"Materials come from specific ideas about a particular context, traditional ways of manipulating it, regarding from where I am looking at. Materials per se, signify little if we are not thinking of a specific context where they exist, and who transforms it. "
Interview by writer Brooke Hailey Hoffert
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Where did you study?
I have studied in Lisbon and also in Karlsruhe in Germany.
In your work, you use various materials such as plexiglass, leather, brass, and cork. Considering materiality is such an integral part of your work, what draws you to a certain material?
Materials come from specific ideas about a particular context, traditional ways of manipulating it, regarding from where I am looking at. Materials per se, signify little if we are not thinking of a specific context where they exist, and who transforms it.
I am interested also in how certain indigenous tribes are working within certain materials, within different purposes and densities and how those ways of making are passed through an inside knowledge which most of the times exists within the family. Also how Japanese culture, integrates the skill of carpentry within their own culture, civilisation, power, religion etc…I think its the perfect metaphor, but also a very practical and beautiful one.
You have expressed an interest in the relationship between physical materials and culture. Could you expand a little more on the reasons behind your choice of materials in your work?
I think I answered this in the previous question. For me the re-construction of the old Japanese shrines is the perfect example. The Shrines are entirely made of wood, using no nails but old ways of joining elements in wood. Even the way those cypress trees are planted and harvested matters. Everything counts, from the setting of the land to the harvesting of its trees. How they are cut and transported. It’s a ritual, but it’s a beautiful example of involving a whole village in that process. Of passing the knowledge and the culture within a whole countr. Their costumes and valorisation.
The temples are entirely and precisely reconstructed every 20 years, in the exact same way. So that the image of it always remains new and original, since it’s the period of time that wood starts to change. It’s mind blowing.
Your next exhibition, “a thousand realities from an original mark” opening in May at the Marian Goodman Gallery is an extension of your past exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in which you reinterpreted and reinvented work by various creators and transformed it into sculpture. You have mentioned that you draw your inspiration specifically from people such as Anni Albers and Mary Martin by researching their lives and their work. What does your research process involve?
I am not inspired by their works, I am interested in their works by I guess the same interest. Thinking of the time/frame those artists lived, their contexts and rhythm of production, and how Mary Martin was very much influenced by Anni Albers.
We have to think that during that time the information travelled at a different speed and there were also very few opportunities. For Mary Martin the weaving was seen as a survival kit, for Anni Albers a conceptual one. I like the mirroring side of their works on paper.
When I made my show at the Whitechapel, I did a lot of research into Mary Martin’s work, which I didn’t know so much about before, and found striking the similarities between certain works. I thought here [for Marian Goodman Gallery], I could further explore that connection, while at the Whitechapel it was really about a period of time, when the exhibition “this is tomorrow” took place. How artists were involved with architects and the other way around, the idea of collaboration and valorising the work which is made and not having an “artistic” intention for it.
What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?
I really loved Danh’s Vo exhibition “take my breath away” at the Guggenheim. It’s an incredible show on so many levels. But apart from the work itself, what also resonated was to experience how vulnerable the work is when installed like it is. And I must say I really admire that institution to bring this up, in terms of respecting the artist’s decision. I think in that way my work and Danh’s work have things in common. Both our works do not exist if we don’t create the relations/connections for it too happen. The settings and the display are an integral part of it. Everything can change if it happens somewhere else, and integrating other elements.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day / studio routine? What is your studio like?
My days look pretty much alike. I bring my daughter to school, and after come to the studio. There are a lot of travels, and meetings with production outside the studio. I also work with a person in Lisbon that works with leather. We have been working together for many years, it’s almost like family.
Apart from your upcoming show at Marian Goodman Gallery, Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
I am working on many interesting projects this year. After London, I am doing a solo show at the Tamayo Museo, in Mexico City. The show will be curated by Juan Gaitan and Patrick Charpenel; Gwangju Biennial together with Clara Kim, and a show at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan, happening in September, curated by Roberta Tenconi.
The exhibition ‘a thousand realities from an original mark’ will take place at Marian Goodman Gallery, London, from 24 May - 20 July 2018
All images courtesy of the artist and Whitechapel Gallery
Publish date: 30/5/18