Para Joana

Artist’s Statement

This installation will explore and challenge the relationship between a city and its residents, between those who call an urban landscape home, and those who pass through it, transient and indifferent to its imperfections and charms.

On the surface, the project inspires and demands reflection.  The mercurial novelty is immediately apparent, but beneath the shiny exterior: tradition.  Form and function are familiar, the destinations known.  Only in considering the truth of their identity — alfacinha or estrangeiro — are riders truly transported.

Beyond nationality lies our most essential humanness.  Through this work, I aim to acquaint us with that intangible sense of inner space, while also impressing my four-year-old niece, Joana, who asked me to build her her very own rocket ship.

The post above was written in response to this week’s writing challenge: tell a story based on this photo.

I had intended on writing something fictional, and wanted to be sure to correctly place the story, so did a Google image search on “silver funicular.”  According to various sources, this mirrored funicular was, in fact, a temporary art installation created by Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, aka: VHILS.

I was equally impressed by the artistry and disappointed in my own abilities — either to know where the image was taken, or to get past my need to know where the image was taken.  I’d grouse about Google killing creativity, but “silver funicular” didn’t type itself.

While I took extreme liberties in retro-creating an artists statement on VHILS’ behalf, if you’d like to create your own, I recommend the artybollocks generator, both for its funny results and its fabulous name.


  1. artybollocks is frankly the best word I’ve heard all day. That’s a word that’s pretty common over in my neck of the woods. Interesting post. I enjoyed it. And I really enjoyed reading the word artybollocks! =)

    • The website is fantastic — I had to avoid looking at it when I wrote this, though, else I’d be tempted to just copy whatever it spat out!

  2. The Great Surge says:

    interesting take on the picture, I loved it, check mines out

  3. I think it’s interesting what you did here (and certainly different) but it did take me a moment to understand what you had done (and lots of clicking and reclicking on the links). I blame that on my own ignorance :)

    For me, it was appealing that the location where the photo was taken is unknown, other than it’s obviously European. It allowed me to have the ultimate freedom of creating the story from whole cloth.

    • No worries — any confusion you experienced was intentional on my part. :-)

      I found it interesting how much I needed to know where it actually was, and how easy it was to identify the location — something that would have been nearly impossible just 15-20 years ago.

  4. I like what you did with this – a very unusual approach. The concept behind the installation is rather attractive to me and I would have visited it if I had read your brief. The idea that it was a form of “rocket ship” is delightful.

    • Thank you! The statement I wrote was deliberately over-the-top and a little silly, but I’ll be the original project description was really neat. I wonder if the internet can help me find it … hmm …

  5. Wow.. I love this.. I did think of googling it myself but then just let it be. Unique take on the pic and thanks for all the links for more information..:-)

    • It’s neat to know the real story but I wish I’d had your restraint and just let my imagination do the searching instead.

  6. In Lisbon we call those lifts, rather than funiculars ;)

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.

If you think I’m talking about you here, yeah, you’re probably right.

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