João Polido lives and works in Lisbon, PT


During the twentieth century, Portugal experienced forty-eight years of uninterrupted autocratic rule—the longest dictatorship in Western Europe. Unlike Italian fascism, which forged an alliance with modernism, the Portuguese variant had an ambivalent relation to modernity, cultivating a ruralist and insular ethos. Folklore—a favorite theme of the Romantic critique of modernity—became a vehicle for the manufacturing of a national identity, with the regime founding the Junta Central das Casas do Povo in order to cultivate musical traditions such as Cante Alentejano. But this use of folklore invariably resulted in the adulteration of its original character, with the new cultural institutions censoring themes seen as rude or immoral and privileging those that the regime deemed patriotic and virtuous. The introduction of new aesthetic patterns—like a fixed performative structure—into what had originally been a spontaneous expression, also contributed to the erasure of North African and Iberian influences, segregating and ossifying the concept of cultural identity. This stereotyped folklorization, assimilated to the point of being considered genuine, has now acquired the status of an intangible cultural heritage, experiencing a surge in recent years, driven by tourism––because identity is what tourists consume. But the ideological elements that the Estado Novo introduced into Portuguese folklore also tilt the cultural scales toward belligerent nationalism and imperial nostalgia, contributing to social tensions and racialized conflicts


João Polido, Replica Song, 2022, installation view, 12th Berlin Biennale, KW Institute for Contemporary Art, 11.6.–18.9.2022, photo: Silke Briel

Intervening in these debates, João Polido’s sound installation Replica Song (2022) employs the concept of counterhistory to shift the foundations upon which debates about folk culture and cultural legacies are staged in order to develop an alternative account of tradition that acknowledges the plurality of lived experience and the multilayered origins of traditions and histories.

Ana Teixeira Pinto


Sonsbeek20→24: Force Times Distance, On Labour and its Sonic Ecologies, 2021, Arnhem (NL)

Antechamber – live mixing of multi-channel sound installation throughout a durational performance, 2021, Ledreborg Palace, Ledreborg (DK)

Overlapses, Riddles & Spells – live music for Andreia Santana’s performance with António Poppe & Vânia Doutel Vaz within BoCA – Biennial of Contemporary Arts, 2021, CCB – Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon (PT)

Essay & mix for Leveza radio show, Rádio Quântica, Lisbon (PT) (solo)

Água Pública (Edit) – performance-lecture for Vulnerable Beings program, MAAT – Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, Lisbon (PT) (solo)

Ruhr Ding: Territorien: Composition, 2019, Bochum (DE)