April 25: The slogans that lined the streets through the lens of Alfredo Cunha

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The slogans that lined Portuguese streets in the aftermath of April 25, 1974 are the focus of the photography exhibition “Viva a Liberdade”, by Alfredo Cunha, which opens on Friday in Lisbon and includes unpublished images.

Alfredo Cunha is the author of many of the images that have become symbols of an era, including a portrait of April captain Salgueiro Maia. At the age of 20, he was one of the photojournalists who recorded 25 April 1974 in Lisbon and the moments that followed, including the Hot Summer of 1975 and the decolonization process.

In the exhibition that opens on Friday at the Underdogs gallery, Alfredo Cunha shows images of Portugal “lined with posters and graffiti in 1975”.

“It was the most democratic Facebook I’ve ever seen. There was some censorship, because when someone didn’t want to, they painted over it. In fact, it was the place to say everything there was to say. Everyone was expressing themselves: on the right, on the left, the anarchists…”, he recalled, speaking to Lusa during the making of “Viva a Liberdade”.

On the walls of the gallery, the photographer shows what most seduced him in the days of a recent Freedom, “which was political expression”.

“It’s obvious that there is a political tendency, which is mine. My [left-wing] political position is clear in this exhibition,” he said.

Among the 15 photographs on display – all in black and white – “there are at least five completely unpublished ones, which were unknown because they had never been shown in an exhibition before”.

Alfredo Cunha has spent the last two years “traveling” through his archive, which contains thousands of images taken between 1972, when he started at the newspaper O Século, and 2015, when he ended his career in journalism.

On these ‘journeys’ he discovered things he no longer remembered, “surprising things, to which time has also added”.

“Because, in everyday life, we get used to and addicted to looking. It’s my norm to photograph whenever I’m surprised, then in what surprises me I try to understand why it surprised me, and then go into detail. But first things have to surprise me,” Alfredo Cunha shared.

The photographer highlights the fact that the images, in a “classic genre of photography, of Portuguese humanist photography”, are being shown “in one of the most modern art galleries in Lisbon”.

Opened in 2013, the gallery is part of the Underdogs cultural platform, created in 2010 by Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto (Vhils) and French curator Pauline Foessel, which is dedicated to promoting the work of artists whose careers, for the most part, began on the streets, in graffiti and urban art.

Alfredo Cunha began collaborating with Vhils about a year and a half ago, for the project “April 25, 1974, Thursday”, which includes a book and exhibitions with the same name.

The book’s cover image is the iconic portrait of Salgueiro Maia by Alfredo Cunha, reinterpreted by Vhils.

This is the photograph that the photographer points out, among the thousands he took, as the one that best represents the Carnation Revolution.

“It’s not the best, it’s not even in the top ten [of the photographs I took at the time], but it’s the one where the soul of April 25 is. And that’s why I chose it for the cover of the project, only with Vhils’ reinterpretation, also to attract young people to this reality that is Democracy,” he explained.

In addition to the portrait of Salgueiro Maia, Vhils reinterpreted three other photographs by Alfredo Cunha and the result can be seen in the capsule space of the Underdogs gallery, and is also included in the book “25 de Abril de 1974, quinta-feira”.

“Viva a Liberdade”, the exhibition with which the Underdogs gallery is marking the 50th anniversary of April 25, 1974, can be visited until April 27. Admission is free.

Meanwhile, as part of the Underdogs Public Art Program, a tile panel, five meters high and four meters wide, by Pedrita Studio and inspired by a photograph of a crowd taken by Alfredo Cunha on the day of the Carnation Revolution, will be inaugurated in Santarém on April 25.

This panel, made up of more than 800 tiles, is “a tribute to all the anonymous people who stood up to overthrow fascism in Portugal”, according to Underdogs.

Iris Lavan
Iris Lavanhttps://irislavan.com/en/
With a background as a consultant in the medical industry, Iris Lavan brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Portugal Pulse. Iris also runs a company in Tel Aviv offering marketing, business development, content creation and public relations services. She holds a degree in economics and management, giving her a solid grounding in business strategy and financial planning. Iris' commitment to Portugal Pulse is reflected not only in her consulting career, but also in her impact on the Portugale media landscape in Israel. She was an interviewer for Hadshot Portugal חדשות פורטוגל, a media outlet that broadcasts news about Portugal in Hebrew, where she provided valuable information on current affairs, healthcare and the economy. Since July 2023, Iris has also been part of the Portugal Pulse team.

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