Lisbon & Madrid Roundup
              Ben Eastham
              The inaugural edition of ARCO Lisbon (May 26–29, 2016) was announced to the world on the same day that an anti-austerity alliance in Portugal’s parliament passed a vote to dissolve its center-right government. On the day that journalists came to preview the venue at which the fair would be held, the country’s new leftist coalition approved a budget that reversed many of the cuts imposed as a condition of Portugal’s bailout at the height of the Eurozone crisis in 2011. It is difficult to overlook these coincidences of timing when an art fair is conceived of as an instrument of national economic policy, as our press trip to Portugal’s capital made abundantly clear. The country’s recent emergence from recession has been ascribed in part to booming tourism revenues, and now contemporary art is being enlisted—alongside Lisbon’s historic architecture, the proximity to the city of several golf courses, and the agreeable climate—as further incentive to assist its journey back from the brink of bankruptcy. Our precisely scheduled trip—which included visits to urban regeneration sites and bustling hotel restaurants, alongside a well-intentioned but uncomfortable tour of the city’s state-sponsored street art sites—seemed designed to make clear that Lisbon looks forward to welcoming the …

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