Confined Artistic Practices: Resistance and Collectivism in the COVID-19 Pandemic in Portugal

Principal researcher: Sónia Vespeira de Almeida

External principal researcher: Cristina Pratas Cruzeiro (IHA/ NOVA FCSH)

Research group: Practices and Politics of Culture


Artistic practices | Activism | Crisis | COVID-19 | Public space

Funding Institution

Instituto de História da Arte – NOVA FCSH


IHA NOVA FCSH (coord.); Centro de Artes e Criatividade (Câmara Municipal de Torres Vedras); Chão de Oliva



Start date


End date



In March 2020, Portugal identified the first case of Covid-19 and the first state of emergency was decreeted soon afterwards. The culture sector was among the first to postpone and cancel shows and exhibitions, to close museums, libraries, archives and galleries. If the working conditions in this sector were already characterised by precariousness and intermittency, with the pandemic the situation worsened. Faced with situations of extreme poverty that some of these professionals face, the nature of their employment ties and the need to continue creating and enjoying artistic and cultural production, new forms of self-organisation have emerged within the sector, not only in Portugal but also abroad. This 6-month project is exploratory in nature and aims to study the civic groups (collectives, associations, cooperatives and unions) made up of art and culture professionals that have been created since March 2020 in Portugal in order to respond to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The project seeks to investigate how these groups have been created, how they have developed and contributed to the dynamics of political and social resistance in the public space. Through a transdisciplinary perspective that includes Art History and Artistic Studies, we intend to analyse the artistic practices and struggle movements constituted in this period, focusing on performativity, organizational forms, the strategies adopted (political and artistic) and, ultimately, to assess the real impact that their actions may have had on changes in cultural policies. We also intend to contextualize this repertoire of struggles in relation to the recent history of artistic activism, taking as a reference, for example, the 2008 financial crisis, whose effects are still to be healed.


Alexandra do Carmo (IHA/ NOVA FCSH)

Catarina Pires (IHA/ NOVA FCSH)

Daniela Salazar (IHA/ NOVA FCSH)

Raquel Ermida (IHA/NOVA FCSH)

Rita Barreira (IHA/ NOVA FCSH)