Pedagogy of the Streets: Porto 1977, Elvira Leite

Textos de Pedro Bandeira, Elvira Leite, Susana Lourenço Marques, Lúcia Almeida Matos, Joana Nascimento, Sofia Vitorino

The publication revisits the experimental artistic project conceived by Elvira Leite together with the community of Largo de Pena Ventosa, in Bairro da Sé, one of Porto’s historic neighborhoods. The project unfolded from 1976 to 1977, after the local housing support program (SAAL), launched right after the Portuguese political revolution in 1974, was unexpectedly shut down. As Elvira Leite’s project developed,
the streets became an active meeting point to discuss ideas, plan activities, and learn new skills. Largo da Pena Ventosa was turned into a workshop where children of all ages interacted to give life to a plan that reflected their personal interests.
Although the project dates back to the beginning of Leite’s professional career, it is already characterized by what would later become her theory and practice, in one word, her pedagogy. This was nurtured by her sensitivity and intelligence, and firmly rooted in research and education resulting in the development of her own method of teaching. It is a minimally prescriptive pedagogy which welcomes the unpredictable and aims at realizing individual and collective projects.
While the images remind us of Helen Levitt’s conviction that beauty can be extracted from reality, these photos do not focus on a nostalgic vision of the past, but rather on the discov- ery of connections and transformations in the present. Showing them seems particularly pertinent today when the street is no longer a place of playful invention and political ownership.

Elvira Leite (n. 1936) terminou o curso de Pintura na Escola Superior de Belas Artes do Porto, em 1964. Apesar do muito precoce sucesso artístico, optou por uma carreira de professora após terminado o Curso de Ciências Pedagógicas. A partir de 1976 dedicou-se também a atividades de animação cultural; foi consultora da UNESCO para o ensino artístico em países de expressão portuguesa; a convite do governo português, planificou e coordenou ações de formação com mulheres emigrantes portuguesas em vários países europeus. Foi bolseira da Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian para realização de material educativo para a área artística; foi consultora do Museu Nacional de Soares dos Reis, do Centro Regional de Artes Tradicionais e do Serviço Educativo da Fundação de Serralves.

Born 1936, concluded her Painting Course at the Escola Superior de Belas Artes do Porto (ESBAP) in 1964. Albeit her very early artistic success, Elvira Leite opted for a career as a high school teacher after she concluded the Course of Pedagogic Science. From 1976 she dedicated herself to activities of cultural diffusion; she acted as consultant of UNESCO for artistic teaching in Portuguese-speaking countries; was invited by the Portuguese government to plan and coordinate training for Portuguese emigrant women in different countries; was a fellow of the Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian to create educational materials for teaching arts; she acted as consultant of the Museu Nacional Soares dos Reis, of the Regional Traditional Arts Centre and of the Educational Service of the Fundação de Serralves.

Pedagogy of the Streets: Porto 1977 is based on the exhibition Quem te ensinou? — ninguém curated by Lúcia Almeida Matos and Susana Lourenço Marques and presented at Faculdade de Belas Artes da Universidade do Porto in 2016. The exhibition is supported by the University of Porto, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and by Baruch College and the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences.

Pierrot le Fou/FBAUP
128 páginas, 23x17cm (EN)
Design Márcia Novais
300 exemplares impressos na Maiadouro, Março de 2019.
ISBN 978–989–54156–3–2