Alternativa Zero

Galeria Nacional de Arte Moderna, Lisbon, February-March 1977.
Exhibitions and events program conceived and organized by Ernesto de Sousa.

Apart from the exhibition "Polemic Tendencies in Portuguese Contemporary Art", Galeria Nacional also hosted a documentary exhibition on the subject "Pioneers of Modernism in Portugal" and a poster exhibition under the theme "The Vanguard and the Media".

There were various planned and spontaneous happenings and performances, debates, film and video screenings, experimental music concerts (Jorge Peixinho and Anarband) and performances, including the presentation of two works by the Living Theatre, who were then for the first time in the Portugal (Seven Meditations on Political Sadomasochism in Lisbon at Museu de Arte Antiga, in Oporto and Coimbra; Love Piece at Sociedade Nacional de Belas-Artes and in the streets of Lisbon and Oporto).

In our context, the "critical perspective" was the main innovation of "Alternativa Zero": a critical perspective. (...) Since that time [of the exhibitions "Do Vazio à Pró Vocação" and "Projectos-Ideias"] (and almost completely independent of the so-called "international avant-gardes") I began to consider that producing an exhibition could be equivalent to the production of an artwork; collective, that is, which actually matches the noblest fate of aesthetic activity ("poetry must be made by all"). (...) The novelty of "Alternativa Zero" is that it unambiguously translated a conception (...). Militant but cultural. That is, as political as possible; the least partisan as possible.

Ernesto de Sousa, "Uma criação consciente de situações", Colóquio-Artes, nr. 34, October 1977.

"Alternativa" was a big zero, it was necessary to begin [after the Carnation Revolution]. The exhibition "Alternativa Zero," which we organized in 1977 (always as an artwork) was a perspective and prospective effort in that state of affairs. It was kind of an assessment: what do we have, what can we have? There were reconstructed works more than ten years old, there were those who were exhibiting for the first time. (...) the older ones who were asked to (and did) rethink their work; and the participation of some Portuguese artists who had worked or were still working abroad.

Ernesto de Sousa, "Alternativa Zero" (unpublished text for Canal magazine), 1980.

Participating in the "Polemic Tendencies in Portuguese Contemporary Art" exhibition were:
Alberto Carneiro, Albuquerque Mendes, Álvaro Lapa, Alvess, Ana Hatherly, Ana Vieira, André Gomes, Ângelo de Sousa, António Lagarto & Nigel Coates, António Palolo, António Sena, Armando Azevedo, Artur Varela, Clara Menéres, Constança Capdeville, Da Rocha, E. M. de Melo e Castro, Ernesto de Sousa, Fernando Calhau, Graça Pereira Coutinho, Helena Almeida, Joana Almeida Rosa, João Brehm, João Freire, João Vieira, Jorge Peixinho, Jorge Pinheiro, José Carvalho, José Conduto, José Rodrigues, Júlio Bragança, Julião Sarmento, Leonel Moura, Lisa Santos Silva, Manuel Casimiro, Mário Varela, Noronha da Costa, Pedro Andrade, Pires Vieira, Robin Fior, Salette Tavares, Sena da Silva, Túlia Saldanha, Victor Belém and Victor Pomar.