Festival of Contemporary Culture
Porlwi by Nature
29 November–3 December 2017
Each year, Porlwi chooses a theme that encapsulates a key element of the city’s regeneration. The theme encourages us to reflect on a communal vision, initiate a dialogue and engage our community in taking action to enhance Port Louis’ cultural aura, save our heritage, and improve the urban infrastructure and daily lives of the city’s dwellers. In 2015, the people celebrated their city; in 2016, the city celebrated its people. This year, it is a Porlwi by Nature that took root in the historic streets of our capital. This year’s festival asked that we pause in the midst of our frantic lives to reflect on our relationship with the natural world, a relationship that has changed as dramatically as our perception of it.
We humans have imagined nature in a great many ways throughout history, at times being acutely aware of the call to nature, at others, recklessly depleting its resources. In more recent times, we have taken an ecological view of the natural world, perceiving it as a connected, interdependent whole. Porlwi by Nature gathered our community to reflect on nature and our surroundings, and to imagine, together, tomorrow’s city and a greener future. To raise awareness about the environment and our patrimony; reintegrate green spaces at the heart of our city; to honour our rich botanical history and our unique endemic fauna—these are our aspirations, dreams and ideals for a better Port Louis. What is your vision of the city of the future?
Fort Adelaïde (the Citadel), which looms above the city, perched upon a hill, is, in a way, the lungs of the city. The slopes of the hill on which it stands—dignified and imposing—, are the setting for a reforestation project by Friends of the Environment and UNDP-Forena. The fort looks out over the rooftops of the old and the new, the bustling streets swarming with crowds, noise and the accumulated memory of the past centuries. A sense of openness pervades, for from atop the hill, one can look out onto the port and the expanse of sea beyond. In the shadows, the jagged mountains stand tall, in a half-moon shape. They too seem to be guarding something.
The city’s streets are its arteries, linking one place to another. It is in the streets that the city happens, really. People build their houses, their commerces along the paved streets. It is on these same streets that hundreds of thousands of persons have walked, bartered, discussed, crossed paths… Against the hum of the city, the roaring, shrieking and honking, music arises; musicians catch you attention, draw you in closer. The passerby becomes spectator, in awe of the city’s many wonders. In these same streets, Nature—unflinching, intransigent—infiltrates the city’s grid.
The forgotten corner of the city is history condensed. Historians go as far as to say that it may even be the cradle of Port Louis. The Granary and surrounding streets and edifices carry a human dimension. These locales are inhabited by a flow of migrants (every single Mauritian is tied directly or indirectly to these places), who crossed the borders of the island, worked in the granary, healed at the hospital, and walked along the docks, weaving in and out of the large stone warehouses, kept cool in the blistering heat.
Special thanks to Landscope & the Mauritius Port Authority
The liminality of the Waterfront draws those seeking respite from the city bustle. Maybe it is the salty sea breeze or the noise of the port that is reassuring. The gigantic ships moored in the bay, the smaller ones that sail between the banks. Maybe it is simply the quiet thoughts that go through our minds when we stand alongside a body of water. Dreams of ships, of sea travels, the first explorers, the unknown. The Waterfront connects the city to the sea. It is here to remind us of Port Louis’ role in the Spice Trade as a place where ships and sailors could pause, breathe.
The Caudan has come to symbolize gathering—it is a place of encounter, of meeting-up, where families and friends can, in their own sweet time, stroll along the harbour, pause at a café, go to a movie. It symbolizes interaction—between the people that amble and those who contribute to its existence—, and finally, urbanism (it is an exemplar of the coexistence between mankind and his natural surroundings.) Stepping into the Caudan is like being transported to an exciting, at times contemplative space, on the edge of the harbour, in a sort of liminal space between land and water. The edifices are laden with historical references to past and present. The transience and impermanence of the ships moored in the harbour clash with the immortal memories of our time spent at the Caudan, strolling along the boardwalk, gazing at the scintillating port, interacting with others.
Porlwi by People
From the radiant energy of Porlwi by Light, a passionate movement was born in the heart of the people for the culture and history of their country. The festival in the capital illuminated the gathering of a nation around its mutual values, through a meeting of cultures that made tangible its unique, harmonious cosmopolitan society under the glittering nightlights of the city. Over and above the artistic success of the festival, the human contact was strong: those exchanged glances, shared smiles, brief conversations over an exhibit...the sensation of osmosis flowed through these moments illuminating the avenues of Port Louis. The population celebrated their city, it was time for the city to celebrate its people–the second edition of the festival put the human in the spotlight. These beings, who crossed paths and met. These nation builders, world travelers and the generations that followed them creating a matrix of shared connections. That moment, where an individual, filled with his history, his past and his personal experience, went towards another in a spirit of sharing and gave birth to a population. Forming a group of individuals, a melting pot that became a nation. United in their cultural diversity, symbolizing a cosmopolitan way of life, Porlwi by People celebrated this awareness of and this belonging to a common identity.
Porlwi by Light
Porlwi by Light, a festival of intimate stories spun on the streets of the capital city of Port Louis, where shadows intertwine with a dim, warm light. A feast of multi-threaded cultures and narratives which through their thoughtfulness smile and make the December in Mauritius unlike any other. Since its very beginning, the Porlwi Collective is driven by the desire to revitalise the cultural aura of Port Louis and aims at building a creative platform, allowing the public and private sectors to manifest and channel support for contemporary art forms and urban regeneration. Driven by the desire to revitalize the cultural aura of Port Louis, the focus of the first event was to give the capital a national and international reputation on the contemporary art scene. A celebration of the intellectual and architectural history of our beloved city. Port Louis pulls from all periods of Mauritian history, both in terms of architecture and social life. To highlight this, the organizing committee has designed an innovative project, one which ensures a rare and memorable experience for visitors who seek to explore Port Louis’ rich history and glimpses of its contemporary art scene. Illuminated, festive and lively, a Port Louis showcasing a magical series of national and international artistic performances, light installations, video projections, music, performing arts, literature, guided tours, educational inserts and interactive happenings—all for a duration of three nights to invigorate our capital city.