Image of artwork titled "Collecting Dust (Painting Deposit (Side Wing) - National Museum of Ancient Art Lisbon © Abreu Nunes 1962)" by Maria  Trabulo

Maria Trabulo, Collecting Dust (Painting Deposit (Side Wing) - National Museum of Ancient Art Lisbon © Abreu Nunes 1962), 2021
Inkjet print on Museum Natural Smooth 310g/m2 paper, Dust and sediments of tempera, paint, wood, stone, and clay
34.5 × 28.5 × 1.5 inches

In 2021 Trabulo spent time in the vaults of the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga (National Museum of Ancient Art) located in Lisbon, PT. Founded in 1884 to exhibit the collection of the Portuguese Royal Family, the encyclopedic museum is one of the largest in the country, with a nearly 40,000 objects in its permanent collection. In the 1960’s, the museum underwent significant expansion under the dictator António de Oliveira Salazar and his “Estado Novo” regime. As part of the expansion, new vaults were constructed to house the growing collection. At the same time, the museum became increasingly nationalistic and focused on presentinga narrative of Portugal as a colonial and imperial power that needed to be restored to its former glory.

During her time at the museum, Trabulo developed a new body of work titled “Collecting Dust.” Comprised of both photographic, and sculptural works, the pieces within the series combine physical debris Trabulo has collected from the archives and merges it with historical elements from the museum.

The four photographic works on display are comprised of archival images of the empty vaults, taken during construction in the mid 1960s. Trabulo combines these historical images with particles of dust, wood, and stone that she has collected from the now overflowing storage spaces. This collapsing of time, space, and material, highlights the complex histories embedded in both these institutions and the artifacts they care for.



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