Atlas has known Tabea Fuhrer since the early days of Arroz Estúdios as someone actively engaged with artists across a variety of mediums and initiatives, promoting their work in the ether as well as at the folding tables of Arroz’s markets. A doer, if you will — who nonetheless always found time to chat, make plans, have a laugh, and meet whomever.
Nuno Ferreira, known under the artist name smokedfalmon, has become a very well-known and respected musician to many in Lisbon who are paying attention, whether they heard him busking on the street or playing at some of the many festivals around the city and beyond. He collaborates with several other collectives and, as Tabea puts it, is also known for his good taste in kitchens (he’s worked in several gourmet kitchens to boot).
So it was with great interest that we learned that Tabea and Nuno have been staying busy through the pandemic in the countryside with an artist collective called muti. With a major show co-organized by muti coming up in December at the magical Estufa Fria, we thought it was time to dig in and find out what the group was all about.
How and when did the collective start?
May 2021, through a brainstorm in our kitchen.
We’ve always been active in the cultural scene, and when Covid hit, the NEAR protocol had a grants program that allowed creatives without coding experience to enter the world of web3 and blockchain. And after we moved to the countryside, it led us to start muti with the goal of supporting artists and bringing people closer to nature, back into the green. Then we created our DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation), and in June 2022 we founded our cultural association.
Due to the mini grants, in the beginning we started with projects related to web3 and are now focused on the more physical side of events and residencies.
What are muti’s goals, and how have they changed?
Supporting artists of all art forms (mainly based in Portugal) while also becoming self-sustainable and experimenting with digital tools in the physical. The goals have not changed — only the way we approach them; we’re redefining our streams of revenue and audience.
Who is part of muti?
muti was co-founded by us, and the team has grown to about 10 people now, partially active within our digital part (DAO) and partially active in the association.
For audio-visual content, we are collaborating with Cudo Filmes for our muti sessions (recordings of emerging musicians that also showcase their work through an interview) as well as Camcat.pt, who creates amazing after movies and visual delights.
We have several internal teams, and on the digital side, our DAO has a council that approves proposals and makes decisions; all our stipend artists also have the right to vote on decisions on the DAO.
Why in Portugal?
Because we did not just fly into Portugal recently, we already all lived and met here and are active in the local cultural scene.
Why run it from the countryside and not Lisbon?
Capitals are oversaturated with “alternative cultural initiatives,” while there is plenty of space in rural areas and a lot of opportunities to showcase culture. When Covid hit, the city was not a pleasant place to be anymore, plus a lot of cultural events had to stop due to restrictions, so both of us left Lisbon two years ago. We have a strong connection to nature and believe that events in the green are very beneficial for the humans to reconnect and explore.
The countryside had more to offer (affordable rent, freedom, more cultural events, green for the dogs = general peace of mind); we ended up in the centre coincidentally, though. Ideally, we did not want to be too far from Lisbon and Porto, because socializing is still important, and the centre of Portugal is well connected and located whilst offering enough space to grow.
What have been your proudest accomplishments?
One of the proudest accomplishments is to be able to be so close and working with so many artists that we respect and look up to.
We also recorded 12 muti sessions up until now, two in Brazil and 10 in Portugal, and organized two artistic residencies as well as several events in the nature of Portugal.
What about things you hoped to do but couldn’t, and why?
Becoming self-sustainable and independent — working within culture and without having a concrete product that you can sell makes it difficult.
Creating a bigger physical audience — given that we have been focused mainly on establishing roots in the digital in the first year, it is now time to shift the focus to the physical community.