Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lisbon's Flea Market

Lisbon's flea market is called locally the Feira da Ladra, often thought to mean "Thieves Market" (in Portuguese "ladra" is a woman thief) but it actually derives from "ladro," a bug found in antiques. A market of this type is thought to have been in place in Lisbon since the 12th Century and the name Feira da Ladra was first mentioned in the 17th Century. 

Imagine my delight when I found this! A real resource for some material culture field study. One interesting observation was the delicate care each individual took in arranging and displaying their wares. 

As you can see from the photos the commerce is not valuable - very ordinary and in humble terms - a lot of junk. But the objects weren't treated as such. They had implied value for the vendor who was counting on a consumer who agreed. I was moved by this and compelled to photograph as many as I could given the weather conditions.

I'm struck by the subversive placement of unlikely categories of objects. These juxtapositions bring more meaning to the objects than if they were displayed by themselves. The glass, beige sandals and plastic figures play off each other above.

Deodorant in context with gold tone watches. An iron with outdated CDs and polyester baseball caps. A red handled pliers and rusty coil sitting in marked contrast to the soft sweaters and white sunglasses.

These things are so omnipresent in our world, here and there (Portugal), that we stop seeing them and they become background. At the flea market I saw them for what they are and wonder. Where did they came from? How were they were found? What were they were used for? Who desires them and why? Where are they going?

No comments:

Post a Comment