Dams can be grand, almost megalithic structures that symbolise strength and unity - they are humankind's way of controlling and channelling nature to our will. Naturally, such large facades can look ugly at worst, plain at best. EDP recently worked with Lisbon-based artist Vhils to confront this issue.
Portuguese energy supplier EDP are working on an on-going project to humanise dams - these structures that are often perceived as anything but human. The aim of this initiative is to transform these concrete masses into contemporary art-spaces. Really, these spaces are ideal galleries for artistic interventions. Often situated in remote landscapes, they're never short of dramatic surroundings. Contributing an artwork to them then, requires a degree of balance - it must say something without saying too much.
Viewing dams as a space for art is not new. EDP, since undergoing construction work on dams in the Douro region during the 1950s and 60s, have facilitated this relationship. These dams are noteworthy examples of Modernist architecture, fertile ground for students of the form studying the architects' work.
Now, rather than being a full-stop at the end of a beautifully poetic sentence about nature, they provide the space to be a window into another world - a picture-frame for leading artists to experiment on a highly idiosyncratic medium. It's not simply a challenge for our perception, but also one for the artist. Dams are controversial subjects. This means that artists must interact with them considering a multitude of factors - very similar to an architects' process. The truest artists relish these kinds of challenges though and this new collaboration between Vhils and EDP exemplifies the possibilities of new and innovative uses of space. Both artist and brand have pushed each other into creating something truly breathtaking.
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