My time in Portugal has come to an end. It was a great stay in Porto, a city that offered me a lot of hospitality and friendly encounters. What it also offered, though, was a lot of construction work, and not only to me. Porto is undergoing major developments, with several new Metro lines being build and especially a lot of tourist-related remodelling of houses. As a major European tourist destination, Porto sees an awful load of official and not so official refurbishing of houses and apartments. Basically everything that can be converted into a hotel, an apartment or an oportunity for an AirBnB is up for grabs.
Not surprisingly, much of this construction work involves cranes. Cranes, small and big, seemed to pop up everywhere in the city. Actually, cranes (gruas in Portuguese) were so ubiquituous during my stance in Porto that I dubbed the country Portgrual in what might classify as a mildly funny pun.
Especially the huge cranes make for quite fascinating motives in a city centre that is otherwise characterised by small scales: narrow, winding streets, little houses with tiny entrances and small windows. Yet the cranes do no just mark the prototypical contrast between progress and conservationism or the perceived polarities of modernity and medieval structures. Often, historic buildings are painstakingly preserved during renovation, and the cranes are often there to build up, not tear down.
During one of my last days in Porto, I thus grabbed a photo camera, went for a stroll and took pictures of cranes in their surroundings. I intended to create a particular visual language: cranes in conjuncture with the buildings or structures they (temporarily) formed part of. In the sometimes chaotic environment of Porto’s streets, they created rigid geometric structures, standing out against a hotchpotch of life on the sites surrrounding them. Also, I tried to capture the sense of majesty such a huge structure imposes on the viewer in closed quarters by incorporating a bit of the fantastically blue sky that Porto offered on my very last days there at the end of 2023 and beginning of 2024. Often, there was more than one crane present at a building site, and the arms of the different cranes came into what seemed like contact, making for an analogy of workers’ arms busily hurling around the construction.
I do not know what exactly I’d like to do with these pictures, but for the time being, I leave a few here to mark my heavy-hearted goodbye to the beautiful city of Porto.