08 04 2021 Mercado do Bolhão

An essay in three acts

André Cepeda Lisboa, April 3th, 2021

In 2015, I started working on a photo essay for a book on to the rehabilitation of Mercado do Bolhão. My work consists of three stages, all very different from one another.

The first stage is capturing a record of the market before the rehabilitation. A fundamental stage, which shows the building as it was, before the great transformation started. I focused on the scale of the place, the light, the shadows, the materials. I started by shooting the exterior and then a general view of the interior. After I captured the structure, the surroundings, the location of the building in the city and the nearby streets, I focused on looking in more detail at the space itself and to establish a closer relationship with the experience I had - the way the market was appropriated by the people who worked there and all those who frequented it. In these images, one can perceive the layers of time, the architecture design, the atmosphere, as well as the experience of such an important and iconic place for commercial activity in the heart of the city. Colour, light, shadows and textures, they all shape an intense sense of rhythm, a unique music impregnated in stone and iron. In these photos, from both the interior and exterior, we recognize the long life of the mythical Bolhão Market.

The second stage, which I am currently working on, is of the construction site, where we can see both the destruction and reconstruction of the market. It is a colder phase, humid, hard, sullen, a different atmosphere, and this completely changes the way I look at this space that is undergoing a deep change. My eyes are focused on the details that best capture the different construction stages.
The third phase will happen when the rehabilitation project is finally concluded and people return to occupy and experience the new market.

Whenever I photograph architecture, the most important thing is that we can sense the scale of a place, its architecture, its design, the outlines, the materials, and that we can can acknowledge a story, a sort of narrative, from a selection of images of both inside and outside. There is always a subjective interpretation, in which poetry plays an important part.