The artist Eugenio Ampudia turns the Pantheon of Illustrious Men and the city of Lisbon into the stage for a universal call for help.
With his action, Ampudia warns of the urgency and the need to confront the extreme situation the planet is suffering.
Eugenio Ampudia comes to Arco Lisboa after the international success of his "Concert for the Biocene".
From sunset to midnight during Arco Lisboa, the National Pantheon of Portugal will become the transmitter of the universal distress signal in Morse language.
The specific lighting system for this action consists of 80 LED spotlights, placed in all the windows and doors of the building. Controlled by a timer, they flash on and off to transmit the SOS letters according to the Morse alphabet.
The privileged location of the Pantheon, built on a hill, makes it possible to execute it in such a way that the artist’s intervention on this space can be seen and received by the whole city of Lisbon.
Eugenio Ampudia’s intervention recognises and enhances the quality of the Pantheon as a physical and moral space that adds meaning to the message represented by an anguished plea for help in a desperate situation.
This agonising call for attention undoubtedly acquires added strength and a huge symbolic charge when it is launched from the place where those who have helped to form the soul of a country are remembered and paid homage to: the National Pantheon of Portugal.
The letters SOS, which, according to the most widespread historical explanation, form the acronym for Save Our Souls, do not admit nuances and what they mean is understood by everyone and instantly as an unappealable signal of last resort. The problem is universal, the message summons us all.
With regard to this intervention, Ampudia stresses that “art emits signals that are obliged to be as powerful as possible. It has always been like that and now, in a limit situation like the one we live in on the planet we inhabit, those signs must be direct, forceful, literal if necessary. If we are walking towards an abyss, at least let us know that it is happening. SOS, ¡save our souls! is born out of the need for art to provide aesthetic experiences while at the same time investigating what moves us, disturbs us and confronts us with essential ethical dilemmas, here and now. In this case helping to identify what is urgent”.
“We are so vulnerable that alarms no longer go off, even if the scale of the potential catastrophe could mean complete devastation.
In the words of the action’s curator, André de Quiroga: “Never before have we peered over the edge so far as to see the future in danger. The planet is calling for help and places us in a diabolical paradox: we are the threat and the threatened. And time seems to be running out.
“The ambition and scale of this project, both conceptually and in its execution and the artist’s own trajectory, aspires to turn the Pantheon, ARCO and the city of Lisbon into the setting for a very important contemporary art event.