THE SEA - A photography competition

Tuesday, October 27, 2020 - 16:39

New deadline to submit photographs: November 27, 2020 

On the sea, such storms and perils
That death, many times, seemed imminent;
On the land, such battle and intrigue
Such dire, inevitable hardships!

L.V.Camões, The Lusíads, Canto I, 106 (Trans. Landeg White)

Mar, metade da minha alma é maresia
Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen

Portugal is a land defined by the sea. Any representation of the country is likely to include a segment of the coastline or the horizon of the Atlantic. The sea plays a central role in our cultural history: it is central to the greater deeds of history, protagonist of epic poems, undeniable motif of pictorial renderings.

But maritimity goes beyond geographic accident. The sea generates both imaginary and concrete possibilities even to lands far from the shore. And it remains a site of melancholy and longing, the lure of vagaries and dreams of travelling, of going beyond what is known.

Our Land is the Sea is the title of a current exhibition at Belém Cultural Center, CCB. Aimed at exploring the continuous negotiation of the coastline, between the interests of the land and the forces of the sea, the exhibit soon transcends its original architectural focus, telling stories of conflict, adaptation and overcoming. The visitor learns stories of the sea that define our life on land: the sea as locus of a national and at turns even nationalistic mythology, as hopeful continuity of a continent, as source of bewilderment and fascination. Objects and photographs on display tell of fishermen settlements and naval developments, of the early days of surf and the recreational potential of the shore, of sea-taming techniques and artificial extensions of sand.

Inspired by this display, the Faculty of Human Sciences invites all students – national and international – to address their own views of the sea: Is it an obvious, unquestioned presence? Is it a site of collective and individual memories? Is it the setting of leisurely moments or radical sports experiments? A permanent reference in cultural representations? Is Portugal imaginable without the sea? What is the sea like in other countries? And how do countries without sea think and represent it?

Starting from these questionings we call all students at FCH to submit a photograph that best conveys their view of the meaning of the sea, and a brief paragraph (250 characters) explaining their choice.

Please submit one photograph (.jpeg, high resolution, 300dpi) by November 27 to the following e-mail address:

The best 20 photographs will be displayed in an online exhibition in December.



Paulo Campos Pinto – Cultura@Católica
Cátia Ferreira – Photography, Visual Communication
Marília dos Santos Lopes – Culture Studies
Luísa Santos – Culture Studies
Sophie Pinto – Visual Culture


Exposição, CCB: O Mar é a Nossa Terra (until Jan. 17, 2021)
Dias, João Carvalho. 2012. As Idades do Mar. Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.
Mack, John. 2018: O Mar. Uma História Cultural. Silveira: Book Builders.