Pedro Letria
  • 163

    On my second visit to the Campolide Athletic Club I met João, the club’s cultural programmer. He was sitting at a table chatting to a woman old enough to be my mother. I went to greet him and naturally extended my hand to her too. She held it while staring at me and said her name was Maria Elvira. I introduced myself and realized that her eyes were still fixed upon me and that her hand had taken mine hostage.

    ‘I know you,’ she said.

    ‘Maybe,’ I answered. ‘I grew up on Rua de Campolide, but I doubt you’d recognise me, because I left the neighbourhood when I was fifteen.’

    ‘But I know you,’ she insisted. ‘I breastfed you.’

    Why me, today of all days, I thought. What a ridiculous idea, as if my mother would ever have handed me to another woman.

    ‘It was because we had the same midwife, Cesina Bermudes. She had told me to “Help Preciosa, she doesn’t know what she’s doing.”’

    One-nil to her, I thought; it’s true, she was the midwife who had brought me into the world, a pioneer of painless birthing who was often highly praised in my home.

    ‘You were crying, and as my Pedro had been born in April, I still had milk. I said to your mother, “Hand him over, he’s hungry, that’s what’s the matter.” And so you were. You suckled from me and fell straight asleep. It was in Santo André, where we were all on holiday with Armando and Nita, in a rented house by the lake.’
    Two-nil, three-nil, four-nil.

    The week before, when I had walked up Rua de Campolide and faced the club’s building which, decades before, I had dreamt of being old enough to enter, step out onto the veranda on the first floor with a pool cue in one hand and a cigarette dangling from the corner of my mouth, and brag to whoever was there and willing to listen about all the things I was going to do and make happen, I had pondered that perhaps I could view the city I had been commissioned to photograph through the lens of the club, the building and the everyday lives of its inhabitants. At that moment, on that day, in that place, and after meeting my milk-mother, I became certain of its inevitability.

    And in that building, constucted in 1825 by the French trader Genioux and wrongly remembered as General Junot’s headquarters during the French Invasions, I found a nomadic, multinational, empowered population alongside another one, migrant, precarious and abandoned, with their backs turned; split between a club making headway as an alternative cultural space and the parcelled-out bedrooms on the upper floors, with their shared kitchens and bathrooms.
    163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon01 / 30
  • Outside the front door of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon02 / 30
  • Entrance hall of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon03 / 30
  • Kickboxing class at the Campolide Atlético Clube, on the 1st floor of 16304 / 30
  • Campolide Atlético Clube, on the 1st floor of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon05 / 30
  • Campolide Atlético Clube, on the 1st floor of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon06 / 30
  • Maria Elvira Nereu07 / 30
  • Panda Bear, North American, and Sonic Boom, English, at the pre-release concert for the album Reset08 / 30
  • Elliot Wright, English, and friends09 / 30
  • Katy Pinke, North American, Campolide Atlético Clube, on the 1st floor of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon10 / 30
  • Sophie Preston, Australian, Campolide Atlético Clube, on the 1st floor of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon11 / 30
  • Sandra Paslawska, Polish, and Tyko Say, North American, Campolide Atlético Clube, on the 1st floor of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon12 / 30
  • Verónica Gonçalves, Portuguese, Campolide Atlético Clube, on the 1st floor of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon13 / 30
  • Gi Gi, North American, in concert, Campolide Atlético Clube, on the 1st floor of 163 Rua Marquês da Fronteira, Lisbon14 / 30
  • Marcos and Valdir outside the front door. Valdir, born in Mantena, Minas Gerais, Brazil, is a resident since 201415 / 30
  • Ricardo, born in Lisbon, resident since 201816 / 30
  • Adilson, 33, born in Luanda, Angola, resident since 2008, and Marta, born in Caldas da Rainha, a resident since 201817 / 30
  • 2nd floor room18 / 30
  • Original frescoes, 2nd floor room19 / 30
  • Marcos, 60, born in Lisbon, but immigrated from Londrina, Paraná, Brazil, resident since 199620 / 30
  • Marcos, 60, born in Lisbon, but immigrated from Londrina, Paraná, Brazil, resident since 199621 / 30
  • José, 69, from Praia, Cape Verde, resident since 201222 / 30
  • 2nd floor room23 / 30
  • 2nd floor kitchen24 / 30
  • Jaime’s room on the 2nd floor25 / 30
  • Jaime, 55, from São Paulo, Brazil, resident since 201326 / 30
  • Viviana, 42, and Jamer, 37, born in Colombia, 3rd floor residents since 202227 / 30
  • 3rd floor kitchen28 / 30
  • Carlos, 62, from Miranda do Douro, Portugal, 2nd floor resident since 202129 / 30
  • Walled entrance to the attic30 / 30