HEY! MY NAME IS ANTÓNIO BAÍA REIS
AND THIS IS THE "RAIDER OF THE LOST SCULPTURE"
PLEASE FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS
Câmara de Lobos - Madeira Island, a town at the remote edge of Europe. In the 80’s and 90’s, many children from this town became known as the “kids of the cardboard boxes”, as they were forced to beg in the larger city of Funchal and frequently used shoeboxes to collect their earnings. The children were often denied meals if they failed to meet their daily quota, and they were vulnerable to exploitation due to their desperate circumstances. Many cases of child abuse and kidnapping were reported. Nowadays, this issue is nothing but a painful memory and source of great shame in the community and across the island. Several years later, artist António Rodrigues was commissioned by Câmara de Lobos city council to make a piece of public art and chose to honour the “kids of the cardboard boxes”. Subsequently, the piece never saw the light of day, being stored in a parking garage owned by the city council for more than 20 years. I sought to find this hidden sculpture and learn more about both the social issue and the sculpture itself. In May 2018, I found the lost sculpture and filmed it with a 360-degree camera. Then, I used this footage to create the short, virtual reality (VR) video-art style documentary `Daily Income´, asking the viewer to explore the storage space through VR goggles. After the public release of this VR piece, it was heavily covered in Madeiran media (TV, newspaper, and radio). Pressure from journalists caused city council officials to promise to bring the sculpture back out into the public. In 2020, and given that the sculpture was still stored in the garage, I went back to Madeira Island and presented a performative, `artivist´ style installation about the hidden sculpture to remember politicians of their initial promise. The promise was renewed and expected to be fulfilled by the end of 2021. I wonder if it will actually happen.
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António Baía Reis, Madeira Island, November 2020
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