Queers in Crisis organiser Brian Lobel talked to Joana Girao of Lisbon’s Purex club and Add Wood Festival in the run up to this coming weekend’s events when Vogue Fabrics hosts some of the finest queer clubs straight from the epicentre of the financial crisis. How did Add Wood Festival come about? What´s the idea all about?
Add Wood Festival started somewhat spontaneously following a series of parties organized at Purex. The motto was “depressing Sundays, a night to slit your wrists open”. At that time, Sunday nights in the winter were quite an off night and these parties started bringing people out. The concept evolved from there and became what is now the current festival: Add Wood, an underground optimistic festival where anything can happen.
Following Ed Wood’s foot steps, the ultimate worst cult director of all times, we invite artists from different areas and backgrounds to create and develop projects they would never dare to present in a public venue; projects that freak out the critique and that go beyond artistic consensus. We want to challenge creators to out their obscure mediocre self, assuming that what can’t kill you, makes you stronger; another way of saying that limitations can push us beyond limits. Displaying without prejudice the worst that one is capable of can be a considerable challenge. Ridicule, self-criticism, ugliness, strangeness, incoherence, improvisation… are weapons of dissidence.
How has Add Wood and Purex been affected by the financial crisis?
Strangely enough, the bar has never been better. People have no money to do anything, so they don’t really go on holidays, they don’t buy stuff, they just go out and drink, but also in a ‘last days in the bunker’ type of vibe, euphoria before doomsday, something like that. Purex has gone through some hard times and is now in better shape than before. Having said that, being an alternative bar owner is always a precarious endeavour. Add Wood is a festival produced with no budget, so the crisis just adds up to the already precarious environment, which suits the spirit of the festival. This year’s theme was actually dedicated to the crisis and the people behind it. It should be noted that the festival is flat out independent and currently financed with a negative budget (production and communication costs), with the magnificent good will of artists who have accepted to gracefully give out the worst they have to offer.
Do you find that your customers talk a lot about money?
The financial crisis is without a doubt a constant background in people’s lives and consequently people’s conversations. The situation is so dramatic that people choose to act with humour and self-derision, and a drop of surrealism, in face of difficulties. It’s hard to take things too seriously when nothing seems to make much sense.
What can Londoners learn from the way Lisboans party?
There are a lot of things missing in Portugal, nightlife – and party – is certainly not one of them. From John Malkovitch’s owned most famous Lisbon club to small bar joints, there are people streaming around 24/7. There is always the next party, up until the next day. From underground “bafonds” to fashionable venues; also Lisbon is small, so people tend to hop from place to place. What can Londoners learn from the way Lisboans party…? Just come and find out.
Vogue Fabrics has a very particular community – How would you describe the community of Add Wood and Purex?
Have you heard of eclectic? Think further… Purexians are essentially artists, culture buffs, and the television clique, however there is room for everyone, from the cleaning lady walking her dog to the occasional government official. Everyone has, at least once, set foot in that bar… Purex is a family, with its collective memory and its odd figures. And quite a few – unspeakable – afterhours.