In Porto, through the streets… searching for 25

The direction was set: to photograph the number 25 on some doors in emblematic streets of Porto. Constituição, Lapa, Sá da Bandeira, Cedofeita, Miguel Bombarda, Flores, Santa Catarina, Antero de Quental, Miraflor, and others were chosen.
The project, mentally established, was easy to execute, predictable, and straightforward. After all, it would only require walking each street and capturing the number 25 on the doors of each one. Moreover, most of these streets are part of a certain pedestrian routine, almost daily.
Once the journey began, we fixed the 25 of some streets and everything proceeded normally. The visual aesthetic, previously defined, involved taking multiple exposures, layering two images on the same frame with different perspectives.
Then comes Conceição Street, one of the longest and busiest streets in the city. Excited to see how the 25 would look: Metallic? In stone? Drawn on the door itself? Among other possibilities. After walking a good few hundred meters, the first surprise: there is no door with the number 25. Yes, you read it right; the 25 was canceled, subtracted, erased from this street’s life. There are several who feel this absence and seem to crave that magical number. Others don’t even know it doesn’t exist.
Undeterred, we continued along other peripheral streets and took more 25s, until we ended up on Lapa Street. This street has no housing on the left side, or the right side, depending on which Direction walk down the street. Then, the numbering gathers on the other side, causing 25 is nestled between 24 and 26.
The moral of this brief story through the streets in search of 25: 25 may, or may not be there, but it seems to us that not being there is not the same thing.

Streets are spaces of memory, conviviality, sharing, passage…
Some are long and wide, more like avenues.
Others are narrow, winding and steep, slowing our pace.
There are also streets that look more like squares but are called streets.

Streets are spaces of memory, conviviality, sharing, passage…
There are streets that don’t like cars and are happy.
Some live during the day, others stretch out into the night.
There are streets that never wake up, because they refuse to sleep.

Streets are spaces of memory, conviviality, sharing, passage…
There are streets that enjoy revolution and sound like poems.
Others are literature and don’t forget freedom.

Streets are spaces of memory, conviviality, sharing, passage…
There are absent streets that seem to hide.
But others celebrate the 25 every day.

“Streets are spaces of memory, conviviality, sharing, passage…
There are streets that enjoy revolution and sound like poems.
Others are literature and don’t forget freedom.”

Freedom has a sound: it is a crowd waiting for a country to change, outside the door of the Carmo headquarters. Did the door have a number? Maybe not. But the day did: it was the 25th. The memory of that square without a number, on a numbered day is unforgettable, even if some try to erase it. There are paths that seem to lead down always without numbers on the doors, or rather, the doors may have numbers, but they will not have the number 25. Nor will they have two times 25. Because there are streets that “are spaces of memory” and there are alleys that are the absence of it, leading to dead ends that erase the number 25. But freedom insists on having a sound and a colour: it wasn’t sunny. It was drizzling rain, persistence, like the crowd at the door of the Carmo headquarters, like the tanks that came out of the headquarters at the will of those who no longer wanted war, nor the obligatory silence, nor the constant over-the-shoulder glance, waiting for the dead-end alley or the alley from which the police emerged, to extinguish the flame of freedom any day, any time. The search continues because there are roads that erase the number 25. Let them not become avenues, let them be reduced to dead-end alleys. Freedom has a sound and a number. If erased it from the walls, the doors, or thresholds, the number will remain in our memory, like the “whole and luminous day” even without sun. Freedom has a sound: the sound of a radio on in the long corridor of a headquarters, waiting for the exit to the broad way of a better world.

 

Text: Francisco Mesquita and Teresa Toldy

Photography: Francisco Mesquita

LOCALIZAÇÃO

LOCAL: Porto

LATITUDE: 41.1579438

LONGITUDE: -8.629105299999999