Our forty ninth interview in this new series of intimate interviews is with my dear friend and colleague, mobile photographer extraordinaire, Manuela Matos Monteiro from Porto, Portugal.
Monteiro has a rich photographic and art background, in the 70’s she developed her own photographic art and participated in collective and individual exhibitions. Later with the introduction of the Apple iPhone 3s, Monteiro began to explore the potential of mobile devices in relation to photography and art. She won several prizes in contests and has exhibited her art in Portugal, Brussels (European Parliament), Mozambique (Maputo and Beira), France (Paris and Bordeaux), Florence, Berlin (two photography biennials 2013 and 2016), Miami, Kansas City, Barcelona among others. She is also an artist founder of NEM – New Era Museum.
At university Monteiro studied Philosophy and Psychology and this interest no doubt assists her inner vision, with regards to her imagery. She is the author of several books on Psychology, Phytosociology and Pedagogy. She coordinated NETPROF – Portuguese Teacher’s site on the Internet and directed 2 : PONTOS magazine.
Since 2013, Monteiro along with her husband, João Lafuente, have run the galleries Espaço MIRA, MIRA FORUM and in April 2017 the gallery MIRA | performative arts, in their hometown of Porto, Portugal.
This interview is illuminating and prescient on every level whilst lavishly illustrated throughout. Enjoy!
To read the other published interviews in this series including artists, Adria Ellis, Rino Rossi, Mehmet Duyulmus, Alexis Rotella, Lou Ann Sanford Donahue, Irene Oleksiuk, Kerry Mitchell, Filiz Ak, Dale Botha, Lisa Mitchell, M. Cecilia Sao Thiago, Deborah McMillion, Rita Colantonio, Amy Ecenbarger, Jane Schultz, Anca Balaj, Joyce Harkin, Armineh Hovanesian, Kate Zari Roberts, Vicki Cooper, Peter Wilkin, Barbara Braman, Becky Menzies, Sukru Mehmet Omur, Sarah Bichachi, Michel Pretterklieber, Alon Goldsmith, Judy Lurie Whalberg, Andrea Bigiarni, Sean Hayes, Oola Cristina, Kathleen Magner-Rios, Linda Toki, Deb Field, Emilo Nadales, Lydia Cassatt, David Hayes, Jean Hutter, Frederic Deschênes, Mark Schnidman, Fatma Korkut, Fleur Schim, Rob Pearson-Wright, Dieter Gaebel, James Ellis, marco P Prado, Jeronimo Sanz and myself, go here.
All images ©Manuela Matos Monteiro
What was your earliest childhood ambition?
I wanted purely to be a good person! Yes, really!
I was the best pupil in my class during my first degree and that made me very proud!
I gave private English lessons when I was 15.
Private or State school
Always state schools: from the first year until the end of the university. I learned about the world! This is why my husband and I chose the same for our son. State schools in Portugal are really the best.
University or work
Who was or still is your mentor?
My father was the most important person in my life because he was so honourable. He was really a self-made man with such a high degree of ethical and social values. He died three years ago but he continues to be my mentor.
How physically fit are you?
I am a very healthy woman! I love to eat, to sleep and to enjoy life. I don’t go to the gym, I don’t walk enough but I feel very well and have a flexible body. I think I have a very good genetics! I am very resilient because I work long hours and I feel well. My secret? I sleep more or less 30 minutes after lunch!
Ambition or Talent. What matters more to success?
I think both with abundant doses of each!
How politically committed are you?
I am committed to social and environmental causes. I am very concerned about the social situation in the world and all the problems linked within the equilibrium of the planet
What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?
I have no idea!!! I think I already own the main things to feel happy in life.
What is your biggest extravagance?
To travel, always to travel! I am almost addicted!
In what places are you happiest?
It doesn’t depend on the location; the place of happiness or unhappiness is within ourselves. I say this with sincerity!
What ambitions do you still have?
My ambition is to continue the hard work with our three galleries: MIRA FORUM, Espaço MIRA and MIRA | artes performativas. I want to keep them very active and with a social role in the area where we are located – the poorest in Porto – and feel that we make all the difference! I would like to have more time for my personal projects in photography!
What drives you on?
The concept that what my fellows and I are doing with MIRA is really important for artists and for the community!
What is the greatest achievement of my life so far?
It is difficult to choose! I have been a teacher of students in the years before they go to the university. I taught Psychology and Philosophy. I am also the author of several books of Psychology, Pedagogy, Psychosociology. I have also conducted many conferences and I think that I have influenced the lives of many students and teachers.
What do you find most irritating in other people?
People that only think about their own life, turning the big world so small, so poor.
If your twenty year old self could see you now, what would she think?
Well … I would be surprised about the MIRA project: Three galleries, four big spaces. I would be proud!
What object that you lost do you wish you still had?
I don’t know! When I lose something I feel awful I get very angry with myself, I talk about it with friends … I think that this is the function of therapy and maybe that’s why I can’t remember just one!!! I have never thought about this!
What is the greatest challenge of our time?
The migration and the situation of the planet as well as the situation of women. I am an activist regarding feminist issues. In MIRA we have monthly a talk about the situation of women today.
Do you believe in the afterlife?
No! I think that we have this life and so I must put all my energy in making it worthwhile: every day, every hour, every minute! I am an optimist, so I am always looking for the reasons to evaluate my life as a gift itself. I think that heaven and hell inhabits the life we live.
If you had to rate your life satisfaction so far, out of ten, what would it be?
I would say 9!
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