Civilization as a whole is on the verge of “losing a basic human faculty: the power of bringing visions into focus with our eyes shut”.
Italo Calvino

Parasomnia is a visual and sound installation that was specially made for the collective exhibition Sonae MediaPrize 15 and initially consisted of two chambers on sleep, drams and death. In 2016, two rooms were added specially for Kaaistudios in brussels and two more were made for the International Festival of Arts in Macao.

In a first pre-chamber, the visitor is invited to wait while observing a mural of multiple paintings that morph into each other at an imperceptible pace to the distracted eye but persistently for the curious look.

In a second chamber the visitor is invited to surrender to the inertia of a siesta. Guided by a feminine voice that grows old as she speaks, the visitor remains in the threshold of a performative contradiction: if the visitor stays awake, he misses the experience offered by the installation, if the visitor falls asleep, he misses what the installation presents.

In a third chamber you have a pleasure room – In this room some of the jewels of the private collection of Acácio Nobre are exhibited. These jewels were originally designed by his lover and lifetime companion Alva Ramalho.
The Jewels – intimate male brusher, female pleasure enhancer, insomniac eye lashes made by Alda Salaviza/ Video mural: IrmãLucia efeitos especiais & Patrícia Portela/Sound: Patrícia Portela

In the Milky way room one can contemplate in slow motion the beginning of the Milky Way, when Zeus tries to make Hercules immortal by giving him the milk of Juno but Juno wakes up.
Video mural IrmãLucia efeitos especiais & Patrícia Portela

In the open air bathroom, one can eat, take a bath, wash one’s feet, contemplate, go for a walk. The ultimate slowdown is tasted with chchchchchestnut soup, Lavendel sleeping pills, Dreamrisotto and sweet cherry dreams dessert.

In a last room, one can lie down against wooden pillows and fall asleep to the sound of lullabies.

artistic team

space, text and images – Patrícia Portela;
Edition of text – Isabel Garcez;
Video Mural pre-chamber 1 – Irmã Lucia efeitos especiais;
Light – Leonardo Simões;
sound – Christoph de Boeck;
Violin – Elisabeth Druwé;
Voices PT and ENG – Célia Fechas; António da Roza’s mother (in Cantonese);
Voice lullaby room – Thiago Arrais;
Soporific food – Annick Gernaey /piste sauvage;
Waiting bench – João Gonçalves;
Construction of waiting bench –Leonel & Bicho;
Jewelry – Alda Salaviza;
Performers: Célia Fechas, Leonor Barata, Mónica Coteriano, Patrícia Portela;
Production: Prado, associação cultural;

This installation is dedicated to Jan and Annick.

World Premiere: 20 11 15 in Museum of Contemporary Art in Lisbon.


“sleep is the last resource of protest”
Patrícia Portela was for the first time at the Festival de Artes de Macau with “Parasomnia”, a visual and sound installation with a performative dimension that incites the spectator to slow down, and surrender to an oscillating state between slumber and wakeness. A way of questioning the place of sleep in a daily routine where sleplesness is imposed as a symbol for productivity, a work conceived by an artist and writer used to challenge any treshold or border with evidence.
Patrícia Portela em entrevista a Sílvia Gonçalves, Ponto Final, Macau

“Parasonmia is not about sleep but about staying awake. Awake in times of confusion and impotence. “I cannot sleep since you died” announces a voice in front of Time itself while it is running. The central theme of this piece is a poetical treaty on time, and most of all, in how to relate with time.”
Thiago Arrais In Ensaios Ruminantes sobre a obra performativa de Patrícia Portela

“As it happens with a kid, it happens with art, there is something that cannot be controlled. It forces you to waste time. You do not know where it will take you to. The problem is private but the choice to admit it is political. You resist the compulsion to profit from every second of your life. Sleep is the last area that escapes this profitability compulsion, although neuroscience already wants to exploit that field. We have to relearn to give each other and ourselves time to dream. ”
Patrícia Portela interviewed by Pieter T’Jonck for De Morgen

NL “(…)Zo’n kind is, net als kunst, iets dat niet te controleren valt. Het dwingt tot tijdverlies. Je weet niet waar je uitkomt. Het probleem is privé, maar de keuze om eraan toe te geven is politiek. Je verzet je tegen de dwang om elke seconde van je leven te rentabiliseren. Slaap is het laatste terrein dat daaraan ontsnapt, al wil de neurowetenschap ook dat ontginnen. We moeten terug leren om elkaar én onszelf tijd te schenken om te dromen.”
Patrícia Portela in een interview met Pieter T’Jonc in De Morgen

“In a museum, visitors consume art as if they were in a department store, but I would prefer that people would daydream away. ”
Patricia Portela about” Parasomnia” in De Morgen, Belgium

NL In een museum consumeren bezoekers kunst alsof ze in een grootwarenhuis zijn, maar ik wil mensen laten wegdromen.’
Patricia Portela over ‘Parasomnia’ in De Morgen, Belgium

“Parasomnia is a phenomenological philosophical experience in real time.”
Guy Delincé, a frequent Kaaitheater spectator

“Visitng your installation today at kaaistudio was truly a mind expanding experience. Such a precise and yet free travel. Thank you”
Nathalie Rozanes, a note by a spectator in Kaaitheaterstudios

Photographs by MNAC, Lisbon, 2015 (1-6) and HSIU PING in Macau at the International Arts Festival of Macau