ata more institutional and experience practice sharing, allowing for new artists to be able to create for public space specifically.

The conference programme – POLDRA TALKS – aimed at bringing artists, curators, researchers, and public authorities, close to the core of the debate concerning Public Art and how it is or should be looked upon (in 2019, the first POLDRA TALK of the year, will be led by the Portuguese curator João Silvério and for May 2019 a second one with François Matarsso is also scheduled; as well as unscheduled events in late 2019 with Lourenço Egreja and Ocupart).

During 2019 and alongside the public conferences (for all audiences and set in Viseu) POLDRA’s conceptual and practice dimensions will be made available to other public’s (selected audiences) and cities.

The “Junior Curator” programme will also be continued, marked by a strong link to young children and their unfiltered – at times – view of what “things are”, regarding concepts and executions. Allowing for guided visits and post-visit work sessions, where they will be able to produce their own artworks or views on the art they have been in contact with (within a classroom setting but also through outdoor activities).


Create a platform for dialogue and sharing of existing knowledge/theories relating to public art/art in public space and, mainly, contemporary creation, at the creator level but also regarding each stage and expertise that may be needed and intervene in contemporary creation – from concept to execution and post-work impacts

Invigorate, through artistic and cultural intervention, an area of Viseu that has long been set as less relevant for public and private investment.

Allow for direct contact between multiple audiences and contemporary public art/art in public space, in an integrated and relational way, simultaneously relating those audiences and artworks with the sites (with their symbolic and/or historical loads)

Endow the city of Viseu with a Contemporary Public Sculpture collection and route of national and international reach.

Put in motion relational dynamics between audiences and distinct communities (may they be demographical, social or territorial) from a to be anchor-space – the city of Viseu – which enables it to acquire, through POLDRA, notoriety, and ability to attract new initiatives and executions.

Encourage individual and collective creation and though on and over intervention in public space


João Dias

Management and Production

João Dias (Artistic Director and Overall Coordination)
Rui Macário (Programming and Content Coordination)
Luís Belo (Graphic Design)
Sofia Pereira (Communication Coordination)

Technical Team

Pedro Jales Monteiro
Rhander Sousa
Jorge Pereira

Technical Support

Margarida Saraiva
Márcio Saraiva
António José

Advisory Committee

Emília Ferreira
Stella Ioannou

An initiative promoted and managed by Prominentchance/João Dias Studio

CMV Viseu Cultura Brand Hor Cor Projetos Neg

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