Playing with ‘Variations on Mobility’, the four Creative Commissions teams in 2019-2020 have developed their projects along different trajectories traced by the unfolding movements of People, Objects, Texts and Ideas across times and spaces. As small groups composed of academics who have embraced art in their research practices, or artists working in collaboration with scholars across various disciplinary backgrounds, the Commissions engage different Theories and Methods of mobility, working with ethnographic, archival, historical, anthropological, geographical and creative methodologies. The following text and original images represent a short abstract realised by the team to help us follow the path of their creative work.

Of Steel and (un)stillness

Of steel and (un)stillness explores routiers’ social, cultural and material worlds through ethnographic and artistic practices. Routiers are men of African origin that recurrently drive old vehicles from Southern Europe to West Africa carrying with them spare parts, clothing, money remittances, bicycles, appliances, cosmetics, rice, personal luggage, etc. that are delivered, traded and/or bartered along the way. The uses and meanings of carried items lay beyond the mere functional and utilitarian approaches, or monetary value. All the exchanges and (dis)encounters generated by them are culturally located and play an essential role in the production of social relations and of social recognition while in mobility.

Of steel and (un)stillness consists of a kinetic installation that creates a peculiar soundscape, and an audiovisual installation. These pieces metaphorically invoke the transient and cyclical repetition of a polysemic web of floating spaces, places, people, practices, and objects. The resulting assemblages will be affective, speculative and layered with (re)significations.

Of steel and (un)stillness results from the collaboration between two anthropologists and filmmakers (Pedro Figueiredo Neto, ICS-ULisboa, and Ricardo Falcão, CEI-IUL) and an artist (Paulo Morais), and is embedded in a wider research and documentary film endeavor currently in post-production (

Pedro Figueiredo Neto, ICS-ULisboa
Ricardo Falcão, CEI-IUL
Paulo Morais