Interviews "Rubens Gerchman: with the resignation in his pocket"

Rubens Gerchman, School of Visual Arts, Lage Park (SVA)

Picture: Alfredo Grieco

The Project

The research project “Rubens Gerchman: with the resignation letter in my pocket” aimed to widen the historical collection – through interviews (recorded in audiovisual), and the gethering of documents – about the pedagogical thought that guided the foundation of the School of Visual Arts of Lage Park in 1975, in Rio de Janeiro, by the artist Rubens Gerchman. Under Gerchman’s administration, between 1975 and 1979, the School of Visual Arts became the cultural center of Rio de Janeiro and was figurated as a space of resistance to the authoritarian regime that governed Brazil at the time, the military dictatorship. The gathering of students and teachers in “free” courses, the integrated leisure to the artistic learning and the open transit between the many disciplines implemented are just a few of the aspects of that peculiar pedagogy that united art and education, that the present study registers and discloses universally. The pedagogical and free experience of the School of Visual Arts of Lage Park during Gerchman’s time, from now on, serves as didactic reference for the practice of many arts, besides serving constructively in Brazil’s Art History.

The collection, which is richer and more complete thanks to ArtEdu Stiftung’s support, through this project of research and documentation, now has registered historical and unprecedented testimonials, recorded in audiovisual. The Rubens Gerchman Institute aimed to, throughout the process, comprise all the activities happening at the school and its creative surroundings and its headmaster, Rubens Gerchman.

25 interviews were realized with former students, teachers, artists, curators and critics, poets, musicians, film-makers, opinion leaders, among others.

Below, the list of all the people interviewed:

Helio Eichbauer (set designer and professor), Heloísa Buarque de Hollanda (poet and professor), Carlos Vergara (artist), Roberto Magalhães (artist), Sérgio Santeiro ( film maker and professor), Xico Chaves (artist and cultural manager), Rosa Magalhães (set designer and professor), Frederico Moraes (art critic), Luiz Ernesto (artist and professor), Jards Macalé (musician), Bernardo Vilhena (poet), Walter Carvalho (director of photography), Daniel Senise (artist), João Carlos Horta (film maker), Armando Strozemberg (journalist and advertiser), Anna Bella Geiger (artist), Paulo Sérgio Duarte (curator), Antônio Dias (artist), Lauro Cavalcanti (architect and curator), Celso Guimarães (photographer and college professor), Claudia Saldanha (former headmaster of the Visual Arts School and curator), Marcos Flaksman ( set designer and professor) , Ney Matogrosso (singer and performer), Antônio Grosso (engraving artist and professor) and Tunga (artist).

The raw transcriptions of the interviews were translated to English and are available fully and free of charge here.



Interviewer: To begin with, Bernardo, what are your views on History, on this historical moment regarding left-wing politics, and on this counterculture of artists that existed during this earlier time, in the beginning of the seventies?

BERNARDO: Life is made of love and war, and I believe we have to choose our party, and preferably “hay que endurecer pero sin perder la ternura” (one has to grow hard but without ever losing tenderness). So I think there are people who really have a more militaristic spirit and see fit that things should be resolved through weaponry, who have a disposition to fight, which was true to some in my generation who chose armed struggle as a path to freedom from the dictatorship..


Interviewer: Let us just fix a little something here, I apologize. Just so it doesn’t/it’s too low.

Third Person: The one up the dresser, behind here, isn’t it leaking?

Interviewer: No.

Third Person: It’s not, right?!

Interviewer: Sorry, Bernardo. I apologize a thousand times.

BERNARDO: Do we need to start over?

Second Person: No, you may carry on. If you want to start, so not to lose the trail of thought

BERNARDO: I won’t find the trail of thought (laughter). But I will carry on, which is better, perhaps. And that was it, right, I am giving you an answer about that/ that was what your asked, right.

Interviewer: You were talking about love and war, militarized people from your generation.

BERNARDO: Exactly. And there is another thing, which is counterculture, the people who conserve the life, the dream, the utopia within their daily lives, because, in truth, most people just want to live, and there are people who can’t even pick their regime, but anyway, in any political sturggle I believe that there has to be the armies, no doubt about that, but there has to be a normal, daily life, because we only live once, so no point saying: - I’ve had a life of political struggle, I’ve had this and that. Has not lived a fucking life. So I think that this balance between people who chose armed struggle and people who chose art, day to day life as a form of struggle and keeping things normal/ because the hard thing is maintaining normalcy, that is the really serious battle, which needs to be fought, and I believe in the end, in Brazil, everybody who was against the dictatorship won, no distinction, in my opinion.


Interviewer: And where were you in the middle of this?

BERNARDO: I am an artist, my battle has always been for a daily life, for the dream, for people’s happiness, for freedom of choice. I am pro yes, and pro love (laughter)).


Interviewer: Regarding production (editora e...). You said you wanted to take off your glasses. Would you like to keep them? Because sometimes...

BERNARDO: It’s reflecting, right?


Interviewer: It is, a little, but I don’t think it’s a problem. It’s just that sometimes we forget we’re wearing them, and you mentioned you didn’t want to.

BERNARDO: No, I’m fine.


Interviewer: The editorial production at the time, it seems, in our research, what transpires, what stands out, is the amount of published work there was, the amount of ideas, and essays, and poetry produced. I’d like you to offer me some context, tell me a little bit about this editorial production, and why do you think there was so much text, so many written things.

BERNARDO: There is one thing that is not deeply analyzed in Brazil, which is the end of the Second World War, that brought significant change to Europe, most of all, and the reaction society and artists initially had was counterculture, but the great reaction, in my opinion, is pop culture, pop art. To reconsider everyday life, forget about black, White and gray. To work, to remeber cars and phones are not just black, to know design matters to people, that their everyday belongings should bring up beauty, that magazines have become way more relevant than newspapers. This is an interesting trademark. There was an initial proliferation of magazines, and magazines that brought art in much higher quality, pictures in colour, which was something really new in terms of printing, the design in all its colours, architecture, then the novelty wore off and I think a revisitation to people’s day to day lives occurred, and pop art was majorly influenced by that, and, as I see it, it’s not that it’s a consumer’s art to be consumed, it is an art that had the capacity to perceive the anxiety of people and their contemporaries. These people, being their contemporaries, that’s a commitment you have to have to them, first of all.


Interviewer: Let’s talk about Malasartes a little. As far as you remember, how did it come to be?

BERNARDO: Malasartes had an initial core. I believe Zilio is a very important guy in that matter, Zilio has a knack for aggregating people, and he managed to bring different people to that core, and that was a moment which I consider to be very important, because I believe that moment was a rite of passage within the fine arts, which was this wonderful generation of painters we had, to conceptual art, and also poetry, the same thing happened, from Brazilian modern poetry to poesia marginal (marginal poetry), which is a serious transformation that I believe Malasartes may have been the first magazine outside the marginal environment to have published relevant poets such as Leomar Fróes, Ana Cristina César, Cacaso, Chacal, Francisco Alvim and many others from that generation, who would soon be part of Heloísa Buarque de Hollanda’s anthology, 26 poetas hoje (26 poets today), which I believe to be the most importante book from that time.


Interviewer: How did you get to the magazine?

BERNARDO: Actually I was friends with Rubem, who was friends with Vergara and Cildo. They were people who/ Vergara was doing some work on carnival with them; Cildo, we played ball, you know, we were really close, and Rubem, we were born on the same day, we’re both from January tenth, typical Capricorn, in fact, we always said we’d throw a party / - let’s throw a big party, but then we didn’t / but the cool thing was actually the promise, the promise is a gift which, if you can cultivate, turns into hope, and life becomes more fun. So I think I was truly well received there, I was actually an odd man out, because I was a poet, and a marginal poet, but I’ve had the pleasure of coming up with the magazine’s name, which for me it already was / among such dear, brilliant people, so I was lucky they’ve accepted the name, and our routine was great, our meetings were fantastic, we’d have meetings here in Rio, in many different houses, there was kind of a gypsy feel to our meetings, and a few meetings in São Paulo, always at Zé Resende’s place, that wonderful house, I remember our trips to São Paulo quite well, we had a / it was the Electra, that plane from Vale, there was/ not Vale, it was Airbridge, they had this room in the back, so we’d start by going there and drinking whisky, warming up to the meeting, our conversations were great, and normally when we had our meetings in São Paulo, they took place on Saturdays, in order for us to avoid the traffic jam and everything, airport traffic jam, mainly, and it was a whole lot of fun.


Interviewer: Why that name, do you remember why you...

BERNARDO: Malasartes? Well, Malasartes is a/ first of all, it was a magazine about art, that was the main thing, secondly I was/ since I was a poet just beginning my career, I was highly influenced by Brazilan modernism and Malasartes was a character by Mário de Andrade, well/ there was this character. That’s where my / I can’t quite remember it, but I certainly believe I owe it to Mário de Andrade.


Interviewer: Do you think that for them there was also some kind of revisitation to modernism, for the artists?

BERNARDO: I think modernism is the great reference of twentieth century Brazilian art, I think that’s where we had a / our transition from Romanticism to modern art, so I believe it exerted major influence on following generations.


Interviewer: And what was the resonance Malasartes had, how was its reception, how was it distributed?

BERNARDO: The distribution was to newsstands, normal stuff. We thank (Newman). Holly shit, I’m sorry, I forgot his name. It’s not (Newman), it’s the bibliophile from São Paulo.


Interviewer: Who are you trying to remember?

BERNARDO: The one who payed for the magazine, our only advertiser.

Third Person: The distribution of Malastartes was really good.

BERNARDO: It was. Well, distribution went to the newsstands and it was distributed by / it was a big magazine distributor here in Rio de Janeiro, Fernando Schneider, if memory serves me right, and repercussion was really good, it was great because they / the seventies were a very important decade for the arts, because we had a really vibrant museum, the Museum of Modern Art in Rio. The museum had that Creativity Sundays thing Frederico did and that worked, that was wonderful. I’d go there to photograph, it was a moment full of energy, filled with will to do things. So the seventies had that feature, people really wanted to have things to show for, wanted to show their work, and Rio de Janeiro was going through a really cool phase, the city was doing well because it had a few meeting spots that worked, which made the city really hot, from the morning at the beach, there with the (dunas), the whole thing, there was also the crowd from Arpoador, and also the evenings, at Baixo Leblon. There was this thing about the city, it was really concentrated, people would / Baixo Leblon was a very big thing, it wasn’t a bar, it was a section of the end of Zona Sul which was taken over, it was there, and everything went down, everything was allowed, there was no police, no nothing, that was a space where you know, any city in the world has such space. There are places the police will not visit because they’re not interested in doing so, they don’t have to, because the place has a certain self management, the whole thing just works, it just doesn’t cause any troubles for the city, so that was one / these spots were highly creative spots. I always kid and say, particularly to my friends from São Paulo, that the beach is a big office, it was a big office, because there always appeared somebody doing something, who needed someone who did it and went there. – Oh, that person, that person just did that play. Or: - that person just did whatever; and so you got a set designer... and it happened ((laughter)). So these functions of producing things often took place at the beach or Baixo Leblon. Those were the meeting spots, there was no internet, the phone was shitty, nobody had an office, this having a space thing we have now did not exist back then. – Oh, I have a place there. There was no such thing. It was all improvised, we did it from home / everybody lived alone, and also this community thing, some people came from communities, I think it’s really interesting. I’ve never lived in a community, but I think the community is the greatest source of inspiration of artist collectives, and Nuvem Cigana, which was I group I took part in, a poetry group, was a collective prototype. It was not a collective guided towards just one kind of art, it was a multidisciplinary collective, and I think that’s what made Rubens fall in love with Artimanhas, that’s how we called it, from Nuvem Cigana, which was a multidisciplinary show, one that included theater, poetry, music, arts, dance, and it always ended in a carnaval. And Parque Lage was the great auditorium and the great venue for the Artimanhas from Nuvem Cigana. We were very well received there, and Rubens, I gather from what we talked, he wished for an art school, and he understood that an art school could not be centered only around one kind of art, it needed to be a porous school, it needed to receive everything so people could have a richer and more current dialogue about the expectations of the artists, the projects, and the way to deal with production, because production is the most important, if you don’t produce, nothing happens. Nuvem Cigana was a truly independent production nucleus, we did not depend on anyone, we’d get there, - hey, do you have a hammer, hey, do you have a nail, could I borrow a board; there was no such thing, we’d get there and we’d have everything, eveyrthing had already been drawn, had already been done, and it was a great thing, it would open doors for us whenever we wanted, and I believe this, the whole art school idea is a clear demonstration of Rubens’ pop and authentic vein, which came from as early as his works in graphic art. That, in fact, was something we always discussed, what was graphic art, what was painting ((laughter)), it was really fun, and this whole influence he extracted from pop art, because pop art is a great sponge, isn’t it, it’s you being able to / wanting to understand everything, receive everything and transform everything all at once, and represent that / that thing has to be represented in such a way that is not the mundane way you see. An automobile is an automobile there, but it’s an automobile in an ad, and it’s a different automobile in a painting, so I think this thing with / the multidisciplinary vision Rubens had, of the various interpretations you can have from a same object was really important in the formation of the artists who went to Escola de Artes Visuais. I love arts. If I was a rich man I would have / you don’t know what I would have ((laughter)). I don’t even know what I’d have. And I love Brazilian art, I think this generation of Rubens, Vergara, Roberto Magalhães, Antonio, that generation was wonderful.


Interviewer: Do you believe this thing you mentioned, the city, the urban environment as a place for these meetings, this thing that / here in Rio the workplace was the street. That which was one of the main reasons, maybe the main reason why there were so many encounters between, for instance, between the arts. Because nowadays everything is really divided, isn’t it, the literature people are here, art people here, design people are there, architecture there. Nowadays I see less interaction among these groups. The arts have been too professionalized. Do you believe it was the city that made these meetings happen?

BERNARDO: I believe today you have, maybe, I don’t know, maybe nowadays you have too much communication. And that excess winds up generating ghettos, because when you don’t know a route, normally you get lost, whatever the route, so there is no point presenting you two hundred unknown routes. So these routes this generation is creating, who have grown among them from a young age, these are new paths, you don’t really know where they might lead, so I think it’s necessary to / I believe there’s a need for actual meetings, in person. This thing with the excess in communications, it saturates. Now, I believe this is a natural process, because in a different way, on the other hand, I think they’re going through an experience I find fantastic, having the opportunity to tell what you’re doing so instantly, this is a new thing, certain to bring something new. I do take issue with the internet freedom, slightly. I think nothing is as free as the internet intends to be, so I think there are certain boundaries, just as they’re establishing boundaries for children for medical, physical and psichological reasons, people need to know we are all children and we all need boundaries, and not all that glitters is gold. There has to be caution, we need to take it easy, because in truth it’s the personal relation that determines the quality of the relationship, it’s what determines the trust that founded the relationship, and if we lose trust (...)


Interviewer: I was just discussing this with a friend who is a musician, and now he studies philosophy, and he was talking about boundaries being the place of trust. Were there any boundaries in the seventies?

BERNARDO: No ((laughter)).

Interviewer: But there was trust.

BERNARDO: Lots of trust. Without trust you won’t cross your limits, because fear is a very important sentiment. Not the most important, but it is important, in order to keep us alive, but without trust you can’t cross limits. It’s that “bro” thing, isn’t it ((laughter)). There needs to be a mutual sense of trust and that, I believe, is the cement of the collectives, the fact that those people trust that together they can accomplish somehting important and solid.


Interviewer: Would you like to ask anyhting? I’m sorry, I just went over you.

Third person: No, I think I got it.


Interviewer: Ok. Parque Lage / no, I apologize, why do you think Malasartes was short-lived?

BERNARDO: Every art publication in the country was short-lived. Brazil is a country that suffers from a serious problem. It is a problem I have discussed lately, which is an isolation problem. Brasil is isolated in itself. For us, any / from a merchant to an artist, to and industrialist, the limit is being a victor in São Paulo, in the northeast. It seems we are buying into the myth that this is a continent-country, and it is not. So we have a testing limitation, the need to be tested, and actually cross the borders. What is happening now, us opening ourselves to South America, and I believe wine is one of the strongest motors in this, thanks to wine, but I believe we need this because South America lives in a reality completely different from ours, there is a transit between the countries which are the borders to be conquered, and these borders, once overcome, will take you to other places, will lead you to reach higher. And since they have a common language and a port in Europe, a strong one, which is Spain, and from there they can go somewhere else, the market called latin market, within the United States of America, there’s a well defined and old path to be followed, which has been followed by by South American artists, and Brazilian artists do not have that opportunity. So I think we live in the continent-country illusion, and we cross these little borders and we don’t really face a culture completely different from ours, sometimes antagonistic, that has to be conquered. That, right there, is an issue where the lack of politics in culture in our country/ which we never had... The only cultural policy we had was made by the United States during the war, which was the policy to bring us closer, and it took Carmen Miranda, and it, in truth, allowed Bossa Nova to reach the United States. It was whatever was left from that Good Neighbor Policy, so I think this is somehting Brazil doesn’t take seriously, we don’t have intellectuals discussing that seriously, coming up with projects, clear proposals on how the country should act in terms of cultural policy. I don’t know if I’ve answered your question ((laughter)).


Interviewer: Yes. Exactly, the question is why do you think Malasartes ended, why was it short-lived. Do you believe publications suffer the consequences of this lack of cultural policy?

BERNARDO: Totally, because if the country meets its obligation to determine and exert / and put into practice a cultural policy, the rest of society will feel it, and will find out their role in this project. When there is no project, then where does that leave us? It’s guerilla all the time, it’s one group that gets together and gets it done. Then there’s Mindlin for instance, who helped Malasartes and a bunch of publications. So we lack a cultural policy that lets society know their role in the Brazilian cultural market.


Third Person: You were really Young at that moment. Do you think you actually knew how big a thing you were doing for Malasartes? You bring writings by ( ) for the first time, Allan Kaprow, I mean, the whole thing was really important for this Brazilian arts scene. I’ve mentioned two examples, but there are others.

BERNARDO: Look, in Malasartes we had / I always like to highlight it was a magazine about fine arts and I believe there were two crucial people there, Ronaldo and Zilio, who were deeply connected with art history. I beg your pardon, it can’t be like that. I think they were two very important people there, Ronaldo Brito and Carlos Zilio, two people really connected with art history, so these people brought a few ideas that were crucial even in terms of comprehending the conceptual art Project, which was a really new thing in Brazil, there’s that thing Mario Pedrosa says, that here we / here in Brazil there’s no avant-garde, there’s only keeping up with what’s happening with the artistic movements outside the country. Because this is true, if Brazil was not a periphery country, Lindonéia would be one of the greatest pop icons in history. So it’s a / we really do live behind. And I think that’s due to a permanent lack of a cultural policy, a State thing, not a government thing, a State thing. The country has to insert itself that way. Even for music it doesn’t exist. Even music lacks that policy, we have those who are sponsored, because, unbelievable as it may seem, I never said that, but Brazilian cultural policy is made by the Ministry of Tourism. From that we can get a notion.


Interviewer: It’s a shallow view, over simplistic.

BERNARDO: You know this is recorded, but will not be used because it makes no sense within the context. When I realeased my label in Europe, Regata, I released records by Seu Jorge, by Banda Black Rio, by Paula Lima. These three records, one after the other. So the distributor in London decided it would be good to produce a show. – Ok, so let’s produce a show with the three of them and all, on the weekend, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, let’s have a meeting. Then someone said: - We have to get support from the Brazilian Embassy; - of course, support from the Brazilian Embassy. Then someone, in the middle of it, said: - that’s pointless, because the Embassy of Brazil only supports artists from Bahia. Then someone asked: - how so? – Yes, here we only have performances from artists from Bahia. Someone said: - no, Mangueira has performed here . Then the guy: - what was their theme? – Oh, “tem xinxim e acarajé, tamborim e samba no pé” ((laughter))* . So it was actually an embassy employee, who is from Bahia and she / because it’s that thing, when I speak now of Embratur, it has truth to it.


Interviewer: But that’s true. But I mean, it’s funny because it seems to me, during the research and on the job when we talk to people, that there was particularly in the figure of / I don’t know if you had any contact, of (Grisoli), who then was the secretary at Parque Lage, who invited Gerchman, he seemed to have a strong wish to see a policy for this state, for the state of Rio de Janeiro.

BERNARDO: It’s because (Grisoli) came from CPC, UNE, from Teatro Opinião, Teatro Casa Grande**, (Grisoli) had a solid and well defined political heritage, the Communist Party, the whole deal, so these things / that is another issue here in Brazil, because the only actual planned thing that exists, in terms of you having a way to do something and all, was determined by the Communist Party, which was a very limited thing, because it was completely far from our reality, so there never really was a defined cultural policy. But I do not wish to discuss the Communist party, because I think it’s a really dull thing. I wanted to say something about Rubens, that’s how I’ll get to the School, I think it could be cool. The impressive thing about Rubens is that for me he was always a painter among the painters. Rubens had that thing with the hand, the stroke, the gesture. That was an important thing for him, a defining thing. The meetings, Malasartes, for example, there was even something we / me and Vergara used to kid him, saying he was the worst ally anyone could have, because he’d get pissed off, he’d lose his temper, and suddenly like that, mate, the thing was the stroke, mate, I wanna see the stroke, the brush ((laughter)). It was a really funny thing, but you’d lose every discussion ((laughter)). You’d have to start over, from scratch. But this vigorous thing, that I think is this transition, I believe Rubens may be one of the greatest examples of this transition from Modern Art to Pop Art, because he had this search in him/. If you take, even this piece, Air, for instance, the sculpture, in the Atlantic, it’s somehting, if you think about it, nowadays, in times of Google Earth, it’s brilliant, you have a fantastic view. I keep thinking, Air, it would be brilliant, and Google’s there. It’s amazing. So he had that uneasiness, but the main thing I consider relevant is this thing of being a painter among painters. I even believe the eighties generation from Parque Lage is a result of that, of this desire Rubens had, that the artist be a great painter, that the artist mastered the techniques in his profession, so I think this is something cool, important.


Interviewer: Since you’re talking about him, let’s change things up here. How was your friendship with him, how did you two meet?

BERNARDO: That’s tough. At the bar, it was all bar. It was all / because I started going to bars really early. I started going to bars when I was sixteen. So the bars I’d go to don’t even exist anymore, Jangadeiro, Zepelim, the bars the artists would go to. I was good friends with Regina Vater, who is a Brazilian artist that lives in Texas, I think, she’s now in Houston, and we were really good friends, so I’d go out. Regina would call me and say – hi, Bernardo, how are you? Because Regina went to school with a cousin of mine, who also moved to the US and was a professor at NYU and all. So when my cousin Marta traveled, Regina would call: - Bernardo, let’s go to Jangadeiro, there’s a party at a place. That’s how I met Rubens, that’s how I met Vergara. But they weren’t my friends back then because I was too Young, and at the time that age gap made a huge difference. I was born in 1949, and Rubens was born in 41 or 42, right, but then in the seventies / I wanna remember when was the reunion, but it’s not clear, because I met him in the end of 68, of the sixties, the whole thing. Because Rubens was also good friends with my first wife, Marta Costa Ribeiro, who also painted, so there was one / there were many things. Rio, right, small town ((laughter)).


Interviewer: But do you remember when the poet Bernardo Vilhena, the artist Bernardo Vilhena, started to get along with Gerchman?

BERNARDO: That was a little before the Park / at that time we were close. It was Parque Lage and Malasartes. We got really close, became good friends, he promised me a Lindonéia that never came. But that’s ok, it’s kept here.

Third Person: He took chances in poetry, I don’t know if you’ve had this written dialogue.

BERNARDO: No. That would be cool. Because those were intense times, a lot happened, it was a really intense period because there was a lot of activity, there were / we had exhibitions, we had things, exhibits, realeases and all. But that I would have loved to have discussed with him, poetry, because there’s a side/ there are a few artists who ended up in Mallarmé in poetry, so it’s hard, I always say, whenever () meets me, I say why Mallarmé ((laughter)).


Interviewer: I wanted to ask you, if you’re comfortable, if you remember any poems you wrote at that time and if you’d declaim it.

BERNARDO: Well, a whole bunch ((laughter)).


Interviewer: You may choose one dear to your heart.

BERNARDO: Well, there’s Vida bandida, for instance, which is a piece from that time, one that is an emblem; emblem, I’m sorry, let me rephrase it. There’s Vida Bandida, a poem quite typical of that time, outstanding, which I used to declaim at Artimanhas, at Parque Lage, I did it numerous times. It’s a poem, and it’s quite funny, I tell that story and people don’t believe me, but at the Artimanhas of Nuvem Cigana people asked for encores from poets ((laughter)). You’d declaim your poem and people would ask for more, it was amazing. I just wanna remeber here. There is a poem that was released in an anthology in Colombia now, one I really like, which also serves as title for the book, Atualidades Atlânticas, which goes:

“we must live

the present

recognize codes

roll nights

be every era

every race

go into every


and not get in trouble

in any of them

saying what we want to

hearing what we don’t want to

chasing reality

and fantasy there

poetry is a moment

when we find ourselves


not by virtue of gift

by the numbing work

of thinking about time

about your contemporaries


as a shark”

Interviewer: Wow. You’ve just showed me ((laughter)). You can recite five more. Ok, so now I’d like to get into the Parque Lage part. I really got a little stunned, honestly. A little emotional. It’s so hard to (recognize ourselves) in the world today, isn’t it, a rare thing.

BERNARDO: But there is an important movement in poetry taking place in the outskirts of the entire country, for real.


Interviewer: I need to find one of these outskirts, once I’m done with this interview, if you’d like to give me an address ((laughter)).

Second Person: Nothing to do with the subject, but I was impressed, I went to Angola on a job, and was impressed by the quality of the poets in Angola.

BERNARDO: You know that in Angola “Menina Veneno” is a wedding song. People get married to the sound of Menina Veneno in the church. Unbelievable, right?


Interviewer: Back to Parque Lage, which is the main theme of this exhibit. The exhibition is Rubens, but the great (...). Do you consider Parque Lage as an art work by Rubens?

BERNARDO: Conceptually yes, no doubt, because if you analyze it, it contains all the elements of a masterpiece. There’s imagination, dedication, production, criticism. I think there’s sweat, doubt, I believe there is / it’s a funny thing, there’s a quote by Glauber Rocha that I often use as a guideline. He says: “the artist is the one who produces himself”, so I think if you choose to be a professional artist, everything you produce is a piece of art, within the arts field, whether it’s a school, a painting, an exhibition.


Interviewer: The idea of inventing life.

BERNARDO: Exactly.


Interviewer: Do you think the / how did you do inside the Park, besides Nuvem Cigana and Artimanhas, as you’ve already mentioned. Did you spend time there?

BERNARDO: Well, life in Parque Lage was major because / particularly for us from Nuvem Cigana. Nuvem Cigana was a permanent thing in Parque Lage, every book we realeased there, any calendar. We made calendars: - oh, let’s release the calendar... Parque Lage! – Oh, let’s release Almanaque Biotônico Vitalidade... Parque Lage! Everything was Parque Lage, the doors were open for Nuvem Cigana. But in order to produce that you spent time there. There was a meeting, there was a thing. So our life in Parque Lage was significant, not to mention the others / Hamilton Vaz Pereira did a play there, it was beautiful. And let me tell you money was short, because if there’d been more money it would have been crazy, because Parque Lage is amazing. Parque Lage is a space in Rio de Janeiro culture. You know that 26 poetas hoje, the book, it was released in Parque Lage, the big release was there, there are movies about that, by Luis (Alfonso), the scenario was my then wife’s work, Marta Costa Ribeiro. Poets came from São Paulo, Roberto Piva was so impressed by what went down there at Parque Lage that he, together with Cláudio Villa and other poets from São Paulo, came up with the Art and Poetry fair at the Municipal Theater of São Paulo, which took place in 1976, for three days, and it was a big deal. The Municipal Theater was crowded in São Paulo, and what happened was exactly this miscellanea of music, ballet, theater, poetry. It was an outstanding thing. Unfortunatelly the press did not reserve much coverage for these things. Us from Nuvem Cigana had no press coverage at all, for instance. Parque Lage itself had very little if you consider what happened there. And with the Art and Poetry fair the main repercussion came from the fact that Tavinho Paes went to the stage of the Municipal Theater and peed on the stage of the Municipal Theater, so it was on Veja, it was everywhere. Now, everything else that happened lost its importance. It’s just like the Virada Cultural in São Paulo, where now all that matters are the crimes, the press became the great / the democratic struggle, crime is all that matters. The important things that happened at Virada Cultural are not mentioned, so there is a / Parque Lage has a major inffluence not only on that moment, but on the repercussion of what was done there for other places even, like São Paulo, for instance, and others. We went to Belo Horizonte, Brasília, it was a (...) ((phone rings))

Second Person: That disturbs us.


Interviewer: But it is interesting that you mention this, because it’s really hard to map the repercussion Parque Lage had outside itself, because some people call it an island, some call it a fortress, some call it a bubble (...)

BERNARDO: Not a bubble. Fortress only if / I think the Park, look, nowadays Nuvem Cigana is / it’s been forty years, so there’s a new generation of critics, and poets, and everything, who are profoundly and intensely interested in the work produced by Nuvem Cigana, and in the work produced in Malasartes. Nuvem Cigana / the fact that Parque Lage exists, and allowed this permanent experience of performances of poetry with music, dancing, for example / if Nuvem Cigana is a collective, the prototype of a collective, because of how it’s produced, in fact, this production form, nowadays, is being reapplied in sector x, it’s there, and one of / because artists and set designers from Nuvem Cigana, they took the classes from Parque Lage as well.

Third Person: Did you take classes?

BERNARDO: I didn’t, because I am / I hate school. My school was the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. I run away from school. But the set designers took it. Dionízio took it. Others took courses at Parque Lage. So I think this ideia of a collective was well constructed there, I think it’s a / because of this choice made by Rubens, of making school a multidisciplinary environment, because you don’t do a collective / if we take Opavivivará now, for example, there are artists, there is a poet like Domingos Guimarães, who is transitioning to fine arts, which is a really interesting transition, so we are witnessing this rite of passage. I find it brilliant, so it is a multidisciplinary collective. So I think this ideia of multidisciplinary, Parque Lage has an inffluence over it, and it is really important to this form of conceiving art.


Interviewer: Do you believe that was a genesis, or a seed, whatever it was, an embrio ( ). This sentence I’m quoting was created by Chico Chaves, that was an embrio of everything that came to be a theme of contemporaneity. Do you agree with this idea of a genesis of contemporary times?

BERNARDO: Look, I’ll tell you one thing, if you want to take the best example of Parque Lage’s influence, it’s Circo Voador. Circo Voador was exactly that. It was theater, music, poetry, set designers, everybody “all together now”. The beginning of Circo Voador / I participated in all meetings, and then I got more connected to music, but the beginning of Circo Voador in Arpoador was totally influenced by what Parque Lage was.


Interviewer: If you take a look, today, thinking of that time, it was Grisolli’s son who told us that. The word utopia changed its meaning throughout history. It started as a place that had supposedly existed, then it became a place that could exist, and later a place that can’t ever exist. The word went through this metamorphosis, this displacement. You look at Parque Lage, that life you had there, and I’m talking about Parque Lage, selecting this period, actually, in Rio de Janeiro. As an utopia, would it be possible for something similar to exist again, in the super connected, super communicative world?

BERNARDO: I believe today it is easier for a place like Parque Lage to happen, because nowadays you have a lot more possibilities to be multidisciplinary than / because today, when the guy who writes nowadays, the poet has before him a machine that does things. In the old days you had a pencil, then a typewriter, now you have a machine that does things. You can draw, take pictures, you can make a movie, you can do anything with a computer, these things-making machines are amazing for a project like Parque Lage’s, and people will have immediate access when they take that class, so I think Parque Lage was an utopia, utopias go on existing. John Lennon used to talk about, if I’m not mistaken, Nutopia County, as if there was a new utopia, and utopia is crucial, there has to exist, it does exist. People think it doesn’t, I think internet is an utopia, just as people think it is. I can’t say this enough, the first computer was built inside an american navy destroyer, in the middle of the ocean, and internet was developed with funding from the Pentagon, so it’s not a good thing. Do not think of it as freedom, for fuck’s sake, it’s not. And there’s another thing too. Too much importance is placed upon what people say over the internet, the users. I always knew in a newspaper the reader’s opinion is the opinion of a reader who writes for the paper, not a general opinion, and the opinion of an internet user is his opinion, the guy who writes on his computer, so petulantly, absurdly, impolitely, so poorly, so it shouldn’t matter this much, just leave it be, it’s a space and the guy is there venting, it’s not even his finest moment, it’s not what he really thinks, it’s a dialogue between the deaf, so, it’s silly, the internet is another fucker ((laughter)).


Interviewer: Back to Parque Lage. You used to go, because Rubens talks a lot about this thing you said, it’s not just work, it has a leisure aspect to it, the meetings, you had the film club, Verão a mil, these moments and meetings there.

BERNARDO: Of course. You know there’s a brilliant thing which is / back to Nuvem Cigana, you see how now we live in a mercantilist spirit, don’t we. Rubens, he could easily forbid that any liquor be sold by anyone other than the canteen, and we had a thing called Alerte Limão (Lemon Alert), which was a gallon of mate***, like they sell at the beach, and two or three people had the gallon, full of Alerte Limão, which consisted of leftover liquor from people’s homes, mixed with lemon juice, and it was given away for free ((laughter)). The person came with their little cups, poured the drink and drank it. Can you imagine that now, no... you can’t, because it’s being sponsored by ( ) ((laughter)). So you can’t, and I think that’s the big problem nowadays, mercantilism. We are living in the worst age of mercantilism, and history teaches us that these moments are absolutely negative for people’s well-being, their joy, everything. It’s not a moment in favor of humanity, but against it, it’s reductionist, persecutory, denouncing, that’s it. Mercantilism brings all of that, everything tags along with it. So back then we didn’t have that, so we were allowed, in spite of the dictatorship, we didn’t have this mercantilist way of thinking, that this mercantilist way of thinking / there is a moment when the whole society becomes engaged. And it’s tough, people only care about their shares, so it’s hard.


Interviewer: I think that’s what Pedro was referring to when he mentioned the dificulties of creating a place like Parque Lage nowadays.

BERNARDO: It’s because of mercantilism.


Interviewer: Capitilism made it highly sophisticated.

BERNARDO: Yes, you’d need sponsorship. The greatest example of mercantilism we have in Brazil is music. Music in Brazil has a history of tours, made by the artists, who didn’t have to be great artists. Great artists toured great stages. Smaller artists did smaller venues and were brought by managers. In the south there were managers that now, even Dody Sirena, who manages Roberto Carlos, in the northeast there was Pinga, they brought people. People would go and play fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen gigs. In São Paulo there was ( ) who worked it, took everything, sent it to Paraná, Santa Catarina, wherever. Rouanet Law put an end to it. People go play a gig and return, nobody does an entire season anymore, and the whole idea turned into a nightmare for the artists, so it’s / imagine, since when does a great artist need a sponsor to go on tour? Nowadays nobody goes out on the road without a sponsor, only the crazy ones, and internet does not support these crazy ones, they’re out there, poor guys, alone. So what happens to music in Brazil? Mainly there’s no actual renewal, a strong renewal, in terms of an entire generation coming up and doing something, because there’s no room for that. There are people, there are talents. They’re there not for a matter of quality, it happens. They just didn’t share the luck others had, of being born and happening at the right time, that is a matter of luck, not talent.


Interviewer: Just so we have it here, something I’m a little worried about, because we ended up with an issue, our bad, we didn’t fit Nuvem Cigana into the scheme. And I’m realizing just how strong it was, from what you’re saying. Could you sum it up, what it was, how it came to be?

BERNARDO: Ok. Just let me think how I should begin. Nuvem Cigana began as a collective of photographers, painters, graphic artists, poets, all willing to do things, produce books and release them. Our headquarter, out meeting spot, was normally in Santa Teresa, that was the place. Pedro Cascado’s house was there, that’s where we met. We had weekly meetings, not to mention our bar hang-outs, so Nuvem Cigana developed this production system. Chacal was a really important guy, who came to us with his first books in mimeograph, and Chacal was part of that with ( ), Guilherme Mandaro, Ronaldo Santos and me. We were the main poets in the Artimanhas activity. We needed a place to show our work, release the books and all that, and initially we used Livraria Muro (Muro Bookstore) in Ipanema, which was in the underground, it belonged to Rui, who currently owns Livraria da Travessa (Travessa Bookstore), but then Livraria Muro got too small, and the space that presented itself was Parque Lage, so we left Livraria Muro, underground in Ipanema, and moved to Parque Lage, which became our meeting spot. Any meeting we had, any smaller meeting, just with the poets, was held at Lage. Chacal had this brilliant banner, we had to find this picture, that said “cartilagem no Lage” (Cartilage at the Lage) ((laughter)).


Interviewer: Cool. Well... is there anything?

Third Person: I was going to ask if there were any stories, episodes, anything.

Interviewer: Any B-side stuff. Something around the terraces after drinking Alerte Limão.

BERNARDO: Let me think of something. No, the stories we had were the ones from the meetings, from Malasartes.

Third Person: Do you keep copies of the magazine?

BERNARDO: You know I looked for them for this, I only have one there.

Third Person: Because I do, if you want them later.

Interviewer: Do you have anything from that time, from your personal collection? Photographs, videos, anything?

BERNARDO: From Nuvem Cigana?

Interviewer: From Nuvem cigana, ( )

BERNARDO: I do. I have me speaking at Parque Lage. They’re making a movie about Parque Lage.

Third Person: Who’s making it?

Interviewer: I’ve heard of many movies about Parque Lage on the works.

BERNARDO: Not about Parque Lage, I’m sorry, about Nuvem Cigana.

Interviewer: Somebody told me. Who’s doing it? I’ve heard of it.

BERNARDO: It’s Paola, Geraldinho Magalhães’ wife, with Cláudio Lobato, one of the guys from Nuvem Cigana.

Interviewer: I think it was Chico Chaves who said something about it.

BERNARDO: Chico Chaves may have said something, because Nuvem Cigana had carnaval, bloco**** (...)

Interviewer: That record Milton did, the song (...)

BERNARDO: Yes, there’s the song, because Ronaldo Bastos is the founder of Nuvem Cigana. The song was written by Ronaldo Bastos. So Nuvem Cigana came to exist from an idea Ronaldo Bastos had, to gather artists. It was not called a collective, not yet. But it was influenced by Apple by The Beatles, which aimed to be a cultural production company. And our headquarter was at the place Ronaldo Bastos lived, which was Pedro Cascado’s house in Santa Teresa, and that’s where the core of Nuvem Cigana / and Nuvem Cigana had a carnaval bloco, called Charme da Simpatia, because the Artimanhas always ended up in carnaval, their bloco came, and so did everybody else / wheter it was June, July, September ((laughter)).


Third Person: Yes, there was Charme da Simpatia, that later became Simpatia.

BERNARDO: Well, it didn’t.

Third Person: No?

BERNARDO: No. He said that?

Third Person: No, he didn’t, but I’ve heard that before.

BERNARDO: Yes, well. Simpatia / I’m good friends with Dodô Brandão, we are even working on a project together now.

Third Person: Yes, Dodô Brandão. Dodô/the year my dad passed away, at carnaval, they payed tribute to him on their shirt, it was beautiful.

BERNARDO: Well, he says Simpatia comes from Aldir Blanc’s song, Simpatia é quase amor.*****

Interviewer: What Chico did say was that the first meeting Suvaco do Cristo had, was at Parque Lage, I think after Gerchman’s period, at the end of the eighties.

BERNARDO: Yes, because there’s this thing with Aldir Banc’s Simpatia é quase amor because in the old days people used to say that on the outskirts: -Oh, you like her? –Oh, I appreciate her ((laughter)).

Third Person: Practically love.

BERNARDO: Practically love.

Interviewer: Bernardo, I’d like to ask a favor of you. Couldn’t you remember another poem for us?

BERNARDO: Sure. Just let me have some water. Of course, it will be my pleasure.


Interviewer: It was so beautiful, a poem.

Second Person: That was beautiful, it got me thinking about many things.

BERNARDO: Let me see somehting here that has some (...). Let me think. I got one, this poem was even the epigraph of a book by a historian from São Paulo. It goes like this:

“I believe in the balance of the trees

that don’t induce, suggest

the slight origin of the winds

filling the air with sounds

blowing answers sometimes forgotten

sweeping away lies that were told

in the name of evolution and progress

in the shade

in the shade of a Pau-Brasil tree”

Interviewer: You, on top of being a poet, can recite poetry, not everyone can do that.

BERNARDO: I was good at that, dude ((laughter)). I used to be good, it was a big party.

Third Person: I bet you were a handful.

Second Person: Just one question. You mentioned the book release (Luís Afonso) filmed. When was that?

BERNARDO: Yes, he has it. 1976. 26 poetas hoje is the most successful poetry book of the past (...)

Third Person: ( )

BERNARDO: Heloísa said so?

Interviewer: No, we’re yet to speak to her.

BERNARDO: She will tell you. And (Luís Afonso) has this film, which is interesting, a silent film, that was narrated. Man, who narrates it? I think it’s Charles, and I don’t know if Ana Cristiana as well, there’s a woman who also speaks.

Interviewer: And it’s an actual film?

BERNARDO: It’s the release of 26 poetas hoje.

Interviewer: But that became a film?

BERNARDO: It did. It’s a film. There’s the whole Parque Lage / because the setting is beautiful, she produced everything with newspaper sheets, so it’s paper sheets with written sentences.

Second Person: You don’t happen to have a copy, do you?

BERNARDO: No, but Luís is an easy guy, isn’t he.

Third Person: ( )

BERNARDO: Luís was the head of Parque Lage later on.

Second Person: I’d like to ask an heart-felt question. If you miss it, and what do you miss the most, in case you miss that time, that is.

BERNARDO: We always miss things, we miss them. If I speak purely of missing things, I think it can sound simply nostalgic, but what I miss critically is a time when we recited poetry for an audience, and not just for other poets. Parque Lage is a very important place, crucial for that moment in Brazilian poetry, because we spoke to a real audience, as it happened later, at the Museum of Modern Art, the Municipal Theater of São Paulo, at FAAP in São Paulo, Galpãozinho in Brasília, the theater and many other places where we had the opportunity to declaim poetry, but I miss that time, when there was an audience to listen to poetry, people who were interested, and not just an audience consisting of poets.

*N da T: Mangueira’s 1986 theme, which payed tribute to Bahia.

** Student Unions and groups to act as forces of resistance during the dictatorship years.

*** Popular cold beverage, particularly in Rio, kind of like an ice tea.

**** Blocos are street bands that make street carnaval in Rio and other cities in Brazil.

***** Simpatia é quase amor, the song title, and name of a traditional carnaval bloco in Rio, means “appreciation is practically love”.


VERGARA: Rubens was the illustrator of Joia magazine when I met him, and we used to hang / there were two different areas, Rubens used to go to Escola de Belas Artes (Fine Arts School) more often than me, but in the early days our meeting spot was the bar at the Museum of Modern Art, which is where we graduated. The Museum bar, the bars in Copacabana and / we ate at this restaurant in the end of Copacabana, there at Beco da Fome (Hunger Alley), and we’d split a caldo verde (green broth)* and we played a bar game for the piece of meat in the soup. There was only one piece, so we’d play for it. So Rubens was a / we actually grew up together, with this / and I’m talking 72, 73, when we started going out. Rubens was an art professional who worked as an illustrator, and I was a volleyball player and an employee of Petrobras, and we were growing up. That determined, also because of Rubens’ character, it determined much of our friendship. We were really close. Maybe, from what was later known as the crowd of Antonio (Dias), Roberto Magalhães, Gerchman and me, Rubens and I were the closest. We were really close, and maybe because both of us, him and me were ladies men and we liked drawings. Even though the great designer Roberto Magalhães / but we had that thing with the funny drawings, and using day to day elements in / that was part of his job as a magazine illustrator, and I wanted to politicize the world. That was kind of our beginnings and we were great companions during our trajectories, specially in the early days. Just to give you an idea, three galleries in Rio de Janeiro / people who bought our art were college professors, philosophers, lawyers, they weren’t millionaires, millionaires didn’t buy contemporary art, they only bought baroque pieces, there was no market. The market was something absolutely negligible and that made us / we did our work, wrote the texts, took it to the paper, I mean, we did everything. As Helio Oiticica used to say, “of adversity we live”, and that’s what was built, and I have very fond and loving memories of Rubens. We got together in New York many times, and here. Adulthood is something that separates people a little. He was always living somewhere else, but we were always close, and had true friendship, and, deep down, I believe, mutual admiration. Just to make it a little shorter, so we can get over this subject, I think / I don’t really know if people recognize the true value of the revolution Rubens made at Parque Lage. I mean, the idea of a workshop, rather than teaching. You can’t teach art, nobody teaches art. Iberê (Camargo), who was my master, my friend, he used to say something I find extraordinary: “I don’t teach anything, I’m a crazy sower, I throw seeds. If the soil is good, it will germinate” and I think it’s a little bit of that. And Rubens also believed in that. He was always a really free man, and his style choices were always about the pretext he was working on, and not about creating a brand. So much so that in this exhibit that was just at CCBB, that big LUTE (fight) sculpture, which was something so / transforming a word that was so important to us at that time in a strong geometric thing, that had / it loomed like a building. I don’t know why / I remember quite well our / Rubens was also an aggregating guy. I am too, I mean, I enjoy being with other people, I also enjoy motivating people. When we did Malasartes, we did Malasartes despite a few people who were also part of Malasartes, but we did it in spite of them. Malasartes had three issues. I think it’s important to understand one thing. In the end of the sixties, I mean, 67, beginning in 65, when Jean (Boghici) does Opinião, I mean, Opinião, 66 / our exhibition at G4 Gallery, our exhibition ends up in São Paulo, things we were producing, we had to do the work and create a context, so our work wouldn’t be hollow, lost in space, so the creation of a context / we are not alone. Our work / we were always well informed of what went on, we knew everything that happened around the world. We knew what happened in Japan, in the Amsterdan – Belgium axis with the group Cobra, we knew what was going on with the new French figuration, we knew what was going on with the beginning of american pop art, we knew the drawings made by (Claes) Oldemburg, we knew what was / and we knew we had parallels and diferences, I mean, to call us pop artists is major stupidity. Stupidity is a little strong, I’m a little visceral. It’s naivety, simply because we were embodying the day to day thing in our image. That’s not pop, because a pop with a criticizing element, such as we did / Andy Warhol’s pop is an irony regarding the growth of american society and we did not have that irony, actually it was a new criticism figuration about a new Brazilian reality. Those who grew up under Juscelino’s government, with promises of a future, five years in five / in a / what was it, “fifty years in five”, for instance, this kind of optimism that existed. Those who lived through Carlos Lacerda’s government, with the romoval of Catacumba favela, those who lived through those changes and that optimism, that whole thing, we were / eighteen, nineteen, and then there was a / Let’s say, truculently shut by a stupid military mentality. Here’s the deal, you’re twenty three years old, all testosterone-y, you got everything going for you, you just want to eat the whole world, you’re filled with desire to do things, and there was that blockage. I think that made us want to do things, a new Brazilian identity. We joined Helio, who came from a different background, much more intellectual, of neo concretism. We got close due to our willingness to create a context in which our work could expand. I don’t know, I don’t / it’s a bit chaotic, I’m saying it, but, that’s it, and we lived our work intensely, we’d hit bars at night to talk, to discuss, to come up with our possible actions, and I believe Rubens was a really positive guy because of that, the courage of Rubens’ bad taste is extraordinary. And that bad taste I’m referring to is obviously just a manner of speaking, because this incorporation of something foul, something vain, Brazilian, that is part of his work, its a lesson to us. Something that, speaking directly to artists, the courage in Rubens’ drawing is absolutely / because he drew without a previous mental model. We had designers who were absurdly / Roberto Magalhães, who I mentioned already. Jesuíno, for example, who was a guy who looked at you / as Chico Caruso is nowadays. If Chico Caruso waa here, he’d grab a piece of paper, he’d draw this situation here. He can easily transpose three dimensions into two, an innate gift, Roberto Magalhães also has it, had and has it, just as Jesuíno does, which is an impressive thing. Jesuíno looked at you and you were coming, growing in the paper. Rubens and I did not have it as easily, so said ease was substituted by the courage of a stroke that could surprise you. Actually, here’s the deal, there’s no model, there’s pretext. The pretexts are / the real pretext is the work’s model, so I think that’s something really good to see, and it was good to live it. ((Vergara gets emotional)).

Sorry, please, cut that, because it’s cheesy, it’s just that we (...). The age we begin losing pieces is awful, sorry. Let’s take a breather. It’s tough, this thing / there’s something I’ve been thinking about that may not have anything to do with the subject, but, we prepare ourselves for death, a little bit, since it’s inevitable, you prepare yourself, you prepare yourself to accept it’s something inevitable, but you don’t prepare yourself for old age, and old age won’t happen in just one day, it’s little by little, you lose pieces. So it’s something / I’m not melancholic, it was just an emotional moment, of (...).

CLARA: Of remembering everything.

VERGARA: Yes. I’m a bit like, a bit (...). Now I need questions.

14:56 - PEDRO: You said you and Rubens did not have that photographic vision that other colleagues had, I mean, you had that accident model. How is the accident of your work in his, what kind of space for accidents does the work of the two of you have?

VERGARA: Total, because there isn’t / I’ve been saying, work is a bit of a mixture of two games. A dart game, and a dice game. Without luck, there’s no artist. Without bad luck, there’s no artist. I mean, this game, actually / your conversation with your work is a conversation with a blank. I’ll give you a drawing lesson right now. Now, I’ll give you a drawing lesson.

PEDRO: Would you like a piece of paper?

VERGARA: ((with a piece of paper)) Yes. It’s blank. What is this here? A line? No. A line and two spaces. What’s this? Two lines, four spaces? No, it’s two lines, four spaces and a cross. Class dismissed. Because there’s something the blank responds to you, and after each thing you give it, it will tell you if you should add anything else. This is a conversation between you and the blank, in which you add things. The bad luck consists in when you suddenly / without meaning to, something you hadn’t noticed is revealed, and from that moment the blank has taught you, so you carry on, get it? So when I speak of the courage in Rubens’ drawings, that’s it, you see? So there’s something to be discovered, no previous model of it, it’s a conversation between you and the empty paper.

17:03 - BERNARDO: I’d like for you to talk a bit about how was the happening of G4. I’d like you to remember that night.

VERGARA: It was wonderful. Five crazy guys, we have to mention a fella that was really great back then, he was Antonio Dias’ father in law, Pedro Escosteguy who was a poet from Rio Grande do Sul, older than us, but with a very clear political view, and also a brave guy, and we did / when we decided to do that exhibit, Rubens was doing that live-in boxes thing, the elevators, so he decided to do that absolutely extraordinary construction. Escosteguy did something that was a rocket that was a melancholic kite, I did a / I walked in wearing a suit and a tie in a gallery with a briefcase and I had prepared on the wall behind a wooden panel, I had prepared a sentence with a photo. It was a Picture of Grande Otelo’s eyes, and I come in / we couldn’t see anything , there was a panel in front of it, I came in with a briefcase, sat in front of that white wall, opened it and took a / I plugged it in, it was a drilling machine, I drilled a hole, and made a circle in the hole, “look in here” type of thing. I got up, took everything, put it back, and left the gallery. They made a line, it was about 80 centimeters, which made people get into a funny position, and back there were Grande Otelo’s eyes saying: “what are you doing in this ridiculous position peeking through a hole instead of looking around you where so many wrong things are going on?” so the guy would be told off like that, leave and not mention anything to who was next ((laughter)). Rubens trapped everyone in that super elevator, there were about fifteen people, Zuenir Ventura / I remeber two people, Zuenir Ventura and Gustavo Dahl, then he covers it with plastic, and start painting and closing it with color, with stuff, and that thing gets closed. Rubens stops painting and simply leaves them there. So the buzz began, they wanted to leave. If you want to leave, go ahead and leave, then the guys couldn’t handle leaving, which was Rubens’ idea, to create a situation that was a bit like the situation we lived. So that idea / just so you get an idea, Paulo Afonso Grisolli at the time, before directing television, he used to direct theatre, he asked to talk to us and we sat at a bar to talk about the performance experience, of that installation. Evidently we knew Lygia Clark, Helio Oiticica, we obviously talked and exchanged ideas, nothing to do directly with work, but there’s the influence of these experiences which were happening simultaneously at the time and Grisolli asks: - how is that? And three months later Grisolli puts together a play in a theatre there in Flamengo, called Onde canta o sabiá (Where the Thrush sings), in which for the first time he has a trapeze onstage, and the actor goes out there and comes over the audience. What no one can imagine is how was the great dialogue that existed between film, fine arts, theatre, literature. Rubens did covers / I did so many book covers for the writers, it was a dialogue, movie posters, things, theatre posters, theatre settings. The big dialogue between sections, this communion, this more collective thing, it existed. The first thing the dictatorship promoted in Architecture School was the end of group work, everything was individual. Four architects did the final project for the year. They worked together, got their grades, all four of them, for a collective effort. Then they had to do individual work. It is that notion I believe Rubens generously brings to Parque Lage later on, this experience that existed previously, and he tries to instal it there. When he asks Marcos Flaksman to teach a scenography course at Parque Lage, which was a visual arts school / I think you should talk to Marcos, for instance, to expose the freedom he had there, the Ripper, these kind of things Rubens knew, because intelectually he was born in miscellanea.

23:07 - BERNARDO: Nova Objetividade (New Objectivity), why did Nova Objetividade come to be?

VERGARA: Look, Nova Objetividade Brasileira (New Brazilian Objectivity) / exactly because, to neutralize this pop idea that was going on. We had the pleasure of hanging out with an arrogant and transgressor intellectual, Helio Oiticica, and he conceives this thing, he knew it wasn’t pop, it was something, a new objectivity in Brazil, something that had a character that was typical from here, and it wasn’t provincial, it was reflexive. It was a type of work whose utility / Lindonéia, for example, using a newspaper character was the utility / Antonio Manuel also uses newspaper Flans. It’s something we were all / Cildo (Meireles) uses bills, money. It’s all a bit / a new Brazilian objectivity. So, it is art, it’s not art, and it goes back to being art. It’s art, it’s not art, it’s a pamphlet, and it goes back to being art. I think that’s part of the idea. The idea behind Nova Objetividade is the idea of creating a space and a kind of a profile of ours that could be recognized and eventually it is recognized by Guy Brett, by a bunch of people who see that there’s something that makes sense. So, there’s a line of thought that belongs to a group of crazy guys from Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Recife, who are the Brazilian avant-garde artists. This title, avant-garde, I think it’s really important to mention the name that must be included, that has to be said, we are talking about Rubens here, but we have to mention Mário Pedrosa, I mean, art is the exercise of freedom. That sentence / it liberated us and he was the president of the International Association of Art Critics, and he was the guy that took Morandi out of Italy. He was the first man to get Morandi out of Italy, to show his work at São Paulo Biennial. What is Morandi? We all know, Morandi is a new kind of beauty, it’s something else. We were all looking for a new type of beauty, that wasn’t absolutely silly, or decorative, or well behaved. A new kind of beauty that could originate from tragedy. Lindonéia.

26:30 - BERNARDO: No. Let me just ask you a couple more questions, then. I’d like to know if you can, from your recollections, if you can tell me what New York changed in Gerchman the artist. The New York experience.

VERGARA: Anyone / let me go back a little bit. 1965, or 67. The American State develops a State project and sends a guy named Robert Rauschenberg to the Venice Biennial, transported by two aircrafts that belonged to the American Air Force. Rauschenberg’s work was transported by two American Air Force aircrafts. Mud Poll, which was a gigantic bubbly muddy thing / the pieces were gigantic. Rauschenberg wins the Venice Biennael and the art center leaves Paris and is now in New York. It’s a State project. Can you hear me, mrs Dilma? That is a State project. Culture is a State project. The center switched from Paris to New York. Pop booms. I saw at São Paulo Biennial, Barnett Newman in a suit, bow tie, in front of his painting and he said: - I handpainted, I handpainted. Why did he say that? Because there was no paintbrush stroke, it seemed to have been done by pistol, and that’s handpainted. Subtracting the personal trace was a gigantic effort by that big artist called Barnett Newman, it wasn’t in that expressive, expressionist thing. The value was in the color relations, it was a different proposition. You may not agree, but it’s an intellectual painting proposition. Painting is a way of thinking, and New York becomes, not that it wasn’t interesting before. There is an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art right now, the collection of / I forgot his name, which is an incredibly extraordinary collection, made by a Brazilian guy, he’s Belgian-Brazilian, he lived in New York in the fifties, forties and all, so he always lived in New York and collected. There’s everything, Picabia, Man Ray, everything he bought at these guys’ bars. So, New York, after the sixties / why does Helio go to New York? Why does Rubens go to New York and not Paris? Because there, there is a / I would go to New York to see / when I got there Helio would leave a list in my nest saying: - this is going on, this, and that, and this. There was a shortcut, so I wouldn’t have to look for it in the paper, the New York Times, the Time Out, Village Voice, it was already there. So I’d go. I started in the morning, going to Film Archives, I saw every film by Duchamp, Man Ray, Picabia, everything of Dadaism I saw there. Rubens did too. In order to enter Rubens’ house you had to pass three poor drunkards, because he lived at the Bowery when the Bowery was something else. Nowadays the Bowery has the New Museum, which is an amazing thing, but back then when Rubens / but he was there, he wanted to be in that frequency. Him, Miguel Rio Branco, Helio Oiticica, were there, Cildo Meireles, Teresa Simões, were there looking to be contaminated by that frequency, and so much so that Rubens’ phase / evidently when Rubens begins writing on things, the more reflexive, conceptual part of Rubens is the exchange with that reflexive environment of New York... Hans Arp... and all those things we later try to share with everyone else through Malasartes. That’s it. I think that’s why he went there, to try to run more risks.

31:15 - BERNARDO: What do you think / in your memories of your friend Gerchman, how do you explain, for example, Gerchman, when he returns from New York and you were both doing really well, going through a great phase, he leaves the studio and starts dedicating himself to being a thinker, an educator, in Parque Lage’s pedagogy.

VERGARA: Because I think there’s this notion of creating a context, it was really important for him to create a context for his own work, I mean, had it not been that way, it would have still been (Candido) Portinari standards, and Portinari is no standard, Portinari is a great artist. I may like it, I may not like it, I may prefer Goeldi, but he’s a great artist. They had their contexts, created by the Escola de Belas Artes (School of Fine Arts), because it was a different moment. Estado Novo itself provided a context for Portinari. Rubens knew that. Actually here’s the thing, interlocution was crucial. I mean, in the exhibition I did a few years ago to inaugurate Arte 21’s gallery, I invited a friend of mine, who is a young artist, who’s really happening now, Thiago Rocha Pitta, for a conversation, and here’s how it went: a conversation between a young one who’s entering now and an old one who is not exiting, that’s it. I think that’s what Rubens wanted for Parque Lage, a conversation between youngsters who are arriving, and an old man who is not leaving, who doesn’t have to leave. This idea, for example, this idea of the young artist today being a thing, a market value, almost currency trading. Young artists are tough, because there are young artists who are terrible. Twenty two and saying: - my work collection. What work collection? You are twenty two, you’re only just beginning, do not wear this market clothing, this only interests the market, it doesn’t interest your work. When I say there are a few of my friends who are young artists, for instance, who do grafitti, I say: - be brave, kill your character, how will you age with a character like that? Kill it! Because it’s a way of thinking the world. Art is a form of thinking the world and sharing your thoughts with others. This is the effort of creating a new beauty, because new beauty has nothing to do with, for example, if somebody spoke of new beauty to Matisse / if you look at Matisse / I just got back, I saw Barnes Collections with Matisse, with Soutine and Cézanne there, that has nothing to do with the beauty from that period, it was a transgression, that is a transgression. The reigning beauty, the apples could fall from Cézanne’s table, those women from Matisse do not support themselves, neither do the ballerinas / the ballerinas are actually delusions. I mean, it’s the new kind of beauty that each generation seeks and they replace one another, they have to respond to their internal glands, the glandular urges of youth, but not this idea that / since it was us, young artists, we weren’t interesting because we were young, we actually were bringing something different, it wasn’t an age thing. I was twenty three and I went to São Paulo Biennial for the first time at twenty three, Antonio wins the Paris Biennial at twenty one, and Antonio never stopped thinking, Antonio is a hard working man, he’s a / still digging, he’s a Sisyphus, carrying that rock up, and the rock comes down. I think / it’s my intuition, since I never talked to Rubens about Parque Lage, we talked a lot about Malasartes, but even Malasartes, which we did together, was a way towards others, an effort towards others, generous, that was part of creating a context for our work, so it’s not something – oh, how generous and all. No, it’s a smart vision that you need context so your work will reverberate. So that’s it.

36:39 - BERNARDO: Let me just ask another question, then. I mean, just because this notion / following that comparison you were making, between the young, the twenty two year old and / he wants to say he has a collection, if you knew how big that was for Art History. Of course not, not for Art History. I didn’t ask it properly, let me rephrase it. Were you aware, for example, that you were maybe creating the first happening in Brazilian art?

VERGARA: No. We were aware that we were avant-garde, but nothing / that thing / we sat at the bar with Antonio Calado, at twenty three, twenty four. Yesterday I met Ana Arruda, who came to give me a kiss, his wife, I mean, the same way she did forty years ago. We didn’t know / that impression is a deslocated impression. Certain notions come from the market. The market today has a major influence on the construction of this current universe. Thirty galleries, forty galleries in São Paulo, a hundred galleries. New York is crazy. Yesterday when the professor from Columbia University had lunch here, we talked about art for a bit, about memory. He writes about art and memory and deep down what he wanted to know... – how did you cook this fish? What’s the recipe for this fish. I think this idea of / I’m gonna work because my place in the market will be this, and all that, if you follow that path / because I believe work has to become denser and denser and this attempt to / we all make mistakes, no point saying all of Beethoven’s quartets are great. Some are better, there are the ones which are better, others a little less, like in every artist’s work there’s that one which is unbelievable, which is the best he can achieve. It would be the same as saying: the best Brazilian artist. Who is the best Brazilian artist? There’s no best one, there’s a cauldron, what is wonderful is that you have a cauldron of interesting young people, interesting middle-aged people, there’s a production that is a cauldron, come to the cauldron, take whatever speaks to you, whatever gets you excited. Art is about animating, in that sense, the soul sense, to feed the soul. I don’t know, I think the great thing about talking about Rubens is that we see he was a generous man in the great sense of being generous, I mean, because he didn’t forget about himself. And that’s it.

**Portuguese soup made of kale, potatoes and olive oil, and often ham hock


00:03 - Interviewer: Here’s the deal, as I told you, it’s a bit about Parque Lage History, so I’d like you to start by telling when did you first get to Parque Lage, and how was this Parque Lage you found.

DANIEL SENISE: I got to parque Lage in the beginning of the 80s, 82, around that, 83, and it was a very simple place. There were two or three courses I was interested in. John Nicholson’s, Luiz Aquila’s, and Charles Watson’s. I took John’s course for three months and a year later I came back and took three months of Aquila’s classes, then I became sort of a member of Parque Lage, I would go there to meet everyone and stuff, talk, and later, when I was already an artist, I started teaching at there. It was fast, in the mid-eighties I was already teaching at the Park.

01:00 - Interviewer: But how did the classes system worked, the methodology, were they separate things?

DANIEL SENISE: Parque Lage did not have a school structure. The then head of the school was a really free-spirited guy. After Gerchman it was Rubem Breitman, and Breitman was the head at the time, he basically / you did what you chose to. You taught what you wanted to. So the courses were pretty tight, independent from one another, and there were very few of them, you didn’t have that many options. The Park was really like a club, a place where you’d go to talk about things, and to hang out with people, but there were almost no theoretical courses at the school and there was no line / you go there, kind of follow a certain path, start with a more basic course and move on to something more advanced. You just joined the class you wanted. Maybe Charles Watson asked for a few / a few requisites, for some students, to accept them as students.

02:13 Interviewer: But the School had no methodology?

DANIEL SENISE: I don’t think there was. There wasn’t. Each course was an independent feud, and that’s what the Park was, from my days up till recently. There were groups, tight courses without much communication between them. Since the weight of theoretical courses nowadays is more significant, a few courses focused on a theoretical part, they still do, and a practical part. Recently the Park went through an educational reform, I participated in that, and we tried to create one initial course and a final one, to try to establish a flow, which is more or less what’s been happening there and it’s going well. Now the government is assisting, so now we have funding to support this initial course, so I think it’s all / it’s funded by the government, subsized by the state.

03:23 - Interviewer: This idea you mentioned about coexistence is a major interest of ours because during Gerchman’s period there, even at the festival, he mentions that leisure is important for knowledge, meaning that if the person who / if the person is happy, their brain will absorb better, they’ll develop more creative potential. I’d like to ask you, how were relations during that time? How were they, how often people saw each other there?

DANIEL SENISE: The park was really like a club, you’d get there, meet your friends, and basically used it for that. In my class with Aquila / he’d talk to you sometimes, about what you did, and it was there that I met the guys with whom I had my first studio, which were (Luiz) Pizarro, (Angelo) Venosa and João Magalhães, then I kept going to the Park, but as a social deal. I mean, the place always had a very important social aspect for me, and later on, as a teacher, I learned a lot because I had to teach, I didn’t know much, so I think it was more important for my formation to be a teacher than a student. All in all I had classes for six months there.

04:49 - Interviewer: You got there, you were really young, right?


04:53 - Interviewer: Anyway, you were raw in terms of art, right? DANIEL SENISE: Totally.

04:56 - Interviewer: And how was it, you had this / you and your generation there, those guys you hung out with, Pizarro, acquaintances from the studio and all that, you had this knowledge of Brazilian art, you knew what had happened before?

DANIEL SENISE: No, I didn’t know, I didn’t know Parque Lage’s history. I didn’t know about Gerchman, I knew very little about Brazilian art. What I knew / I graduated as an engineer, what I knew about Brazilian art was what I saw in a few Biennials I attended in São Paulo. I wanted to do something, I didn’t know what or how to, and back then attentions were turned to things outside our country, so there wasn’t, at the time I joined the School, a continuity with Brazilian art from the 70s. It was all inaugural and in my case, I wanted answers fast, so that’s why I didn’t take Charles’class, because his class went deeper, made you question. In order to achieve something you have to question, but the other course was more fun, more free and all, and that’s it, I don’t know.

06:05 - Interviewer: No, because there’s something we notice, that’s not necessarily / a moment is not different from the other, they are distinct, but it’s not a rupture. That was also there a little before, during Gerchman’s period, but why / I’d like to understand, because it’s hard for us to understand, was it basically an art school for painters? Because the painting thing got really strong at that point when you brought it back.

DANIEL SENISE: I don’t know how it worked during Gerchman’s period, but during ours, considering the international context, paintings were what was happening, Aquila was a painter, is a painter, Charles also painted back then. He got his degree in England / he also painted. John Nicholson painted as well, there was a class where 3D was taught, I don’t remember the teacher, but the School’s strong feature was that, and there was also drawing with Luiz Ernesto. He taught a class in drawing, so it was all 2D. At that time, internationally, paintings were strong as well.

07:30 - Interviewer: How did that international context got to you?

DANIEL SENISE: Magazines. I think we had a library at the Park, they got these international magazines, so you could see what some guy was doing, that had been concluded three months before, I don’t know, in Italy or in New York, and it was already in a magazine at the school, and that had as much influence on us, or maybe even more, than our context from here, that in my opinion had an actual rupture. I did not come from an art school and did not have that much access / to this day there’s not much access to Brazilian contemporary art in museums. Once in a while there’s an exhibition and all, but there’s no permanent gallery that explains you what happened, previous periods and all. At the Park we, together with Charles’ students, Bia Milhazes, Chico Cunha, we had study groups and studied art in studios or at the houses. We didn’t have that, school wasn’t providing it, and it was really prosaic. We studied impressionism, expressionism, you know? Sure, we got together, it was fun, everyone was young, but we never did, at that moment, study concrete and neo-concrete, you know? We studied the beginnings of modern art, and that lasted a while, but it happened.

09:06 - Interviewer: There’s another funny thing, I’m trying to tear down certain myths here with you. There is this kind of romantic beginning, before the 70s, it was nice because it had that crazy thing going on, that in the 80s the market took over, so each artist went to work on their own painting. But you are talking about that exchange you had; do you think there was a lack of collectivity, what is your opinion about that?

DANIEL SENISE: How was there lack of collectivity?

09:43 - Interviewer: I mean, because there weren’t many artist collectives at that moment, were there?

DANIEL SENISE: No. This is how I feel about it, during the 70s there was no market, and if there had been, everybody operated with these / with that knowledge, you know? If you think about it, the artists from the 70s who are still alive are in the market and they’re good, producing nice pieces, you know? And in the 80s it was not a project of ours to work in a market, it was a situation, the context that made it happen. We had a market, and my pieces, and the pieces we sold were really cheap, you see? But it was a start, and everybody benefited from that market, you know? People who were already there, and those who got in. But it was the beginning of a / if you want to use that word, professionalization, but it was getting more and more intense, worse, as time went by. Nowadays gallery owners go to art schools to search for new artists, you know? Back then it was easier. It was really weird for me to sell. One day a guy walked into my studio and bought five of my pieces, and five from Pizarro, and we went to the bar ((laughter)). Selling our work was unexpected. I mean, it wasn’t our goal, let’s go into the market. I had a job and held it together doing another one, I didn’t want one thing to poison the other and invade the other territory, you know?

11:38 - Interviewer: Why did you become an artist?

DANIEL SENISE: Why? well, I don’t know, I wanted to do something, but I didn’t know, I wasn’t / I’d always drown and all ((noises)) – is this too noisy? --

12:31 - Interviewer: I’d asked you why did you decide to become an artist. Why did you come after art, not why you became an artist, right. Why?

DANIEL SENISE: I liked to draw, I drew, I had engineering meetings, I illustrated papers, did comics, then I photographed. Then after I graduated I went on to do other things, I started working with something called videotext, that no longer exists. I wanted to join technology and art. I took care of the visual aspect of videotext at Banco Nacional, which is something that doesn’t exist anymore because we have personal computers. It was something that combined telephone and television for you to access remote data. I did the visual part and all, which is internet, right. So I worked this job part-time, I had a motorbike and I went to Parque Lage. In two months I had a studio with those guys, in Botafogo, and it really changed my life, because I thought, now I have a problem. So I started, I got in this (...)

12:48 - Interviewer: Why did you end up at Parque Lage, do you remember?


12: 51 - Interviewer: How did you find Parque Lage?

DANIEL SENISE: It was probably like it is today, a reference, and there was no other, you see? And it was a place where you could go and start right away. My first contact with Aquila, I came in and asked, can I take your class? I walked by a place where Aquila lived, I saw those paintings and I thought, cool. So I came to Parque Lage and found out that guy was a teacher there and I asked, can I take your class, He said, you can. I asked, what do I do, He said, buy paint, Then he turned to Pizarro and asked, what colors, Pizarro? Tell which colors! I wrote it down and went to the store. I don’t know, I think there was already a store there, I bought the paints, came back and began painting. Of course, that is / each week I painted differently, he didn’t give us any assignments, nothing, you see. One day I did something like this, I kind of went through a more complicated process. I brought it to the classroom and put it up, when he got there, he shook my hand ((laughter)), there wasn’t much conversation. Aquila / Charles, on the other hand, you needed a certain canvas, of certain dimensions, you had to split it into nine square pieces, and in each of them you’d do a painting different from the other. Then I said, I don’t want to do that. I should have, for instance. It would have been cool. I took a longer path, you know?

15:22 - Interviewer: That thing you say about studying (...)

DANIEL SENISE: Of going deeper, trying things and all. To the extent that me being an artist participating in São Paulo’s Biennial, in 85, I had never done oil painting, you know? Painter. Then when I started using it, things got more complex, because I really got into the complexity of painting, get it? I already was, but it was a formal situation before, wasn’t it. But that made me decide not to use strokes anymore, for example. None of that has anything to do with the park, it was my process already in / it was the artist, I was in the Biennial, so I was still trying things. I knew I didn’t have it down yet. I mean, you never really do, but in 87 I had my first good crisis of / that I was already / I had a gallery, I sold my paintings, and I was experimenting a lot, you know. I did not have time to do that before my first art show. But it was cool, how it happened.

15:35 - Interviewer: How do you, in your memories, how was your experience of, from what you remember, of meeting an empty canvas, this encounter with art?

DANIEL SENISE: Since Aquila did not demand something specific, I started looking at other artists, you know? I checked, for instance, David Hockney, I looked at it, and he was a guy I really liked. So I worked a little bit like him. Then there was a Francis Bacon there, you know? But it was a student thing, experiences, and sometimes I gave away a few pieces. Sometimes these pieces show up here. So I used an external structure, things I was interested in, to try and find out what was useful for my project, for this construction. I was more or less / I’m organized. In 83 I was no longer at the Park. I traveled to São Paulo a lot, because of my job at the bank, I saw a guy named Markus Lüpertz, german guy, at the 83 Biennial. I really liked how he organized his painting, and I came up with my own way to do that, trying to Picture how he did it. Taking a structure, and image, and deconstructing it. An image from my daily life and that, and that was what made me an artist, I don’t know, in three, six months. I received a bunch of prizes, I went to Japan, I went to Biennial in São Paulo with work that is really very cool. I have one of these paintings here on the back, but, it was not yet what I wanted, but I also needed to have a good time, so it was really great to do that. In two days I’d finish a piece. I worked intensely, you know? There was an ellaborate something here, but there was the presence of this stranger, who created these / Lüpertz wasn’t it, then he left and, as I said, oil came in, and my work totally derailed, I no longer could finish something in two days, sometimes I wouldn’t even finish it. Sometimes I dropped it, and then I’d go back to it. The studio was turned into something / there was paint everywhere, quite different from this, and then I started sticking my canvas to the walls, that was 87, and it’s what I’ve been doing ever since, I stick my canvas to places. It’s one of the things I do. And I started creating things in these accidents, I made discoveries, experiments. I think in 93 I could say I had something kind of organized which allowed me to move on.

19:49 - Interviewer: It’s just that the accident is one of the most interesting things in the process. So I’ve been asking this question, I asked Vergara as well. Well, what kind of space an accident has? This does not have much to do with what we’re doing here, but within your work, how much room you allow the accidents, how is it that you allow it to enter your work?

DANIEL SENISE: Bacon talks about this a lot in that interview with Sylvester, about the accident, and I think I understood ninety per cent of what he says, because the accident is something to which you can do whatever you want, but you can simply reject it if it doesn’t interest you, so it’s not that much of an accident, you know? Ok, for Bacon’s work, he’s working the accident within the boundaries of the canvas; in my case the accident is something that comes across me, something I wasn’t picturing. The canvas got stuck to the studio floor. I even made these first few acidentes, deeper to me, of sticking the canvas to the floor, I did a process painting, of collision. I went to the studio and stayed. There were days when I went home defeated. Then, on another day I’d manage to get something done. As time goes by, you manage to control that more, and the collision, and to me the process got a little more / nowadays, years later, I still need that. But that’s in part of your work. There’s a series of pieces I do that are basically compositions, they go there, come back here. I use a subjective approach to choose, to decide about this work. At the same time I work on other pieces in which composition is completely dominated, and there are color decisions, chromatic and all, but I kind of know / I have really good control over what will happen at the end of the piece. Even in these cases when I have great grasp over the situation, there are things that come up, and you use them, and they take you by surprise, you know? I think that’s one of the most important things when you work on something, not being too set in what you’re doing, and being able to maybe change your mind really fast. Nowadays what I need not to get too set is external stimulus, I mean, other than watching documentaries, movies and all, I need to work with young people, who disturb me somehow. I have to update myself. Nowadays those who are starting have a whole different register from what I had when I was first starting, and I think that’s a good thing. So there’s an exchange going on, we all have lunch together everyday and all. People come over, spend some time and leave, there’s always some rotation, so I’m always with young people here as well, who stimulate this interference thing, the accidents. The accident, which I always compare to that sand that enters the oyster, and that thing turns into a pearl. It wasn’t part of the project, and you have to work around it to find a solution for it.

23:16 - Interviewer: Speaking of this young thing, because both me and Pedro always talk about Parque Lage from ten years ago, and you mentioned this methodology that you had to come up with for yourself, to start with. Because what we’ve discussed, what we missed during our time at Parque Lage was that we, somehow / there was nothing that told us, look / that made us find our own paths, our subject, our method. I ask this because it seems to me you built your own, you kind of fought for your survival before the canvas, and that is something that was very important during Gerchman’s time, taking in the student, that youngster who got there, because he doesn’t know what he wants, he doesn’t understand that that canvas is empty, but, as Deleuze says, it’s never empty, because it’s you. That way, the struggle between the young artist raw towards the media, his work, I missed that a lot during my time. It seems to me you didn’t have that during yours, did you, your generation was highly prolific.

DANIEL SENISE: What wasn’t discussed when I first started was that you / here’s the deal: you would either paint, or do sculptures, or draw. There wasn’t much of a plan B, maybe there was video and all, but not at Parque Lage. I mean, that was the only thing you couldn’t change there. Now, at any given era, I think the problem is the same. You, in order to understand yourself, resolve yourself, and express yourself as an author or an artist, you have to go deep, and school doesn’t teach that. School / I believe the school’s main job is to provide tools, information, so you can embark upon your own personal journey. Now, you can use exercises to do that as well. School, a course, the teacher, they can stimulate you with exercises, but that discovery comes from the individual. Since art became a very profitable business, there’s this major structure, many artists whose works are completely planned out on a clipboard, as if they were an art director, you know? Adn a lot of these guys really work out, and are dear to many people, But, since anything can be art, anyone can be an artist, there are many different solutions to that. Artists I really like and admire, who stimulate me, are few, but there’s a huge universe and that is valid. I think that, to sum it up, the problem has always been the same. For you to find the piece, or the thing you are trying to formulate, it’s an internal process in a social environment. It’s a personal problem. School won’t ever tell you how to do that. I have a friend who is an artist, he says there are school for priests, but no school for saints. I find it troubling to associate artists with saints, because I believe there are no saints, and there are artists.

Interviewer: And artists are not saints.

DANIEL: ((laughter)) No, thank God. Thank God is risky, isn’t it. That’s good. ((laughter)).

27:11 - Interviewer: And did you get to know Gerchman during the 80s?

DANIEL SENISE: No, I met him later on, in exhibitions and all, and we were together in an art show in Sweden, then I believe I saw his last exhibit in New York, at a place called Art Collectors. And it was so weird when he died, because I thought he was really well, and all. He died a year later.


BERNARDO: To begin this interview, I want a little / let’s go back. Gerchman says, in a testimonial about the Escola de Artes Visuais do parque Lage (Visual Arts School of Parque Lage), and when he mentions you, he talks about your European background, that was before. I’d like to hear you talk a little bit about this Helio, who graduated in Europe, and how was that.

HELIO: I began studying Philosophy and I dropped out to go to Europe. I embarked upon a Brazilian Lloyd cargo vessel and I went to Europe to study scenography in Prague, Czechoslovakia, during the socialist period, and I was a student of the greatest set designer of the Twentieth Century, the great set designer of the twentieth, of kinetic art, projections, the coupling of cinema and theatre, you know, the great set designer in Europe at the time, Josef Svoboda, so I went to study scenography with him at the Prague Opera and when I returned I stopped in Cuba, I also worked in Cuba for a while, a long while, one year in Cuba and when I got back I started working at Teatro Oficina, I did O Rei da Vela with José Celso, then I ran into Gerchman again, at the opening of Rei da Vela, which was in 67, 1967. We talked for a long time, because we were childhood friends. Childhood, adolescence, a little. We ran into each other at the bus, in public transportations and he’d tell me: - I’m painting, I climb up favelas to paint. He enjoyed going up there to paint life a little, how it was back then, the outcasts, but bohemian, and we reconnected after my time in Europe, which was a time of education, in Russian avant-garde, following the Bauhaus school, so I had a quite refined training, in music as well, in Czechoslovakia, and speaking czech, which is a Slavic language, so the profound contact with Russian theatre, with Russian avant-garde, which years later, years later at Parque Lage I put all of that into my workshops, so much so that I did a conference-show, as we called it back then, a staged conference, I mean, the teacher got into a character, so we played the conferences, as it happened during the Bauhaus school period , in 19, 20, 21, until Hitler closed it in 33, in Berlin. What I did at the Escola de Artes Visuais was / I knew this entire universe, Russian avant-garde, Bauhaus, geometric abstraction, kinetics, music, so when Gerchman invited me in 75, we got together, Gerchman, Lina Bardi and I, to organize the school. It was one of the first few people, other than his great friends, it was the first friend he invited to create a free school, a school, let’s say, multidimensional, an open and free art lab, so he called me, we met at my studio with Lina, and I began organizing what could be a course, which he named Oficina do Corpo (Body Workshop), which was the body related to the art piece, the body as a work of art, the space relation, the being in movement, so we worked the anthropological aspect a little, cultural anthropology, theatre anthropology, and I suggested that course, he said yes and I began working with him at the school, and I think that was the great Brazilian school of the second half of the twentieth during the dictatorship years, I mean, a free school of art, of thought, that later Wilson Coutinho wrote a beautiful article titled Opposition Garden (Jardim da Oposição), because it really was an opposition Garden. Actually it seemed like an oasis too, the school at that time, which was an arbitrary time, of arbitrary policies, dictatorship, torture, censorship. I left the theatre and decided to carry on working freely inside the school. At that time I was the coordinator of the scenography course of the Escola de Belas Artes da UFRJ (School of Fine Arts of UFRJ), which was also a free school, that followed a free philosophy. It was quite a democratic school, the university, although we were living in a dictatorship, but the great free school, non scholar from that time is Escola de Artes Visuais (Visual Arts School), which is a creation, a masterpiece developed by Rubens. Rubens, in truth, created a masterpiece, another one, and gathered wondeful teachers there, great friends and great artists from that time, painters, photographers, musicians, sociologists, so it was a school that welcomed and housed that criticizing and free thinking from that time, and there I could practice my profession. Everything I shared with the students was part of my education, I learned all that before, as I said, Russian avant-garde, constructivism, geometric abstraction, the Bauhaus matter, the Bauhaus discipline, the Bauhaus costumes, because professors at Bauhaus also dressed up, they played scenes, made theatre, danced. It was an avant-garde time, in reality the expression of Brazilian counterculture is that school, coupled with a few activities from the Museum of Modern Art, but as a school, a place where people would meet and practice their freedom and their creativity, it was the Visual Arts School from that time, beginning in 75, 76, and when I joined it I proposed doing Amazon legends and the History of symbols. In fact, Gerchman did posters for me. He was amazing at drawing, letters. I said: - I can’t draw letters, you do the letters and I work on the illustration. I still have that poster, one of the posters, made in papercraft, because it was a school, like within Bauhaus tradition, although Bauhaus was more connected to industrial art, design, but the Escola de Artes Visuais (Visual Arts School) was a school made by hands, thoughts and hands, it’s not a digital time, it’s a period when you worked with your hands more, your imagination, people painted, they got their hands dirty, they lived their work of art under construction intensely, therefore it’s an art school, handmade, a school made by our own hands, so much so that every text used mimeographs, they were mimeographed, a few xerox copies in black and white, that ended up losing color and definition at the time, but the posters were handmade. He drew many posters in papercraft, so it was quite an interesting school, I’ve even tried to restore that spirit in my latest courses, working with our hands, getting away from the computer a little bit, away from the digital aspect, from Photoshop, and work, even though all these things are important too, because I don’t deny technology, though it’s important that the artist makes discoveries from their own bodies, the module, the way to express themselves through their art, everything the hand and the mind can build, so in that sense it was the great Brazilian school from the time, a free school, that did their thinking outside the academic box, which was heavily curtailed by the dictatorship and the censorship, so there we could practice our freedom, there was also some tension from the time, because it was a state school, of the State Secretary of Culture, but he had the strength of a great artist and the courage of a fighter to impose and defend the freedom teachers had with their students. They were students from different social backgrounds, some of them were really poor and didn’t pay for classes, courses were practically free of charge. And people that had college education, architects, artists, painters, many students, marginalized youngsters from back then, so that / joining Parque Lage, for many people, it meant entering a world of diversity, but in the world of freedom, of freedom of speech, and many important things that took place there. Poetry, marginal poetry, music, art history, conferences, they used materials from the garden, that was also influenced by Lina Bardi, because she put her exhibitions together with leaves on the ground, so we utilized a lot of material from the garden at the then, so, returning to Uirapuru, I said I would have a theme, I would work Villa-Lobos’ theme, Uirapuru, which is the Brazilian expression., of the great Brazilian musician, I said let’s work this Amazon legend of this bird, then that was the summer school course, we even made a little movie, back then we used Super 8, and that was it, it happened.

11:35 – Third Person: In the early days your workshop added to the Body Workshop, and almost immediately, not long after it started that period in 75, it changes from Body Workshop to Multidimensional Workshop, and that has a lot to do with the profile you, Gerchman and other colleagues wanted to introduce to the school, and open up to multidisciplinary approaches, but it also interests me because while it’s still a body workshop, it brings other expressions to the pedagogical proposal and at the time people talked a lot about happening, seeing that work for the first time, Allan Kaprow’s article in Malasartes magazine, Gerchman had that essay about the Clothing inside the Body, the whole body theme moves through these other disciplines (...)

HELIO: Miltidimensional Workshop, Body Workshop, multidisciplinary, home, body, cosmos, that was the name, the theme of the Body Workshop. Body Workshop because it involved/ there are many people who worked with their bodies back then, they did body language, and there was a protest, which is why he changed the workshop name, he found out it was more than a Body Workshop, because we worked the body in movement and we did exercises and we did, something like Russian avant-garde, Russian actors and even Bauhaus itself and so, we did / we went up the terrace, worked on our breathing, we did pole vault, and then we were ready. I thought the body needed to be exercised in that fashion, with joy, so it would then be ready to go into painting, and into the great collective panels I did. I’d put the papers on the floors and everybody worked together on the panels, which included all sorts of themes. And he didn’t think it was just the body, body art, he said: - no, we are calling that Multidimensional Workshop. Back then people laughed at it, they didn’t get it, they laughed – that’s a joke! Now it’s a very interesting name, very contemporary, I mean, he could see beyond, because what we were doing was in fact multidisciplinary, we were experimenting with it, and coordinating that network of information, and it really was also holistic, that method, and what I believe he saw, he managed to see it and said: - so your workshop won’t be called Body, because people who are from that field, who work their bodies are complaining that you are not a dancer / because we danced a lot, there were parties, there was theory, and there was practice, so I brought a record player, played some records from that time, by many / Villa-Lobos, well, Russian, Brazilian musicians, you know, we worked it, and it involved dancing, that’s why he called it Body Workshop, and Uirapuru is a work made with students, with costumes built from organic materials, because we used a lot of organic material from the garden, that amazing garden, and we worked with costumes made from organic material and we danced. So there was dancing, it always involved the body in movement, free expression, and one of my night calsses was always a ball, a ball-lesson, the show I used to call show-meeting, I mean, people would come for the ball, in their attires, with their dates, and they were Wednesdays nights so people would come in costumes for the ball. There was a small class and then a big party, a bit like parties at Beaux-Arts in Paris, parties for Fine Arts and Architecture students in Paris, who held those big costume parties. So every week there was a theme, so the theme / people came in costumes and all that, that was strongly criticized at the time, but he thought the whole thing was great because I think it’s interesting that the school’d be open for that kind of event as well, every event from other friends, painters, photographers and sculptors, they started transforming into art shows, big parties, with food, wine. We used the pool, I used the pool a lot, we swam all the time, nowadays it’s kind of forbidden, but we danced a lot, and we dove into the pool, it was really interesting at the time. Pools are meant to be used, it was a party venue, a school that was a party and it was (...)

17:25 – Third Person: Gerchman talks about the anxiety he had in the early days, when he called you guys, because at the Institute of Fine Arts people didn’t meet at the corridors, neither teachers nor students, and it was really important to allow classes to meet and have fun. You just mentioned it was a lot of fun and in a moment when Gerchman says, he said “leisure as a tool for pedagogy” and it’s something those art teachers who were closer to him always talk about, the party, the encounters, the fun as a tool. Tell us a little bit about what is leisure as a pedagogical tool.

HELIO: Leisure / because that school, in reality, Parque Lage itself already is a great square, a great garden, rainforest, a little embedded with the spirit of an English garden from those days, still Lage’s, Besanzoni’s, Lage’s. A twenties house he built for a great opera singer, so she was an artist too. That house has an amazing history, that predates the school, then it was turned into the Institute of Fine Arts, so there were people who’d go there to paint, their easels and all, there’s a great legend that when Gerchman got there, he threw away the easels, built a fire, but it’s not true, because we used easels, no painter would do that to an easel, which is a great support for a painting, even as we used them, with posters. They were totally shocked by this great freedom proposed by Gerchman, and exercised by students and teachers, so there was that thing, the leisure, because I think leisure and feeling good in a natural environment is being creative, you can be someone who is freer and more creative as well, more willing to create, to practice your craft, that was the idea, so there was this fun aspect, the entertainment, the joy, but it was an Allegro type of joy, of music, it was musical, let’s say, so much so that there were wonderful pop music shows there, the evenings at Parque Lage, up until the end of the seventies, all the great artists sung there, there were poetry recitals, which were also really beautiful, marginal poetry; There are even movies, fragments about this event. That is the greatness of the school, which is the possibility of also using a garden, the classroom was not that cubic space where people were confined, sitting at a desk learning, they were free to come and go, to go to the garden, climb the trees. I taught many lessons outdoors, on the terrace, and outside. In fact, on the terrace we had great showers, with buckets and hoses, people working, so they had hose showers, and they loved it and all that, in the morning, and a pool, so it was a time that seemed crazy back then, it seemed like a great Bacchus party, it seemed Bacchic, it was Bacchic, but it was also a school where you learned a lot, studied a lot, but I think that’s the point. I believe the correct pedagogy of the contemporary world is that one, it has to be praciticed with joy, fun, with music, with great dates ((laughter)). People dated, they did / they went up the waterfalls, came back down, bathed in the upper waterfalls. I worked with Celeida Tostes, we were cooking some of those organic pieces she made, also very pretty, and it was her workshop, Fire Workshop, which has a beautiful name, multidimensional, Fire Workshop, CINEAVE, so it was a fun time, fun, but our kind of fun, a rich kind of fun, that objected an arbitrary government, an arbitrary time in Brazil.

23:13 - CLARA: Helio, could you talk a little bit about Lina’s involvement with the workshop, that still / I know, of course, the invitation (...)

HELIO: Everyone asks that.

CLARA: Yes. She was crucial, but, how did she get involved, to what extent did she participate?

HELIO: Lina, as I said, we met up to put that course together, that Body Workshop and other courses, the guidelines of what would become a school. She was really experienced, she came from MASP, from the building of MASP, from the experience of the Drama School in Bahia, and the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia, she was also victim of that military arbitrariness in Bahia, Salvador, when they pointed cannons to Teatro Castro Alves, where she presented her Museum of Modern Art project, she also came from São Paulo, so she came to Rio, she even wanted to move to Rio at that time, she should have done it, because in São Paulo repression was also pretty heavy. At MASP she built that wonderful museum, but she never managed to turn the museum into a school too, because of the dictatorship, so she met with me and Gerchman at my studio, as I told you, and we started conceiving what could become a school, a free school, a democratic school, free, and a property of the people of Rio de Janeiro, for young people, older people, artists, a meeting spot, so we had these meetings, he started the school, she actually had a few design conferences. I even have the poster for a conference she held, about design, really interesting, popular art, design.

CLARA: Drawing in deadlock?

HELIO: Yes. Drawing in deadlock. You that text, right?* I have that text of hers, and later she wrote for a catalogue, that I did an exhibition called Espaço Lúdico (Playful Space), that was a little / my students questioned me a lot back then, they’d say: but every space is playful. I said: not every space, not every space is playful. The name of the exhibition was Palyful Space, and she wrote a text for my catalogue which was printed at the school, it was a manila envelope with mimeographed texts inside, and she participated indirectly in the school, a little, but, I mean, being in São Paulo and coming to Rio sometimes. She even made a few drawings to expand the school into the woods of Parque Lage, because he wanted to expand the school, create a few studios in the woods, which ended up not happening, it wasn’t possible to make it happen, so that’s how she participated, but Lina was always present, because Lina is a fabulous character in history, in Brazilian culture, Italian and Brazilian, who taught and influenced many artists, many people so she was / I consider her one of the founders of Escola de Artes Visuais (Visual Arts School).

27:31 - BERNARDO: How were the actual meetings, because there’s Gerchman, who was returning from an experience in New York, in touch with this conceptualism, that American conceptual art, with Kaprow, and you came from Eastern Europe with all that constructivist baggage of Russian avant-garde, and there was Lina, with her own baggage. How were these meetings, which were the dilemmas you faced during the debates?

HELIO: Well, in Prague I had a really strict, methodic and wonderful education, also musical, intuition and method, which I consider a really important binomial, you / your intuition, trusting your / venting your intuition, listening to the voice of intuition, or the voices of intuition, but also creating a method, so you won’t lose yourself in the introspective and non rational thing, in the irrational, and Lina was very strict, it was a brutalist architecture, an architecture / that she liked to build public buildings, she never enjoyed building houses for rich people. She never did, actually, she did two or three houses for friends, but she believed in an architecture for everybody, in more democratic spaces, and Gerchman has a very sophisticated training too, as a Figurative Artist, also very strict, because he studied hard and learned a lot, he was a very relevant colorist, a designer; and I came from Prague with this Bauhaus education, Russian avant-garde, Russian avant-garde a little more, which influenced Bauhaus, even, the Russian avant-garde professors, Kandinsky, these people, and she / but I’ve gone through Cuba, and I worked in Cuba, so in Cuba I reviewed the world, the Caribbean, the rhythm, the colors, I recovered every color, and I did O Rei da Vela, and it was during Tropicalia, one of / so I was a Russian avant-garde student of Bauhaus, of Svoboda, but I was from Tropicalia, so it worked out at the school, it worked within Escola de Artes Visuais (Visual Arts School), which is a Tropical visual arts school, so we can’t forget that. He attended Rei da Vela, we reconnected, as I said, in 67, at Oficina, 66, 66 to 67, and I believe the other teachers also had other lines of thought, they were engraving professors, film professors, sculpture, you know, they each had their craft, and practiced their craft. Mine, in there, was the most, let’s say, the most, not the most free, but the most festive, in a good way, not festive / there was a time when festive became pejorative, but festive in the sense that it was a celebration of the body, of the body in movement, and of / because I believed at the time, from free experience, from free dancing, I even wrote a few articles about that then, that people really do think more clearly when they choose to be a dancing being, and a full living being, because dance involves music, rhythm, body, so I believed in that, as I still do, and also in method, in method as well. People read, studied. My students, some of them, kept beautiful journals of our classes, full of drawings, photographs, grafitti, and quite beautiful, of many different themes. The approach of the Body Workshop, and later the Multidimensional Workshop are the avant-garde of theatre, dance and fine arts from the twentieth century.

32:36 – Third Person: Tell us again about your time in Cuba. To Parque Lage not only classical schools, such as Bauhaus, Black Mountain are brought, but also another ingredient: what is learned around Latin America. And many Latin-Americans also went through Parque Lage, also contributed, like Felipe Ehrenberg, Luis Felipe Noé, but in your case, you ran a different route. Tell us a bit about your time in Cuba, and how you bring this, let’s say, this input which, by the way, is of extreme high level.

HELIO: It was of high level, because I was friends with the Cuban poets and writers of my generation, and some a little older such as, Virgilio Piñera is the father of all, and there was Lezama Lima, who was alive in Cuba and all, so, well / because this relationship with Latin America and most of all with Latin-American literature happened in Prague, because there was the Casa de La Cultura Cubana (House of Cuban Culture), which was a space of culture, that belonged to the Embassy of Diplomatic Services from Cuba. I was really good friends with Cuban and Latin-American students who were college students in the Soviet Union at the time, and in Czechoslovakia, some were film students, others theatre, others fine arts, so I used to visit Casa de La Cultura Cubana and I met many writers who traveled to give lectures and visited Prague, which is a wonderful city, a must-visit, a great city of alchemists, so I got in touch through free publishings of Casa de La Cultura Cubana, of all Latin-American literature that I knew partially, but I read everything in Spanish, so I dove into the literature of Latin-American poetry and also music, then I was invited, when I returned to Brazil, by Casa de Las Americas, Haydée Santamaría, who was the director of Casa de Las Americas and also Antón Arrufat and all, who had been a great Cuban writer and poet, he had been the director of Casa de Las Americas magazine, so I was invited to participate in a Latin-American festival of theatre, so I went to Cuba, I accepted it, I left here during the dictatorship and went to Cuba, via Spain, because you could also go via Mexico, but in Mexico you were booked, so you had to go through Spain, which was the country that maintained cultural relations with Cuba, it always has, they never broke it. And then I went to Cuba and I worked there for a year, with a very important avant-garde theatre, Teatro Studio de La Habana, whose director was a great Cuban author named Vicente Revuelta, so I spent a long time working with them, and I saw all of my great friends once again. We met at the house of an extraordinary woman, named (Olga Andreu), who was from the library / who was a librarian at Casa de Las Américas. She had a fantastic room in her apartment, and she played hostess to all these great poets, and they became my friends, among them Virgílio Piñera, Antón Arrufat, Abelardo Estorino, Reinaldo Arenas, all of them, every one. I worked for a year at Teatro Studio, so that had an impact over my discipline, I guess I went back to being latino, inside that Cuban rhythm, Cuba is a great country, that has an expressive literary movement, really important, a fine arts movement as well, Cubans are great painters.

37:23 – Third Person: I’m sure you know Raul Martínez.

HELIO: Martínez, of course.

Third Person: Martínez did beautiful work, aesthetically really close to Gerchman’s. Martínez was the one who introduced pop in Cuba.

HELIO: Yes, exactly, so I think that was it with / I later did O Rei da Vela, which is a / Rei da Vela is Tropicalia, Tropicalia via Cuba, because Rei da Vela is / José Souza Martínez’s Rei da Vela, he directed in Teatro Oficina, which is a milestone for Brazilian theatre, it’s a figurative show, all colorful and Tropicalist, irreverent, so I think right after it I was prepared / Escola de Belas Artes (Fine Arts School), I did my job there still freely, and I was getting ready to dive into this garden that was Parque Lage, this garden of earthly delights, like Bosch “El Jardín de Las Delícias Terrenales”, or “El jardín dos senderos que se bifurcan”, and I think that is the great magic, the great sortilege of Escola de Artes Visuais (Visual Arts School) in its time, and its foundation.

38:55 – Third Person: And in Parque Lage there also is the eagerness to bring intellectuals from Latin America, or also bring Brazilians who had strong ties to Latin-American art scene, so Ehrenberg came, Noé, but for example Frederico Morais often came (...)

HELIO: And anthropologists too, Lélia Gonzales, anthropologists, Mário Pedrosa, Mário Pedrosa’s conference, really important. So actually these people / it was the great / the finest from Rio de Janeiro and Latin America at first, were regulars at that fantastic place.

39:53 - CLARA: Could you tell us a little more about the conference-shows, how were they, because it’s really avant-garde, you were quite ahead of your time.

HELIO: Well, conference-show was the name we found to qualify that state of conference, so we did it around the pool, in the room, that room which is the Gabriella Besanzoni’s marble auditorium, and we also had them around the pool, so that had major fluency, because it was something of a happening, but it was rehearsed, there was rehearsal and many themes, we worked, from Paul Klee, Maiakovski, and Russian avant-garde, then Paul Klee, and the point of chaos, then Comédia de La Arte Bumba Meu Boi, Isadora Duncan, everyone in white would dance, dive into the pool with musicians of Theatro Municipal’s Orchestra, anyway, the conference-shows were that, because there was the lecturer’s part, but in that case it was already a lecturer / sometimes my conference / it was a lecturer that was already a character, it was the transmuted teacher, he doubled as a teacher and a character. We did the Nijinski actors, with Charles Chaplin, the dancer-actor, Buster Keaton, well, there were many themes, that’s how the themes of / it’s a little bit of the twentieth century avant-garde, Mondrian and Line Theatre, the great twentieth century avant-garde, inside the school, in form of a conference, but not a preachy conference, well behaved, it was a naughty conference, that involved characters, paintings, it involved the persona, the mask, and that was quite interesting. Sometimes, for example, there were evening conferences which people attended in costumes, you didn’t know who they were, but there were those exchanges of glances, it was quite fantastic for that time. I think it’s still avant-garde, I do. It’s a weird term, but it still is, let’s say, fizzy, Dyonisian.

42:47 - CLARA: You were really young. Do you think you had a real notion, the dimension, of everything you / it was quite inovative, quite pulsating.

HELIO: I think so, we did, because we were / Rubens’education and my education, and Lina was already a great architect. People had very solid backgrounds, they had knowledge, their foundations were powerful, and I think we didn’t know it would be something / because we also had fun, so it wasn’t something / it wasn’t just about fighting the dictatorship, an armed struggle, it wasn’t an apparatus, but a nearly illegal school, what went down there was clandestine and illegal, but in a State Secretary of Culture scheme, which was connected to theatre people and everything. I got on the verge of leaving the school a few times, on account of Uirapuru, and the collective showers the students took. Since they got paint all over themselves, and they all showered together, men, women, young people, they showered naked to get the paint off and all, and that generated a very complicated situation, but he stood up for that, he thought it was great. I think that’s it, I think it was a free school, but that had a / everything we fought for there, we knew why, because it was right at that time, that was the only possible path for a non academic school.

44:58 - CLARA: In fact he didn’t call / in that statement he left, he didn’t refer to you as professors, he didn’t call himself a professor, he spoke more as guide, and the student wasn’t a student, it was the user.

HELIO: The user, exactly, because they went to many workshops, it was open, people didn’t register for just one workshop, they could orbit inside that contellation, the school was kind of like a constellation, actually, so the students orbited around their masters, or teachers, or guides, who were the planets, the stars.

45:46 – Third Person: But for all of you it was really important to mark it with a nomenclature, subvert the nomenclature, also subvert the concept of the workshops, user, Oficinema**, all the time, even the name of the school was a statement for Gerchman, changing the Institute of Fine Arts (Instituto de Belas Artes) (...)

HELIO: Which was an Institute of academic painting (...)

Third Person: Tell us a little bit about your nomenclatures.

HELIO: Nomenclatures? They’re highly poetic, but also strictly within art history, they say a lot, essentials, but they’ve got humor too. I think the humor thing is still there, it’s a little Maiakovski, it’s as if Maiakovski, Burliuk, these people were students or teachers at the school, they would have had a school like that, the Russians, at the time, and it was / I think it had humor, love-humor, lessons, love, humor, home, body, cosmos, there was this music that involved things, I think it’s (...)

47:14 – Third Person: I’d like to ask you, because for us it’s hard to rebuild a few situations, a few workshops by others, which is the case you already mentioned, Celeida Tostes, but I’d like a few details on how that happened. We found beautiful pictures of the workshops that were also a little performative, a lot performative, and you always think that doesn’t happen, workshop is ceramics, and it wasn’t exactly that, it was the body thing, a lot, and her taking advantage of, for instance, we have the example at the end of that period, and Lygia Pape’s workshops, we don’t have much information.

CLARA: We have no information.

Third Person: We’d like to know a little bit.

HELIO: Look, I got in, and I got out too, because during that time at Escola de Artes Visuais, in the end of the seventies, I went to Mexico, I took a trip to Mexico, a long trip, then I returned, so I didn’t participate in a few of those workshops, I didn’t / Ligia, I met Ligia Pape there, she even saw it one time when we did a piece involving the architecture of the pool with wires, strings, we joined them, and built an enourmous web of strings, and Ligia said: - but that’s what I was going to do. They were her tetéias***, in the beginning. But I had little time with her, actually my work is really intense with my work group, so I saw the teachers, I said hello, I was better friends with a few of them, but not / I was closer to Rubens, who sometimes came to visit me, would watch my classes, you know, and to Celeida Tostes and to Cine ABI, to Santeiro, so these were the people closer to me at the school, those were them, those teachers I worked with, and the students also gravitated, they also left a workshop, went back, they came to my workshop and then went on to exercise with other teachers, with other guides, so I don’t have a lot / I don’t really know / I don’t have that much memory of these other workshops, except for the grand openings at the end of the year, or the end of the semester, presentations of the students’ works, which were kind of like parties that took place, I think they were / actually the professors focused really hard on their workshops and were / that house is a house full of compartments, all segmented, there was the underground. My exercise which was more exterior, towards the garden, the trees, the garden, and on the terrace. We used the terrace a lot, especially at daytime, in the mornings, because there we could move freely, so, as I said, there was water, there was a hose, there were showers, but I only participated sometimes, at presentations and end of courses, a few conferences.

51:25 – Third Person: When it came to Oficina do Cotidiano (Day to day workshop), by Gerchman, you two were really close, so maybe you could give us a some more information, we’d like to learn.

HELIO: About Gerchman?

Third Person: About his workshop, and how did it work.

HELIO: Gerchman’s workshop was a little later on, in the early days of Escola de Artes Visuais he organized and supervized, he was kind of like a Coryphaeus in that show, in that / afterwards he started working truly as / practicing his profession as an artist and all, but I don’t have that much memory from that time, because the relationship, as I said, was / we didn’t really observe each other that much, it was another kind of / it was as if we were a family, and people knew each other and if / it was really natural, this wasn’t an issue, at least not with me, a curiosity about other teachers’ work , because it was is if everything was an integrated whole, so we were each part of a whole, so I don’t have / it was a long time ago, so I have this memory which is an intuitive memory, and of sensitivity and / not nostalgic, but an affective memory that I have associated with the school.

53:27 – Third Person: How was the management? Because nowadays you raise funds, but looking in the distance, the need to get material here and there, today it’s done naturally, but back then it was a bit of a challenge to be working in a public intitution, linked to the Secretary of Culture, but at the same time there were no materials, you had to look for them, and creativity was also present in managing and in the collaborations between everyone so they all could put together their workshops. How did that work?

HELIO: The State Secretary of Culture maintained the professors, professors had a salary, they even afforded themselves the luxury of / students practically didn’t pay for the courses, they joined them, my students never payed for anything, as far as I know. There was no registration, there were people who introduced themselves, they came to places and they weren’t even enrolled. Now some of them have told me they even slept at Parque Lage. Me, specifically, I used to stay late, after all school activities were over, there were a few state employees there, who were keepers, homekeepers, who made coffee, who made a few snacks, it was like that. There was a small kitchen there, they took care of that, of snacks, coffee, and they stayed, they lived there, below. I stayed there late many times, under the moonlight, when all the school lights were switched off, swimming in the pool. It was one of my favourite late night activities, swimming in that house and it, as I said, it was a school kept by the State, professors received their paychecks, they were decent salaries, enough for one person, you know, to live modestly, but it was fair, and it was a free school, free of charge, practically, I’ve never seen a student pay for anything, for any course, quite different from today, things nowadays seem even more organized and limited in that sense. That was a garden where people came and went, and sometimes you didn’t know who those people were, and they’d stay, it was kind of a school of gypsies, and I think that was the relationship teachers had with some of the students who were assiduous in their courses, especially technical courses, drawing, live model, sculpture, and the ones that did engravings. Gerchman recovered a few rocks from the Museum of Fine Arts, beautiful rocks to make litho / but it was a school maintained by the State Secretary of Culture, which had a few very interesting people, in a State of Repression, but they worked there at the schools. There was Klauss Viana at the Escola Martins Pena de Teatro (Martins Pena Theatre School), Gerchman at Escola de Artes Visuais (Visual Arts School), so it was maintained, discreetly, by the State Secretary of Culture, so as far as I know he didn’t have too many problems. Sometimes a patrol car that stayed parked on the school street, at Rua Jardim Botânico, but they never entered, because they also thought there were a bunch of crazy people there, hippies, who were harmless people because they lived among flowers, covered in flowers, and they danced painted and barefoot. So I think that / not only my students, but other people who were there, students and all, because I have pictures of people laying around the pool, drawing on the floor. We drew on the floor frequently, in the plain, it wasn’t so much on a clipboard the activity, it was on the floor, so I believe it also rid the school of a / unlike other schools, Brazilian University, Federal University, it rid this state a bit from being supposedly dreamlike, it rid people from / they were either called alienate, hippies, so they were liberated from that, only they didn’t realize that behind all that there was protest, even nudity as protest, body painting, body protest, the mask, but I think it had that very special moment as well, because repression didn’t reach the school so strongly, so violently, but it was under constant survaillence, of course. Some of the stundents, who were often at the school, were probably people who told on us, or were observers, political observers, but they didn’t understand anything, I think, because I believe that was a moment during the dictatorship and in these awful moments of exception and arbitrary that they don’t understand, because dictatorship is ignorance practiced in its highest form, truculence, so they don’t really understand the artists, they don’t think the artists are as dangerous as those who fight, who practice their political activities in an organization, illegally, even though it was a school that seemed illegal, but I think that the dictatorship issue was there. Of course artists suffer in dictatorships, they are criticized, sometimes arrested and all, but they’re always considered to be, I believe, not really dangerous people.

1:00:56 – Third Person: Still, the year 1979 is a political circumstance, it creates a complex conjecture (...)

HELIO: Complex. He leaves.

Third Person: Explain that a little, there really is no clear biography.

HELIO: No, he doesn’t talk about it much, because it wasn’t good for Gerchman. Him leaving the school / he could have stayed there for a much longer time, so much so that the people who replaced Gerchman at the school were the main critics of that previous state. The following directors were not at all democratic, not at all generous to all that revolution that took place at the school during Gerchman’s years. On the contrary, they were the critics, incredibly reactionary, some of them. They said the school had got back to normalcy, to being serious, there were no more naked people and I think that hurt him. We all get hurt, when our work is interrupted arbitrarily, because it’s a state school, so the conjecture changed and he left, he left to carry on his work, his painting and everything. He thought it would be better to leave, leave the / he realized it was no longer possible and all.

1:02:43 – Third Person: But also during the time it lasted he repeats many / I think that is a common time in all subconscious of every friend and colleague like you, that, he repeats one more time, when Lina Bardi went looking for him, and he was very specific and – no director, what director. And she said: accept it if I don’t like it, bye. And he said: - well, I’m going in, but I’ll put the pink slip in my pocket, and I believe that’s more metaphorical, but it’s more of an attitude thing of those who voluntarily care and that also marked a spirit which was contagious to everyone – we are here to do; and it also created freedom between you, complicity.

HELIO: That, and it’s the moment of passage as well. I think it’s the moment / we were all aware, because of Brazil from that time, and the one from today too, and from usually, the artist as someone that goes by, a fluent being, a moving being, a river being, a being from Heraclitus, a being who is in constant movement, so he was aware of that, he knew he wasn’t going to stay, become an academic headmaster, constant and perennial in a school. He knew that was a passage, but in reality it was a great passage, but he was aware of that, we all were. Above all else, a young person is aware, because young ones are always in movement, should always be fluid as a river, so I believe he knew that. I, myself, left to persue other things, I went back to doing theatre, cinema, because I was really outcast at that time of life called a professional in theatre, due to all those experimental works at Parque Lage, these performances, those dances, a few more conventional and square people in theatre believed I had gone nuts – he’s mad, he’s nuts, as we said it back then, he’s out of it; and they wouldn’t ask me to work. That happened, but I was really happy at the school, content to be working with Fine Arts, then I left Fine Arts and carried on at (...)

1:05:27 – Third Person: Was Uirapuru part of that legend?

HELIO: Of that legend, exactly, and I felt exactly (...)

Third Person: You were called in by the Secretary of (...)

HELIO: No, I wasn’t called in, they didn’t want to renew my contract for the following year, so there were a series of / a few manifestations, Anna Bella Geiger participated in them, stating that I had to go back to school, Gerchman and all. They didn’t want to renew my contract, the State, after Uirapuru – during the first semester he stays, then he leaves. All of them, the secretary of culture, the artists signed a petition and I stayed, I was hired back to the school, I signed the contract once again, if there was a contract, I don’t remember that exactly, but at least I was making money to survive, because I was outcast from the world called theatre world, because at that time, late seventies, it was quite conventional, well molded into the dictatorship pattern, naturally there were those people who fought against that state of things as well, against censorship and all, but it was a well behaved theatre, and the school was considered a naughty school Zero de Conduite, like Jean Vigo’s film, zero behaviour.

1:06:56 – Third Person: You reached the limit in 79 (...)

HELIO: 79, and Gerchman reached the limit, I left a little earlier.

Third Person: There was a long petition for Gerchman’s leaving.

HELIO: Exactly, there was a petition.

HELIO: Yes. Gerchman left in 79 and I left a little earlier. I took that trip to Mexico, came back, then I worked with that wonderful dancer from Uruguai, coreographer Graciela Figueroa, who is a friend of mine, and nowadays has a wonderful institute in Uruguai. She was doing a job here, she even attended my classes and we talked, we created many / we wanted top ut shows together, I even conceived things with the students and all, but that was the last year. I left a little sooner and he left because he was / he was coerced, but he was also aware of it, because that was a state of / a state that wasn’t / exactly, with his pink slip in his pocket, as you said, because we knew that couldn’t last at that moment.

1:08:14 - CLARA: Helio, we have a few more affectionate questions for you.

BERNARDO: I’d like to get out of the historical commitment a little bit now, and get into the human commitment.

HELIO: It is all very affectionate.

BERNARDO: But I’d like you to tell me a little bit about / what is your version of Rubens the educator.

HELIO: The version of Rubens the educator, I mean, he allowed his friends, friends he chose to work with, to create that school, at that time, to be fully free, as a creator, a human, as someone who thinks, as a thinker, that is the great legacy of a great artist, that’s it, giving your friends freedom to create, to create a school, a school with a method, not exactly strict, or scholar, but he gave us that freedom, and that was the time we were most present in each other’s lives, daily, so it was / I have that memory, which is a fond memory, when I could get a lot closer to a friend I met in my teen years, and we reconnected years after my graduation, in an opening in São Paulo, at São Paulo Biennial, in the seventies, sixties, late sixties, at Rei da Vela, so I have that fond memory, of having had a daily contact with Gerchman for a few years. That was amazing to me, really important, it’s a very full moment in my life, which I treasure and cherish affectionately, because he was really affectionate as well, loving, he was a great Brazilian, who believed in Brazil, who drew Brazil, who saw Brazil, who thought Brazil, as Lina. Lina’s great passion about Brazil, about the Northeast, about the people, popular culture, by the people’s hand. She had that beautiful exhibition, Brazilian People’s Hand, that Brazilian’s People Hand is also Gerchman’s hand, the great painter, designer, so that / I cherish that time in my life, it was a very special moment, hanging out with your friend on a daily basis is / at work, not living exactly the prosaic day to day life, it wasn’t a prosaic school , but we were living the great adventure of creation, of free art, so that is the moment, those were luminous mornings, luminous evenings, we were there all the time. My students were there, like I said, they slept, they even secretly slept in school because they didn’t want to leave, others would climb trees and stay up there, I had to poke them with a bamboo so they’d come back down, because they were meditating up the tree, so that was a wonderful moment. There’s also a childhood thing, of dear memories, because we were all young, but children and adults alike, kids and old people, so that was the trip that / floating over that time is quite interesting, it is as if it were a flight, really, a bird flight, a flight, the flybys, the great flights, the great Heights, the nests. I hold that time dearly, which was a time in Brazil when you thought deeply about Brazil, it wasn’t a globalized world. It was a world in which you thought about Brazil. We searched for a path for Brazil, an opening, thinking about Brazil as a country, with a great culture, literature, paintings, within Latin-America, thinking about the Americas, thinking about America, so much so that after that I started taking my great trips to Peru, Bolivia, and Gerchman too. To Mexico. We left Brazil for America, Latin-America, Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, we got in touch with that moment, with those cultures, with those other nations, great countries, great culture. And that Parque Lage thing, Escola de Artes Visuais, although it was about art in general, European art and, you know, european avant-garde from the beginning of the twentieth century, even from expressionism, but we thought profoundly about Brazil which I find important, and not Brazil as an isolated thing, but Brazil in relation to its neighbours, all that.

BERNARDO: Since we’re talking / hard question, especially when we’re talking about the seventies, but if it’s possible to separate the man from the artist, what changed in those four years of garden between the Helio that entered, and the Helio that exited?

HELIO: Well, in a work context, if you are concentrated on your work, if your work has substance, the next one is always inside the previous one, I believe. Those trips, when he leaves the school, and so do I, the Escola de Artes Visuais (Visual Arts School), we leave the country and take those trips through Latin-America, those deep trips as well, which are trips of knowledge, ritualistic trips, because that ritual thing was also studied and seriously worked on at the school, the great rituais, the passages. I think that’s it. The future was already inside that time, so when I leave and go to Mexico, when I leave for my trips, to Blivia, to Peru, to study those civilizations, that was already germinating at Parque Lage, that passage to other civilizations. We kept on working, then I started doing film, I was invited by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade to do O homem do pau-brasil, which is a story by Oswald de Andrade, about Oswald de Andrade, then I went to Bolivia, came back, did other things, did Tudo Bem with Arnaldo Jabor, so I went back to working with cinema and theatre. I think that’s what happened. Thinks are always concealed, they are always latent inside a work. You always know what to do next, because it is already germinating inside you. I think that’s the idea.

* A frase original dizia “Você esse texto, não é?”. Não sei se foi isso mesmo, ou se faltou alguma coisa na transcrição.

** Oficina is the Portuguese word for Workshop, Oficinema is a made-up word combining Workshop and cinema (also cinema in Portuguese) in Portuguese.

*** Tetéia – someone or something gracious. Also a play on words with the idea of web, which in Portuguese translates as teia.


BERNARDO: You’ve recently organized an exhibition and released a book, both named “Jardim da Oposição”, (Opposition Garden), about the period in which Gerchman was the director of Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage (Visual Arts School of Parque Lage). What was your main personal or affectionate motivation (...)

HELOISA: This exhibition I organized, Jardim da Oposição, it was something kind of / let me start over. The idea to produce Jardim da Oposição comes from years and years ago. When Gerchman was still alive / I have a publishing company called Aeroplano, and Gerchman was really passionate about his time at Parque Lage, really passionate, it was something he really liked and he wanted to register, so he asked me to put together a book with him, and creating a book with Rubens was wonderful because he was also passionate about books, book as an object. I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but he had books that were sewn together, japanese-style, etc, we were tripping over it, both of us. We were really good friends, from a young age, and we’ve conceived this book for a long time. I applied for Petrobras, Memória, public notice, I tried every public notice, because I do that a lot, and nobody wanted it, so we’d get upset and increase the project because we had more time, and then it would be sewn, and then it would be on a certain type of paper, then... you know, we kept working on it, and it kept getting bigger. What he wanted was a big scrapbook type of thing, every souvenir he kept, clippings, you know, what he had from Parque Lage, and also a narrative we were going to record with him, and he would tell all about each fragment that would be on the book. And then amidst all those rejections he eventually passed away. When he died I said: - I’m going to see this through and get it done, whatever it takes. I was really sad when he died. He was a real friend. Then I pursued the book, and realized it wasn’t going to happen, and then the Secretary of State for Education, sorry, the Secretary of State for Culture issued a public notice and I applied with a project for an exhibition, which was easier to get, and I got it, so the book was discarded and turned into an exhibition, and the exhibition had a very affectionate tone, because he had just died and I set my mind to get that done, whatever it cost. There was a first, minimum obstacle that was / since his death had been so recent, I did not have access to the documents he kept at his house, the ones that would have been used for the book, but in order not to lose the moment and determination I appealed to a viral thing on the internet, a viral message asking anyone who had something to say, or who had anything from that period at Parque Lage to send me. I received a world of things. Everybody helped. So I gathered a lot of material for the exhibition and I put it together with Hélio Eichbauer, because Hélio, besides being an amazing set designer, was a constant companion during Gerchman’s years, he was a teacher, he provided ideas, he was Rubens’ right hand man at Parque Lage, he was a man of art, theater, staging, design, and they were both highly seventies, at that moment both of them were imbued, were dominated by the seventies DNA, so there was that “let’s go on, it’s going to happen, it’s the dream” thing, and it’s unbelievable because the moment with Parque Lage was during the hard years of the dictatorship. It was a moment when universities didn’t speak, nothing spoke, there were no meeting spots. Gerchman took over Parque Lage, and Parque Lage became an island, an opposition garden. It was that place where everyone had permission, everyone could meet, could speak, could create, could express themselves freely, and Rubens was incredible, really determined, would not allow police to enter, he fought tooth and nail. Not to mention the creative side during this entire period, there was also a, let’s say, cultural side that dealt with protecting the environment, and he didn’t let anyone interfere with this project, he was like a guard dog surrounding it, and everybody felt safe. I was a teacher back then, I taught literature because at that moment marginal poetry was also booming, it was one of the few art forms that permitted gatherings, speeches, mobilization, because nobody reads poetry, it’s not a public art form. Censorship was worried about television, cinema, theater, public art, music, but poetry, who would give it the time of day? They wouldn’t. So poetry was this little thing that managed to mobilize a bunch of people and they were able to speak and that / I began studying it vigourously, I watched closely that smothered generation, the AI5 generation as we called it. So that poetry / I taught that poetry there with Cacaso, who was another marginal poet, we’d teach courses in a basement, so there was a funny vibe, because there’s that lower part at Parque Lage, and our lessons were below, so it felt twice as violating, it seemed as if it were an apparatus, we did / we had that fantasy. It wasn’t, but I lived that intensely as if I was transgressing everything and everyone. So it was an amazing experience, and by our side we had Sergio Santeiro, the guy who was responsible for that amazing film club. In Parque Lage everything that couldn’t happen in the city took place. It was a super high voltage place, because everybody would hide there, they knew they could create there, they could express themselves, Rubens conducted everything. When he took over it was quite funny, because it was about fine arts, there were academic art things, a bunch of old ladies taking classes to escape boredom, so they’d cook during the afternoon, during lunch hour, and then they’d go there to paint flowers. Rubens, at once, that was amazing, because if it had been any other way, if he tried to negotiate it wouldn’t have worked, so at once he dealt with it: - I don’t want fine arts here. He closed the courses all at once and it was truly uncomfortable for everyone, also because many of those ladies were wives of military men, everybody was a little scared of that gesture, but, just like any radical administrative gesture they were nagged for a fortnight and then everyone forgot about it and became really greatful for that space, that had oxygen, and he would go along with every idea, so it was a free place, a place of experiences. I remember, for example, in theatre there was Living Theatre, which consisted of a mixture of life and art, and one of the goals of the seventies in terms of arts and creation was a mixture of art and life, and one was so close to the other that you no longer could tell art from life. That was a typical project of sixties culture, not sixties, I apologize, seventies, and also counterculture, which is an expression from the seventies, so that living in Parque Lage thing was incredible, there was a bum who lived there, you lived through that period, that time was way more than an art experience, way more than a visual arts school, that was, in truth, a spot, a neuralgic spot of the city, where you could breathe, speak, express yourself, and also create, so it became this amazing thing, which is the garden we named, the one who called it “the opposition garden” was Luis Carlos Maciel, who wrote an article with that title, and Rubens / I said: what are we gonna name it? It was Rubens who named it, and he said: - the book title will be Jardim da Oposição (Opposition Garden), which is the best thing I’ve ever heard about Parque Lage. So it was the Opposition Garden. It was really good to do it, it was great, and we talked, and there was that / it was a beautiful mourning period, a life mourning, because everybody took part in the exhibition, either to pick up things, materials, everybody that had gone through there, or simply showed up to hand me the material, or tell a story, or the feeling of being a part of that, because everyone belonged, it’s another important aspect of Parque Lage, the sense of belonging. Rubens managed to create an environment where you felt you belonged, it was a place of culture, where people who were present felt at home, it was a freedom thing, a freedom thing Rubens made real there, and he really wanted / this may have been the most characteristic thing, the most expressive bit of the Parque Lage educational project, freedom, including the freedom of being there without doing anything, which is also a really productive thing.

09:52 - BERNARDO: One thing I’d like to know / asking the question, in (Wilson) Coutinho’s writing, there in your catalogue, where he talks about teaching art in Brazil at the time, so we can take this pedagogy lead, he says it was / he uses a metaphor, that teaching art in Brazil is like a boxer fighting in a cockfight, meaning this archaic thing, this archaic Brazil, this archaic way of teaching art and the attempts at being modern. How do you think / do you believe this importance Ruben placed on teaching visual arts, how do you think he managed to overcome that?

HELOÍSA: I think that really, studying art as we did / I’ll say it again, when he took over Parque Lage, Parque Lage was a school of fine arts, a school where academic art was taught, and even modern art, but in a scholar way, I think that’s what Coutinho meant. Even when you teach modern art, it was the academic way, the kind of relationship you had with the professor, the type of studio they built, the way of things. What Rubens did was he got there and said: - it’s over, I’m starting from scratch. And he had very important partners, like Helio, for instance, who wanted to test a new methodology, because what was done there was what I told you, they mixed art and life, and wanted to build it from scratch, they did build it from scratch, I mean, how am I going to address the students? What can they do? Can they stay? Can they smoke pot? I mean, the whole thing was a cauldron, those beggars who lived there, this thing of it being kind of a residence and exchange, so people traded experiences among themselves, because when you create this environment that stands out for being a place of belonging and creating, you end up with a well defined dynamics of exchange, so there was that, interchanging studios, Celeida’s studio, for instance, trading for someone else’s, then Helio’s, and a class, so, I mean, people walked around that territory, learning, and they didn’t have specific classes assigned, you didn’t get in there for a particular thing, you’d go there to live the Parque Lage life, obviously, that was clear, it didn’t say so in a schedule, but it was obvious, you’d go there for the Parque Lage Experience, to experience what went down there, for the possibility of creating new things, and what’s interesting is that nowadays, with the internet, we see that the knowledge people share is way more productive. You see that on the internet, but back then there was no internet, far from it, we were twenty three years away from it, from a network, so the knowledge you share already existed , the counterculture thing, I mean, you exchanged, you worked together, you worked with your teacher, you put things together, you intervened. The idea of interfering with the space, with the classes was really violent, and that was an extreme novelty, that fed this vital vein in Parque Lage, this strong electricity we had there, and if you remember that around this place there was fierce censorship and police all around, you can imagine just how important that place was.

13:34 - BERNARDO: It’s because like this, it seems to me that there was a higher motivation to debate, at the time. Do you believe that was a result of such repression?

HELOÍSA: Yes, because there was no debate, it was really hard to find space to debate and I, for example, released / I organized an anthology called 26 poetas hoje, an anthology of marginal poetry that caused quite a fuss. The release was at Parque Lage, and every debate that followed was either there or at SBPC, which was also a protected environment, Sociedade Brasileira de Progresso da Ciência (Brazil Society of Science Progress), which was a mobilizable place, let’s put it like that, where scientists commanded, and it was well protected against the censors, but there were one or two spots, in many places it was not possible to debate, in the universities you couldn’t, I was a college professor, and they gave me lists of what we were allowed to read, and it was quite ridiculous, because what I wasn’t allowed to read wasn’t literally Marxist or leftist, it were crazy things the ignorance of censors chose, because they thought this or that book was communist literature, but they weren’t, they were crucial for learning the basics of literature, but I received an official list, so, a place like that, Parque Lage appears, encourages debate, discussion, and shared creation. It was unbelievable, an opposition garden. That garden was the only place for opposition, everywhere else opposition couldn’t oppose.

15:17 - BERNARDO: You mentioned the internet and we see people with whom we’ve talked to about Parque Lage, from that time, something that happened at that specific moment. Do you believe this phenomenon, those exchanges between people, do you think that, because there was no internet you were together, at the same physical space, today we are on different sides of computer screens. Do you think that was something that belonged to that moment, and that nowadays an experience like that, for example, is an utopia, or do you think that pedagogical experience created by Rubens is something (...)

HELOÍSA: I think that that pedagogical experience was typical of the seventies, of counterculture. You can see that in the pedagogical experiences in theatre from that time, Teatro Oficina. It’s the seventies, very seventies, a freeing activity, one you don’t have today, because now you have too much / there are two ways, I think. You either produce shared knowledge, no copyright, where you mix different knowledges etc, or you professionalize. Because back then the market was still good. The oil crisis happened in seventy two, it was very recent, you were still living the Brazilian Miracle, you did not need the competence you need today, there’s also that, at that time there was a comfortable economy foundation, middle class children could go there, paint, live the / burn something, you know, but today you can’t, nowadays it’s tough, the market is tight. From that period on, once the Miracle was over, with the oil crisis, the internation crisis, what happened? Everybody had to go back to the university. Back then it was drop out time, it was good to get out, get out and create. Now it’s drop in, get in and get on, because it’s really hard out there. Even universities today do not represent an alternative, because it takes too long to insert yourself in the market, and it doesn’t prepare you for the market, so you prefer an MBA and dive into it, you have to generate an employment crisis, globalization brought this up. Globalization is from eighty two, Consensus / the creation of IMF, so from eighty two onwards you start to face a new kind of economy where unemployment and formal stability of formal economy increases a lot, so you have to work it, you need to know how to do things. In the old days this movie would have been made with a handycam, he would have a pinhole photographing me, doing still. If you film something without sound, how many times have you fixed the sound? You couldn’t hear anything on the movies back then, it was a different time. Now you have to be competent, if you’re not, that movie won’t show anywhere. Back then you didn’t need to be competent. I remember going to the US for a post-doc, and I returned in eighty five, eighty six, I can’t even remeber anymore, and I gave an interview to Zuenir at Jornal do Brasil and I said: you have to be competent. All of my friends got mad at me, because competent was a dirty word, I had given in to imperialism because I said people needed to be competent and Zuenir, who is a very competent journalist, made a headline out of it “you must be competent”, that was just a little sentence, there in the middle. That caused major trouble, I was crucified, witch hunt, defending competence. But how can you defend competence? It’s a different economic context, cultural context, internet’s not to blame, and internet is born / I mean, some people, I still have my doubts, but I think I tend to conform, it is born in great part dated from counterculture. Counterculture is a centering thing, it is something about great art already being in place, it’s about pieces which are somewhat fragmented, somewhat shared, somewhat / counterculture is the moment that resembles, a lot of people write that, that resembles the internet logic. Since I believe every technology comes from a demand, it doesn’t show up / it changes, I think it had changed before and that’s why the technology comes, the placement in the fifties, sixties, an intense demand for a / I mean internet, not digital, internet is the network / so the demand for the internet environment was already configured culturally and had been so for a long time, and I think this Gerchman format is a network format, one that demands the technology that will come about twenty years later, but I think that moment can’t be repeated because we don’t have the money, and we don’t have censorship. Censorship is a stupid thing for me to say, because there are international experiences that took place outside of dictatorship environments that shared that same input. Living Theatre, for example, all of that / there was no dictatorship and that was very similar to the ethos of Parque Lage, quite similar to Rubens’ ethos, and even drop out Rubens, because if you consider that Rubens had a solid career as an artist during the seventies, that he was well reputed in the market, that he sold well, he went to New York, came back from New York, sold, organized exhibitions, he was one of the horsemen of the apocalypse of the sixties, well known at the time, he dropped out, he said: I’m done, I’m going to Parque Lage. He dropped out and created a vital place there, vital and electrical, really important, but that’s the ethos of the time. I don’t think I miss that time, because it wasn’t even as good as I’m painting it, it was quite bad, because you’d leave the Opposition Garden and came out at Rua Jardim Botânico, and it was already bad news, all bad, so your space was really little, now you have a much larger space. I think these days are way better, way more creative, you have a lot more people creating, it’s wide open, people no longer need to be subjected to a genius, so it’s way more open now, and I think it’s a better moment, though that was a pretty good one to, at least... inside Parque Lage, once you reached (street) Jardim Botânico, it was already bad.

21:39 - BERNARDO: On top of what you said about the ethos from that time, did you have any / there’s something here from (Wilson) Coutinho, when he says the ethics from the seventies ends when Gerchman’s period ends.

HELOÍSA: I think the seventies, they were indeed romantic and proactive, now, I repeat, it’s impossible to be romantic and proactive during a terrible crisis in economy. The Miracle was over in seventy eight, not, it was over sooner than that, seventy six. Once the Miracle’s gone, you need to specialize, so the eighties generation, the following generation from Parque Lage, I find it wonderful, but it changed from a corporeal experience, vital for an actual painting experience, painting, sculpture, marketable creation, that’s the difference, because it’s a wonderful generation. I wasn’t going to say anything bad about it, because my daughter-in-law is Adriana Varejão, from the eighties, who makes billions in a painting, so the mother-in-law here won’t even think a bad thing about the eighties, but that’s not the reason, it’s because it’s a great generation, Zerbini and all. It’s a good generation, but they couldn’t live art, they had to work on art. I don’t think romanticism ended and it got dull, it’s not that, it was an economic foundation that allowed that, when you just throw everything away / even Rubens went back to painting, like everyone else, like the entire eighties generation, he went back to the gallery, so they’re moments, not good nor bad, just each in their own context. I believe the eighties generation also had a very good moment, which was the return of democracy. In eighty two they have the election, eighty five, right? In eighty two Diretas Já* began, I mean, there’s euphoria, democratic normalcy is returning, so it’s a rich generation, I think, rich in experience, an experience the seventies generation didn’t share. I don’t agree that something ended and another begun, it’s the contexts that change, and obviously an art that doesn’t depict its context is alienated, so if you wanted to do something existentialist, performative in the eighties, you would be out of context, because you were taking part in marches, you were rebuilding the country, you did not want to leave the country in search of a better society, which is what happened to the seventies generation, you wanted to enter the country to fix that horrible situation we had going on during the hard years, a terrible situation, and this eighties generation was the one who rebuilt it. PT is kind of a dirty word today, but back then it was the Workers Party being born, the first one Brazil had the experience of having, it was a hopeful moment, an enormous utopia, way bigger than the utopia from the seventies, because during the seventies utopia went so far as your body, and later utopia meant rebuilding the country, do you think that / the drop out seventies, you would leave the system to build a better society, more creative, more libertarian, more everything in hopes that others would follow suit, that the whole thing would expand and it all would become that, well that is romantic, and that was never going to happen, so I think the sequence of that comes from them having had Parque Lage, the eighties generation does relate to Rubens’ time. If Parque Lage hadn’t become such a contemporary of itself, the eighties wouldn’t have been that vibrant, because the eighties generation is also from Parque Lage, and ressonated Gerchman’s pedagogy until the end of nineties. That was a consequence, because things don’t just end, Gerchaman leaves / no, the place was imbued with a project. The people who got there did not execute the same way, they did it differently, but it seems to me that the results are thanks to Gerchamn’s period..


HELOÍSA: I love Gerchman. I’d like you to include that.

*N da T: historical civil movement in Brazil that demanded presidential elections.


BERNARDO: I’d like to ask you if you can remember when your relationship with Rubens began.

JARDS: I believe it was through / I met him through Helio Oiticica and also Lygia Clark, they had that relationship and that was 1977, 78, something like that, and I met him among that art crowd and we had empathy, because he was an open person, straight conversation, he asked a lot of questions.. He’d say things and ask: - it’s not that, is it? He’d say it and then ask if it was right, if it wasn’t, and all that. We became friends and one day he asked me to do the soundtrack for a movie he was working on, a short feature about his father, who was this great graphic artist, and I did the soundtrack, I think the original mixed with the things from / a few songs that fit the documentary and our relationship was one of conversations, friendly and aesthetic conversations, always speaking of art. And then he did the Boa Noite (Good Night) exhibit / I don’t remember exactly / which year was it, you know? Early seventies, seventy two, maybe seventy one, I can’t quite remember it, and he asked me to be in charge of the soundtrack of Boa Noite, which was / it was kind of an erotic thing, kind of erotic is not a thing, it was erotic, and then I put together a soundtrack consisting of songs considered tacky at the time, they were songs by Lupicínio Rodrigues, Ângela Maria, Cauby Peixoto. I selected songs and worked on them / Ângela Maria, Cauby, Lupicínio Rodrigues, heavy ones, and it was a beautiful exhibition, I might add, and there was the backseat, people getting it on in the backseat, and it was a really beautiful exhibit. Cabaret music and all, it was beautiful. In return he gave me two paintings, which were the Os Beijos (The Kisses), that I still have / I still keep them, and will keep them forever, unless I go really broke, and then I’ll sell my Rubens’ for millions, trillions of dollars and all. After that he became head of Parque Lage, opened it to many different arts, to every kind of art. Before, Xico Xaves is right, not 73, in 78 Xico and I did a show at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, celebrating twenty five years since the declaration of UN, of Human Rights and Human Rights were being celebrated, it was December tenth, 1973, and we did it at MAM, and it was banned at the entire nation in 74, and in 78 Censorship finally liberated it, and since we had secretly made a double album, a double LP of this show, the show had been recorded, so, as I said, it was banned in 73 and then permitted in 78, and in seventy three they did some graphics for the album cover, for all the material in that album, and I called Rubens once the album was cleared, to ask him for a new cover, because it had been five years, so it was almost as if it were a new thing, again, a new edition, so he did a cover and the whole material, cover, back cover. The 73 cover became a booklet, and the cover and back cover of the records were made by him, and they were amazing, Banquete dos Mendigos (Banquet for Beggars)*, which was the title of that show, and he put one of these old paintings, the Last Supper, and around it he arranged a bunch of finger prints, you don’t know if they were or weren’t, but the / around the Last Supper and the Banquet for Beggars, he included a little banner that said “cleared”, and the record is in the works, we were never able to release it properly, dark forces have worked against human rights, but the memory of Gerchman is present there, and more than present, his political view, aesthetic view, ethic view, it’s there, registered.

06:23 - BERNARDO: When you met Gerchman in person, did you already know his work, did you know the artist?

JARDS: A little, Lindonéia, from Tropicalia, that Nara recorded, which is one of his paintings, it’s about Gerchman’s painting and of course, I’ve seen a few things and all, I was up to date with the works by people from back then and it was amazing because the life he puts into his paintings, the figures are alive, they’re present, they’re / they have movement. I learned that later on, and after that, Xico and I would go to Barra / was it in Barra? It was. To his studio, his house, and we’d stay there having frivolous conversations, the best possible kind, high quality frivolous talk.

07:35 - BERNARDO: What were these conversations?

JARDS: They were about that time, the possibilities, the impediments, daily life, the old money issues, as usual ((laughter)) and family things, troubles and all, all of ours, all that.

08:03 - BERNARDO: You mentioned you met him through Helio Oiticica (...)

JARDS: Helio and Lygia, more Helio.

BERNARDO: You had a vibrant relationship, from what I’m seeing, with visual arts, is that something particular to that time as well? Because, I mean, in my generation we don’t have it as much, do you believe things have become too professional? This conection, this interdisciplinarity that existed between the arts in general, why do you think it existed back then?

JARDS: Because back then I think aesthetic experiences related to one another, fine arts and music, dance related to fine arts and music, you know, poetry, all of that, because we had amazing poets, actually. Fine arts are poetic. So things were connected. At that moment I believe / but every piece of work / and the inventing portion / so the whole experience that group of artists had, those being Rubens, Lygia, Helio and all, plus Roberto Magalhães and a few others, they were also connected to music and other forms of art, so that was more / the connections were more / everyone was more present in every art circuit and all, every art form, so with that, for instance, Helio Oiticica loved music, he was also part of Mangueira, so he had this connection with samba, with music in general, with rock, pop, everything. Rubens is pop, he was considered pop back then, and he also ran that path of / it wasn’t just paintings, as I said, it was this moving thing, and he coloured it, and his own thoughts crossed Helio’s mind as well, he also had the pop thing, and all of them, brazilially speaking, were profoundly Brazilian in that sense, people who emerged in Brazilian history, and did not follow that aesthetic, they got away from painting. Rubens stuck to painting more, but he did things that came out of the painting, and I believe that was it, everyone was part of everything, each in their element, each following their own aesthetic adventure, but everyone was with everyone. That was a possibility from that time, which included a libertarian component, there was this libertarian thing, a fight for freedom of speech, mostly, not just in terms of art, but freedom of expression in general. That lasted a while and then it all went square ((laughter)).


JARDS: How should I know? Xico is the one who knows it. Because the hippies went Yuppies and got into Wall Street, thus breaking an anticapitalist chain, which was that moment’s project.


BERNARDO: You know there’s a big discussion around pop, how pop they were or weren’t.

JARDS: Yes, by pop I mean popular.

BERNARDO: Yes, because purely american pop praised consumption and that really strong, vibrant and coulorful industrial society, while in Brazil they were really / it was popular, a critical look at daily life.

JARDS: At daily life and a critical look against pop, high consumerism, high capital. We are poor. Brazil is a poor country, despite being rich, but in a global sense, in terms of world economy, it’s a poor country, and that results in critics being against economic oppression, but I think that breaking that, like Lygia did / it was all about invention, besides this rupture with this idea of ultra capital, super capital, they did a national thing, national and popular, I’d say, and I’d also say they didn’t make that much money. They broke that and remained poor, as Brazil was poor, as it is, in fact.

13:39 - BERNARDO: Back to your contribution with Gerchman, what’s the difference for you, as a musician, between working on your things, your personal production, and a collaborative production, with a visual artist?

JARDS: Same thing, because, for instance, Helio Oiticica used to say / he was asked that: - what you do, these Parangolés, what is it? Then he answered: what I do is music. Gerchman also loved music, he’d listen to classic, popular, there was no difference between classic and popular, it’s music, and our relationship was through music, I am a musician, so I learned from them how to paint my music as well, I learned to paint the relations of dynamic, and colors, because music has color, so it’s all good, paintings, photography, he was also a great photographer, he photographed everything, his Super 8 was always working. He also made movies, not just paintings, which I can’t even call paintings anymore, this painting thing, I don’t know, I can say Gerchman is a great painter in the old sense of this word painter, but the word painter does not apply to him, for example, he was a great artist.

15:29 - BERNARDO: Walter Carvalho, just to follow your comment, Walter Carvalho in his interview defined Gerchman’s work as a symphony.

JARDS: It is, it was a symphony piece, popular, Brazilian, he had the greatness of that, of a symphony, a great orchestra and all, he put everything into it.

15:56 - XICO: So, at last at Parque Lage, once again, which reminds me of that song of yours.

JARDS AND XICO: ((singing)) “sitting in the middle of the bushes, in the middle of the bushes, singing, talking, in the middle of the bushes “.

XICO: So that’s it, the Visual Arts School, it’s (...)

JARDS: it’s what made big shows possible back then, when it opened its doors for all experiences. We had some great gigs here.

XICO: Exactly.

JARDS: Roberto Guima. I remeber quite well a show here with Roberto Guima, that extraordinary musician who died when he was still a kid. He got in there, I was playing, he came over and started playing his clarinet, it was a beautiful thing.

XICO: it was the longest clarinet solo note I’ve ever heard, it seemed neverending, it was just one note. And there was you with your broken arm, in a casket, then out of the casket, so there was circulation.

JARDS: There was circulation.

XICO: Everybody came, Macalé, Caetano, Gil, Milton Nascimento, everyone from the Brazilian music scene, the experiences would mix, and the school in the middle of the woods. Which also reminds us of this relationship between school and the environment, it dates from that time, I mean, even before that, after all, that already existed.

JARDS: But it got more concentrated.

XICO: But there the visual arts penetrated nature, there’s that, which I didn’t mention during the other interview, this relationship with visual arts, music, and art in general, and nature, and Gerchman used to go to that forest, he was an urban indian, he’d go in there, check if the lake up there was working, if water was descending to feed the pool with those squirts that were still there. He’d make a fuss and say: - hey, you are not cleaning properly.

JARDS: it were those old guys who made a fuss to clean that crazy policy that took him out / that he himself could not put up with and, you know what, (...)

XICO: Yes, because then when it advances, like every libertarian project advances it’s / totally democratic experimented, people get there and in a way there is always a group, an oligarchy or a corporation that doesn’t like it (...)

JARDS: And interferes. And then it started to (...)

XICO: Him leaving had a lot to do with that, but while he was there (...)

JARDS: It was wonderful.

XICO: It was a cauldron. I remember, for instance, remember that / people called it an upside down circus. Why? Because there was this canvas, a parachute to lower tanks in Vietnam, and when it rained it was put there in the middle, there it formed a funnel, there the water fell into the pool, and they say that, people from back then, Circo Voador** was born, because when air entered through the door and there was no rain, it just breathed, it was like a balloon, the air entered and lifted the parachute, and that’s where the shows took place. Sometimes the guy would be singing and the canvas would come down in one of those winds, it would get in front of them ((laughter)). That was the improv.

JARDS: Nature’s own improvisation.

XICO: Yes. And there was no generation.

JARDS: No, it was everyone.

XICO: This generation thing, it’s not my generation, there was no such thing, there they had many generations.

JARDS: Many generations that formed a sole generation, in this sense.

XICO: A generator.

JARDS: Yes, a sole generator, and it was it, managing that madness.

XICO: Yes. Him there in the middle participated, was also dedicated, went to the studio to paint, he didn’t stay there managing the whole thing, it was a “mismanagement”. And he’d go: - Xico, you’re younger, take care of that thing, I’m leaving. Then I’d turn to someone younger: - Pernambuco da Silva, since you are younger, take care of that ((laughter)). Or it was a group that managed it for a day, had a program for the day (...)

JARDS: There was an organized program, very good for us, to generate this whole thing.

XICO: Yes, it made things interact. There was no curator. So music wasn’t happening because it was necessary for it to interact with something, it just happened (...)

JARDS: It was already integrated, part of all that, part of the whole manifestation.

XICO: I remember, because there aren’t many pictures from back then, I’ve been thinking, I believe it was / I don’t know who it was, it was one of you that called it, I think it was you. It was, wasn’t it? It was, it was. The thing was, there were no photos, first of all because there was no equipment, everybody was broke, and when there was equipment, it was destined to something more related to survival, hence the lack of photographic material.

JARDS: Well now, photography, cinema, that’s what was being developed there. XICO: Yes, proper live cinema.

JARDS: No records.

XICO: And there was another problem, because sometimes an unknown guy would show up to photograph, and people would think it was a policeman ((laughter)), so there are no records. It’d be like – what are you doing here? Because there was a dictatorship in place.

JARDS: It was a concrete paranoia, wasn’t it (...) And Rubens had this thing with inspection, because that was an actual thing, because there we had an experience / I call it highly libertarian because it was an experience of practicing liberty, among every group.

XICO: In every sense. I can’t remeber a single moment from back then when someone turned to someone else and said: - that can’t be done here.

JARDS: No. Everything was permitted.

XICO: In fact, that put the school in a permanently risky situation, because everybody turned to here, not just Rio.

JARDS: That’s true.

XIXO: The whole country. If you analyze it, there was always the possibility of seeing Zé Ramalho talking to you at the canteen, it was brilliant, and then suddenly another painter would come, and would talk to Helio Oiticica there in a corner close to the pilars, then an artist that just got here from São Paulo.

JARDS: Abidoral Jamacaru was always here.

XICO: Abidoral Jamacaru. Historical people from that time that disappeared. Many of them. It’s not that they disappeared, it’s just that they didn’t have (...)

JARDS: Actually, you know I found many records of Abidoral online, wow, Abidoral Jamacaru.

XICO: He’s there in Crato.

JARDS: I know, but there are YouTube videos and things like that, I saw a few, and he’s very active there. It seems like he doesn’t exist, but he really does.

XICO: Abidoral, we are discussing him, because he’s one of the examples of artists who came to Rio (...)

JARDS: With those big sandals from the northeast, that big thing (...)

XICO: And looked for Parque Lage. I remember he got to my place, rang the bell, in Santa Teresa. I opened the door and there was a bearded guy and he said:

- Are you Xico Xaves?

I answered: - Yes.

– They sent me here to talk you.

– From where? I asked.

– From Ceará.


- Come in.

He came in, and he was a big guy, black beard, there with a guitar, he sat on a small sofa and I asked: - what is your name? He said: Abidoral Jamacaru. And then I wrote his name on a footnote, so I wouldn’t forget it. And I sad: - what’s up? And he said: I came to show my work in Rio. I said: - So sing it now.

JARDS: That amazing song.

XICO: How did it go? It were the shortest lyrics I had ever heard. No, I’ve heard shorter things, but that was one of the shortests.

JARDS: The shortest one was mine, Heart! Oh! Heart!

XICO: But there was a note that was the longest one I’ve ever heard in Brazilian music.

XICO AND JARDS ((singing)): “Once upon a time there was a song that was never born, because it was murdered by the strings of a guitar”.

JARDS: That song was unbelievable. Amazing.

XICO: So these things got here, sadly a lot wasn’t (...)

JARDS: It’s not just that they weren’t recorded, but many of them just didn’t make it.

XICO: Yes.

JARDS: Outside as well, not here, on the inside.

XICO: And in the 80s there was also this rupture, that thing you said about (...)

JARDS: It’s not even a rupture, it was a dismantlement.

XICO: The yuppie got there and turned the thing into a product, which can be a positive thing on one hand, but on the other, experimentation becomes a thing of the past. Experimenting came back in the 90s, and the 00s, and it’s still strong, but there no longer is that interpersonal relationship between the musician and the artist, there’s very little, in terms of language it’s a little more present, incorporating music, sounds, everything in great dimension, the image and technology, but that moment there (...)

JARDS: The personal relationships have ceased to exist. I don’t think there’s any left. For very few people, maybe.

XICO: I think you brought up something really important, which was this coexistence. It would be cool if you talked a little more about it, because I believe, in a way, that should come back. Would it be possible?

JARDS: I don’t know, maybe it would, but now this coexistence is mediated by technology, internet and all, but it’s totally solitary, they don’t have that exchange, that eye to eye, tooth to tooth, there’s none of that left. It’s a different communication.

XICO: But you said something that was also interesting about Gerchman. You said he was a guy / Gerchman asked a lot of questions.

JARDS: He did. He asked himself, he was always thinking, so he would express his thoughts in an affirmative fashion, let’s put it like that, but afterwards he would question them. Wasn’t it?

CLARA: It would be interesting if you talked about if you had any idea that / of all that relevance, everything that / you were really young.

JARDS: It eventually happens. There was a thing of certain ( )

BERNARDO: Let him carry on, from where he were, just so we won’t miss the train of thought.

JARDS: Asked a lot of questions.

BERNARDO: You were talking about Gerchman asking lots of questions, his thoughts.

XICO: Yes, Gerchman asked many questions. So he listened, Gerchman listened, he asked. – What do you think of that? What do you think it can be? I think he was able to build a (...)

JARDS: And he asked himself, he would offer a thought and then suddenly, positively, as a positive thing, and he’d suddenly ask: - is it really? What do you think? ? So you’d always try to hear from others, what they thought of a given idea, but the thought already came out positive, let’s put it like that, it was already affirmative.

XICO: There was no absolute certainty, because there was something else. It was at that moment, the artist wanted to show his new piece, his experiments as a musician would come to show something he composed that day, or recently. It’s different from someone presenting what is successful. Nowadays people present what already is a sucess, what has an audience. Practically everything that was presented there was new.

JARDS: I, myself, experimented a guitar and vocals thing in that experimenting thing, it wasn’t a closed thing, because after that I also developed in these (...)

XICO: Man, I did it myself, with painting, when I began working on painting with minerals and everything, really, was here, I’d come to the studio, and open canvanses there, I’d bring the minerals, pigments, it was still an experience, I hadn’t defined that. I think back then it really was all together, as I still believe, it was simultaneous.

JARDS: concurrency of languages.

BERNARDO: But these things you were referring to, it’s interesting to go back to Gerchman’s thoughts, i’d like to insist on that, because there’s much in Gerchman’s work, about how he thought of painting, about the living box, the day to day life, about the reality of this city, inside Parque lage, Parque Lage as a living box, Parque Lage as a place of day to day life research, the learning experience (...)

CLARA: His workshop was called day to day life (cotidiano).

BERNARDO: Yes, it was called day to day life.

JARDS: But that which we said, or I said before, his creation. That thing of / the soccer thing, for instance, he represented it in a fantastic way, the figures’ movements. You see it there, you see the movement of the figures, and he’d take things from day to day life, even Lindonéia, and many other themes, O Beijo (The Kiss), and many themes he dealt with, he gathered things from daily life and transported them into his work.

XICO: And another thing, he also worked in a poetic language, that in a certain way him, Helio Oiticica, Lygia, all of them, that group of people (...)

JARDS: Roberto Magalhães, who was more mystical.

XICO: He also worked a lot with the poetic of installations, he is a pioneer in that, with others, like (Moricone), (Moricone) was great friends with him. (Moricone) is also someone who should be brought back in that sense, so there was, for instance, Gerchman’s installations in the Amazon, at the beach, his sculpture, which is, in truth, a poem, Lute (fight), which is tridimensional, they’re words, I mean, there’s a/ it’s because it’s one thing to use words as visual arts, the poetics of each word are another story, it’s poetry working with the language of visual arts, which is what he did, so, he had / he was a poet.

JARDS: I’ve filmed inside Lute, where it stood, there in the Museum of Modern Art, in the museum gardens, something like that, then there was a documentary they did with me, it starts with a part coming off of Lute, and I drummed on the T of Lute, sitting on the U, drumming the T, and he found that fantastic, wonderful, the drumming.

XICO: Yes, because once it became a museum item, you no longer could sit on it. You can’t sit on Lute.

JARDS: But that sucks, you can’t fight in Lute.

XICO: ((laughter)) There were many pieces by him that I believe even Parque Lage, in a way, it promoted an interaction between him and Parque Lage that, I don’t know if, for instance, those jackfruits of his in the Amazon, that people enter, walking around inside a basket, I believe there should be an exhibition of Gerchman exploring just that.

JARDS: These occupations.

XICO: I’d like to be a part of that.

JARDS: Me too, drumming (...)

XICO: Where his relationship with poetry, music, cinema, Super 8, you remembered he was always carrying that little camera.


BERNARDO: Was Parque Lage a work of art of his?

JARDS: It was, in a way. He only practices that thing of / this interior freedom he had, he put that into a space in order to make this personal experiment of his / he brought it out, allowed it to be tried, I mean, he liberated it, built a space in which freedom was the essence of Lute, of fight.


BERNARDO: Specifically speaking of Verão a Mil, do you remember anything between the two of you, together, here?

JARDS: Verão a Mil was (...)

XICO: O Verão a Mil was the longest summer in history, it lasted until eighty (...)

JARDS: It was experiment.

XICO: It began in 76 and kept on going, so we, many times here, Macalé presented with Marlui (Miranda), presented it alone, in a group, canja!**** I wrote a few things here at Parque Lage, during that time. A whole book, sometimes. I’d come with a clipboard and write a book, work on drawings I’ve never shown anyone, we would gather at the room to tune an instrument and a song would come out, so it was constantly dynamic.

JARDS: Now I’d like to ask you something I never really understood, I mean, I understood like that, how did he come out of this?

XICO: Gerchman?


XICO: See, I don’t know.

JARDS: You were more present here than me.

XICO: Yes, but when he left, I (...)

JARDS: It was a personal thing as well.

XICO: When he left, he came to me and said, Xico, you carry that on, so I never really stopped and really discussed it with him (...)

JARDS: Because*** he made this decision to leave.

XICO: But there’s a letter. Clara has this letter, in which he practically explains his leaving, but I believe it was that external pressure, a mixture of political pressure and fear of the effervescence it caused in a moment of transition in Brazil, where many people were certainly scared to admit it, which was / this was important to said transition, so I think he was somehow curtailed in the process of (...)

JARDS: In his creative process, this occupation (...)

XICO: And of the school itself (...)

JARDS: Of the school, and it was a lot of work.

XICO: So there was a break, so then, after that break, I believe the school of visual arts booms, from that nucleus to all other campuses in the future. Every other effort that followed boomed from there, but there was a break, there was a / break to consider things, you know when it get to / let’s take a breather to think, because things are getting complicated, we are under a lot of pressure, that’s what happens.

JARDS: Always. It’s worse for them, the ones who pressure.


BERNARDO: Two poets here. I know you didn’t prepare for this, but can you remember any poems you could recite here?

XICO: I remeber one I wrote here, that I recited a few times there. Once when I set the pool on fire, took off my clothes and dove into the flames and came out the other side. I said:

Poet is mad

Sets fire to the water and dives into the flames

And the other one that I always remeber, the poem / because the wind comes through the door:

Poetry is a windstorm

That follows me through the door

And leaves with me through the window

And others more of / this was the space, the laboratory, an experimental lab.

JARDS: ((Singing)) I do a lot of thinking in the middle of the bushes, sitting down in the middle of the bushes, in trance, sitting, on the river’s bed. The river was Rio de Janeiro, of course. And the rivers that run through here as well. In the middle of the bushes, sitting, in the middle of the river sitting, thinking, in the middle of the bushes, sitting, thinking, looking, thinking. Somehting like that. It’s been a pleasure. XICO: It’s been a pleasure to meet you here in the middle of the woods, by the bushes, by the river’s edge.

JARDS: by the bushes, always there.

*N da T: inicialmente pensei Beggars Banquet, mas existe um disco dos Rolling Stones com esse nome. Na verdade não sei se o título em português é em virtude do disco dos Stones, que é do fim dos anos 60. Se for, pode chamar de Beggars Banquet, entre parênteses.

** Circo Voador is a traditional cultural space, where many big artists began their careers, and its name means “Flying Circus”.

*** A transcrição dizia “Porque”. Se for “por que”, como pergunta, e não resposta, trocar o Because por Why.

**** Canja! É o nome do grupo?


JOÃO: Because our difficulties in developing documentaries here was the weight of / Reflex was too noisy, so you had to do it with a telephoto lens. Then I improvised blimps with blankets, but until the first Eclair appeared, a lot later / but I know cinema came to / it was one of the inspirations of Cinema Novo, because it allowed, even though when the first Nagra and the first Reflex came about, which made every movie in Cinema Novo, they used the Reflex. It’s been used and abused, and there was only one Moviola, that had been brought to (Arne) Sucksdorff so he could teach a course. There was a course by Sucksdorff who was a really famous Swedish film maker, that was held at (Luiz Carlos) Barreto’s house, in Botafogo. Everybody took it, not me, because I was too young, but Saldanha, (Eduardo) Escorel, Dib (Lufti), everybody took that class, and Sucksdorff made the movie with those people from his class, I’ve never seen it, but it was something about pickpockets. Then Sucksdorff went mad, went to Mato Grosso, where he still resides, I don’t know if he died. He turned into a bear. I met him in the forest, thirty, forty years ago, I met him there, but when I met him he was already a bear, I mean, I don’t know if he died, he must have died, because he was Bergman’s contemporary. Sucksdorff was just as relevant as Bergman in Sweden, Bergman did theatre and fiction movies, and Sucksdorff was the great documentarian.

BERNARDO: I am not familiar with his work.

JOÃO: The films, it seems, are amazing. I don’t either.


02:36 - JOÃO: No. It all survived. It seems that there are some amazing things. But I think he’s still alive, and still in the bushes, he never left. What I know is that this group of people was formed at Barreto’s house, in Botafogo, at Dezenove de Fevereiro Street, so there a group of people started to organize themselves to do what would be a real cinema, so Joaquim Pedro, who was Rodrigo’s son, from Patrimônio, and Davi, who had connections with Carrilho, from Itamaraty, managed to import a Nagra, a Reflex 2C and a Moviola. That Moviola put together Vidas Secas, Deus e o Diabo, every initial movie from Cinema Novo, and every documentary, O Circo, you know, were made at the time, A Integração Racial, by Leon, no, Maioria Absoluta by Leon, Integração Racial is (Paulo Cezar) Sarraceni’s, they were made / that was after 5x favela, and 5x favela had already been a hit. And there were movies by Joaquim, Couro de Gato, there were Cacá (Diegues)’s movies, Marcos Farias’movies, or not, Miguel Borges. There were five, I forgot not, I can’t recall one of them, but they were amateur films made in sixteen. When that camera arrived, Jabor soon did O Circo, and there was a monumental fail, because at that time Lacerda had founded an organization for the incentive of cinema, called CAIC, Comission to Aid the Film Industry (Comissão de Auxílio a Indústria Cinematográfica), and to mess with Glauber (Rocha), who had released Deus e o Diabo, he gave the prize to Circo, by (Arnaldo) Jabor, so Jabor was desperate because he started being persecuted. It was a nice movie, but you could really compare it to Deus e o Diabo, it was one of those foul moves, and disputes would surface – Jabor is an asshole; that kind of thing. I know that from that moment a group was formed, from Luiz Carlos Barreto’s house, that’s when Vidas Secas emerged, and people started to discuss and what characterized that generation were the people who made movies, so, the workers of cinematography, and at the same time they had, or aimed to have a degree of reflexion, they were also critics, I mean, Glauber was a critic, Davi was a critic, Jabor was a critic, Leon was a critic, they all reflected and did things. Well, then what happened, Europe, which is always behind the Third World, or I don’t know what is it. The deal with Africa was important because in Italy it was founded the first NGO anyone’s ever heard of, called Colombiano, in the fifties. It was a priest from the Vatican, called Father (Harpa), who founded it with what would be the Museum of Men, with Jean Rouch, they founded that Colombiano, which was a film that aimed to bring, something frequently done nowadays, bring cameras to Africa to give voice to the Africans, so they made documentary films and the African themselves assisted, there were many well known films made by Jean Rouch, which were based on the Museum of Men, in Paris. That created a kind of style and it helped, evidently, the release of documentary languages. Documentaries were really square. You take Cavalcante’s documentaries, the classic documentaries, they were all made as if they were fiction, he didn’t even have the technical means to make free movies, when Eclair emerged, direct sound emerged, back then there was a wire, so you could sincronize with Nagra, you had to connect a wire, so there were these amazing scenes, I was there, Pixinguinha, with Joaquim Pedro, Joaquim handling the sound and me circling a table behind Pixinguinha to hide under the table, and then suddenly the cable would coil and we had to stop.

CLARA: It was a ballet, a technical ballet.

JOÃO: It was a wire, then they invented Pilotone, which would give the signal, then camera synchronism was quickly invented, sou movies could be made, but all of that I’m recounting by way, remebering th vibe, and everything was made like that. Eduardo Escorel/ Luis Carlos Saldanha was a very important guy. Luis Carlos Saldanha was Escorel’s brother-in-law, married to Escorel’s sister. He was from that Sucksdorff crowd, and he ended up being a representative of Kudelski, who manufactured Nagra, kind of a Nagra demonstrator, he would go around Europe presenting it, because the invention of Nagra was also an important thing, that was awarded an Oscar. Kudelski got an Oscar for inventing Nagra. Nagra was revolutionary. The invention of blimped cameras and the invention of Nagra were major steps, because in the early days they filmed / Vera Cruz made industry films, eveything in direct sound, but they put together an entire studio with sixty milimeters tape, perfurated sound tape, you know? It was crazy, so it was an amazing paraphernalia, but to film journalistic news we couldn’t. Then they invented a film with an optic trail, it was the worse, a terrible television time, hybrid stuff started to appear, but Nagra and Eclair were truly important. I was too young, and I was always really good, really smart when it came to mechanics, I soon got the hang of it and began assisting photographers with their cameras, so I literally worked with every photographer from Cinema Novo, as an assistant, and people anjoyed taking me because if anything went wrong, if a camera broke, I disassembled the camera, fix it, and put it back together, even with the Mitchell, I would take a Mitchell, disassemble it, put it back together, etc. So, then the thing got more or less solid through the propaganda made in Europe by Gustavo, by Carrilho, by Davi and by the Cahiers de Cinema, it fell in love with Cinema Novo, and Cinema Novo started to appear in Festivals, and getting awards, and in Brazil awards are very important. I got prizes in Cannes, in Venice, so that created much incentive, CAIC was the first one, Cláudio Lacerda etc. There wasn’t Embrafilme, there was INCE, National Film Institute, (Instituto Nacional de Cinema), where Humberto Mauro worked. I participated as camera assistant in seventy some films back then, so I’d spend the entire year traveling, I’d go to Northeast, the Amazon, and there are gigantic amounts of unbelievable adventures that if I tell you, we will take eight hours.

12:39 - BERNARDO: How did you end up at Triunfo Hermético, by Gerchman?

JOÃO: No, Triunfo wasn’t the first.

BERNARDO: I know (...)

JOÃO: No, then when I went to/ when G4 Gallery took place, the famous exhibition, and attended, I saw Rubens was, I knew Antonio Dias, because I had gone with Afonso Beato / Antonio lived in a cubicle at Barata Ribeiro Street, he even had to hang frankfurtes and salami on the ceiling, because of the rats, so he / there was a space, about a quarter of that, and me and Afonse reproduced his pieces. What I know is at a certain point Davi / Antonio Carlos Fontoura, who was interested in art, decided to make a movie about the art that was emerging, modern art there. He picked four artists, Rubens, Antonio Dias, Vergara, who then left, and Roberto Magalhães, and then in Rio David Zingg had appeared, making photographs, David Zingg had been an important fella in the United States, he was the guy who did the McGovern campaign against Nixon, a kind of / he’d made these marketeers.What I know is that suddenly McGovern lost, he came to Brazil, he jumped from a boat at Iate Clube, I don’t really know why, and a streetcar was passing by, it was Carnaval, he saw that bloco and went in. Typical David, who was a great guy, and he never left, and he was a very important guy, for everyone, for me, because he taught many photography techniques we didn’t know, it was all a bit of a guessing game, and he helped establish a pattern of respect for the photographers in media magazines, because up intil then, the photographer was considered as a second class citizen. In journalism in particular, photographers were pawns, he had no rights, so much so that Zé Medeiros, who was a great photographer, hid his negatives, otherwise he / Luiz Carlos Barreto, who was from Cruzeiro, but they had no rights to establish anything, typesetting, nothing. And David, when he went to work for Editora Abril, which was not Veja, it was before, he did essays, but he demanded to do typesetting, so there was an improvement in that sense, David was an important guy, at the same time that he generated a series of aggravations, because Glauber immediately said he was from CIA, he was a CIA Agent, because he really enjoyed photographing the Sunrise – a guy who gets up at five a.m to take pictures of the sun rising can only be a CIA Agent ((laughter)). So things were done, David almost died, poor guy, he had nothing to do with the CIA, he was a hell of a guy. So David systemathically started doing photos for the movie people, theatre people, music people, he has an amazing archive, and he stayed. Then he went to São Paulo, but Antonio Carlos Fontoura had become friends with David and so he wanted to use David’s pictorial competence in film, but David couldn’t handle the camera, so they asked me to do the camera work, and to teach David to photograph, to use the camera, so I was actually partly the cameraman, I was the guy who made it possible for David to use the Reflex and we did Ver e Ouvir together, and the film was an instant hit, because it really was very original, something new, nobody knew modern art, and they still don’t, because it also has a public who / that wasn’t shown in movie theatres, it was all a bit weird. What I know is that with that / well, we did Ver e Ouvir, which worked out really well, got many awards, and we became friends and Helô, my wife, also wrote a few things about Rubens, anda t the time there was, you’d go to / there was the Leblon circuit, Antonio, Alvaro, Degrau, Fiorentino, not Fiorentino, he was in theatre, those bars, Jangadero, Velho, and that which of the best of them all, the German, so I’d take a tough train at eight o’clock at night at Real Grandeza Street, got off in front of Zepelim, waited around, and when the film crowd got there, there was always a table, you’d go in there and stayed, so it all just happened, and I got jobs in films in those places, because the guy would say: - I’m leaving, and I don’t know where to, would you like to join me? So that was a way to make money, I got a place to live by myself in Santa Teresa, and it was a funny momento, because it was all done pretty amateur-ishly. If I had lights, I had them, if I didn’t, then I didn’t, if the noise from the camera had to leak, it would, and nobody really cared. But then we did Ver e Ouvir, remained friends, cruising bars, then he decided to develop Triunfo Hermético. Triunfo Hermético was complicated because he wanted animations, and you only do animations frame by frame, there was no digital cinema, so you couldn’t do digital animation, you had to do it manually, so it was really hard work, to take that up Pedra da Gávea, then I had to shoot frame by frame with the Mitchell, Mitchell is a camera the size of that chair, the camera alone, and it was really hard to make that movie, and he was proud to have destroyed a movie theatre in Niterói, because they took those films and showed the chosen documentaries before the feature films, sometimes the combination worked, the short one, normally, the public would howl when the documentary was announced, the audience would howl in horror, because all the films were extremely boring, O Pescador, you know. A fella would produce that pile of junk and put it there to make two grand, but Rubens’ film, Triunfo Hermético, they showed it in Niterói with a kung fu movie, that Chinese guy, what’s his name, the famous one (...)

BERNARDO: Bruce Lee.

22:43 - JOÃO: Bruce Lee. So there were only troglodytes and fighters. When Triunfo Hermético started, they broke down the theatre ((laughter)), and Rubens loved that: - I destroyed a movie theatre in Niterói! Triunfo Hermético wasn’t seen by everyone. I don’t even remember it well, I remember the animations we managed to do, more or less, it was done poorly, after that we did / no, there was a time when / Rubens called me and said: - look, registrations are opened for Festival JB, which was a highly regarded festival, it was a Thursday: - Monday is the deadline to register, let’s do it? He was married to Silvia. Silvia had been working on a movie for a year to put it in Festival JB, and the two of them were not that well, the marriage was in its final throes, and Rubens said: - do you have any leftovers (...) I saved leftover films, thrity meters, so I made many movies, and each plain needed a different frame, you rolled it, stopped it, put it. Then Rubens said: - let’s make a movie for Festival JB. But you had to film it, go to São Paulo, develop it in São Paulo, bring the first copy, get into a Moviola, put the film together, do the sound, go to São Paulo to mix it, take it to the lab, they had top ut the negative together, make copies, and that took at least fifteen days, then I said: - no, let’s do it. And I did everything. Sound, camera, assembly, filming, etc, and we did Mira, the emigrant, which I think is a really cute film, about his father.

BERNARDO: But Mira is long after Triunfo, isn’t it?

JOÃO: Quite after, but we did. I managed to get the first take of Mira, bring it to São Paulo, we filmed all night, and the morning after, I didn’t sleep and I went to São Paulo, developed it, waited, brought the hard copy, assembled it, added sound, went back to São Paulo, all I know is on Monday, at closing time I handed it in. The worst part was his movie made the selection and Silvia’s didn’t, that’s when the marrige fell apart.

26:07 - CLARA: I’d like to ask you, for Triunfo did you use a boat at a certain point for those water scenes?

JOÃO: I can’t quite remeber Triunfo Hermético.

CLARA: It had letters, I don’t know how they floated, it seemed (...)

JOÃO: No, those were special effects, frame by frame.

CLARA: Because in Paisagem, where letters are metallic, we see the reflection, the letter falls, we can tell those are visual effects, but when the letters are floating, and there are some long takes, it seems like a boat movement.

JOÃO: It may be, but I don’t really remember Triunfo Hermético. I remember how extremely difficult it was to make it.

CLARA: Nor how long it took, for instance, if you did it all at once.

JOÃO: No. We were together for a month or two making it, just him and me, no one else helped, both Mira and that one, we didn’t even have assistants, and a Mitchell weighs at least fifty kilos, it’s a massive camera. I managed to do unbelievable things, I made other movies by myself, with Blimp. Blimp was a steel cover you’d use that weighed about seventy kilos. I made a movie with a guy, he died, Aroldo, poor thing, he was a drunkard, it was called Lição de Moral, which was two fellas talking at a bar, I went to Baixada Fluminense to film it, alone, there was no assistant, I drove the car, I took care of sound, photography, and Uma Lição de Moral happened, it was a guy saying: - you are a drunk, and all; he taught him a lesson. I don’t remember how it happened, and I did some crazy things, only I could do it, you know it? And people came over, naturally abusing me, I suddenly had a career in feature film, I made a few, but I lost prestigie, because I thought it was more important to get what the guy wanted, what the director wanted, the guy’s desperate wanting to shoot, if there was no light I’d say: let’s do it without them. I threw any kind of demands to the wind, as a photographer, to assist / I felt part of all that, you know? So I did all kinds of crap, because the guy wanted crap, so I said: ok, it will not come out nice, still want it? Yes. So I was the suicidal photographer, they called me suicidal photographer. The man was desperate to get his share done, you can’t say no. While my friends, Sergio, Laurindo, Escorel, Dib, would say: stop it, go get me some light. I didn’t say no, I did it, but if you weigh it all I had more fun and contributed more, probably, to our crappy cinema than those guys with who made high demands and ended up pasteurizing in an incredible way, because after the first phase of Cinema Novo was through, which was important, and incendiary, it all turned into a dispute for money at Embrafilme, I mean, the films no longer interested minimally, as it doesn’t today, as I believe it still happens today. Brazilian Cinema has no relevance and no kind of / what is it called / the other day Escorel tried to say that and he was nearly killed, but he’s totally right, it has no relevance, what is made in Brazilian Cinema is crap, except for a few rare efforts, maybe you can name a salvageable film, mas that means nothing, it’s just an opinion, please cut it later so I won’t / I abandoned the movie industry thirty years agor, I don’t want any problems. No, the excuses were always political, no, politically (...)

CLARA: You have a copy of Mira, don’t you?

JOÃO: No. Have you checked CTAv to see if they have it?

CLARA: I researched MAM’s Cinematheque, São Paulo’s Cinematheque, and CTAv.

JOÃO: They didn’t have it?

31:33 - BERNARDO: And how was Rubens as a filmmaker? Did he know the craft or was it a free thing?

JOÃO: Rubens? No, he wasn’t really interested in knowing movies, he was focused on fine arts, for him movies were a resource, a support, he had no interest in cinema whatsoever and, there was the Bel Air crowd, Rogério Sganzerla, Julio Bressane, all friends of mine, who wanted to do purê cinematographic art, which would be equivalente to a pop art in cinema, something that never really worked, because those two are opposites, cinema, it’s either industrial cinema, or it isn’t, except for the early days, Buñuel, Max Ernst those pioneers, Dziga Vertov, which were langue researches, but not Rubens / I think that with que Triunfo Hermético, he mixes it up a little, but he didn’t see that as / he didn’t see it, and there wasn’t a cinematography thing, I didn’t really feel a cinematrographic interest in him, in doing something in film that was / his subject wasn’t cinematographic, his subjects were people, objects, things inside the universe of fine arts, it wasn’t about movies. He would never make a movie, that film happened by chance, because it was a wayfor you / he was more of a graphic artist, he was more connected to that part, and trying to do that was uncontrollable, maybe if he’d/ now if you take that fella, Carlos Saldanha who does I don’t know what in the snow, penguins, I don’t know, if you could put the audio and visual resources we have today at Rubens’ disposal, he’d make something incredible, in fact, one of the things I admired most about Rubens was the fact that he is an artisan and the story of Mira was really cool, of him following his father’s footsteps, his father drew advertises, etc. Few artists, except for Roberto Magalhães, maybe, had the drawing abilities of Rubens, they could draw. Lots of artists can’t, and they don’t need to, I think they don’t. If it was necessary, half of them wouldn’t exist, but he had this know-how, he took pleasure in that, he had designer’s hands, a painter’s hands, that shows, so his incursion in film was a little, I don’t know, I think he wanted to have a little fun.

35:37 - BERNARDO: We found a letter, I even brought it here, from Gerchman, dated November, 1979, he’s writting someone, we don’t know who was that letter for, someone he regards as a “dear fried”, and he makes two or three references to you in that letter, he’s writting to a friend and says at that moment (...)

JOÃO: ((Reading the letter in low voice)) That thing we were going to do, I remeber.

CLARA: The labels?

JOÃO: Yes.

BERNARDO: What happened, do you recall?

JOÃO: I remember there was / because there was a gigantic collection of labels, products and packages in Brasília, at Pró-Memória, but that was during Aloísio Magalhães’ time, so we walked around looking, Antonio Grosso as well, who was a Pressman, he had many rocks from / in the old days everything was made, butter can, anything made in litho, and it was funny because there were things that /cachaça labels were priceless because the fella produced pinga Santinha, so you had / you’d see that the guy had used the same rock, so he didn’t change, he just changed a thing or two, so there was a cachaça that was a drunkard on a bridge, then they took out the bridge and added Nossa Senhora Aparecida* on her way up, so there were some funny things, butter can. There was a time when I researched those, and I saw some incredible things, I even bought some, because they were also impulse purchases, and then I found, in Diamantina, no, a town in Minas, a litograph press, really ancient, with eighty huge rocks. I bought it, and I brought it, only it was this enourmous thing, it was the same as if you bought a newspaper press and put it in your home, so I ended up selling it for a cheap price, because at some point I stopped making movies. My film career is a short one, although I made seventy movies, it only lasted ten years, because when I was 29 my leg started to hurt, I started paralyzing, and it was a while / I lost weight, I couldn’t stay up anymore. The last movie I made was Iaô, a movie about a saint’s daughter in Cachoeira, Bahia, but I would lay down, get the lights done, and when it was time to film, I’d stand and do it. Me, five years handicapped, in pain, unable to sleep, until a doctor asked me to get some x-rays, my femur was broken, I had surgery, entered a thrity year hospital phase, I’d never leave the hospital. I had surgery, and would get into alcohol, drugs, that really lasted from thirty to fifty, twenty years, I spent twenty crazy years, I lost everything, I mean, I lost my work. When I / after the fourth nearly death and actual death, my heart stopped, convulsions, rehab, I had more of a name among the psychiatric circuit of hospices than in the movie industry. I knew everyone, the crazy ones outside, and the ones inside.

41:17 - BERNARDO: And those movies you made with Heloísa, in the late seventies? What were they?

JOÃO: Those were Heloísa’s crazy ideas, she always wanted to do anything, so she did it. Now I vaguely recall it. They were things she did / well, first we made this well behaved square movie, then she started doing a TV show, and I kind of participated in it, the problem is since Helô has always worked at the University, you had that terrible weight of the university, because everything you do in college that’s a little outside the realm of normal, you are immediately sabotaged and made fun of, that’s why the experience of the Escola de Artes Visuais was new, because it was a renovation. When Darcy joined, Darcy was really good friends with us, I was even part of the program that founded those Brizolões, I would research areas, I’d go to favelas, went up Pavão Pavãozinho.

42:42 - BERNARDO: But these movies you made with Heloísa, were they documentaries or fiction?

JOÃO: Neither. There was a radio show, Café com Letras and a few tv shows for TVE, I think.

42:57 - BERNARDO: That material of that film you tried to produce for the industries of 79, that film (...)

JOÃO: There was so much red tape, you had to enter a commision at / it wasn’t Embrafilme / it was the Department of Cultural Film at Embrafilme. You had to enter a commision, develop a project, it was like it is now, there was a judging panel, you had to be political, and there were turns – but you already got it this year, next year it won’t be possible! It was impossible, literally, to make an independent film. Now you can, with videocameras, you can do something. Back then we had 35mm films, a film cost a hundred thousand dollars, for nothing, because it wasn’t shown, literally, so it was really expensive for that. For experimentation it wasn’t possible.

44:22 - CLARA: I found here in our collection, in these years I’ve been catologuing, two of my father’s paintings that I never really understood, because they were paintings based on cachaça labels. One of them is called Aguardente ( ) and now you just gave me an answer.

JOÃO: It’s because we started searching, looking into it. It would have been a beautiful project, probably, but we had too many projects. Rubens, himself, I remeber thinking many things and we wouldn’t / we’d give up, life was tough, there was less money than there is today, so everything was really hard, Rubens had top ut up with a few crazy ones at Parque Lage, horrible situations, because people who would go there were crazy ones, and he left there angry, because after you’ve made / and it was fun lover because he was really **/ Gerchman had a great sense of humor, he was really funny, I liked him a lot, the others were boring. Antonio Dias turned into a square guy, the sacred monster, then Roberto Magalhães was impracticable, he’d stay there with those buddhists, and / who was the fourth one?

46:16 - BERNARDO: Vergara.

JOÃO: No, o Vergara is wonderful. It’s a shame Vergara hasn’t / no, they were three.

JOÃO: I know that, the other day, not the other day, I’m old, so when I say the other day I mean situations from thirty years ago, it’s true, you lose track of time. The other day, about fifteen years agor, I went to Paço to visit an exhibition about that period we called pop art, it was called new figuration, anyway, I can’t remember the name of the exhibition, but they were paintings, and suddenly it was something so beautiful, so beautiful. It was the same feeling I got ten years ago when I went to Guggenheim, and it was under repair (...)

47:30 - PEDRO: One thing I find incredible when we meet people who lived through the effervescence of that time is what happened during that historical moment for the arts, that was a really (...)

JOÃO: You put together Bob Dylan, Caetano, they were extraordinary moments, moments that were really / for example, the other day I was watching an interview with Antonio Candido, in which he talked about Guimarães Rosa, and he said: on my days what we had was Drummond, Guimarães Rosa, we only had amazing writers, Graciliano Ramos. Funny times. At that time there was only literature, there was no theatre, nothing, so those are curious moments, dated, when a given tendency emerges / I was lucky to live and know, I mean, my adventurous life of / the best thing about making documentaries was meeting certain people. I met many great people. I was friends with the smartest people in Brasil, like Glauber, Darcy, it’s incomparable, talking to Glauber, because Glauber was really mystifying, he was a big clown, and really conceited, so / but when he fell down and stayed, he was really ill, physically ill. He had pains in his gut, he would bend over like this. Sometimes I said, let’s have a serious conversation, cut the crap, so we had a few chats, approaching, so there were some really smart people, and people you would bet on who never really blossomed, you know? There was Jabor, who I really like, he’s my friend, but... you know? And there were some really special people, I met the greatest people, even people who weren’t from here, Murilo Mendes. I went to Cannes at the last great festival, the year of Death in Venice, it was the twenty fifth anniversary of the festival and Antonioni, Buñuel, Fellini, Visconti, Bertolucci, Susan Sontag, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, were all there, all together, Bresson, and I was a kid, early twenties, walking around Cannes and Rome, getting to know I don’t know what, it’s crazy, you know? I wouldn’t trade this for the world, because it’s life experience, you get / and really, long dated affinities, there are people you instantly get along with, others you don’t, so sometimes / not to mention funny and ridiculous and really dangerous things you do. I went out there, died, saw the tunnel, visited the other side and all, but I found out the light I saw was the light from my return, of course. Those who really go, don’t come back, so they can’t tell you they saw the light. My heart stopped, I died. When they brought me back, the blood begins to flow again and you start seeing with no syncronism, you vision returns, your hearing returns, the tunnel is this side of Paradise, not that one, but dying is like fainting, I always say that, so it’s not much of a problem.

* Brazil’s matron Saint.

** Não entendi a frase original, “e era amante divertido porque ele era muito”, traduzi literalmente.


BERNARDO: As I told you, it’s a conversation, we won’t ask anything, just memory, it’s not about the art subject itself, it’s a wider subject, about the memory of Rubens. First, we’ll start with a few simpler questions, trivials. I’d like to know how you got to Parque Lage, how old were you, what were your expectations, what was the year you first came here.

LUIZ HERNESTO: I came here in 75, right when the school was starting, in the end of 75, and I was twenty years old at the time, I had already taken a few private courses in drawing and painting, but I actually studied engineering at the university, so I ended up splitting my time a lot, because I was taking classes here, and at the same time I was in college. I graduated, but I chose art, so I came here in the early days of the school, the school offered many courses, and one basic one, so I started with this basic course. It had many teachers, and it was something of an introduction, I took that one, then others, engraving, lithography with Antonio Grosso, who was also a very important guy at the time, he had a large number of students, and only later, because it was a more advanced course, I was Gerchman’s student, he had a workshop called Cotidiano e Expressão (Daily Life and Expression), but it wasn’t a basic course, you had to have gone through other courses to take that one, there was a waiting list to join it, he had a conversation with the student beforehand, to check if it was time for them to join it, so I joined Gerchman’s course and it was a very rich course in terms of options, because there was no specific theme, it wasn’t a drawing class, a painting class. It was a course in which anything could happen. I remember classes started at one o’clock, two o’clock, and there was no time to finish it, sometimes it ended at ten o’clock in the evening, each day we had something different, you never knew what was going to happen, I don’t even think Gerchman knew it, it just happened. So sometimes we read a paper, sometimes we discussed a given subject, some art-related issue, sometimes a live model lesson, there was a guy who did dance and theatre, Marco, who was the school model, and sometimes he would pose. I remember Gerchman bringing a book of drawings by Rodin, they were watercolors, with figurines, and we had an entire lesson, roughly based on the way Rodin produced those drawings, and we also analyzed the students’ works, so it was a very wide class, in truth this ideia of day to day life meant exactly paying attention to what’s around, it wasn’t about looking for distant references, but for things that are there, around, so sometimes it was a newspaper article, and ad for something, anything could be a subject to be brought to class, and I think that freedom he had in his course kind of reflected on the school’s general spirit, because, you imagine, 75 it was military dictatorship time, it was Geisel’s government, so the existence of that school during a dictatorship was an anomaly, something absolutely unpredictable, because that school was kind of an island of freedom, surrounded by repression, from out the door you had a dictatorship, and in here there was a school where anything could happen, so the idea of a free school wasn’t just in the sense that anyone could get in, there was no admission exam, there was no selection, anyone, any age could be here, but it was also free in the sense of manifestations, creation, because it was a time of repression, of censorship. At the school door there was always a police car. It was there twenty four hours a day, and sometimes they searched the students, so this, here, this place was completely out of character in this environment of repression and political censorship.

05:12 - BERNARDO: Do you believe that situation, I mean, censorship outside and freedom in here, that stimulated the students (...)

BERNARDO: That situation, repression and freedom. That was an agent that stimulated the students to stay, to want to stay more time in the school, I mean, to live most of their lives in here?

LUIZ HERNESTO: No doubt about it, because this place was a kind of a haven, because it wasn’t just about fine arts, this was a place of poets, people from marginal poetry, I remember Tavinho Paes, for instance, I printed the little books that were later sold at bars, with this little Off Set machine we had down here. Forbidden movies, I watched Limite, by Mário Peixoto here. Movies that couldn’t be shown anywhere else, there was dancing, music, and that created a kind of community, because even on days I had no classes, I hung out here, because we met people, we talked, sometimes we attended a class from a course you didn’t normally go to, sometimes we had visiting artists, lectures, so this was a place where people who dealt with communications, they came here, also, seeing as the school closed really late, some people slept here because on the next day it all started again, so this place here was really unusual, and people really hung around here all the time. There were people who got here in the morning and stayed the whole day. That class, for example, Gerchman’s, I remember leaving here at ten something in the evening, a class that started one o’clock.

07:12 - BERNARDO: So, how was Gerchman as a teacher, an educator, a pedagogue?

LUIZ HERNESTO: Gerchman had an unusual temperament, because sometimes he got angry, bursted a little, sometimes he’d tell us off, he was really strict in his positions, his opinions, but he was someone with amazing baggage in terms of references and the analysis and discussions about each person’s work, they were very rich, and I mean, personally, for me it was a really important course, maybe the most important course I’ve ever taken, because all of my work, from that day on, at the time I was just starting professionally, early days, but all my work had that feature, it’s a way of looking at daily life that began in that classroom, in Gerchman’s group, Cotidiano e Expressão.

08:18 - BERNARDO: And which other courses did you take, do you remember?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I took many, that basic one, which was a very wide course, many teachers, normally you started there, but I took lithography, with Antonio Grosso, for a long time, and I even started teaching at that workshop, litho, and I also took another course, which was really important, Roberto Magalhães, he taught a drawing class, so it was interesting because they were two worldviews that were really different, Roberto had a kind of an esoteric view, mystic, fantastic, kind of surreal, and Gerchman had this worldly, more urban, more newspaper, and the two of them, in a way, were two sides of a same coin. A dreamer’s worldview, and another one that was more political, critical, they were two very different approaches, and two classes that were most important to me.

09:25 - BERNARDO: You, since you are also a teacher and an educator now, in a way, besides being an artist, how did you see that transformation, because what we see in our studies is that Brazil had a really hard time being modern in terms of an education in art. Of course you’ve had moments when / during the fifties, Ivan Serpa’s own example, and other professors at Escola de Belas Artes (School of Fine Arts), but how do you see that will Gerchman had not to deny the scholar side, but at the same time, transform all that, bring up contemporainety. Do you believe that was a first seed of what we can call an idea of creating contemporaneity in Brazil?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I believe so, because here, before the Visual Arts School, there was the Institute of Fine Arts, IBA (Instituto de Belas Artes), which was a very academic school, quite traditional. I think the main difference is experimentation. The scholar school is repetition, you learn something that is already traditional, and you deal with that tradition, and what Gerchman started here is the experience, experimenting, I mean, I think a really important thing about the school is that it, as far as I remember, it did not start as a closed project. There was no school project, visual arts with a beginning, a middle, and an end, previously defined, the school kept building itself, mostly around the difference between the artists that taught and those who attended classes, it is not a finished project, and I believe that spirit has survived, I mean, there were many directions, many moments, and it is always open to reformulating its ideas, its propositions, its areas, its nuclei, the invitation to artists. So I think the great merit of this school was the continuous process of reconstruction and recreation, and in fact, I believe that it being here in this building, the architecture of the building favored a certain kind of school. Imagine if that school was at Presidente Vargas Street, in a building, it would have been a completely different school, so / that internal patio, which was the meeting point, people from every course would meet there, sat by the pool, at the canteen, that’s where people exchanged ideas. Some collective events, performances, movies, they took place at the patio, so the architecture of the building, I think was important to how the school evolved, so I think the great merit was that unfinished spirit, this thing that until today the school is still building itself, it modifies, it’s somewhat like that day to day spirit, every day is a different day.

12:48 - BERNARDO: You as an artist and student, you, your experience, and what you saw from people around you, you were worried about your work results, or were you really more into living this experience?

LUIZ HERNESTO: That time was very different from today, in terms of art system, art market. We had a dictatorship, the seventies were really about conceptual art, which was a more complex and hard to understand kind of art, there wasn’t always the sold object, few galleries and I actually remember, there was a certain criticism to the artist who sold, so it’s completely the opposite from today, now the market is incredibly powerful, there are art fairs, there are many galleries, and it is almost the artist’s goal to insert his work in the market, not back then, then it was a kind of resistance towards the system, not being linked to immediately selling your work. I remember, even at discussions during classes, there was criticism towards a certain given artist because he had sold, the exhibition sold, that was horrible, the guy was a sell out. So there was also a / this idea, Gerchman called the school a space of resistance, every once in a while he’d put up stickers on the walls praising this space, the resistance, so there was this side of a specific political moment that made the artists have a certain posture regarding that, and also this romantic side, of making art, the important thing was to make art, what happened to your pieces was almost a consequence, you could show in a gallery or not, but the important thing was the process, was being involved in that transformation process, this creation, invention, I mean, it was really different, now there is a pragmatic side to art, I see artists here, students who stay for six months and already they want to produce a Book, bring it to the galleries. Back then nobody thought of that, there were some important galleries, like Saramanha, but we went to vernissages, openings, but to think about being part of a gallery such as this one was something really distant, something we imagined – maybe it will happen further in the future, because famous galleries, Anna Bella Geiger, a few important names, you’d go there in awe, so it was a very different environment and a different moment of the art system, a different political moment, all that.

15:56 - PEDRO: Since you did not produce your work with a gallery in mind, who was the interlocutor you had in mind when you worked? Were your colleagues, your friends, people around you?

BERNARDO*: It was a lot of that, the surroundings of a group, because in a certain way you have a certain art audience, til these days, you visit many galleries, you find people who go to many places, so there is an audience, more specific, and at the time there was a little bit of that, there were exhibitions from students here, collective exhibitions, so dealing with the institution was your way of showing your work and not being exactly in a gallery, having a market involved, there were spaces such as the Museum of Modern Art, so there was this institutional side as well.

17:01 - BERNARDO: With a little effort of my imagination, it seems to me you got here, as you said, very raw, as an artist. Do you think it would have been different if you’d already had a background, more scholar, as it were at the time, I mean, you getting here raw, having your first contact with art education and it being something so experimental?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I think so, because there was the School of Fine Arts, some people took the traditional school, academic, it is a school that has also changed a lot through the years, and there was a large separation between the university and the Visual Arts School, but my training did not go through the university where art was concearned, I graduated in engineering, so I had taken a few courses, private courses in a few art studios, but I was really young, so it was something kind of / they were courses for teenagers, and when I started, even for me, I was already in my early twenties, but it was a surprise to me, because I was in engineering school, which is something absolutely pragmatic, maths, calculus, the whole deal, and then I got here and it was completely different, there was always something going on, I never knew exactly what was going to happen, it was always a surprise in here, so it was a position, an almost schizophrenia, but I think / I don’t know how it would have been if I had had a different background, but the impact I suffered was from this life posture that did not follow a straight line, that is somewhat winding, somewhat invention, any day anything can happen and you deal with finding things, you are not looking for them, you bump into them and from that, something can happen.

19:12 - BERNARDO: I ask it because you, in a way, we can call you the first generation of this idea of a more contemporary art education, more visual arts and less fine arts.

LUIZ HERNESTO: And it’s funny how actually in time the school reaffirmed its place in the teaching of art and now we have many students here that come from an MA, or a Doctoral, I mean, people who have an academic background, sometimes more theoretical, because even when the artist has their work as subject for a thesis, writing a thesis is not exactly doing the work, so this is the place we do, we experiment, we discuss, from something being done, or together with it being done, and a thesis is writing about something being made, which is a little different, and many people who have that academic background now come here to get a complementation, so in time the school took up a space that didn’t actually exist, because it was academic on one side, and experimental on the other, and those two things aren’t necessarily opposite, they can complement each other, because it is important that the artist also has a more theoretical background, a denser baggage, that university can provide, but at the same time keeping the experimentation spirit, the studio spirit, is a very characteristic thing here at Parque Lage.

20:55 - Bernardo: And there is an aspect / Wilson Coutinho, in his paper about the Opposition Garden, he speaks of a / he has a metaphor about the teaching of art here in Brazil, that the teaching of art here in Brazil trying to be modern is like a boxer in a cock pit, it is the archaic thing, and him trying to fight in this archaic field, it’s interesting Parque Lage being this place, not the archaic, but from a different time, there is that aspect it tried to search for, well, I digress, it wasn’t even a question. Ok, back to that time, you were here during the four years of Gerchman.


21:42 - BERNARDO: Can you tell us if between you getting here and leaving here, life in school changed every day, you mentioned, but through the political point of view, if there was pressure or not, if people were or weren’t uncomfortable, if there was a transformation, did you feel that?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I think that with each director, in a way, there was some kind of transformation. I don’t remeber the school having any attitude or project, or any specifically political event, regarding the dictatorship, I mean, I think the resistance shown by the school was artistic, art is politics in essence, so what happened here was a resistance in the name of art, of freedom, of creation, of things that happened here, but they weren’t (...) ((noise))

23:10 - BERNARDO: So, back to that, you were talking about this resistance, that art is ( )

LUIZ HERNESTO: Yes, I think the resistance proposed by the school was an artistic resistance, it wasn’t about organizing movements against the dictatorship, let’s go to the streets, let’s organize a parade, maybe the event, that it wasn’t just a political matter, it was during the time of the fire in MAM, so there really was an enourmous manifestation, students went there holding banners, we spent an afternoon here writing the banners, getting them ready, that was really a manifestation, but it was always about art, so the resistance here I think was more in the sense of freedom and creation, and all of that opposed to that political environment that was going on, without necessarily, explicitly campaigning against/- let’s have a political manifestation on the streets. It was different, in that sense, inside here it also worked as a bubble, there wasn’t much pressure, what sometimes happened, eventually, when something happened here and it was censored on the outside and sometimes there was DOPS back then, Gerchman and some of the teachers had to go there to explain why a certain movie was shown, why a certain event took place, they were a few things, but they didn’t qualify as repression towards the school, or an invasion. That really didn’t happen.

24:51 - BERNARDO: Can you remember any of these stories?

LUIZ HERNESTO: It wasn’t even / they were isolated things that actually were not exactly related to our political state. Here, as I said before, was a haven, and there were people who even slept here, and I remember a guy named Valdo, he was someone with mental problems, the things he said made no sense, it was incoherent, but people helped, they brought food, they paid for lunch, they brought clothing, and he just stayed, a harmless person, and like every stray, every alternative person, people who couldn’t fit into any place, they came here, here was the place for that, he stayed here, as others did, I remember one day when a lady got scared of him for some reason, I don’t know if he said something, or if it was something he did, but he was harmless, but she got scared and those officers who stayed out here, who were always on the outside, they heard there was a crazy man in here, I mean, another one, because many were the crazy people, so the police came here looking for the guy so there was a general fight, everybody trying to stop the police from entering, no one could enter, this is a school, so Gerchman went to the door, and many other teachers, I remember Celeida, Astréa, who were the teachers back then, standing up to the officers, a heated argument, and there was a guy who was also a model here at the school, Chicão, he cursed at an officer, the officer chased after him, so he went up the terrace, the officer kept saying he would shoot the padlock, so there was this terrible argument, everybody went to the station and in that confusion Valdo disappeared, but hours later everyone was back, it was an isolated event, a very specific situation, but every once in a while there were situations. As I said, every so often when students were searched by those officers, so it was all a result of a political environment, it was always flying about, but it never actually entered the school.

27:22 - BERNARDO: There was also this moral issue thing, that – oh, people smoke weed there, there are naked people (...)

LUIZ HERNESTO: And we had everything, here was / that’s the idea of freedom, anything goes, there are no limits.

27:37 - CLARA: He often said that when he got to MAM after the fire, evidently, staring at that grey museum, it was all grey, that impact, he had a piece there, in the museum’s collection at the time, his piece LUTE (Fight), and that piece caught on fire, and on top of catching on fire, since it was a sculpture, it got printed on the wall, LUTE, I’d like to know if you remember that, by any chance.

LUIZ HERNESTO: No, I don’t remember. That’s a beautiful story.

CLARA: It is. Beautiful. It could be, you could have met that (...)

LUIZ HERNESTO: But I don’t remember. I really don’t.

28:25 - BERNARDO: Did you go to the manifestation?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I did, I made banners.

BERNARDO: How was this manifestation day?

LUIZ HERNESTO: The school joined other groups, it wasn’t just the school, because practically the entire art class as a whole was there, because it was a tragedy, that smell of burning, then the vision, a terrible situation, but I remember Gerchman getting everyone organized, motivating the students, to get us to work on those banners, those signs, then we all went, we set a time and we all went there, and screams, slogans, the whole nine yards, to call attention to the tragedy that had just taken place. What was lost in terms of pieces is invaluable.

29:16 - BERNARDO: Back then, it seems, I don’t know, I didn’t live it, but it seems that among you, whether you were teachers or students, you were cherished debates, because this was not a hippie community, this was a school full of highly qualified people, so, why do you think there was that spirit at the time, do you really think there was more debate?

LUIZ HERNESTO: No, I think that / I don’t know, at the time there were some outstanding people, with strong personalities, I remember, for example, Lélia Gonzalez, a strong character, she taught anthropology of art, I was her student and sometimes she’d talk about Lacan, imagine that, a twenty year old boy, and her, discussing issues, of course, on a level we could think, but it was a very strong character, someone else, who taught sociology of art, he was Avatar Moraes, a great sculptor, a very serious person. I think it was a time strongly based on those names, what Gerchman may have as a signature from his time was the personality of each teacher, they were each a different universe. You had a Dionísio Del Santo who was an icon, somebody everyone reverenced, so I think those discussions were also result of personalities, so attending thoses classes was almost an event. Lélia Gonzalez’s class was always crowded, it was in the auditorium, filled with people, so it wasn’t that the moment was prone to generate discussions, discussions were always part of the school, there were theoretical classes, as there are today, but those people were remarkable, so people also came to hear them speak. I think that has a strong weight at the time.

31:23 - CLARA: Gerchman obviously thought a lot, understood, studied and thought about Bauhaus, Black Mountain, you know, he knew about these schools and evidently thought of them, but do you think that got here, that you got here, the students, I mean, the philosophy of the Visual Arts School of Parque Lage was structured, did that transpire, the experiences of schools around the world?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I can’t really evaluate if that transpired in an obvious fashion, but / since art is essentially historic, I remember / the fact that Gerchman brought theoretical papers to class, and discussed certain issues, there was really a historical matter, you can’t just release a moment in a context, of a past, of an entire cultural and artistic heritage that each era receives. I think transformation and invention, it’s not random, it comes from experiences, from moments you’ve lived, but adpating to local contexts, and their times, so I think Gerchman certainly knew that, but you can imagine, while in the seventies you have pop art, and a certain celebration of a consumer’s world in the US, here we had a dictatorship. Even the idea of pop in Gerchman’s work, visually we perceive something, a pop vein. But it’s not pop, because it is a more political work, while pop celebrated consumerism, so there’s a big difference. I think that is the baggage, you don’t close your eyes to history, you don’t close your eyes to an environment that surpasses personal matters, they are historical matters, buta t the same time you are also connected to local matters in your time. I believe it’s from that encounter that art may be produced, and I believe in that sense he certainly brought that baggage here.

33:59 - BERNARDO: Back to here, was there repercussion outside the city about what went down in here? Among families, in houses, in other painting spaces, how was the repercussion of your life in here, outside of here?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I don’t know how to evaluate as a whole, and of course we are talking about a period when there was no internet, no computer, no cell phones, the speed with which things happened was not like today, when everything happens instantly, so that made things slower, compared to nowadays, how the information circulated, but there was also a prejudiced view towards the school, this was a place of weed, of craziness, there are only crazy people at Parque Lage, and for many years, even after Gerchman’s period, the school had that image. I remember, years after Gerchman’s time, I was already a teacher here, parents coming in with their children, afraid to enrol them here, so they came to check the craziness to see if they could allow their kid to go to this school or not, because this was a place of crazy people, so the general repercussion was quite dubious, people were connected to culture and art, this was the place, but most people this place was something to be careful about, because is was filled with crazy people, so the repercussion was kind of dubious, ambiguous.

35:46 - BERNARDO: Do you remember / you watched it, you probably came here to Verão a Mil, those shows, you saw performances here, Helio Eichbauer’s performances, how were they, the performances, Verão a Mil, can you describe a little bit of those?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I remember a few of Helio’s performances, because he taught a workshop called Pluridimensional and it was very interesting because in a way, you imagine, in the seventies he already anticipated a hybridity in art that is really characteristic to the current production, there are many artists / in a way the work I do deals with this a little, it combines means, it’s part painting, sometimes it deals a little with impressions and objects, things don’t really fit into well defined categories, and I remember performances and interventions in space, I remember an intervention with strings, that came from the terrace, they came down here and there was a whole movement, Helio’s group did some kind of a dancing, of performance, there was a stage at the pool, that was done over at the patio, everybody watched it, even people from the other course, so they were pretty strong events, quite remarkable. And it’s funny, what I mentioned before, the live model lessons we sometimes had at Gerchman’s and this environment, that type of posture, I remember sometimes the class model moved like a dancer, I mean, it really was a live model. It was interesting to try and draw a guy who was dancing. I think that’s a result of this environment of body, sensations, that this type of collective proposal proposed, it happened.

38:06 - CLARA: You told us in this room there was a beautiful intervention with leaves, could you tell us a little (...)

LUIZ HERNESTO: That was also the beginning, I think it was the beginning of the year, I don’t remember the exact period, but it was a kind of an opening lesson, a performance, a show, which maked the opening of Gerchman’s course, so there was already a group he’d talked to, that kind of made up his class, and he had an event here in this room. The room was all covered in leaves, dry leaves, they were all gathered from the garden, so there was a layer of leaves here, and Gerchman made this movement with an empty canvas, and he had tied elastics to the canvas, and stuck to those elastics there were pigments, and he stretched the elastic, beat on the canvas and created lines, and formed lines on the canvas with that elastic. There was this whole body thing, this movement thing, so it was that event, a collective thing, not restricted to his students, there were guests, artists who came here to watch, it was another collective event, everybody participated in the moment, the lights were darker, that created a whole atmosphere, more silent, more reflexive, and it was a beautiful moment, really, aesthetically, even.

39:39 - BERNARDO: You describing that scene, it occurs to me the means aspect, the means of production, because it seems to me the time was a time of precariousness, and also of struggle, and also because it was expensive, because the means of production was also an expensive thing, in a way. Do you believe the need to overcome was a characteristic that encouraged people?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I think so. I believe there are many reasons. I mean, the school, through practically its entire history, it was really precarious in terms structure, money, funding, now it’s really different, so there was much improvisation, you had to overcome challenges. I was director many years later and I could feel it. You suddenly had to obtain an infra-structure to get a guest artist to lecture, and even to get an extention cord, in many situations you had to pay for it, you’d go there and buy it, so this improvisation was a mark of the school, the school had to reinvent itself on a daily basis. Besides that, I think there is, if we compare it to what happened in the eighties, after Gerchman, in the seventies there still is an influence of what was happening during the dictatorship, which was a certain emphasis in conceptual art, in the eighties you see a ressurgence of painting, so it’s the moment you start having / a certain mean appears more evidently, while conceptual art wasn’t a mean, it wasn’t a technique, they were procedures of all kinds, so even those who painted, which was Gerchman’s case, did other things as well. Gerchman painted, but there was sculpture, there were objects, there was LUTE, so that happened with most artists, so I remember that from the eighties onwards the school was deeply marked by the eighties generation, a school of painting. At that time there weren’t many painting courses, because even Gerchman’s course, which was a strong course at the school, was a general thing, it wasn’t a specific course – I’m going to do drawing, or painting, it was a bit of everything, and that was a trademark of this school, people did engravings, but also photography, so there was not this characteristic that from the eighties on art will have, of favoring a particular mean, even influenced by the market, but not back then, so i think there are both those aspects.

42:48 - CLARA: He was “released” in March, 1979, and we notice the following director, Breitman, he takes his position only at the end of the year. How was it, because there already was a program that was put together, structured for that year, 79, and that is not clear, did those plans happen?

LUIZ HERNESTO: Here’s what I remember / because normally the director here, he follows the State Government, so he has a management period, he’s named, it’s a position of trust, during a government period. Once it’s over, in principle a new headmaster is named, it can occur that the same one is renamed, and so he’ll stay. I remember that initially Gerchman knew he was going to leave, because that was the deal, it was what it was, but I remember lots of people also wanted him to stay, I remember all the students, they said – hey, the course will be interrupted, it will kill our spirit. Nobody knew who’d be coming along, Rubem Breitman, nobody knew him, so there was a movement of certainty – and now, what happens to this school? And a lot of people started looking for Gerchman, asking him to stay, and I think at a certain moment he knew he was going to leave, but he thought he could stay, I think he’d even have liked to have stayed a little longer, but then those were political matters, we never really know what’s behind things, so Rubem Breitman took over in the end of 79, but there was a gap, because many artists who were teachers here, were here because of Gerchman, they were his friends, people who liked him, and many people were sympathetic and left, so that year of 79 was really complicated because the school was empty, there were no courses, no teachers, practically no students, because people had left, courses were over, the relevant names in this school left with Gerchman, so there was a major gap, so it took the school a while to restructure, Breitman himself took a while to understand what that school was. I remember, at the time he called Ripper, who was a theatre director, and then the school started to try and reorganize itself once more, they started inviting people to replace the teachers, then a few painters joined, Luís Áquila, Charles Watson, who essentially taught painting, so that was the seed that would in the future interfere with the eighties generation, which was basically made of painters, but the year of 79 was really complicated, because it was filled with uncertainties, nobody knew, Gerchman had left, he was the head, the heart of the school, then what, what happens? Who is coming in?

46:13 - CLARA: did you stay?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I was a student until 79, so didn’t really know, I was graduating college, engineering, and I said: - now what? Will I take an internship? Will I be an engineer? But I didn’t want to, I wanted to stay here, so by accident, by luck, Antônio Grosso, because some of the teachers were State teachers, they weren’t simply invited, Antônio Grosso, Celeida Tostes, Astréa El-Jaick, they were State people, so they couldn’t leave, because they were employees, so that group stayed here, as teachers, because they worked for the State, and I was Antônio Grosso’s student, and I remember, at the time a litho teacher, she was an American teacher, Susan, she was leaving school and Grosso, I remember, he asked me: - would you like to take over that class? Because it has a vague schedule, you guide a group, kind of take that place she’s leaving. So I started kind of like an assistant to him, teaching litho, then I met Breitman, Ripper, it was during that restructuring period, it was already 1980, 81, around that, and I decided to present a project of a drawing course. I was already teaching litho, then Breitman accepted the project, so I really started teaching, and I’m still here, nearly forty years.

48:00 - BERNARDO: We see in the movie from that time, that was made here, at the film workshop, O Morto do Exílio, about Frei Tito, your name was in the credits. Were you an actor in that production?

LUIZ HERNESTO: We were extras, a couple scenes were shot down here, it was a bar, if memory serves me right, and we sat at tables over there, being extras, I was an extra in that, I appeared like that, kind of / and I also remember something funny, I don’t remember what was the scene, but the production had to record the noise of steps, people running, so they asked people at the school to run here at the patio, and when they recorded the sound / and I remember doing the scene a bunch of times, I remember Celeida running to record the sound, to insert it in the movie, to do the sound, but I participated as an extra.

49:12 - BERNARDO: What other artistic initiative, in addition to painting, drawing, and being an extra did you have at the time, do you remember?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I don’t really remember it all, because there were these collective things that were sometimes ephemeral. I remember, for instance, attending a beautiful class Gerchman had, we did this huge drawing, an enormous roll of paper craft he opened over that stage here above the pool, and there was a model, normally that Marco guy, he danced, he was a strong guy, from the theatre, and we used a bamboo, a piece of wood with chalk, a pencil tied at the edge, and the idea was to make huge drawings, holding that stick, so there was this whole movement thing, you drew with your whole body, you draw this giant head, you have to move, it’s not a pulse, it’s not an arm that’s drawing, it’s your body, and that was done by a group, it was a collective activity, each one stood at another one’s side, a line of people drawing, the guy dancing in front of us, and we drew with that stick and that pencil tied at the edge, so a few of these things took place, things that began and ended. It wasn’t like this: oh, let’s exhibit, no, there was nothing to exhibit, that was a moment, it was that instant. Today we are doing this, so let’s go, we did it.

50:56 - BERNARDO: Didn’t you ask yourself, should I become a film-maker, should I be a set designer, should I do other things, or were you always there, were you always more focused on the painting and the drawing?

LUIZ HERNESTO: At first I focused on drawing, that’s how I began, and I was also Roberto Magalhães’ student, and he focused more on drawing, though not exactly in a drawing technique, drawing as a whole, and I really liked to draw, I did litho, which is basically drawing on a rock, so for a long time drawing was really my field, I had an easier time with it and I really never thought about doing anything else, I thought I was really going to work only with drawings, but you never know where your work will take you, and then came painting, and working with fiberglass, resin, photography, which is what I do today, and when I look back, in retrospect, it’s as if what I do now is a synthesis of all I did before, and suddenly things come together. I used photography as a source to draw, to copy, and suddenly I was using the picture itself, and then one day it hit me: why am I copying the picture and not using it? Then one day things met, coupled, but that’s where they come from, from that seed, that period.

52:28 - CLARA: Did you participate in ( Coperman )’s fiberglass workshop?

LUIZ HERNESTO: No, (Coperman) commanded that workshop, I remember the things he did here on the terrace, he molded things with clay, but I wasn’t in that workshop, I started working with fiberglass many years later, after the eighties, and I learned it from an engineer who taught technical courses, he had nothing to do with art, but at that time I didn’t take (Coperman) ‘s course.

52:57 - CLARA: Do you know, by any chance, who did the School’s logo, the original one, you know? The little stripes.

LUIZ HERNESTO: Look, I’m not sure who did the logo, but Astréa El-Jaick was a drawing teacher, she had live model lessons, I think she’s an interesting teacher to talk to, and she made every school poster, she made some beautiful posters, because she made these cuts in black and white cardboards, it was kind of a collage, all handmade, they were practically unique pieces, and she made posters for the events, for the exhibitions, so those posters were basically unique pieces, normally black cardboards in which she cut shapes and words, letters, and she cut them over a white paper, sometimes a color would show, so I don’t know, maybe she had something to do with it, but I’m not sure.

54:16 - BERNARDO: We have this discussion, going back to the conceptual art theme, that art without an object, we often discuss that, when you have your first contact with the history of Parque Lage, of Gerchman, you look at it and you say: Gerchman stopped being an artist to become an educator. You are an artist and also an educator, you have your artistic work and also your teaching job. We were discussing that the other day, for this period to be a period where form and art object were not the most important thing, if you feel there’s this separation, between that artist and that educator, and if you think maybe Parque Lage itself wasn’t a masterpiece for Gerchman himself, it worked as a work of art. I’d really like for you to comment on that.

LUIZ HERNESTO: I’ve never thought of Gerchman or the other artists as people who stopped being artists to become professors, I think that this is also a characteristic of these days, it’s a seed he planted, but it’s actually a trace of this school. In my case, for example, I’m only a teacher because I’m an artist, I didn’t study to be a teacher, which I believe was also Gerchman’s case, I mean, he didn’t have a degree – I’m getting a degree in pedagogy. He is an artist, that’s why he did what he did. I even remember the model classes, I mention them because he was also there, he drew with us, so he wasn’t one of those teachers who got to the classroom, explained the whole thing and the students received that explanation and did it, he was there doing it too, he also made mistakes, sometimes he rolled it into balls, threw it out, sometimes he got mad, sometimes it was fine, he worked with us, so I think this school’s feature is that all the teachers, even the theoretical ones, who aren’t artists, but are critics and curators, they are present in art as a whole, they are not school teachers, they are teachers because they have this presence, particularly in the practical sense, I think that’s a feature, all teachers in the practical part are artists and have their crafts as artists, and that supports their jobs as teachers.

56:39 - BERNARDO: I’m loving all of it, I could talk to you for forty hours, but I’d like to ask you a question that is kind of conclusive. I know it’s a difficult theme, controversial. Is it possible to separate the man from the artist, us, separating, trying to separate, to Luiz Hernesto, the man, what has stayed from that time, those four years?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I think my life as an artist, and personally too, because things were not diveded, and I think it was definitive to me. I’ve been here for forty years, it’s a place I came to, and never left, it’s still my world, I have a career that was always associated with the school, I was a student, I’m a teacher, I was a coordinator, I’ve worked with other headmasters, I was director for five years, so I’ve gone through every situation, every position, so for me Parque Lage is an extention of my life, my home, it’s a place that was absolutely definitive, where I met friends, I dialogued with people, to this day, for friends from those days, who I still meet every once in a while, so that seed which was planted by Gerchman was actually my life’s seed, everything that happened afterwards was a result of what happens here. That separation between teacher and artist never existed, I don’t see myself doing only one thing or the other.

58:49 - BERNARDO: So, going back, if you could try to repeat that idea of a seed, just so we (...)

LUIZ HERNESTO: I believe that seed of truth marked my entire career, all my life, it started there, because I never thought of my activity as an artist, of separating it from my activity as a teacher. Both came up together, one justifies the other, and I can only see myself working with art that way. I have an interlocution that comes from my studio, which is the possibility of dealing with works that aren’t your own, that point towards directions that are completely different from what you would do for yourself, and that feeds you, things come and go, I can give something as a teacher, but I also receive it, and I take it, so in a way, building that feeds my work as an artist, so for me there was never a separation between those, I think that’s a characteristc of the school, and that seed came from Gerchman.

59:56 - BERNARDO: I think we’ve reached many important conclusions, or we can reach them, but now I want you to tell me something that wasn’t important, it won’t delegitimize, pretend we are switching off the camera. Tell me about the B-side.

LUIZ HERNESTO: The B-side, because there were some crazy events here, the shows, the music shows, it was a time / a kind of hippie vestige, everyone had long hair, free love, so there was a lot of sex, on this terrace, all the sex that went down, sexuality, that whole thing, lots of it, sex, everybody came to the terrace to smoke their joints, teachers and students, so there was this transgression side that was common at the time, that was made as a resistance, they’re in favor of all that is prohibited, if the system won’t allow, then that’s what we’re doing, so that’s part of the moment, but there were these crazy situations here, sleeping here, you sleeping in a public building, in a school, then the sex, inside the workshops, there was everything ((laughter)).

1:01:18 - BERNARDO: But, without naming names, is there a particular story you remember? That makes you go : - man, that was something ((laughter)).

LUIZ HERNESTO: There were some pretty funny scenes. I mentioned that crazy guy, when the police invaded. When they released the teachers / that’s the resto f the story, which I haven’t told, because in about one or two hours everyone was back, but Gerchman was worried that they could search the school, because the cops were really pissed, no one was arrested and it was always the same officers here, so we had a heavy vibe, Gerchman was worried about them actually invading, as it often happened at other places, and if they searched here, there was weed, at the time there was lsd, seventies, acid, and I remember Gerchman gathered people here, at the end of the day, it was already darkening, people who were here more often, his students, people who got here and stayed for the whole day, there was a group that practically lived here, and he held a meeting, for us to clean the closets of all drugs, joints, weed, acid, because the police could show, and if they found it they would arrest everyone, they would shut down the school, and I remember that the problem / so everyone brought thir accessories, to out it all in a bag, to get rid of it, but then, how would they sneak out, the police was out there, who would bring it out? Students could be searched, teachers too, we already had this situation going on, so we decided to call a guy from maintenance, who had been here for the longest time, who, during his youth, had been Besanzoni’s gardener, his name was Ladislau, he was a big guy, with a stutter, and they didn’t search employees, those were the only ones who came and went as they pleased and they didn’t give a damn about them, so we called Ladislau because he was the one in charge of getting out with all that, and that’s what was done, I mean, he got out, got through them, nobody searched him, and we cleaned the school. There was no invasion, but there was this funny moment, everybody there trying – what do we do now? So these are the stories.

01:04:08 - BERNARDO: May I ask another question, I got curious now.

PEDRO: I have one. Where did that bag go?

((everybody talking at the same time))

BERNARDO: Let me just ask another quick question, but it’s a controversial subject, and if you don’t feel like answering, if you don’t find it valid. How did the drug thing work back then, there was this romantic view that drugs were part of the creative process?

LUIZ HERNESTO: Yes, there was this romantic notion, because nowadays there are different kind of drugs, ecstasy, crack, back then the acid thing had a whole kind of mystic side to it, of getting visions, that Castañeda, that you’d have revelations, so there really was a romantic side to it, that drugs weren’t just about escaping, it was something that could provide inspiration, or contact with different dimensions, so there was a romantic side to it.

BERNARDO: Can you say if it really, somehow, worked for better or for worse in the creative process?

LUIZ HERNESTO: I think that depends on each person, there’s no general form, I think some people ended up having it badly, we can’t think it was all great, it wasn’t. There were times here, after Gerchman, at these shows, for example, a guy fell from there, and he died because he was tripping, so there was also a bad side, that guy I mentioned, Valdo, he had mental problems, but he had a lot of drug related problems as well. There was a romantic side, but there was also the side of people who lost themselves in it, which was awful.

* N da T: tive a impressão de que essa fala foi uma resposta do Luiz Hernesto.


BERNARDO: Tell me how did you entered the scene at Parque Lage, inside that forest?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: I entered the scene there? No, this is how I entered... I was invited to teach there, and I accepted. And then I started teaching Drawing, I think. Then I taught Color, then Dressing. I was always switching... They’d ask, I’d say “I’ll switch”. Because in Fundão you were like a chess piece, you kept moving around... I was in the department of Applied Arts. And Parque Lage was amazing, because once you get there you tune out of the world. It was an oasis, and that was a time when courses were free. So, we had major attendance, sometimes we had to close it, say “look, I can fit any more people”. Then they changed that policy, I don’t know why, what was... because I believe the more art courses, the better. And what I think Gerchman had of most advanced in that teaching area, which I believe was a little intuitive, was that he made no pre judgments. So, if there was someone teaching only how to draw mugs and cups, then there must be people who want to learn how to draw mugs and cups. So I even said it to a friend of mine, I think if somebody shows up here saying they decorate cakes, he will find it interesting. Because there will be people interested in that. I think it’s about keeping an open mind, without establishing any judgment criteria. You don’t judge. And there was a really funny class, which is what people still do at some places that, well, it’s everyone together doing the most distinct things, one draws, the other paints, the other cuts, the other glues it, etc. All together, teaching together. It was really funny. Because he said today instead of me teaching this class, everyone had to go outside to the pool. And that’s what they did, it was Parque Lage’s anniversary. So it was a really interactive lesson, really crazy, it’s a nice mess at the end of the day, because you ended up checking what others were doing as well. But I believe that is also a new concept. So I think he was a little ahead of his time, and people didn’t retort. Nobody questioned it, “but what is this? Everyone together? it will be fun, let’s go”. And there were many happenings as well, it was moments like these. So that was also part of our day to day, our questionings, our search. I think it was more alive. Maybe for the political view, people were a little, at the same time they were scared, they were curious. It’s a little dubious position, and all that was new was interesting, I think there was this great thing about being opened. Because there was no label, it wasn’t considered good, bad, more or less, that was old fashioned. There wasn’t label verbiage. And you don’t know who is going to stand out and who won’t, you can’t judge these people.

BERNARDO: And how was that experience for you? And when you continued, you were already teaching at the University, as you mentioned. How was it for you, as a teacher, to employ a method at a stage where you already had experience in Linear Methodology.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, but we also could change things a little bit. University is kind of a push towards life. What you learn, you learn a few things. Naturally. You don’t come out of it an idiot. But it can’t give you everything, because it’s impossible to give everything. But it gives... that are also those mixing ups, at least there were, I don’t know what it’s like now. More of a change up, there were classes where we could find four teachers teaching at the same time. Four teachers are four minds, four different ways of thinking. You have to consider how you think it will adjust to what you’re doing. And there were teachers, there was this really old teacher who taught Analytical Architecture. You had to draw each and every tile to scale, it was incredibly hard. I said, “professor, this is too hard”. “Kid, nothing is hard”. Then I had to bring him a Byzantine Temple seen from the front in scale, and he wouldn’t give you the measurements, he’d say, the Greek Temple is amazing, the steps, I never forgot that, it’s 1/16th of the column base. So you spent your day doing maths, to find out the size of the steps. He said “Rosa, you know what’s going to look great here, a man with a feather on his head. And it was all watercolor 1 by 1, because we felt this rigor to do the cannelures of the column with the shadow at 45 degrees you have to learn. If you’re ever going to use the 45 degrees in your life, it doesn’t matter, but you learned to do it perfectly. And another teacher who worked with Niemeyer, so he said, “it’s not like this, do it with your hand freely”. It was a nightmare. I mean, there were difficulties, you imagine there are classes I’d never thoight I’d have. The first day I got to Geometry class I found the teacher worked prepairing students for college admission exams, and he made a circle and said “I’m going to grab a cup of coffee, and you find the center”. I took it, put it against the light, saw a tiny hole and painted it black, when he returned, there it was. He asked “how did you see it?”. I answered “I put it up against the light and sae the hole”. He asked “don’t you know how to find the center? I say “No, I don’t”. So, I had already graduated high school and I didn’t know how to find the center of a circle, I couldn’t actually draw a circle. And now you go and tie it with strings, cut and doodles huge circles and that expands. I worked on a decoration with Alice and we didn’t have a computer. Nothing was digitalized. Because we had to enlarge an 8 meters drawing. it was on the floor, I have pictures of the drawing and us on the floor with markers, scratching like this. That is crazy, and then we climbed to the other floor to see how the drawing was turning out. Which is a techinique such as the one used in settings still there is this... So, they’re things you practice with students and I noticed that we seem them, when I had a class of beginners they didn’t have that... especially men, they didn’t have that grabbing small things, which is more of a women thing. I say “you can’t, you won’t draw, because you don’t even know how to hold the pencil”So there were a few exercises like tying strings using justo ne hand, you know, it’s little things that... So, it’s all part of realizing with your student that what’s missing is a finger. Because it’s an instrument you need.

BERNARDO: But did you adapt that... I don’t think my question was clear.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: I adapted a little.

BERNARDO: For such technical work that there were classes at the university...

ROSA MAGALHÃES: There’s a little, I adapted...

BERNARDO: Did you adapt it at Parque Lage?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: ...adapted at Parque Lage, I added, I took it out, etc. I once decided to teach a class, I had bought a wonderful book, I was teaching Costumes. I decided to teach the clothing of the 3 supposedly most important things in a woman’s life, which are birth, wedding and funeral. It was a mess, they asked me not to teach that class. Because there were hilarious things, for instance, women would go with their kids to put flowers for their husbands, and the others who wanted to get married, they’d come to check who was a catch. Those who had a daughter, a maid, I don’t know what else, were a catch because they had money, and the widower was already being courted. There was thas type of thing. Making a necklace, making jewelery with the dead husband’s hair. They didn’t want any of that, they’re things, there were menus at funerals, imagine that. The courtship will pass, for instance, at Cinelândia, it moves on to beers at Amarelinho, ando n it goes. Once it reaches Flamengo, there’s a croquette, then it goes on until I don’t know where and before it... I mean, with the menu and the stops at the mournful cortship. So, you read that, because I don’t know if they would want to hear about it. But I found it so interesting, for you to get an idea of how those things flow, but that class was not a hit.

BERNARDO: Was that class at the university?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, that was at Parque Lage.

BERNARDO: Really? And people didn’t enjoy it?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No. They didn’t like that one.

BERNARDO: Did you already know Gerchman, before Parque Lage?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, I knew him from the paper, from exhibitions, from seeing his exhibition at MAM, and many of them, Vergara, it’s a large group. But, in person, as in talking to him, no, I met him at Parque Lage. I knew who he was.

BERNARDO: And how was that meeting at Parque Lage? What can you remember from it?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Well, I think it was great, because he had a wide vision, and he wasn’t there to judge anyone. There were some old guys who were also teaching, he thought it was great. There wasn’t that... it’s what I say, you didn’t section things. There were teachers who were better friends with him, naturally, and others who were less, but he always treated everyone with great respect and fondness. There was never any shock, of generations, or artistic preferences. I find it really interesting, because there isn’t... specially in a school you had a kind of established clientele with certain parameters and wishes of a certain something, so there were some older ladies who were there to draw, etc. And they weren’t forced to have a contemporary view of art. I think they didn’t even want it, because some people have it naturally, and others didn’t want it. And there were the kids. So you could experiment, you didn’t have to follow a program without being able to step out of that line there, you could have a few strands you found interesting.

PEDRO: How was your relationship with the rest of the teachers, that interdisciplinary thing that went down there, that Gerchman promoted a lot, did you meet with him, study, was it practical?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No. And there’s your group of friends, who is your group of friends. Hélio had returned from Czechoslovakia and I was still a student. He came looking for an assistant, because he had a ton of work to do. And I wanted it, I said “oh, you don’t invite me. What a bummer”. Then one day he asked me “would you like to do some research for me?” I said “I’ll do it, I’ll do the research”. He said “I want this, this here, you come over and I’ll tell you everything”, I said “ok”. I wrote it all down. “Give me a little time”, and I looked for what he wanted. I went to the National Library, he wanted clothing from Maurício de Nassau’s time, 1600 and something, and the flag from those days, the wall as it was, the slaves’ clothing, the clothes of I don’t know what kind of soldier. And I did it, I managed to check Barleus, which is an entirely hand drawn book, a crazy thing. And after I dii all of that, I thought my notes were embarassing. That guy is coming and I’m going to show him those scratches, I can’t. So I watercolored everything and I called him and said “Ok, so here’s the drawing, I did my research”. He came over to pick it up, looked at it, looked at it and said he looked at the soldier, the flag, looked at I don’t know what, the mand, that here is a people’s man. He says “you didn’t do the research”. Boy, when he said that I froze and said “what does this man want?”. He said “no, you already did the costumes of the whole play”. And I was promoted. I moved from researcher to costume designer. It was like that, I worked with him for a long time. So I invited him to come to Fundão. Before teaching at Parque Lage, he taught at Fundão. And then he wanted to leave, I said “don’t do it, ask for a leave of absense”. Want to do something different, ask for a 2 year leave of absense, and then you return. He didn’t want it, because, you know those decisions you’re set on, and he decided to leave. Then he went to Parque Lage, then he stopped teaching. Every once in a while he came for one or two lessons, but it was never a standing position again, because it really is tiring, there’s vacation time, and you have to organize your life with that in mind.

BERNARDO: What can you remember from him at Parque Lage?



ROSA MAGALHÃES: Hélio? No, our schdules were a little different, but every once in a while I met him. But we worked together a lot. So I knew him cover to cover. At Fundão he already did a few collective settings, everybody drew, and there was also something esoteric. And then he started with dance, and I never saw it because it was at the time of my class, I heard about it when the whole mess with the naked class had already happened.

BERNARDO: What was that?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: I don’t know, because I wasn’t watching it. I know that people were naked and bystanders complained. But it was also a time, and you take into account, that was a long time ago. Now, when I start school, college, the professor had to wear a jacket and a tie. Now it’s jeans and a polo shirt, that’s normal. There was once a professor who went to Fundão wearing shorts. The Principal looked at him and said “well, if it was a lady with some nice legs, but your legs are horrible”. Because you gotta have a limit, also, from teacher to student. So there’s this... he didn’t have nice legs, no.

BERNARDO: But to Parque Lage people could wear shorts and jeans.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: There they could, because it was a differente concept, it was a free school, not too much of a hierarchy, because there’s the Dean, but it was an open school in a courtyard, in a field, in a beautiful Garden.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Because we often hear it was a true oasis. For the political moment...

ROSA MAGALHÃES: The political moment, and the teachers were truly dedicated. I remember Celeida, Celeida did some beautiful work there. Then, we went to work on something with the hippie, because everyone would gather, then suddenly the hippie would enter, the hippie would leave, Hélio entered, it was all really connected.

CLARA GERCHMAN: But were you aware of that relevance?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, we weren’t. We wanted to take a breather. It’s a place where I breathe now. I don’t think we were aware, no. I don’t even think your father was aware of his importance, which is great, because otherwise he could have gotten conceited, and conceited people are too boring. So, I think there was... one would show the other what they were doing. And I find that really interesting. Now each one on their corner is a little stalled.

BERNARDO: How was your class? What exactly did you teach, there were 2 courses?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: I kept switching, I taught Color, then Drawing, I taught upstairs. There were lots of students, and no space, so they built a few houses like this.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Upstair, on the terrace?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: On the terrace. I taught upstairs, there were a few sheds, todas they’d be some kind of container, upstairs, and I remember there was a frantic girl, she was my student at the time, I remember her being frantic. Osmar Prado. Osmar Prado was my student at Drawing class. There were lots of people. So, there was theatre, and there were people who filmed, who scouted locations, it was a big blend.

CLARA GERCHMAN: My father spoke a lot about the importance of leisure at that school, too. It was a concept that included theory, and also practice, but there was a space called leisure. Do you remember enjoying the school in that sense, too?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Just getting there was amazing. There were Bezansone’s stories, one would tell the other. I remember the Principal’s office was one of the rooms that had a bathroom. And the bathtub was amazing, there were two floors, and it was round, made entirely of red marble. Then you watch Macunaíma and say, look, that’s where I used to teach. There’s this thing that reminds you of places... there were plays at night, it was really eclectic.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Really alive.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Yes. And that’s what’s great, suddenly a movie flashes.

BERNARDO: There’s one interesting notion, that I’d like to know your opinion. Did you already have Carnaval, back then, as a theme?


CLARA GERCHMAN: Passárgada was 75 or 79?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Yes. I had an exhibition there...


ROSA MAGALHÃES: No. I don’t know what it was called. Because the sculptures were absurd things. So, there was a huge leopard, I put it on styrofoam, a thing, it was loose in the pool. That huge leopard. But the party was crazy. Full house. That is really cool to see. The painter who painted it was also there, the sculptor was there. People who only came for fun were there. The thing could stay outside, because it was made of resin, it was ok to be exposed to sunlight. It fades a little, but that’s ok. We were going to throw it all away, so we grabbed everything and put it in parque Lage. So, there was that. I could have an exhibition without being pre-judged, “oh, that’s Carnaval. It’s crap”. It wasn’t like that, because there you had sculptures by one guy, paintigs by another, there was decoration, so that whole thing had a meaning.

BERNARDO: I also had a point which is: Carnaval, the theme, many times you’re working with historical themes, and many times it’s about the History of Brazil itself.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Yes. I was just reading a – let me just tell you this little song I love, I even learned the verse. Then it goes on, but I believe this verse is fitting, it’s from 1808, when Dom João got here, and kicked out the people. They ate 33 thousand chickens a year. Can you imagine? There were cooks who sold chicken on the black market, because there wasn’t any left for the population. But the verse goes like this, and there was a Crown department which was called Mordomia-mor (Major-Perks). I think that’s the best of all. I’m having so much fun with that book... and the verse goes like this, “he who steals a little is a thief, he who steals a lot is a Baron, who steals and hides it, ranges from Barons to Viscounts”. Isn’t it great? I think it’s amazing.

BERNARDO: Any resemblance...

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Is just a coincidence, right? But that one from Mordomia-mor, well, I think it’s fantastic, isn’t it? It was already like that, incredible.

BERNARDO: Well, but my question was in the sense of...

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, I missed the question.

BERNARDO: No, because I also haven’t asked it. It seems to me there was a great will, a desire, to understand and think and build Brazil. I see Carnaval, as a place that tries to understand Brazil. Can you also draw this analogy, during that Parque Lage period, when you were searching for that knowledge of Brazil?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: I can. I did many themes about Brazil. I still do, but this year I’m working on something a little different, which was one of my teachers, it’s called “a man who only feared Matita Pereira, ants and leopard-ox”* So, it was his life in Acre that had those things, superstitions, etc. He comes here and starts making Afro-descendants History, because nobody talked about Afro-descendants, they only spoke of Tuiuti Battle, Soldier Day, the day Lei Áurea** was signed. That type of thing. There was no Proclamation of the Republic, Go Deodoro. So, it was an issue, that now already has the face of Zumbi. This year that will be our theme.

BERNARDO: But, at that time, do you think people were worried about that, did you see that, looking for a Brazil, in Parque Lage?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: That was a boiling cauldron. There was always something new, a question, you saw what others were doing. Whether you liked it or not, it was irrelevante, nobody was asking you anything. I think it was a breather, a relief. You arrived at a place where you can. Of course no one is crazy enough to cross the line, but there was a breeze of happiness there.

CLARA GERCHMAN: And how was it, for instance, the Color class? Because I know there wasn’t that much material, material resources, how did you do it?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, I used paper, 3 basic colors. The other day I saw a book from 1930, a movie... No, a book I found, that I got. In 1930 it was already there, with all the theory it took long enough to get here, that the Theory of Color, as it is today, it came with color tv, it was really hard for people to understand it. How is this thing, that green is primary color, and what else. That now everybody knows, because there’s... and TV, in the old days, it had that tube, there were three balls like this. I tried to take a look at the back, I made a mess, then I had to call a technician. Because I wanted to see it. “I’m going to take this out, to see what happens, now I’m going to increase that”. And with a mirror on the front, to see what was going on. So, it was a new thing, explaining color was something in light, and the chemistry is something else. So, it’s two views. Now people who use computers know all about that. But it was hard to grasp. Because it left red, yellow and blue. It was blue.


ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, that didn’t exist back then.

BERNARDO: You mean the primary colors? Red, green...

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Yes. There were 7, 6 primary and I don’t know what. Then you cut it. But you also created degrees, so your eye would get used to it, and be able to tell the difference. on black, on white, on color, on mixtures of colors, on color with another color. Or glueing a piece of a magazine clipping and “do this color”. What does it take? What is that? What color is that?

BERNARDO: Do you remember there having been, in your lessons, an input, some kind of influence of another teacher? Any participation? Do you remember?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No. That I can’t remember. I used projection, switched off the light, switched it on. So you can understande how is that, what is our eye. After you get it, there’s no mystery. But, if you want to be an illuminator, you need to understand this. And then it’s light hitting something opaque, what does it turn into? So, you see all of that. Just by going to the park and looking at it, there’s the atmospheric change of the color of that same thing. Because the atmosphere changes. At a distance color changes completely. So, it’s things like that...

CLARA GERCHMAN: Can you remember any stories, any anecdotes?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: In class, that type of thing?

BERNARDO: About parties, affairs.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: There’s this story the a friend’s mother told me that Bezansone had a dress, I was fascinated by that story, That the dress had a tail, and in the end the dress had a little rat made of purl, like this, closing that beak, and as she climbed up the stairs, the rat would climb it too. It thought that was amazing. But I imagine... Then, it goes like this, “no, but at the parties nymphs come out of the woods”. I could already picture those woods full of nymphs jumping there. It was a bit what Hélio did. I think he also heard that story, about those nymphs, because the stories about amazing parties that happened there and all, her own wedding, which she only accepted two years afterwards. When she lost her voice she said “I do”, two years later. And then she got married. And they say the feet were exquisite. I don’t know, because I didn’t find the face that beautiful. The feet, she had a Diamond for each day. You walked around in sandals with the Diamonds, all of them on your toes. I also found that really fancy. There were stories like that.

BERNARDO: You were there for about 4 years?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, it was longer than that. I retired there.

BERNARDO: No, but during that period, you were there for 4 years.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Yes, I was. I was there for 4 years.

BERNARDO: And how was Gerchman there? How was that Gerchman, school Principal?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: He never gave anyone any trouble. So, it was all good. He was a good teacher, he taught Daily Painting, if I’m not mistaken.


ROSA MAGALHÃES: Workshop, it was all workshop. It wasn’t something something class, it was Color Workshop, Form Workshop, something Workshop. And it was all open, you could go in in the middle of class, leave later, there wasn’t...

BERNARDO: And what can you remember about that workshop of his? Have you ever discussed it with him?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, because you really stay at your own, you can’t... I remember pieces hung there, on the wall, there were lots of students. And kids who attended it, I don’t know where they’re studying Drawing now, where are they meeting. But there must be a place, naturally. But it’s lots of kids. And there were school field trips, to see what it was like to learn art.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: It’s because it was free, more open, I think. Right now you have to pay, I didn’t know, a friend of mine told me about a course there, that cost 2 thousand reais. I said “what?”. I was shocked. Is that so? That’s really expensive. And if you want to teach the kids, you can’t...

BERNARDO: But, just to finish up here, what is your memory of Gerchman’s nature? How was the man?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Really great. He was always smiling. If something bad happened, he never told us, everything was always great, nice, cool, oh, wonderful, your class is wonderful, this is really great to, you know? Always upbeat, there wasn’t that “we need results from the students” thing. We never had to push them, they did it naturally. If they enjoyed it, the lesson went great, if it was interesting, they’d be there.

BERNARDO: Do you think he was upset about leaving, do you remember when he left, when was it?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: It’s the government that changes. It’s a fact, that sometimes it changes for the better, sometimes for the worst. But it was it. I think he was there for 4 years. I don’t even remember who was the governor. It’s governor there, right?

BERNARDO: Yes, State.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Yes, State Governor. It changed. Who was the governor back then?

BERNARDO: It was Floriano Peixoto. The same name as the old Floriano Peixoto. And then it was Chagas Freitas. I think it was Floriano Peixoto de Faria Lima. Somthing like that.


CLARA GERCHMAN: And there was Paulo Afonso Grisolli in Culture, Secretary of Culture.

BERNARDO: And you stayed there after he left?


BERNARDO: And why do you think the school has changed?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: After a Principal – who I won’t name, said he didn’t want to teach. I was surprised, I said “but I want to teach”. “No, you’re going to Meier”. I said, “no, I don’t want to go to Meier, you stupid Principal. I want to teach here, twice a week, and happy about it”. “No, not here”. Then I became old news. I was banned to Uglyland. And then I said “, ok, then I don’t want it”. I didn’t want to be Principal. Because I was teaching there, I was teaching at SENAI, I was implmenting a Styling course, which is now a college course, and I was loving it, starting a new course, that didn’t exist. And I had been to Austria, I had seen a couple of schools. So it was something that was... you know? That, it took pleasure, because you need it. Then, making clothes out of cardboard, you know, unexpected things, because you need to awaken that vision. Then I said “no, I’m taking a leave”. I asked for a leave of absense and I retired. I think when you’re not weldome, it’s best to leave.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Do you know, by any chance, something I’m trying to unveil. Who did the logo for the Visual Arts School, those things that are like little triangles?

ROSA MAGALHÃES: I don’t remember.

CLARA GERCHMAN: But, by any chance, do you know, anything like... “I saw that guy doing it, when it was created”.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: No, I didn’t see. Because there it was called Institute of Fine Arts, then it changed to Visual Arts School (Escola de Artes Visuais). And it became EAV. It shrinks.

PEDRO: To finish up, we’ve noticed, from what I’ve heard from people we’ve been talking to, we talked to Daniel Senise, who, after Gerchman was a student there, from the 80s generation, and all. That Gerchman generation...


PEDRO: It was a crowd that worked almost as if they were a microcosmo, everybody consumed themselves internally.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: And everybody was part of everybody else’s lives, some of them more, others less. But they got along.

PEDRO: And then the following generation played a little more with the market and all.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Yes. I think that point of view disturbs things a bit. I also think it was a little romantic. There’s that. I think one admires the other. You say “wow, what a great piece that it, amazing”. You have that admiration towards each other. I don’t think it’s competition. It’s a result of that harmony. I then worked with Celeida, we did a movie with Cacé Diegues, I said “Celeida, for the love of God, if they tell me to to make zabipa*** or take out a tree, you’ll end up giving 5 thousand”. But Brown Sugar said “tell them to buy brown sugar”. It was about having to do it all. And it was a crazy film, I don’t know what Cacá was thinking, we lived in the woods, it was crazy. I couldn’t stay til the end, because it was 4 degrees and I worked with pans, doing stamping, all that, and my started to swell, and swell, and swell... Then I say “I can’t, I need my eyes”. So I had to leave, but it was insane. You picture everyone together. The guy who made the armory, the guy who made the guns, the indian who built arrows, the seamstress, with the other guy who painted the setting, everyone living as gypsies, in that summer camp.

PEDRO: What was that? Ganga Zumba?


PEDRO: Zumbi. Duran, a friend of ours, worked as an assistant, I think.

ROSA MAGALHÃES: It was crazy. So cold... incredibly cold.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Do you think you could say a little something about Celeida, we don’t have...

ROSA MAGALHÃES: Celeida was someone who loved what she did. That’s the first thing about her. I think she thought earth was the most marvelous thing in the world. And she was tiny, and made those gigantic things. I’d say “Celeida, that’s huge”. She’d go “it will be ready”. I don’t even know how she cooked such big pieces. And then she started producing small pieces. I said “there’s no avarage with you, it’s either huge or tiny”. And she wanted to do that movie with Gerchman, because he had that thing about nature. Bamboo was bamboo. The cloth was a cloth he got, that was the only one. So all cloths had to be transformed, so there was a team in charge of that. I painted, I did all the African tribes, on clay, with paint, squeezing it. It’s good, because at the end of the day, you were happy, you played with play-doh, painted everything, it was all great, you cleaned, you cooked, you dried. And that’s really good, to do it. And she was all about doing it. So much so that she did that... The last exhibition I saw, I think it was that one, because she sqeezed it, like this. But, at the same time, she had a great deal of vanity, she said “she that scar?”, I said “I see, what is it?”, she said “I had plastic surgery on my hand”. Because the hand was ugly, I mean, it’s funny. Everybody does it on their faces, she did it on her hand, because the clay, I don’t know what was it, the hand had to be beautiful. So there’s that. What bothered her wasn’t her face, it was her hand. Because the hand, to handle that clay, had to be 18.

I guess that’s it, we gotta have fun, doing fun things. Now, turn that off, I’m going to share a terrible piece of gossip.

BERNARDO: From the time?


* N da T = onça pé de boi, literal translation, leopard-ox. It’s a Brazilian legend, mostly goes around Amazonas and Acre, about a leopard with ox’s feet, that tricks hunters.

** Law that abolished slavery in Brazil.

*** não achei o significado dessa palavra, nem a tradução. Estou pesquisando, mas se souberem, posso procurar um equivalente em inglês.


BERNARDO: Sergio, we’d like to start talking about a paper you wrote and 78, you tell, you write about the first time you were in touch with Gerchman’s work, an exhibition at Relevo if I’m not mistaken in 1967...

SÉRGIO SANTEIRO:... yes, Jean Boghici’s.

BERNARDO:... Start by telling us how was that first contact with his work. Rubens’ work.

SÉRGIO SANTEIRO: Yes, yes, it was exactly like this because I lived, as I went back to living, in Copacabana, in the beginning of Copacabana, at the end of the tunnel, and I walked a lot, including at those hard moments, when we get a little pissed. And my therapy was to walk, I walked to the end of Copacabana and back, I’d stop at bookstores and stuff. And in one of these ocasions, I was walking by, at Copacabana, on the corner, of Duvivier, there was Galeria Relevo, which was Jean Bohici’s. And it had an exhibition, I think it was the first one, first solo exhibition, by Rubens. And so I passed, I was looking, then I stopped and I was curious and I went there, I was curious about what it was. I think I didn’t even enter that day, because I think it was kind of early, it wasn’t opened, it was just a window, just the thing, if I’m not mistaken. And then I went back I saw the thing and all, and I got this intimacy, with the artist. Because we have a lot of nerve, you know, you, you, when you appreciate an artist, you start thinking you’re close friends with him, like he’s your buddy and all, you have that, communication. And curiously enough, that okay, well, I was always in the loop, those movements, at the time, it was all really concentrated. Around the Museum of Modern Art everything in every area happened, whether it was music, fine arts, as we said back then, whether it was film, everything, everything there around the museum. Nova Objetividade itself was there. You know, that was it, I’m under the impression that nowadays, and I think that’s a positive thing, everything is really spread, it’s disperse. Things happen all around. Not at that time. Things were kind of concentrated, the audience, the usual audience, which is made by the colleagues, everybody moved kind of in a group, together. And there were the bars as well, which were more or less common, the many areas were vastly shared, it wasn’t something restricted. And that was it, I mean, that was the beginning and there was that Rubens’ thing at the time. Which was the man in the crowd thing, that thing, you know. Which was what we lived, on the outside as I say, those streets. There’s this coincidence, I think, that moment in Rubens’ life, with those things, how is it, it’s not the urban day to day, they were the things you nearly transport from real life as we call it, to his things, also with the mysterious anonymous thing, lost in the crowd, that. When was that, that is, that’s the 70s, I don’t know. I think it’s around the 70s.

BERNARDO: the transition from the 60s to 70s…

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Yeah, it’s later, because, no, no, that’s earlier. Well, you know, those dates.

BERNARDO: Let’s skip ahead in time a little, on the timeline, so we can get to the school itself of visual arts here at Parque Lage. You began collaborating with Gerchman at the school in 75, if I’m not mistaken.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Yes, yes, it was, it was, it was when he came to the school, during the implementation of what he brought to the school, with his humorous tone. At the same time surly, kind of like this. So the implementation of the school, of, transformation, of the Institute of Fine Arts, which he regarded with a certain, well, horror to tell you the truth. The concept of fine arts, that thing. And with, I mean, the mutation, without loss, of the essence of fine arts, but the transformation of the visual arts concept, which is a wider thing, larger. And which is more dynamic actually. So that, he, look I swear to you, I don’t remember exactly why he called me to tell you the truth.

BERNARDO: Can you remember how it went down? I mean, the invitation?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: No, because it was, first of all, it’s a little like I said. We met, you know, vaguely, at many events, whether exhibitions, whether something else. It was MAM’s Cinematheque, whatever, it was kind of a fluid thing. Honestly, I have a, even though I’m a filmmaker, in fact a weird kind of film to tell you the truth. More of a private film. But well. But I have, I’ve always had, always, it’s a curiosity actually, something kind of mixed you know. Even though I can’t do anything. I can’t, I can’t draw a straight line,it’s absurd. But I like it, I follow, I have this thing that I think you get kind of, not energized, when you see something you can relate to. It’s not you know, that ranges from the greatest fine arts, things a little more trivial, there’s that. Well. And then I don’t know, I guess that was it, it was a movement, one of those movements. But the detail, I mean, the specific thing I can’t remember. And I really don’t even know if there was any, to tell you the truth. I think he just included me in the bunch, now come on, let's be more straight about the story of him wanting to bring it here, and there, it is already the concept of visual arts, of him wanting to bring cinema here as well. And despite being responsible for one of those famous sayings, which sometimes cost me a little, I have to explain. It’s that thing, the saying is, you can’t learn cinema in school. And I go further beyond, you can’t learn art in school. Specifically speaking. Which I think also relates to the tone he tried to set here at Parque Lage.

BERNARDO: We’d like to know a little bit about the workshop, Oficinema?


BERNARDO: How was the dynamic of that workshop Sergio?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: So. Let me go back in time a little bit, I am, my, I have a circular thought, then there’s a thing, I can’t go ahead if I don’t link it to, so about that gathering of remarkable talents. Rubens put together a team that frankly could win the World Cup, a wonderful team. And they were people really, really grounded. All of them, all of them really, as if, as it’s fitting to an artist of course, you can’t go around diluted in the world, you got to have something, you got to have major introspection. But there’s a great influence among everybody. I don’t remember if there was any explicit dislike. Sometimes there is, in a group, you can’t please everybody, there’s always someone upset. But I’m under the impression that there was kind of a magical thing, as the space itself inspires, it’s a magical space. And I think Rubens new how to take advantage of that. Rumor has it that at some nights you can hear Besanzoni’s voice singing through the corridors and all. So there’s this thing about this place that makes it seductive, So, that merge Rubens managed with a line that I find really interesting. Rubens has this funny thing. He followed a path as a graphic. He was, he started out ar Manchete’s workshops. Graphic. That heavy graphic thing, at the time graphic was lead. It wasn’t, it wasn’t chip. It was a heavy thing. And there was even a manual thing, I’d say. Which is what provided him with a visual quality standard and a certain formal obsession. And he is, there’s an anectdote about that, I’ve already mentioned it, skipping ahead a little, which was my class at Oficinema, a Cinema Workshop*, but we combine the words to save some time. And for the school’s release Rubens printed something, that folding pamphlet, which is brilliant, because it wasn’t just a summary of what the course offered. But I think there was a certain teaching philosophy as conceived by the school, without having been, in my opinion, carefully created. It was something kind of, kind of inspired. And it refers to, in my opinion, the school’s tradition, and suddenly Rubens’, and I think my school role model for the arts in general is the famous Liceu de Artes e Ofícios. There’s no point in being more pretentious than that because it actually is, it’s an indirect interaction between the so-called master and his pupils experiment with the activity, whatever it is. And that’s how they build their learning experience. And so that saying applies, you can’t learn in school, so the school offers, it can offer, that context, that circumstance, in which people learn each other mutually, you learn, you learn from your students, you actually do, I’m not just saying that. Particularly in arts, so suddenly someone surprising comes out of the blue. I myself had that in my film workshop, suddenly I had this, this thing to show your movie to others. One of the things which I worried about the format was something of a, it was what I called production cineclub. You showed your movies, made a few bucks to buy Super 8 films so you could make movies, the class could make movies. And we made three movies, one of them, notably and coincidently didn’t stay. They didn’t last, I think. But there was... and the clue, the script, the pre-script for the movies were newspaper features that I chose back then, and one of them, the first one of them, which was made by Sandra Werneck, it was a great movie, it was with a boy from Morro de São Carlos, that Lélia Coelho Frota, that I had published in an article. So I told Sandra, “go on and do it”, in Super 8, and stuff. I mean, there was this course dynamics, which is that, that mirror from Liceu de Artes e Ofícios. It is said that a lot of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work was actually made by his pupils and of course he had a hand in it, which is enough. Imagine that. Leonardo Da Vinci’s hand must be a prodigious thing, if he touches this wall, the wall will come alive.And all of them, the whole world, the whole world, the whole world. Particularly in cinema, you see, in cinema, actually, you learn by working on other people’s movies don’t you? You start as an assistant, then it depends, you choose your area of preference. Because if you want photography, you go be a camera assistant, you go follow that works. And you go little by little, or not, maybe you skip ahead I don’t know, you acquire knowledge of the technique as they say. And you put your own little touch, you put your finger on it. At that time too, let's talk about it,that time was also a prodigious time, I mean, if you have to say something.

If you have something to say about the time, because it was a very hard time. Then you have to be careful about what you say, you have to be a little, you have to have respect for things but okay. Because there was a tragic and sad matter, the tough matter of armed struggle. And there was what I, with all due respect, but not as you know it wasn’t most people’s choice, fortunately or not. But there was, there was this whole period of the military dictatorship when it was actually a civilian-military dictatorship. So those things, say anything, no anything is complicated. Anything, fuck, it's anything. I think there has to be a correction off… conceptual and of language otherwise it's a mess. So let's go, the famous civilian-military dictatorship. About which I won't say much but okay. So there were those two, I don’t know if their options, but those two situations let’s say. A large portion, a portion of youth, in fact, really did the armed struggle thing, and another portion didn’t, not because they weren’t against the dictatorship, but because they believed there were other ways. Which is what I called in a context of debate, a little rough, but well, that I support, which is the unarmed struggle. It’s naïve, it’s wrong, as it was plenty done at the time. The censorship killed, no the censorship didn’t kill anything. Censorship was censorship. I have no doubt about it. But nobody settled or chickened out before the censorship. Everybody kept on producing. Maybe not the same way. It doesn't matter. But they found ways to keep on testifying, to keep on living. Just now I saluted the brave comrades, Pitanga, I love them, Pitanga and Othon Bastos. Because then there’s that joke, I tell them “no, it was all yesterday, it all happened yesterday, right, no, let’s stay here”. And the main thing, which in fact is something, it’s something amazing, the main thing, the biggest victory is surviving. That is crucial. You have to survive. What doesn’t survive isn’t good. It isn’t. The path of non survival. No, that’s bad. So it’s about surviving. Surviving how? Surviving with honour, with dignity. That is what I think was built, even through the arts which blossoms more than ever. That was splendid. Nobody stopped doing anything, because of censorship and repression. It also wasn’t about provoking. Nobody did anything to provoke either. But they did things honestly, you can’t think it’s all wonderful, because it isn’t. But also, you will repeat the same thing over and over again. That also will provide you with the results. Well. So I believe the school happened, at that time, at that blossoming time in the cultural choice, of choice, and it came, it was a workshop, living lab where things happened, were exchanged, artistically, culturally, politically, I remember the famous, the thing that is recorded in film and video, the notorious mobilization around the fire at MAM. The crusade. I confess I wasn’t a part of it. There are times when I get a little, a little nervous. The absurdity reaches such an extent that you get a little, I get, a little reserved. Not Rubens, he turned it into a flag, he took the entire school over to the museum, you know, defensive, trying to rescue the crazy loss which was Torres Garcia, that is something, you know. You know. But, the school went. There’s nothing more educational than that in my opinion. Although it didn’t miss, although it didn’t miss, those things, it’s no surprise, although there were enough discussions probably theoretical, as they say. But not the theoretical, and that’s me saying, but not the vague theoretical, diffuse, but the basic theoretical discussions. I remember, for instance, two great visits, among many, but I remember two of them, now I remember another one, which were, for instance, Lina Bo Bardi and Mário Pedrosa. And Mário Pedrosa, he was... I have this thing, nowadays I am little more focused. At the time I was a kid. And there's something that it was, I’m the world’s greatest debate customer. Because as soon as the artist finishes exhibiting, there’s that emptiness, nobody asks anything, there’s a strange vibe. And I was somewhat good with it, I was great the debating, the guy finishes speaking and I raise my arm and ask anything, any absurdities, you know? But I did that with Mário. He really told me off, I was being Mr. funny with Mario, he looked at me sideways, you know, as in “who are you, funny man”? Anyway, there was Lina Bo Bardi, who was also, you know, I won’t be able to reproduce them all here. And there was our dear Cacaso as well, at the time, but that’s more my gang, so I can be as playful as I want, and nobody will complain. No, Mário Pedrosa looked at me, I think he even positioned himself, because I was on the side of the stage. It was down here.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Are there any pictures?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: What? There are pictures. I think turned to me and said “what’s so funny, it’s not, what’s so funny that I missed it”? Who told me to be a smart ass. Anyway. So I think there was this blend of these things here at this space. Let’s not forget things like, I remember Gastão Manuel Henrique, who was a great sculpture, as they say, originally. When he came here, he created a 3-D workshop, because that concept of sculpture was a little contaminated, it was a little impregnated. He was organizing, not organizing, he was actually creating a tridimensional space. So it wasn’t a sculpture workshop, it was a 3-D workshop. There was Celeida with clay which was something let’s say, here I go. Thank God, she won’t look at me sideways. She never looked at me sideways. The older crowd are the ones who are impatient. I’m a little impatient, imagine Mário Pedrosa. But Celeida, for instance, that is some more rough thing, I’d almost say, this is a handful like this, you mould a little clay and that’s it, you have something. And then you transform that as time goes by. So, it wasn’t anything like, formally formatted as we are here teaching knowledge, and all of that. It wasn’t like that, it was something kind of, everybody was finding out, experimenting. Hélio Eichbauer with his extraordinaire, it was here. Extraordinary, it was amazing, it was something and it was everybody, people who didn’t have, let’s say, background. Sometimes they’re not even academic. So they gathered everyone, it looks like a yoga class, it looks like a gym class, get it? It was something kind of spacial, kind of with the body expression, thing, kind of a dance. And Hélio, he would let anything happen. No, it’s happening, it’s happening... and he conducts it. And he had his performance is here. I’ve already referred to that, that I was amazed by the cinema thing, cinema. And then one day it was a performance if I’m not mistaken, it was a performance class in the seminar, if I’m not mistaken, by Paul Klee. And then that’s how it went, also if I’m not mistaken because I don’t know if I’m mixing things and stories. But that’s how it worked, there was an exhibition here at the Dourtyard by Dreyer of Joan of Arc, if memory serves me right. And there was something that I was, I’m from that area, I was amazed. Hélio built a circle made of delicate tissue with a big pole, a circle that was something like that. The movie was being projected and he started decoupaging the film with the pole, get it? Because as he put the pole on a piece of the film that became a close up. Right? I was amazed “wow, wow”, and he did it successfully, he had something, it wasn't rough, it wasn't an invasion. It was something that worked together, it brought the image, imagine approximating, Dreyer is all about close ups. So imagine approximating Dryer’s close. That was it. For instance, in Hélio’s case. Anyway. Everybody.

BERNARDO: Sérgio, how did you find the workshop, going back to something you said before, that the movies were self financed, self sustained. How did you handle that, being that movie is so hierarchic about production, jobs, how did that work inside the workshop, did the students do everything, how was that division of labor to produce those movies.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: No, sadly I, I’m not, as I say, I’m a funny guy but I’m not that competent, you know? I’m not a good executive. I’m a good agitator. But when it comes down to it I get a little clumsy. I really believe that cinema is a collective activity. Nobody makes a movie alone. The person who got closest to that was Chaplin who did everything. But after him I don't think so. It's a group activity. It involves exchange. A team. It's like soccer. A team. It's not something kind of, there’s no point in having A lot of strategy. Run here, surround there. No point, get it? It has a local chemistry, instantaneous, momentaneous. One has to figure out the other and work together as best as they can. Sometimes there are people who pass on that. They score by themselves. It may be, I don’t know. But in film, that thing, that concept, that idea of team is crucial. You need at least three basic pillars, which are the director, let’s say, the photographer, and the editor. That is one thing. Movies results from that exchange. So what happens simply is like, it’s like a cockroach flies. I’d throw it out there, and whoever took it was in charge. I didn’t say much. In fact I don’t. I don’t like people meddling with my movies, I would never do that on someone else’s movie. Let it be. The result is always more surprising than what you imagined. That happens with me, with my movies. The most extraordinary thing is seeing the first copy of your film. Nowadays, this is more trivial. But I mean, back then, seeing the first copy of your own movie was an epiphany, you know? Because it's much better than what you imagined because it's real. What you imagined was cool, okay, I imagine, you can imagine whatever you want, now you’re going to do what you imagine. And so everybody says, it falls short of what you imagine. It may be. But once it materializes, it effectively comes from you, it’s there, it’s amazing. Because it gives you things that maybe you weren’t even predicting. So this team effort, motivating, the construction of common activities along the so-called students, the students, that was more or less what I did. It wasn't much, in fact at the time, that was a time when I would often feel nervous, I had a thing, I couldn’t explain it right, and most of the movies which were shown like I said, were considered problematic movies. Many of them were censored actually, there was the well-known bravado at the time, this here it's a, this is a state government building, the censorship is federal, so I don't need to answer to the federal censorship. This is state. If you want you come in here. You send people here. Which actually refers to the closing of the Visual Arts School which I will mention, although it’s controversial, I don’t know if it’s public, I don’t know what it is. There are some things that I don’t know if, I don’t know if they’re common knowledge. I don’t know if it’s convenient. That’s rough, at this point. It’s a testimonial, right? For instance the closing of the school, that episode of the closing of the school.

CLARA GERCHMAN: There was also the movie matter, not showing foreign movies, using the space for national films.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: which is the famous banner. You know that I think that one of the crucial things in art, and the spirit of the school also heads towards that direction. I don’t know if everything in life, but art is definitely mimetic. You do something to copy what you saw that you liked. So that’s it, I started making movies because I saw, first Tico Tico no Fubá with the splendorous and amazing Tônia Carrero at the peak of her beauty. I was in love, that girl. I was in love, you know what it means to be in love? I was never in love again. It was Tônia Carrero, splendor... Branca, from Zequinha de Abreu’s story. With the other. That was a man, so, but it was, wonderful. So much that I forgot his name, but ok. Anselmo Duarte. Check out the pair. They’re worth any soap opera pair. That is Tico Tico no Fubá. And then Rio 40º by Nelson Pereira. Which I saw at Cinema Copacabana, in Copacabana and I left the theater, and the cable car was going by, cable cars went by there. There was a cable car just like the movie. So I ran to catch it just like in the movie. But unfortunately I didn’t fall from the cable car, nor was I hit by the bus just like the movie. But then, I think there is this mimetic thing, actually. You do it. I was also conceited, my first thing, actually I think I’m more that then a movie maker as they say. I prefer literature to tell you the truth. My first passion, I think I was about 15 years old, what Camões. Camões from Lusíadas. I used to copy the Lusíadas, doing the same thing, wanting to do the same thing. I think that's true for arts in general, so for you to face, to offer the students, to offer what's going on in the area was more or less what I thought. And also contrary to the tendency of common taste which is that thing that cinema is awful, just stare at it.A bunch of films. Then there's that thing that is not nationalism, no. As I say it’s nativism. My concept is nativism, not nationalism. But I no longer have the mental time, actually I didn’t have it to embody, to integrate the history of universal cinema. It’s too much, it’s not up to one poor human being who is kind of a mess, kind of a street kid. You think that now I’ll have to. So I did the whole calvary at cinematheque, I saw it all. But you don’t have, you are not cloaked, you are not provoked, you don't want to do the same. However genius it is. At least not me, it won’t get me off my chair. On the other hand you have one little face, one black person on the screen, I already feel like I'm home. Though I'm enjoying it, now it's getting familiar. Now I want to do it too. I think that was the spirit that constituted the experience of Oficinema. It was like, let's go, push it, do it, make it happen, you try to do it, you will learn by doing it. Super 8 doesn’t require that much knowledge. And so, finally the moment came, which was the highlight of the course all of a sudden, it was when two of my most active dear, participants of that activity, they were going to make a movie. I had won a bid from Funarte to do the Ismael Nery that I did, well, that I can’t say, because it’s too compromising. I took possession of the the copy of Ismael Nery, to get the reproductions for the film and all. I didn’t even give credit where credit was due. That’s awful. I took possession of Ismael Nery, but that’s not that great of a sin, because he threw everything out, so, it was as if I had taken it out of the trash. It’s not correct to say that, especially for a teacher like me, to say that he stole this, did that. Although, that’s one of my most fundamental teachings. I mean, in order to make a movie everything is okay, you may even steal. You can't sell your mother because that's unpleasant, you only have the one. But chasing after negative leftovers, cleaning it at the lab, that’s not that great of a sin. As long as you get the fucking movie done. If you don’t do it then it’s a terrible crime, heinous and all that. But if it will get results. There’s no problem, you can do it, you can transgress a little because nobody will die because of it. Anyway that was the context in which I was trying to present those issues. I talk a lot, I have that problem. Not here. I know, here, but kids, imagine a guy having an outbreak and talks for two hours. Nobody can take it. Imagine, it may be a genius, but nobody can take it. Nobody can. And then the environment gets too heavy, that thing when one leaves, the other leaves. Now I don’t even pay attention.

BERNARDO: May I use the opportunity to make a link here? I’d like you to talk a little bit about the part that, according to your paper, you say was crucial, the Cineclub. How was the dynamic of the Cineclub, what do you think about it, what were the encounter you can say took place at the Cineclub that made it so important?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Well, first of all our major worry as I said was the censorship in production matters. So, it wasn't enough to watch the films or discuss them, which was a little hard as I mentioned. It’s too hard. Even clothing, if you don’t have a background, if you’re not familiar with that, it’s too hard for you to say anything about a movie you’ve just seen. Especially those weird movies like the ones we showed. Because I actually was going through a negative phase. I didn't know if it was a movie, that discussion. It certainly wasn't. It wasn’t a foreign movie, that people are more or less softened to, although I don’t know what it is in my opinion. As I say, if you were filming in New York, you have a car plan in New York and all of a sudden they cut it to the desert in California, Brazilian audience won't find it that weird. A continuity is normal, the car was going, it turned a corner, and it ended up in California. Nice. Now, do this here, leave Leblon and show up in Lagoa without notice. It will bring the house down, that guy is crazy, what is that. There's that. No, it's amazing. You put that on the scale, it turns to absolute terror. So, that's all part of insisting a little bit more on Brazilian films as I say. I insist, it’s not nationalism, it’s nativism. And then I have my dear icon that never came here by the way, no particular reason. I wasn't too big on bringing people from outside you know? Honestly. I’m about seeing people getting motivated internally. If you want to bring, do it. There’s actually an amazing episode with… there are plenty of stories, it was 3 years, 4 years...

BERNARDO: Tell them.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Can you imagine? Four years, imagine that, four years? Twice a week. Not to mention the dots… and there are stories. There are also some horrible stories, too, but you know. And when, and when, and when it became a venue for shows, in the end, jeez, it was crazy. There was rock, punk, anything, it was something.

BERNARDO: Can you remember, for instance, any situation when you showed the forbidden movies here, those Brazilian movies,that had a hard time reaching out there. Was there any situation involving an attempt to censor or forbid?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: No. None,none, none, none, none. It's like I said, you know, this is a state building, censorship is federal. There are certain funny technicalities. So this is a building, the building, inside the door, it’s a State building, outside the park is the devil, it’s federal area. And then I will not anticipate the closing, I would like to leave this for the end, the splendorous, the closing of the school because this is going to be a little more clear.

BERNARDO: Then I will... leave that story for the end.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: There is a story about Rubens’ severity which is brilliant it has to do with the way, with how the course worked. So it was like this, on Tuesdays we prepared for the sessions of Thursdays. The movie sessions were on Thursdays. Preferably here on the terrace. Then there was a 16mm projection. I don’t know if you know the 16mm. That’s fantastic thing.

BERNARDO: Archaic.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: So we had to bring the projector, install it on a higher tower. There are a few chairs, I don't know what, the screen, the screen is an issue. Screens are a problem. But there was this character here, well, you see how it is, we always talk about the teachers, the notable students, etc., but there were the other guys as well. Without whom we can’t do anything. And I had that guardian angel, which was Abraão. Abraão was a fella blacker than me, actually black. I disguise it, but well, he actually was, and he, I think he was kind of like an assistant, something like that, of cenography at Globo. But he was an employee here. And I don’t know why, well, because I also do it, I am a total incompetent. I can’t put, I don’t put the thing, what is it, the plug in the thing, because I think the whole thing will blow up. I will look in the camera, I don't press it is saying, you know, I'm scared, I don’t press it, fuck I once wrote a really good thing you know, three extraordinary pages, a sublime thought, you know. I accidentally hit the wrong key on the computer, the whole thing disappeared. You see that? It’s not possible. So I always delegate, I delegate, I delegate. And there was Abraão who, the guy was, how do you say it, he was cool. And that was the problem, assembling the session here, it was me? Imagine that. He did it. And there was the devil, here it’s really brilliant, outdoors it’s all good. Then there’s the wind. You set up a screen with the w ind to see what I’m talking about. But it all went fine, he set up the projector, the 16mm projector, you know I was never able to teach that to my dear students. Because those boys are kind of complicated. They want to discuss the metaphysics of the system of the symbolism of the thing of the screen. The image, the character, the script, all that crap. Now, just set up, to put the movie is the projector, nobody knows and nobody wants to know. If you need to use a 16mm projector… it’s really nice. It has two issues. First it has a will of its own as any machine. Machines have a will of their own. You can’t go against the machine because the machine will do what it wants to do. So setting up the course of the film in a 16mm projector is difficult because there is the sound gap, it goes out of sync. Just. And the worse. If it strains the film and breaks, the film breaks. Well, I've never convinced any student of that. They thought that it was provided by God, that it was magical. But my dear Abraão didn’t.

BERNARDO: No wonder he has a biblical name.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: You know that, I actually just published today a text about the strike, called "Viva a Greve" (“Hail to the strike”). Here’s the thing, a working guy, man, it’s a serious thing, because the guy enjoys his work, regardless of what it is. It may even be a job, I see, I used to see, at the time I was living in Charitas in Niterói. I’d leave early to buy bread, it was a little far, and a garbage truck went by. A truck with all the garbage men wearing orange. 6 AM, or even before, I don’t know. The guys were messing around, playing with each other. Happy, playing, making fun of everyone. That's a job, of course, they’re workers. In fact, if it weren't for the garbage men, we’d go back to medieval times. Can you imagine? The rest is more or less dispensable. So there’s that, I think that every worker in every scale enjoys their work. Even if they don’t. Even if the job is a little, I don’t know. But I think there’s that, I think there’s that artist thing, and the guys always chiseling something. Always coming up with something, there’s one thing. He has to provide his personal touch and that’s part of it. It really is. So, the trust from the people here, not to mention our dear cafeteria lady from that time. An old lady, I love an old black lady like this, she can be brown, but I like her black. That old bulging lady, who has a body, she's not anonymous. She takes care of the cafeteria, and there was the dishes of the day you know, the famous dish of the day. At that time I was, I believed in the future who knew, and it was crazy, because I was teaching here, at UFF and at CUP which is in Jacarepaguá. So sometimes I had to make a run. In the end it all worked out, more or less, but anyway. But when I got here, sometimes it happened, if I got to Sue, okay, but if I got on the nick of time for class… oh, how horrible, I forgot her name.

BERNARDO: The cafeteria lady?


CLARA GERCHMAN: There was also a great cake, I guess she made it.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: No, it was something. So there was it, you know? Even if I went there to ask for some water. Because I was in a hurry. No son, you are too skinny. I will put up a plate for you. And she served me a huge plate. Because I was too skinny. And then on occasion, there was no way around it, I’d apologize to my dear students, “I apologize but I'm going to eat, I will have lunch in front of you, and if you're upset about it, take a hike. If you want to film, you can also do that. But I am about to devour that plate”. And that was that, I ate the whole thing no matter how big it was. And I would lick my lips, I thought it was great. Why? May I reveal the secrets of life?

BERNARDO: Please do.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: It’s good treatment, you know? My favorite thing in the world is being well treated. I don't care where. If they treat me well I'm radiant. If they treat me bad, I won’t go back. The sidewalk Buddha. You jump to the other side. But it was something… Okay, let’s go back. What happens then.Conceptualizing. And I think Rubens managed to build a humanist haven in the middle of the barbarism that was that time we were living in. And then suddenly, I skip towards the end, not that it is the end, but I’ll skip to my ending of the story because it is, it was a great symbol of all of this. You know that Rubens, how the arts were protected by the governor’s wife who was that big…

CLARA GERCHMAN: ... Grisolli, Paulo Grisolli...

BERNARDO: No, Grisolli was the secretary.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Grisolli was also complicated. I don’t judge. Chagas Freitas, who was a folding screen of the dictatorship, he had that rotten thing of that rotten area of his, the private press. If you twist it, it bleeds. Which was his, O Dia. He had, I don’t know, the social political categories, it was a, how is it, he was, right wing populist, Chagas Freitas. And it fits quite well with the regime and all. Things fitted quite well. However, his wife, lady, maybe I remember. Chagas Freitas wife was the guardian of the arts. Honestly, honestly it wasn’t a bogus thing. And it was her that kind of embraced Rubens’ experience. Well. I mean the school, all of that, was also thanks to the permission of the first lady of the state, in a government that was a state government, Chagas Freitas, which was a promiscuous government to the dictatorship, to say the least. That is to give, to translate it in a way… Although I am not aware of him having ordered any tortures, you know? But, I don’t know, well, things peculiar to those days. And so it came the final chapter of the school which I don’t know if it’s common knowledge. At least, the version I bring. So one day, a common practice at the school and all, although Rubens, as far as I know, has always been refractory, Rubens, the way I see it, he didn’t even drink properly. He wasn’t even a drinker. He might, I don’t know, drink a little, but I’m not aware of him drinking. Let alone do drugs, as far as I know, you know? Far from it. But he also wasn’t bothered by anything. It happened, it did, it did, it did. I think he already was, you know, too energetic, you know? To add anything to that, to add, don’t do it otherwise he’ll fly. He will fly off like a rocket. But there was a permissive environment, of course. It was common at the time. Until one day, in the end, well, 79, in the end the environment, in general the external environment was quite oppressive. Even about that. As usual, they go after the kids. They beat them up, that sort of thing. The guy with a joint, you know, he ends up at Bangu01**. Everyone is shocked. Then fuck, in one of those, I wasn't here at the time. But I can picture the scene. A boy came in running inside the school, because he had marijuana, I don’t know, some shit like that. So the police car, which is federal, actually not federal, state, because military police is state police. But in the federal environment which was all around us. And so the guy, from the police car, he came in after him, you know? Then the boy hid, I don’t know where he went. And the police guy went after him. And then Mr. Rubens heard about it. But he came out so fast from his office down here. He came out, but he was furious, and he said “fuck, out of here”. He threw out the guy from the police car. And of course he reported to the police. So the commanders told the governor, “what do we do with that”? That was a deadlock. You fire him, of course, imagine that. The officials from the military police, can you face them? We still can’t, it’s complicated.

BERNARDO: Seeing as you were talking about Rubens, about that matter, that episode you just told us about, I would like you to tell us another episode, this other episode of the poster taking the moment to talk about that Gerchman who was zealous and demanding with the students, and at the same time, a tender man.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Yes. I'm not sure about tender. He, he was kind of rough. He was a little like that. But he was affectionate. Affectionate. I'm not sure about tender. No, because we had that strict formation, which is as I said, it’s graphic. You can’t make mistakes with graphics. Just picture if you make a mistake. There was that thing, the thing about being a perfectionist. Graphic art is perfectionist. It doesn’t, you don’t just strike. It’s something, well you don’t just strike a brush, but ok. So, I think there was this severity in his foundation. So I won’t call the genetic. To make matters more complicated. But there is, there is, and then what happened. One day, the boys just working normally in class on Tuesday, it was program, there’s a film, do a poster, distribute it, and then, the poster was an A4, electric mimeograph. Rubens’. The electric mimeograph was in his office. Electric, but it needed paint. And then, since there were a lot of people who had, there were people, my students, people who had, who already had their own authoral life. And then, it’s that thing, poster, “somebody draw a poster here”, “no, I’ll do it”, and then they did extraordinary things. The collection of posters is beautiful. Rough, all rough, all rough. But in the rough thing, and since the mimeograph was at Rubens’ office, one fine day the people who had made the poster for, they had put the machine to roll at his office, and everyone came back with their heads down. “What’s going on?”, “the headmaster screamed at us, he threw us out, he said we couldn’t do anything there”. “Who, Rubens”? I was intrigued, So I went downstairs, out of my way, I went there. I got there, “fuck, what’s going on”? And then he talked to me just as rudely as he talked to the students. “That thing with those boys here, with a thing full of scotch tape, you want me to put that through my mimeograph? You’re insane, you don’t know how to teach”. “Come on, Rubens, I teach cinema”. So here’s the deal, “but you scared the kids, can’t you say it in another way”? And he was like, “no...”, “then go there and explain what the problem is”.

So he went, explained everything, and everything changed. He came over and explained what was that universe of graphic art, to let’s say, that bunch of people who wanted to be film makers. I think that’s one of the dimmensions of teaching. And as I say about being around people, with regards to the teaching of art. And it’s something that, the worst part was when I came into the room, and furiously turned to me, I said “comrade, what happened, my comrade”? “Imagine bringing something, something amended with scotch tape, you think that’s going through my machine, never, ever”. You know. That’s an episode. And then it broke, of course.

BERNARDO: Sérgio, how do you think the Cineclub, and the very own, you know, the activities, what was the ressonance that had in town, beyond Parque Lage?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Well, not in the city as a whole, no. Not in the city. But within the artistic community, marginal, independent, I can’t call it marginal, because nobody likes that. I like the concept. But nobody does. Calling someone marginal, people will be pissed at you. I like do concept, from Hélio Oiticica. The famous banner, that is complicated. Famous, be marginal, be a hero. Which is a major evolution at the time. A little before. But it was dedicated to the guy on the horse, so, it’s a relationship. Sometimes Hélio had that thing, a little complicated, let’s put it like this. But the creation could not be argued. So that story of the concept of marginal, I, in particular, find it interesting, it’s good. It didn’t mean a bandit, a criminal, it’s not that, which is what everybody, and it’s not because it’s not marketable, because it’s anti-commercial, it’s for none of those reasons, but I guess it’s something closer to a certain authenticity, a certain experience, of the environment, less than something more academic, kind of noble. I think there's that thing which is positive. But nobody likes it. Nobody subscribes. And the exhibitions here, so, the movies would be basically what marginal cinema was back then. What was it, it was Neville, Rogério, Júlio, and then there was the famous session wonders of the terrace. So, the screen was set up at the base of the Christ Redeemer, nice stuff. It’s a good framing, there’s a screen, the Christ up there. It is hard to frame in the same plan, too large. But hey, so that was it, the chairs over there, the projector here external, the projector made noise. It wasn’t that noisy, just a projection noise, so it’s cool, projection noise “what are you complaining about”? So don’t see a movie, you watch TV. Which has no noise. And one day, it was Julio's film, which was unbelievable. I don't remember which of them, but there was the screen set up and all, it was a cloudy night, nice. And suddenly in the middle of a scene, the moon decides to come out from behind the clouds and bathed the screen in light, it interfered with the image, it did something like this, I held my breath. Sublime. When I told Julio later, he was amazed, “I wish I’d seen that”. “you don’t go there”, what’s up, don’t go there then. As for coming here there’s another episode with my dear Glauber Rocha. The guys insisted. They wanted to bring people from outside. Fine by me. It makes no difference, if you want to bring them, do it. Then, they tried to arrange a couple times. I can’t remember if any of them worked out. Julio didn’t. I don’t remember who, I don’t remember. And then someone there, somebody really insisted, Glauber was in town at the time, somebody wanted to bring him. “No, he guaranteed he’s coming on that mission, he’s coming”. “ok, he’s coming, ok”. Of course he didn't, obviously. And then as I did, normally I left here ecstatic, cloaked, magnetized by the whole thing, whatever it was, I went there. I stop by at Joia, go I don’t know where, I ended up not, and kind of, I wasn’t looking, but a little bit, where is he hiding. Let’s see. And then, of course, he was at Antonio’s, of course. I ended up stopping by at Antonio’s, then I ordered my vodka on the counter, which was my specialty. Antonio’s had amagnificent thing. First there was the counter which had an extremely low cost and you could pay later, you could split it 10 ways, you’d go crazy. Getting a table is complicated, but the counter. And there was also a phone. International. You could go anywhere in the world, from the telephone at Antonio’s. For free, not for free, they got a bill, I don’t know what they did with it. But nobody did anything crazy at the time. They’d call I don't know where. I didn't, I only made local calls. So I get in Antonio's. A long table with I don’t know who, I don’t know who, I don’t know who, and my dear Glauber at the center. Okay this is going to get me in trouble but anyway, with a magnificent blonde by his side. So I went there, took my vodka and went back. Once I entered his field of vision, because he’s a movie maker, he knows what it is a field of vision. People normally don’t, but he does, he knows what’s in frame, what’s out of frame. Once I got in Frank, let’s put it like that, he had that bonhomie which was peculiar to him, because it was cute, he really melted, actually. Glauber, one of his qualities, rare, Glauber smiled with his eyes. His little eyes did the smiling, to anything. He was silly, anything made him laugh. With his eyes. So when I entered, he smiled, said “I said I’d go, but I couldn’t make it”, and all, “because, you know”. “Glauber, I know, first because you are from Bahia, to begin with, believing in whatever people from Bahia say, is something only losers do. Secondly with that wall by your side even I would stay there, I wouldn’t see any movie”. It got really uncomfortable, it was generally uncomfortable, the blonde was on the verge of throwing the bottle in front of her at me. He laughed with his eyes and out loud. That’s how it ended the mission of him coming here to talk to the kids. Episodes. Episodes are I don’t know, it’s more than 1001 nights, it never ends, and those are just the ones I witnessed, I can only imagine the rest. Because it happens all the time, all the time. There are people arriving. Rubens had a curious thing, he came here, of course he didn’t, he delegated to us and that was it. It was fine. You each do what you want, I have nothing to do with that. But he played host a little, he liked to visit to bring in people, without embarrassing anyone, it wasn’t surveillance. It’s because he thought, he thought, and it was, that’s all him, and it was true. I mean he was a kind of conductor of that magical space he provided us, he pushed everyone.

Another great character, another great mark of that moment was Lélia Gonzalez, the black archaeologist, the black anthropologist I beg your pardon. Not archaeology. Anthropology. Which was something, at the time, foundress. Lélia was one of the, if I may say so, I mean, one of the continuers, it sounds better, of the black movement at the time. Which at the time wasn’t that welcome, that well received, as it is today. And she was a person, she was kind of, she’s a bit of a priestess, and she had something also combining with space, she had something, she had a kind of magical impregnating, something kind of, I think she had something kind of. And great generosity as well. That’s it.

CLARA GERCHMAN: There was a workshop entirely about her.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Yes. Yes. And that fitted really well in the environment with all the other people. Roberto Magalhães. Roberto is something. Roberto’s sweet, because he, well, that’s kind of a stereotype, it’s not him really. But it’s that thing, Roberto practically doesn’t speak or at least didn’t used to. But there was something about him which made him maybe the most magical of all. Well he was the least, what do we say, realist, or something like that. He was the most. In fact, now I’m going to show off a little bit, may I?


SERGIO SANTEIRO: May I? May I tell you how wonderful I am? Why? One of those nights I was leaving here, I ended up at the bar, which was a bit of a territory, of anything. Then there was this table, there was a table like this, and I was a little excited, possibly, that night. And then Roberto took a piece of paper from the bar to tear a draft sheet like this. A colored pencil that I don’t know how it got there, and he drew a picture of me, like Roberto, three strokes I think, but in color. And he gave it to me. I must have been really eloquent that day. It’s quieted me down. And then I looked at it. “Cool, Roberto, sign it”. Sign it. He took it, signed it, R.M.. I said “great, because that's going to be worth a fortune, someday, maybe not? Now, just so you don't think you're better than me, I'm also going to draw something for you”. I grabbed the paper I just scratched it, signed it and gave it to him. It was between us, is it serious? It was an exchange between artists. Who knows maybe my drawing, if it’s survived, could be just as valuable as a drawing by Roberto. No, I'm kidding, but between us, at that time, in that circuit, there was never any of that. In fact they don't, they never did. It’s not a matter of, it’s not art market, no. No one there was, everybody has to be, imagine it. But nobody was guided by the art market. It’s so expansive, it’s all affectionate and it’s there, and it’s a good sign that I would like to be marked for everything. I think the greatest trait was the affection. I think it was. I think everybody, everybody who was too radical in their conceptions, and their creations. Now the cool thing was the affection that vaguely circulated among everyone and you didn’t have to know them, to exchange, can you imagine arranging something with someone in Rio de Janeiro. Here, buddy let's go there, let's go here, let’s go there, next week let’s grab a beer. Never, jamais en la vie. Of course, if it's not now it's never, nobody arranges anything. But anyway, I think it had that vibe, it was kind of, I think the great gathering of people at the time was an exchange of affection that happened sparsely, vaguely, that didn’t require kissing, or hugging, or squeezing, it didn’t require a fucking thing. It was a plot, conspiracy, a general conspiracy for the well-being before that absolutely tragic conjecture.

CLARA GERCHMAN: speaking of affection can you tell us anything about Roberto Maia?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: That’s cowardice, that's vandalism. No Roberto come on. It's too long, the episode, the episode with Roberto Maia is too long. That episode begins like this. First of all, although we didn’t go over to each other’s house, we were neighbours. I lived in Felipe de Oliveira, which is behind, and Roberto Maia was with the crowd from Belford Roxo, which was a bit of a trouble crowd, too much for my taste. And I am a really delicate person, I don't like, I've hung out a couple times, but I don't like mess, confusion. I don't like those things. And Roberto was always such a character, how do you say, that magmatic thing. He's kind of a fruit from a volcano, he's very expansive. Also he, he comes from a severe parental discipline, so it isn't, he's a photographer, originally. Like Rubens. Rubens with graphics, and Roberto with photography. But at the same time, he’s rollicking, that is horrible. And, curiously, when I made my first movie, which was Paixão in 66 at Festival JB, one of the participants was the famous The Circle, which was made up of three, Roitman, Reinaldo Marques, and Roberto was the photographer from that movie. And the film, it was received in a not so enthusiastically manner because it was a formal exercise, it was formalist, ethereal and abstract, and at that time in 76 what counted was a certain roughness, a certain forcefulness. Photography was Roberto’s. And the films were developed and copied at the famous lab 16 which was a lab at Rua Alice, also brilliant. And all of that, guys, it was the most brilliant thing there was, it was kind of carnal I would say, it was a lab for television movies, because television movies were 16 mm, at the time. Before videotape. And there was this lab 16 which was kind of, kind of makeshift. The developer was geared buy a bike chain. Just that. It was there, which was the cheapest they made, which took care of developing and copying amateur films at the time, 75, 76. And coincidentally on the day of the final copy we happened together, me with my film and Roberto and Reinaldo and Eric with The Circle. Both of us, I don’t remember which was on first, but one of them. One saw the other’s, and the other saw the one’s, and, I insist, it’s the way through which you establish an artistic communication. It’s the time you spent together, comraderie, brotherhood, it’s the gang, call it whatever you want, it’s the Mafia, it can be whatever you want. But we saw the films together and I was impressed, despite me being, I’m a little political and all. And despite the film being alienating which was the category of the time, I was impressed by the thing, the form. And we became great friends. And I started making movies with him, in fact, it was with him that I had the great definitive experience of my life as a filmmaker, which is never looking in the camera, because we went filming the Guesa, the Sousândrade, there at Maranhão. It’s that thing, I don’t know if you know, moviemakers are particularly annoying. Because there are many things, he has an idea, he has an idea that he wants to put on the screen, that annoying guy, that brat, who wants his idea, he wants to put it on the screen, there’s an episode that is similar which is the episode of the famous Joaquim Pedro doing the filming of Padre e a Moça. The photographer was Mário Carneiro. The assistant was Pedrinho de Morais, check out the team. Filming at the end of the world, I don’t know where, really far. With splendorous Helena Inês, and everything that means on location, but well. So they were there, Joaquim Pedro, Mário Carneiro, Padre e a Moça, which is a severe film, Greek, with Drummond on the back. Joaquim Pedro, from Minas, sees the trouble, measures the size of the trouble. There’s a scene, which is a mining scene, which is a stream with Mário Lago, shaking the water to see if he can find silver. The scene was about to be shot, Mário Carneiro comes by, none other than the great Mário Carneiro, but he was Joaquim Pedro’s buddy. Who absolutely wasn’t, Joaquim Pedro, that’s absolutely not the idea you make of him. Joaquim Pedro was a rollicking, profane, he was a barbarian, Joaquim Pedro. An awful thing, with a couple of devastating ironies to the extent that, when he opened his mouth, it was horrifying. But anyway. So Joaquim Carneiro sets out to shoot his mining scene, the stream, Mário Carneiro comes ans sets his camera. Sets up his camera. Then Joaquim Pedro comes, “no, I don’t think it’s good here, I wanted it over there, there”. I don’t know what, it wasn’t quite like this, ok, “where do you want it?”, “put it there”. Then he looks into the camera once again, “no, it’s not like this, I wanted it over there, here”, so Mário Carneiro turns to Pedrinho, “that son of a bitch will put us in the water”. Of course that was it, over there, over here, the spot that Joaquim Pedro thought was crucial was in the water, of course, the stream running. Well, that experience I learned about later, I worked peacefully with Roberto who is also like this, there was a scene there in Maranhão, filming in Maranhão is the devil, because there’s so much lighting. Sometimes you can’t do it, why, no light? No, too much light. You can’t do it. Well. So there I go with Roberto. There were some amazing things, like, I wanted to do a scene, which is the beginning of the movie, Guesa, which is an overflight of the region where the farm where Sousândrade was born. So there was the overflight, we did it, airplane, there we go, airplane. So we took a pilot, and there was a detail, it was a cargo plane. I remember, you are virtually tied to the chair. Why? Because to get it done, I don’t know how, whatever, whatever, that’s Roberto, you had to do it without a door. The airplane. A doorless airplane. The pilot was insane, crazy, that guy, he thought it was brilliant, “cool, let’s shoot it without a door”, he was superexcited about it. Okay, and there's turbulence, all those annoying things about airplanes. And the guy was just fine, “lower it, lower it”, you know. It was insane. It broke every single every aviation rule. We could have died. And Roberto films it. Okay. One week later we learned, and that’s a tragic note, we learned that the pilot had lost a son who was also a pilot, in a crash, somewhere far away. The guy really wanted it, right. This is all magical, this is all the way, the films gain because of those things. Not because I wanted to, not because I think. It’s because this is what happens. So there we go, put the camera over there, put the camera over here, go there, come here, no, I don’t think it’s good, switch the lens and all of that. At the end of two or three of those dances, “no now here is fine, here’s good”. Well, it's where they had first set the camera. It was already good, you danced around, but it was already correct from the beginning, it was already there. From that day on I have never checked the lens ever again, I never do. I tell the guy, “look, I want it that way”, and he goes and sees what it's like in the real world. That's it. And then what happens, when you, me, the director, enlighted, the guy who has ideas, when he sees the results, he’s charmed because he got the best possible translation to what he wanted without really knowing how that was going to happen. Because that’s everyone’s struggle. Roberto was a great buddy, awesome. And he had that thing kind of, he also, he was a server of photography. He did some photographic panels for settings at Globo at the time. At the time. Because it wasn’t that crazy thing. Nowadays, you turn on the TV, I get scared, because I can’t see a thing. Because there’s so much to see the picture. 300 things hanging down, the glass that matches the plate. It’s hell, a delirious setting. Not at the time, those were hard times, it was early in the beginning, they were photographic panels in black-and-white. And Roberto was the one who did those panels, of night turns. Roberto was a specialist in making it night. And he was also really, come one, he was extremely patient with me. Because directors are annoying, so I insist on that. He’s like “no”. But also a really, really affectionate person. There’s another side to the story. He was the one who took over Parque Lage’s administration at a certain point. Because my dear Rubens I believe, I don’t know if he’s worse, better than me, but if you let it, it’s a disaster. So Roberto was in charge of production. Take care of budget, all of those annoying things, organizing accounts, it’s funny, besides it being his background experience. Walter Carvalho, repeat, was his great shaper at ESDI, because he was a professor at ESDI, Roberto. Here it was, this was luxurious, it was luxurious for us. Although, however, I can’t not mention that there was a great, the highlight, which by the way was also a little conclusive, let’s face it. Which was when I won a bid at Funarte to do Ismael Nery, a low budget film. The most expensive by Ismael Nery was a truca*** which was by, I forgot his name now, how horrible, think about it, he loved doing it, of course, you bring a serious artistic problem to an artist, he loves to do it. He’s not worried about getting payed, not getting payed, if it will be expensive, or if it will be cheap. He’s excited about the story, of course. So that was it, so there was some extra money from Funarte’s bid, and then the dynamic duo from my class showed up, Daniel Caetano and Micheline Bonde, who I never saw again, by the way. They insisted on doing it, we had only made Super 8 films, I had given a few negatives 16 to Pel, so he could do Rocinha, which is one of his great movies, which I also think, in a way, is a result of our course, here, but the great result was finally a filme they insisted on doing, about Frei Tito.

BERNARDO: “Dead in Exile”?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Yes. That I was already worried about. The worst part was that they wanted me to play Frei Tito in the movie. Andy ou know I do anything, I have no, so much so that lately I’ve been doing, the kids from UFF, they asked me to do a movie, they kill me in the end, it’s a binge. The biggest anti-academic experience. At the time they wanted me to play Frei Tito, I said yes. Then on the first day of shooting, once I got there, I said “look, I’m sorry, but I don’t have the structure to do that, it’s too much for me”. Then they called Nelson Xavier. Who is Nelson Xavier. I don’t need to tell how much better he is than I would have been, there’s not a question about it. But my crisis was insane. I got to the park and I said “I’m sorry, no”, I think I spent a week drinking to try to forget it. But they made the movie, with photography by Fernando Duarte, who also had that amazing part. More or less towards the end, I think. Which is another one. These people, those people we work with, I think everybody you work with, you develop a relationship that I insist, is affectionate. It becomes something, and that something is everlasting. You can see them in 50 years, and the guy will, look, I was in Copacabana, leaving my house, I was there, and I was stopped. “You, how long has it been?”, and I looked, trying top lace it, sometimes it’s hard, names, last names, dates, it’s complicated. From a certain age you get a little, “don’t you remember me”? I did, physically, the person, I remembered him,“we worked together at Atlântida, at the sound studio at Atlântida”. My God. That’s the 70s. And he says “now I’m retired, I don’t do that anymore”. He was really well, older than me. But he was the sound guy from the lab. I’m talking about Abraão here, which is one of the guys I mentioned. No, there was that thing, that thing which is a certain partnership.

BERNARDO: Why do you think that affection was lost? What has lasted from a place like Parque Lage? What happened, that it didn’t last as a legacy?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: I don’t know, I don’t. I don’t know, I think it did.

BERNARDO: You think it did?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: I think so, I think it does. That think, that crazy thing, how Parque Lage is a magical place. You know, that reunion I had here. Were you here?

BERNARDO: I was. With Pitanga?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Yes, with Pitanga and Othon, because Othon, Othon Bastos, everybody gets a little Othon Bastos, Othon Bastos. Othon Bastos is a kid, Othon Bastos, when you’re shooting, he plays a bunch of pranks on others, he has fun. It’s not Othon Bastos. And there’s the famous anecdote about Deus e o Diabo, which I repeat, that was my class. I think my lessons are the greatest cinema lessons in the world, humbly. Because they’re not mine, it’s a bunch of stuff circling around, which is that, I gossip, I tell stories. There’s the notorious story with Othon Bastos in Deus e o Diabo. Deus e o Diabo was shot in the end of the world, in a setting that had absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing. Everything loose, crazy. Then the prank, of course somebody had to come up with something so they wouldn’t kill each other on location. So there was that thing that was Othon Bastos and Geraldo Del Rey with Maurição, with Maurício do Valle. So they turn to Maurício do Valle and say “Maurição, Othon is Brechtian, Geraldo is Stanislavskian and you, what are you?”, “I don’t know about any of that, whatever Mr. Glauber tells me to do, I go and do it”. That’s about it. That’s Othon, imagine that, out of the blue, unexpectedly, the two of them, together, Pitanga and Othon, which is something, that is, that is, that memory of heroic time. Not heroic as in, but everyday heroic, you do something here, the other does something there. And there’s a movie I did at MAM’s Cinematheque, everything extremely cheap, at MAM’s Cinematheque, direct sound, I put the camera behind the video. And there it was studio sound, with Carvana and Paulo José opposite each other. Kind of a rascal thing, a little like that. Because it was the spirit of the time, it was something. There was no one, I don’t know if it’s still is, maybe I don’t really know how to define things nowadays. I also don’t have any nostalgia like those were the good old days. No, everyday it’s good. If it’s not always good, what do you do, you put a bullet to your head. It’s always good. But there’s that kind of nostalgic thing, all of a sudden. But still, nostalgia undoes itself. There’s no one, as I’m often repeating to everyone. The kids get a little starstuck, because this guy, that guy, we all shared a bite on the corner. Anyone you mention, anyone. Everybody shared bites on the corner. There wasn’t any of that. And there isn’t, it’s funny. And then there’s that thing, you see them again 500 years later and there’s still that affection stored from those days. In a few cases that’s a little complicated. But in general, that thing, that time you shared. Well, I do think that it still exists today. But it’s way more multiplied, more disperse, let’s call it. But I insist, I am a communist, I believe in work. Work is the dimension of life, in reality. People you work with, there’s a natural bond, a network of affection. Which, regardless, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. That’s not the problem, it’s not that the guy has a huge production. Padilha went to shoot Robocop. I don’t like it. Well. I don’t like it, I haven’t seen, and I won’t see Padilha’s films. They’re too violent for my taste, I’m a little coy, I don’t like violent things, I have issues, I get nervous, so I don’t watch it. Because I’m not stupid enough to see something I know will be bad for me. But Padilha’s interview at Roda Viva, recent, 2 months, 3 months ago, is prodigious. He explains those in and outs of a big Hollywood production, I don’t know what else, all of those things. How he moved through this and generated a product that I won’t watch, I insist, I don’t watch it because I don’t. I don’t have to see everything. I know it’s bad for me, so I won’t watch it. I’m not crazy, I’m not a masochist. But his lesson on how it’s done. And he, you know, it’s also my alibi. He, I have this category, I am a faithful follower and admirer of those who are older than me. Indistinctly. I have no censorships, I have no filter. If it’s older than me, than I stop and listen. Unfortunately, at this point in my life, I think it should work just the same with me, so those who are younger than me should listen, and I’m also not particularly interested. So, I hope life moves forward, I hope they have a bright future, but I don’t watch over, because the guy isn’t, he’s making it easier, he’s doing comercial stuff. No, that’s not the problem, it isn’t, that is a private matter, I don’t know, each one should do what’s best for them. And the work environment, I come back to in, is crucial. Whether it’s a school, a production, whatever it is, I think that’s what generates, that’s what actually makes you happy. Or else it’s great, it’s also possible, it’s ok to be a Buddhist monk, you know, Roberto was here for years. So it’s not about that, it’s not about any sort of prohibition. Now your work relations, the need that it generates something is what I think it’s great about the story. And that’s what we had at the time. I’d have a lot more to say about Rubens, actually.

BERNARDO: Clara has a grand finale here for you.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: But don’t be impressed by the matriarchs, they’re part of the setting. No, because the other day there was someone on Facebook complaining about the matriarchs. I said “dear, don’t do that”.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Let’s quickly talke about that story of that work you did together? With is Gabeira...

SERGIO SANTEIRO: ... the notorious...

CLARA GERCHMAN: ... that recently the até...

SERGIO SANTEIRO: ... “The Missing ones”...

CLARA GERCHMAN: ...I found it in the collection and I was able to make all that material available.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: “The Missing Ones” was something that, look, the graphic artist almost exclusively on that. Because there’s nothing. Not one of his brushes. It’s the concept and the assembly. And then that happened. I think that story about the “Face in the Crowd” (Rosto na Multidão) had already been written, I don’t remember. I know Rubens mentioned it, the poster, “The Missing Ones”, which are about him. “The Missing Ones”, the many pictures of “The Missing Ones”. It’s one of his themes. Now that in the strictly political sense was one thing. And he wasn’t so openly political like that. In the strict sense of the term. That was a sudden surprise, that coincidence he identified among, and then he made the effigy. Which is something, because the effigy is kind of symmetrical, it has a certain something. The photograph, it’s the same, of course not, because it has people’s faces on them. But the effigy is kind of, a symmetrical approximation, a junction, that he caught.

BERNARDO: It was Zico and Gabeira?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: It was. In fact, Rubens liked socced. He had a series in soccer. Soccer is one of his themes from the beginning. There was the lonely player thing. Rubens has a really funny thing, he’s right. I remember the concept now because it happened, it became a hit after, it is Deleuze with is individuation, which in the individual in the contemporary society. Rubens kind of anticipated that in the artistic point of view, poetic and all, which was one of his concearns.

BERNARDO: You made, theré a video, isn’t there, of you narrating the poems about the missing ones.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Well, going back, because I had gone away and too far. Then Rubens asked me for a text. He writes me. So it was that. I was impregnated, impregnated. Then one fine day I sat and started writing what I would write about. But, having hand-written that, I still have it, notebooks, that I kept writing and drawing. Writing and drawing, the waves, and there were things like, it was all drawn, huge. With pencil, drawing and stuff. And I couldn’t change it, that’s an obsession I’ve had for a while. I can’t change it, I can’t make it cute. I have to trust my hand and what it paints. So it turned into that thing, that huge thing, I even remember at the time, my wife came and told me it was dinner time. No, no. I couldn’t interrupt. And I actually made sure I wrote it, it was a period, straight, I spent hours on it. By the way, the motto was Rubens’ poster. But then it got too big. When it was done, because there were also some deadline issues, because it had to be sent to the graphics. Gráfica Europa. It had to get there, ok. But it was too large. Fuck, that shit, so Rubens, no, ok, he took and put it all on the back of the poster. It was supposed to be something like this. Ordering tasks from a crazy guy is complicated. The crazy guy travels, and you have to put up with it. But he had that partnership with Armando that was, with Armando it was something like, because Armando always says, they’re were friends from school, since they were boys. Armando is the best interpreter. Interpreter. Of that trip Rubens took. I pouted. Pouted with the first one, which is “A Face in the Crowd” (Um Rosto na Multidão), that which I then had a reading, me reading it. When he released the poster it was at Saramenha, at the time, in Gávea. So there was the video showing, me reading the poem. I lost that video.

PEDRO: Is there anything left from those days, those movies that were made in the workshops?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: No, right, no, the short ones from that time, no. There is “Dead in Exile”

BERNARDO: Do you have “Dead in Exile”?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: It’s on YouTube. Because then the guys disappeared, actually, that was a problem.

BERNARDO: Ismael is on YouTube as well, I saw it.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: It’s all on YouTube, no, all of mine are on YouTube.

BERNARDO: There’s “Dead in Exile” there? I hadn’t seen it.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: Yes. It is. Because I took over “Dead in Exile” because they disappeared, and I’m a producer, it’s serious business. The producer is the one who signs your release. I didn’t meddle with the film. The film has two conceptual mistakes. Two mistakes. For me, they’re serious. At the time, they showed me the script, which I read, “look, that’s not exactly how it goes”, “no, but”, which is Tito’s reception in jail. That the political prisioners supposedly disputed him because he was religious...

BERNARDO: ... maybe he was blamed for ratting out Marighella.

SERGIO SANTEIRO: No, tha’t impossible, that’s impossible. Not the religious thing. That’s not how it goes. But the kids decided to do it like that, I said “look, that’s not how it goes, don’t do it, this is a dangerous subject”. And there’s also one other thing in that film that I said, “look, that’s not right”. But, you know, I only signed the checks so, nothing I could do about it. And they did a beautiful work, and amazing, and with Nelson, I don’t have to tell you. Nelson Xavier. You know. That’s what really remaines, it’s what remained. Besides all the paper, right. The posters. But as a film, this is it.

PEDRO: Do you have a copy of it?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: I do, I have everything.

BERNARDO: But a better copy?

PEDRO: But there’s a copy, because YouTube injures the picture.

BERNARDO: YouTube worsens it, do you have a better video?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: See? No, I don’t.

BERNARDO: The file you generated to post that copy on YouTube?

SERGIO SANTEIRO: No, well, you know, I don’t. That was a long time ago. Also, my only virtue, it is, that film in 35, black and white. The only good thing I ever did. everything I did in film is at MAM’s Cinematheque. It’s all filed, organized. There was a time when I made them to sell, I did it in digital Beta. It didn’t come out, can you believe it, it didn’t come out that great. I don’t know. If I was obsessive, strict, you know. I’m easy going, but that bothers me. In fact, nothing that isn’t perishable, I know, I even tell this to the kids. People, what ever happened to audiovisual. In my days, whether it was 16, whether it was 35, you took it, you opened the image, you saw it. In fact, my first film, Paixão, I put together in my room, in 16mm. When one image coincided with another, I cut it, and amended it. It was glue. It was crazy. And totally insane. It has to work. And what happens is, I tell the kids, at that time you didn’t open like this, you saw the picture. Now there is that blind tape, how do I know what’s on that fucking tape, right? I can’t see a thing. Well, now not even that. It’s all here, as it’s here. How many hours does it fit? My entire work can fit in one of those chips. 50 years, can you imagine that? Fuck, going through, fuck, tough times. Don’t put it in a small shitty thing like that. But it’s all there. Cool. No, but the films are on YouTube. Now, I have a copy in DVD of the original in digital Beta. I have the digital Beta, but it’s on my shelf, as it’s been for more than 5 years.

* N da T: Oficina = Workshop in Portuguese.

** One of the most violent penitentiary complexes in the State of Rio de Janeiro.

*** Nome do filme? Não conheço a palavra em português.


WALTER CARVALHO: What I’d like, first of all, my relationship with Rubens was not directly related to the school. I went to the school, I was never a student at the Visual Arts School, except for the days of Plano Collor, because that Plan had the great idea of ending all culture, so I was out of work, I was a freelance without jobs, I had no job. So there were no films to photograph, no pictures to take, so I went to Parque Lage and enrolled to study, that’s when I got close to Mollica. But I studied under Luís Ernesto. I was at school at that time, but Rubens wasn’t there anymore. So I ended up at ESDI, and consequently, I didn’t end up, I ended up at Parque Lage’s school because of Roberto Maia. Because Roberto Maia was my teacher at ESDI and then started teaching at Parque Lage, at the Visual Arts School of Parque Lage, invited by Gerchman, they were friends. I, in a way, in a way I got close to Gerchman by two people. First Roberto, who introduced me to the both of them, to Gerchman and Vergara. I started frequenting the school, not as a student, because I couldn’t even, I studied at ESDI, and I worked, I didn’t even have the time. But I’d go there. At the time when Armando Freitas Filho was also there. So, despite not being a student at Parque Lage during Gerchman’s period, we were friends. And there was another common place to people from that decade, which was the Museum of Modern Art. There’s something curious about the Museum of Modern Art, because culture in Rio de Janeiro, people who produced it, could fit in a bus, or a van, right. So the meeting point was the Museum of Modern Art. It’s no coincidence that there was the show by Grupo Água, who burned the house down, and I made a movie called MAM SOS, to register the catastrophe, I ended up making a movie about the fire at MAM. When I met Gerchman, at 8 in the morning, when I got there to film, he had already left, he had already been expelled from the museum, because of the casualty, by the police and the firefighters, because it wasn’t safe and all, but I got there early, I got there at 6 in the morning, and I followed my usual path, I worked at the museum, I worked at the Institute of Industrial Design. And back then what happened at the Museum was the everybody, not just people from fine artes, cinema, poets, musicians, people got together at the museum bar. So that’s a beautiful image I have in mind, despite my nostalgic feeling, but you saw Hélio Oiticica going by, Glauber Rocha, Gerchman, Vergara, Joaquim Pedro, Jabor, so there was a convergence of people who produced culture in the audiovisual and pictorial fields, in fine arts, really strong, because of, because of that, because at the museum there was the Cinematheque, which was managed by Cosme Alves Neto. And there was the editing room, Walter Lima, and the editing room where there was a Moviola. So people got together there to have tea, coffee or a beer at the bar, every afternoon. Then I became a museum employee, I went, I worked with a team at the Institute of Industrial Design, in a project of package to import for a year. So MAM was my second home. So my relationships, my meetings with Gerchman were basically at those two spots. And in life. I was never a student at the Visual Arts School, except for that later period, that I mentioned.

Now, years later, I wanted, I didn’t want, because it’s hard to talk about people like Gerchman without being panegyric. Since Gerchman was a symphonic fella, I will talk, I will remember him here, I won’t talk about his work, but I will remember him with his work opened before my eyes, to salute the absence of a colleague, the absence of the artist. Such an interesting person, so wonderful Gerchman was, Gerchman is to me. So I’m going to let the “AR” open. Let’s seize the light of this sunny Sunday, so solar, so clear, there’s probably a blue bird crossing the sky right now. I’d rather look at him than talk about him. And I’m going to leave “AR” here as a salutation to him, the “AR” page. And instead of speaking of Rubens, I thought if you’d allow me to read a poem by Armando that... because to talk about poets, nothing like, nothing like inviting another poet to the table to participate. Maybe I don’t need to read the whole thing, but it’s short, really short, really short. Armando has a few books, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, whose covers are by Gerchman. One of them is right here, which is Gerchman’s picture, Armando’s, made by Gerchman. This hand gesture, the big moustache. And since there’s this poem, actually I thought about my conversation about Gerchman here, I was going to call Armando and tell him I was here, facing this difficult task of talking about the absence, the absence and the presence of Gerchman. But then I said I’d read the poem I know. That he wrote for Gerchman. It’s called like this.

The city opens like a paper flash, flan, flagrant in the leaf the wind blows in the scream printed that flies in the voice with a headline, fight in the air. In the air, or in the exiguous space that’s left for us on the floor of the live-in houses, on the crowded buses, the sold out stadiums the man who, everyday, wears the lone star jersey, my Botafogo, and disappears forever, fights against being forgotten. Like a newspaper that reads on every page about the crisis and the everyday crimes like a paper that wraps what we forget everyday, like a paper. The the perplexed mirrors of the amusement parks that make Gerchman’s paintings in the act. There we all are, premiering alone, at the edge of the world with all our faces, the miss, the electric kiss, the kitsch, the cliché, “Mona Lou’s” smudgy kiss, it reaches me, on the back seat, “Moreninha”, entangles me, the iridescent color window that blinks, behind Paramount, love lights up, good night, “Lindonéia”. There they’re all in the broken first pages of the mirrors. Here, lost, I find myself in each of them, I see myself in the shattered crowd. There I find the line of the beginning of the drawing, the draft of my coal body, in the crumpled landscape of the city. Here are all the torn labels of my face, the marks, the masks, the marks, the letters of my name with all the Rs and the errors scrawled in graffiti on cement in the posters and the neon caligraphy, honey motel no vacancy. The missing ones, working men, in front of everyone, the king of bad taste, the use of my face, the stripper without a script, burning under the mangrove sun ensure your fortune, the fortune notification, ensure your abundance, in the future notification of Baby Doll. Here we are at last, Hensel and Gretel, made for each other, in the chance of the sidewalks, on this bench we kiss, in this garden we devour one another, in this street we leave each other, Hensel and Gretel we get lost with the clothes on our backs and our homes behind us, in the forest of days, indians and indigents, crossing the paths of the avenue, under the passion of the sun.

Under today’s sun that lights up this room with the presence of the air. And then I also remembered that when there was a meeting at Parque Lage, to figure out we were going to about the fire in MAM, right. Take a look here, one of the people who brought me to Gerchman, Roberto Maia who did with Armando this “à Flor da Pele”(Under the Skin). And at the time that was printed at Parque Lage. But one funny thing was that the movie poster, if you want to find it later, the movie poster came from “SOS”, from Rubens’ “SOS”, and the title of the movie that I named MAM “SOS”, it came from it and it was their idea, the artists’, who gathered and did this, this, on this cloth something to put around the arm, that we wore the day we had the march for MAM, So I took that “SOS” idea that came from Gerchman and we developed the layout of the poster with “SOS”. And then I, here’s just the layout, this here was made by Fernando Pimenta, who at the time worked with me at Embrafilme. And the poster ended up, one of the layouts is this one and curiously enough it has Gerchman’s “SOS”, of the idea that came from “SOS”, MAM SOS. And I found a picture, where I am there on the exact day of the shooting, here on the corner of the picture. Then, if you want it in detail, on the corner of the picture there’s me with a camera, and if you make a panoramic, there he is, holding, curiously, exactly the part of the word life, work, life, it was all a metaphor back then. The big difference between the artists from today and those of then in Brazil was their participation in Brazil’s political life. Either manifesting as artists in their work or manifesting as citizens, like the civil man marching in public political manifests like this one after the fire in MAM, which was totally neglected at the time. Until today the abandonement of the institutions, it’s always neglected like culture. And see that here’s Pasquim, Parque Lage, Botafogo the neighborhood, an association ABAPP that I didn’t, it was probably the critics’ or, Copacabana, fine arts, you know, music, MIS. So that was the difference that ok, now there are political manifestations, but the artist’s participation was, not only was it crucial, at that moment in time, but it was also restricted. Many were arrested, many were tortured, many were disappeared, many were exiled. Ferreira Gullar is in that manifestation, I have a picture of him that we made that week, exactly, the following week in the wreckage of MAM. And my movie, which I made about MAM, it ends with that, with the participation of that manifestation around MAM. So I think that so I don’t speak panegyrics of Rubens who deserves it because he’s a good man, a great artist, a timeless man, he, he, I’d prefer it, I’d prefer it if you could use Armando’s poem that speaks of his work with, because to talk about a poet, you have to ask another poet. And since I’m no poet, I call them both here to talk about life. Because Gerchman was symphonic. He was symphonic. The soccer series you brought me was absolutely symphonic, it was an explosion of movements. Color, stroke, atitude, gesture. I think that if you can use something, if anything was useful it was me being happy with, and being thankful for standing out among the people who were with him. To talk about him I’m really honored, and I don’t feel like I am up to the task, it’s a really, really affectionate relationship and I miss him, I feel sad, I feel love, I want to do things, I want... When I think about Gerchman, I think about someone like Vergara, like Glauber, like Hélio Oiticica, Ferreira Gullar, it makes me want to do things, I don’t know what, but I want it. That’s it.

CLARA: Thank you. That was beautiful. And I’m not a crier.

WALTER CARVALHO: I know, but me neither.

PEDRO: That poem is amazing, isn’t it, what a beautiful poem.

WALTER CARVALHO: I wish I could read it better.

PEDRO: Gerchman’s entire work, like this. It’s impressive.

CLARA: Armando knows my father, every curve, every comma.

PEDRO: He really does. So much that I got goosebumps here.

CLARA: Only Armando didn’t want to speak, he wrote it.

WALTER CARVALHO: Yes, I was going to, I was going to tell you to talk to him, because the records I have here, that I remember, that I looked for, are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, are 5 or 6, because the rest was writen. There’s a poem here dedicated to him, book covers he made.

CLARA: Until today.

WALTER CARVALHO: Until today, right. So, but Armando is really, he has that thing about not speaking, I’m making a movie here, well.

PEDRO: Now, just to conclude, we interviewed Bernardo Vilhena, who is a poet.

WALTER CARVALHO: I know who he is. The composer.

PEDRO: Exactly.

WALTER CARVALHO: He writes lyrics and all, Bernardo.

PEDRO: That’s him. And he said something about that time, he said, I don’t know, then I talked to a friend of mine who also lived through that time, and he said “I don’t know, Pedrão”, but I wanted to know, it’s a stupid question, kind of nostalgic, but do you miss that time. He said “well, I miss the time when non poets studied poetry, nowadays you go to a poetry circle and you only see poets”. What do you think about that?

WALTER CARVALHO: It’s curious, because he, now in a poetry reading there are only poets, that’s what he said.

PEDRO: He said that.

WALTER CARVALHO: Yes, normally a movie showing only has movie makers, right. Of course, the world changes, the world has changed, and the world will change, it poor us if it didn’t. I’ve got these glasses because I have a bit of photophobia, I just woke up, I worked really late. It’s not part of my charm, no. But what’s interesting is the political activity, the attitude, the physical courage, take a look at pictures of Evandro Teixeira, of the 68 march, you see that line of artists right in front, holding hands, Chico, Caetano, Gil, Clarice Lispector, Vinícius, who else, Edu Lobo, Marília Medalha, Nana Caymmi, I’ve mentioned eight, there were more, many more. Nara Leão. I mean, besides being available through their work, participating with their work, speaking up against the dictatorship, through metaphors or not, Glauber with “Terra em Transe” (Entranced Earth). Terra em Transe was us, right? It was that Latin America, it was Brazil. That picture also has Eduardo Escorel, Ana Luiza. Well, on top of having their work, those people were concearned about the political moment of Brazil, people would offer themselves in a political sense, they’d expose themselves, right, and nowadays that happens in a more reduced scale, in a way, I’d say, to create a metaphor, I’d say, if I could say that utopia used to be collective, now it’s individual, get it? Today, today, today you summon people using the internet, Facebook, WhatsApp, so many social networks, that I don’t even know how many there are, and how they are. But ok, at that moment we, at least that I could find here from 68, because this one was from 78, mas from 68 to now, the end of the 60s to the 70s, that participation was effective in the matter, effective of the matter. That’s why some people disappeared, others were arrested and stuff. The summoning, I missed a little, but it was a word of mouth thing, through your home phones, some were censored, some were tapped, you couldn’t talk on the phone for long. So it really was word of mouth. Body to body. Body to body. It sounds like a title of a poem by Armando. Body to body. It’s a kind of poem by Ferreira Gullar. It was body to body, word of mouth, during the meetings, the encounters, the clandestine meetings we attended. There was a physical courage about it. I don’t mean to say that this was heroic about my generation, mine, that generation, because I’m a little younger, just a little. But no heros. But there was one thing, it needed that courage. Now courage is different, it’s more diluted, the artists don’t go to the streets, the artists are at newspaper offices, in galleries, movie screens, even on TV. It’s a little more, and as I said, the encounters of those artists at MAM and Parque Lage at that time they could fit in a van, you could fit an entire assembly of artists in a bus. Now it happens thanks to the internet. Well. I don’t miss, I don’t have that nostalgia, I feel melancholic every so often because I have a tendency towards that. But I also feel, that’s why it comes upon me a great desire to do things, to do things. Finish what I started back then, and build other things that I will only finish way into the future, or really soon, maybe.

CLARA: Did you make it and finished SOS MAM at the time?

WALTER CARVALHO: Yes, yes. At the time we had conquered, the film class had conquered a space in movie theaters, they were obligated to show a short movie. And the movie was in the theaters. It was in the theaters. For me it was amazing to make a movie about the fire in MAM, the movie was somewhat political about what was going on, because I also filmed the manifestation after the fire, the wreckage post fire at the museum itself, and I thought it was amazing to show that at the theater before a feature film, a foreign film, I thought it was amazing that people saw it. We really missed that ride. Being mandatory, I actually don’t think that law expired, but we missed that ride. But before it was, before every foreign movie it was mandatory to show, it was mandatory to show a short movie made in Brazil. MAM SOS was one of the movies they showed, like others by many colleagues. That lasted for a long while.

CLARA: What would you think if we, which is one of the ideas I’m trying to implement at Casa Daros, it would be to create a movie theater like there was CineAve at the time, at that time, and show, show some movies, do you think...

WALTER CARVALHO: ... but absolutely. Just, just, just, I’m all for it. Just the amount of movies there are today, and still being made about fine arts can already fill a schedule, just in the fine arts theme. Evidently I’m referring to Casa Daros which is a space of, that. But what, you can have Brazilian film cycles, foreign fil cycles, any kind of movie, anything, anything, that is really great. There’d be a dynamic of its own... see Instituto Moreira Salles, Centro Cultural dos Correios, CCBB, Paço, Centro Cultural da Justiça. You create a routine of projections and attendance of people to discuss. I fully support it, I think you should.

CLARA: We also talked to Santeiro.

WALTER CARVALHO: Santeiro. He’s in that picture, did you see? If you make a panoramic of that photograph, you can see it. It’s a shame it’s a little out of focus, but you see the line, you see Joel Barcelo right after Gerchman and in front there’s Santeiro already with his, with his wonderful trait, that hair that... I’ve never seen Santeiro with a different one since I, I’ve lived in Rio for 45, 44 years I’ve been here and I don’t remember Santeiro with a different hair, it’s amazing, right? Really interesting.

CLARA: And Roberto, Roberto Maia.

WALTER CARVALHO: Roberto is a little guilty of all this. Guilty in a good sense because Roberto, I learned to like photography from him. I don’t, I don’t, I don’t, I learned to appreciate it, and that’s why I still do it to this day. And I don’t think you’re supposed to learn photography, that’s why I say Roberto taught me to appreciate it. He didn’t teach me photography, to practice it, because I feel that if I learn it, I’ll stop doing it, because I’ll have learned it, so it will stop being fun, so, the process of doing it is what’s interesting. That Roberto, Roberto has taught me a lot, he taught me how to develop a film, taught me how to see what’s worst, the hardest part, taught me you can’t learn, I found out, he taught me to appreciate it, and later I found out you can’t learn it.

CLARA: We saw that my father called... he often spoke about the students of Parque Lage not as students, but users of that school.

WALTER CARVALHO: School user. See, that marks something, and if you imagine that he referred to the students like that, that’s why the school is still standing. And as it stands, always ahead of its time. With exhibitions, manifestations, classes, with the type of, the amount of importat people in fine arts that came from there. Gerchman’s seed is there. Gerchman’s, Armando’s, Roberto’s. Another thing, I remember Roberto, well, he was the first person who, the first and only person in my professional life that said “don’t let technique stand in the way of your language”. It seems silly, doesn’t it, and I didn’t really know about language, what was it. Then in time I started to understand what he meant by that, and that turns into something that I still can’t be charmed by the digital thing, that fantastic thing with cameras that have 18 buttons around it. I have the digital cameras. My Nikon has 18 buttons, there are buttons which I don’t know what they’re for. Not to mention the menu that doesn’t, it’s infinite, right. I only need one thing that opens and closes my diaphragm, and a shooter that operates that shutter to capture the image. I don’t need that many buttons. I’m not at all charmed by that, I think that’s Roberto’s influence. It’s that generation’s influence. You don’t see the quality of the brush in Gerchman’s painting. You see his gesture, his stroke, that’s what matters. That’s what they taught, because Roberto, I think Roberto was just a little older. How old would Gerchman be?

CLARA: He’d be 72.

WALTER CARVALHO: He’d be 72. Therefore I’m a little younger than him.

CLARA: About 4 years, right?

WALTER CARVALHO: I turned 67, so, I mean, it’s 5 years. I just turned. It’s 5 years, so, it’s the same generation, the same generation. But they, that group, António Manuel, Carlos Vergara, Rubens Gerchman, Roberto Magalhães, Cildo... They were already a little older, and they had been on the road a little longer. They were quite ahead on the road when I, I was on the trail, they were already on the highway. I, somehow, took a short cut, because since I came from Paraíba, I came to live in Rio in 68, I mean, I came, I had been arrested and all, I came to Rio at the wrong time, I came here in mid December, the month of AI-5. So I literally took a short cut, I had to go through the trail and I took a short cut to compensate the distance in such a hard political time. That’s it.

CLARA: Just a curiosity. I don’t know if you’d know that, but there’s a hole we still haven’t been able to fill with all this research. Do you know who made the logo for the Visual Arts School?

WALTER CARVALHO: No, no. Nobody knows?

CLARA: We thought it was Roberto Magalhães, it could have been Vergara, not yet.

WALTER CARVALHO: My movie opening, that poster was made by Fernando Pimenta, but the opening was Vergara’s. It is Vergara’s. I still have it. I saved the planks I filmed. The logo, who was the first principal of the school?

CLARA: He was, R.G..

WALTER CARVALHO: Yes, wow, doesn’t Armando know? Did you ask Armando?

CLARA: I’ll ask him.

WALTER CARVALHO: Maybe he was the person who was more connected to design things than to fine arts, I mean, it could have been. It may have been Roberto.

CLARA: Were you in touch with Lina? Lina Bo Bardi there?

WALTER CARVALHO: Just, no, I was only with Lina once in São Paulo.

CLARA: And we see how coherent he is, for instance, with the school, so young, page 33, and he talks about the day to day workshop, which was about students opening their backpacks, their bags, “what have you got, what do you carry, what do you look at, what do you carry?”. And they are “live-in boxes”, right.

WALTER CARVALHO: “Live-in boxes, live-in boxes”.

CLARA: It’s really coherent.

WALTER CARVALHO: It is. Now see, see, when I came to ESDI. This has nothing to do with Gerchman. But it’s about the live-in boxes. It’s amazing what you said about taking out of. When I got here, I got here in 68, and started taking the course at ESDI in 69. No, I took the course that took place in ESDI for the entire year of 69, and I took my admission exams at the end of 69, and in 70 I was in school. And there was a professor, German guy, who was an amazing Drawing professor. Free Drawing, because there was a really hard test, which was the Drawing test to be admitted to ESDI, so nobody knew what it was. In my year we had to draw an egg carton. That was the year I took my admission exams. So we didn’t know what it would be. It could have been many things. And one day, I had just gotten here from Paraíba, I didn’t know anybody, I lived in the humble part of town at an aunt’s house, I didn’t know anybody, I didn’t have any friends, and the teacher told us to draw a water tap, without looking at a tap, “draw a tap”, so I did it, I did that curvy tap, with that flap you closed like this, which is a little flap, kind of like a tilde, from the alphabet. And, there, working on a drawing on A3, right, A3 paper, 2B pencil, rubber, and then he’d put all the drawings on a huge board he had. He’d put it below, on the holder, like this, and we talked, talked about other people’s drawing, and my tap wasn’t a modern tap. It was a Paraíba-style tap. Because here there were some modern taps, like this, and things a little, and it was bourgeois school, there were students from the noble part of town, no one from the more humble part of town, everybody came from the noble part. It was an elite school. ESDI was an elite school. So I looked at those, and I was really sheepish about it, because the taps were taps that, I mean, pointed towards a future, you know, some really modern taps, and my tap was like the ones in Paraíba, really, really, well, well, man, I said I’m never going to pass this exam. It was my live-in box that I was taking out. Deep down, all of this was, deep down it’s really simple, it’s Hensel and Gretel, deep down, deep down we are all people. Deep down we are people, and it’s nothing more than that. And people like him, see that. “Live-in box”, I mean, I was taking the tap out of my box, you know.

It’s the tap, I said, but oh my God, what is that tap doing there, right. I don’t think anybody, I don’t remember, I don’t think anyone commented on it because there was a Conrado, a guy who was really good at drawing, and he liked drawing cars. So he drew a tap that resembled a Boeing about to fly, you know. Nobody knew where the water would come out of there.

CLARA: A German tap.

WALTER CARVALHO: Yes, German, it was already the Swiss line in those guys’ vein and I was still, I still had, lucky for me there was Aloísio Magalhães teaching us, and he worked on popular objects, not to mention handicraft, but popular objects, housing solutions, the objects’ spontaneous solutions, transformation. The kid who transforms the rubber from a tire into a playing thing, or into a catapult, which Gerhman did with Ronaldinho, the tin that turns into a car, I mean that could be the foundation of Brazilian design, or the Brazilian way of the objects, it follows a, an international line, things already, the chairs. Not already, for each Campana bother there are 10 desginers copying what’s already out in the world.

CLARA: I think that’s Zanine’s.

WALTER CARVALHO: Zanine’s. Zanine’s, wow, Zanine, I had to opportunity to see the houses he made in Nova Viçosa, including Krajcberg’s studio. I slept there many times in Nova Viçosa, when I was visiting Krajcberg, which is his project. Not the house Krajcberg built over the house, no. That is Krajcberg’s project. But the studio was Zanine’s project, who had houses there. All in wood. Wooden tiles, all wood.


BERNARDO: I read that paper of yours about “the Opposition Garden”, and you say something, you do a brief historical introduction when you talk about a disorganized left wing and a counterculture, which were two movements, two political situations that were more evidente at that time, that moment that preceeded Parque Lage. I would like you to give us some context, told us that story, what was that disorganized left wing, and what was that counterculture that was about to come along?

XICO CHAVES: The disorganized left wing because in 68, practically 10 years before, with AI-5, the right wing and the military dictatorship began putting pressure over students mobilizations, and the left wing movements were also increasing, and violence increased, and the pre-existing violence also diversified in terms and ways to repress, so the student movement dismantled. That dismantlement really starts shaping up with the prison of 900 leaderships from the student movement at the congress in Ibiuna, 20th congress of the university of Ibiuna, so that practically marked that whole leadership that ranged from about 17 to 30, 25 years old, and that was a fatal blow. Maybe it was in the best interest of that military dictatorship to push that youth towards radicalism, once there was no process of freedom of expression in the country, the prosecution was really violent and many people headed towards more radical movement. Urban guerilla, calndestine organizations and we lost in that stage, that moment, many possible future leaderships, it was a violent blow that will mark Brazilian history forever. So many people were murdered, tortured, dismantled, exiled from that date on. At that same moment there, exactly when I entered the picture, I’m part of the transition from student movement to counterculture. Not every leadership knew that borderline that was around the time, that historical transition. Some continued as part of that left-wing movement, even in hiding, others exiled, but a large portion, people who maybe were a little younger, started experimenting counterculture activities, so, another language was surfacing to oppose the prosecutions and the retrenchment of freedom of expression. Since those were languages not predicted by the repression, those movements in group grew, multiplied throughout the country, not only was the country practically culture, it was an international practice, counterculture wasn’t just happening in Brazil, it was in Latin America as a whole, The whole world, Europe, the United States. There was a war in Vietnam, international conflicts and international issues that started to mobilize that period’s youth and there’s a reaction that’s also behavioral, So while you had that really strict left, really focused, really pamphleteering, in a way because it was necessary, so you now had an absolutely liberal youth, language-wise, so there was a multiplication of different languages, different experiences began taking place there, that diversified a little the stricter orientations that the left wing coordinated. The left required a certain degree of organization that counterculture did not require, with counterculture each one developed their own process. There are documents, for instance, about that, right after the student movement and, in a way, Brazilian left wing, dismantled, they were already on the verge of being dismantled, there are documents about that, there’s a process to turn repression against those long-haired people, to counterculture, already at that moment. So at that time, as a personal experience, I participated, I left the student leadership, and I participated in a movement in Brasília called Tribo. So, Tribo brought together people who worked with Super 8, with experiments in theater, visual arts, graphic arts, performances, which weren’t so called at the time, and press. There was a major multiplication of alternative publications, so an alternative movement begins, particularly in the editorial field, and with experimentations in the field of poetry, etc. It’s as if the mimeographs would stop printing pamplhets and start printing poems and journals and newspapers.

BERNARDO: And what year is Tribo?

XICO CHAVES: Tribo is 1970, 71, 72.

BERNARDO: So during those first years in the 70s you were in Brasília?

XICO CHAVES: I was in Brasília. And Brasília came from an experience of building the wonderful city, that crowd from Brasília, those people witnessed a fantastic thing in Brazilian history, a city being built, a city being built while you lived in it. So that generation grew up believing that anything was possible, so if you see a city starting from scratch, in a desert forest, and soon afterwards you see families moving and inhabiting the blocks at the super blocks, it’s fantastic.

BERNARDO: And when do you come to Rio?

XICO CHAVES: Before coming to Rio I went abroad. I exiled in Chile, and in Chile I also had a really personal experience with the people connected to counterculture who weren’t really connected to exiled groups. I thought that my place, of working with creative process was with a group called Associação de Teatro Amador Chileno (Chilean Amateur Theatre Association), which wasn’t just about theater, it was a performative group that interfered with public manifests, so they created new situations. Instead of making a hammer and a sickle, they made bamboos with rats on top, flying saucers, "nosotros tambiém estamos com la unidad popular" (we are also with the popular unity), they worked with educational programs and contemporary art, so it was proved to that group that it was possible to have another artistic manifestation language that wasn’t pamphleteerly related to the traditional political, leftist, and revolutionary movement manifestation, there was a larger revolution in course. It was even weird that those people blended Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Mao Tse-Tung, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro and others, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, all in the same mix, so that was a feature, let’s say, of that moment of counterculture where everything was part of a process of cooking ideas that weren’t yet finalized. That was interesting. Those were really young people who were around 19, 20, 21 years old.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Are you serious?

XICO CHAVES: I am. That thing with the group from Chile was fucking awesome because I was arrested in with the Brazilian left. I never told that. I was interrogated. And I owned them. So they thought I was infiltrated agent because I had long hair, then that they they got me, Tribo, which was the group from Brasília came to visit me in Chile, so we walked around the streets, that bunch of long-haired guys, smoking pot, on that day I was representing Uncle Sam with the presence of Allende, and I had a top hat, I spent the night making a top hat this big, full of tape recorders, and I had that hat at the restaurant when they, “you’ll have to...”, because I had been interviewed for TV there saying that, Jimi Hendrix, Mao Tse-Tung, I don’t know who else, and they were troubled, that long-haired character talking crazy. So I put my hat under my arm and headed towards the paralel embassy and put the top hat on the table, “if I was a CIA agent I wouldn’t be walking around with that top hat, right, dudes?”.

BERNARDO: And the guys asked what the fuck was that.

XICO CAHVES: It was surreal.

BERNARDO: But tell us, you came from Chile to Rio, what did you find?

XICO CHAVES: Are you taping this? Fuck.

PEDRO: It’s ok.

BERNARDO: We’ll give this to the whole left wing.

XICO CHAVES: Then we understood each other because it’s natural, the guy was tortured, I wasn’t, you know? An unfamiliar guy shows up and doesn’t salute, doesn’t introduce himself, doesn’t say where he comes from, fuck, then we made friends with each other and it was cool.

BERNARDO: But that story’s off, it’s for another movie we’ll make.

XICO CHAVES: Just so you can see the distance, to exemplify as a generation, it wasn’t quite a generation, it was a school of thought and another. One suffered like hell, was tortured and shit, and those of us who switched to counterculture didn’t face such violent drama, of course the police also persecuted, but they didn’t know who we were.

BERNARDO: Then when you came to Rio, what was in Rio, what was the context of the counter culture in Rio?

XICO CHAVES: Well, when I got here I met Macalé, Ana Miranda, Arduino Colassanti, the friends I, in the film festivals that were held in Brasília, Leila Diniz, A bunch of people that had dispersed, I couldn’t find anyone to Rio de Janeiro, until I finally did. So, from that... Sônia Braga, Bigode, cinema, everything at that House 9 in Botafogo, and from that in 15 days, just so you can see the difference, I started looking for work, I was married to a Chilean, I had a family responsibility, I started looking for a job and, incredible, the first job I landed in Rio de Janeiro was at Jornal o Globo, they gave me a column below Nelson Mota to talk about sound equipments and technology, it was called “Circuito Integrado” (integrated circuit), nobody knew what was integrated circuit at the time, I knew sound and electroacustics technology quite well, because UNB had that panorama, UNB was quite an open university, more on that later. So I got to Rio and the first thing that bothered me about Rio de Janeiro was the fact that nothing really happened in terms of cultural movement, there was, but those things were too underground, the artists weren’t articulated, so, a general dislocation had taken place.

BERNARDO: What year was that?

XICO CHAVES: 73, exactly the year of the coup d’etat in Chile, same year I came to Rio. I left there in August and I got here in September, after immersing myself in the suburbs of Brazil. I felt it was necessary to do something. I rented an underground in Santa Tereza, and that underground in Santa Tereza started housing those people. Milton Nascimento was a neighbour, at that time he was also really frustrated, Beto Guedes, the crowd from Minas lived in a house nearby. There was Nuvem Cigana (Gypsy Cloud) a little further ahead, I also participated in the movements of Nuvem Cigana, the events, and all, bloco* Charme da Simpatia had a resistant carnaval there, it was already a different language from traditional carnaval. MAM was the only common ground at that moment where we could go and talk about Brazil, about contemporary art, check out experimentations, those were our referencesm so I started organizing a few performances, alternative shows, with no financial interest whatsoever. There were a few publications and I published articles practically re-educating people on how to self-produce, that producers weren’t necessary, since producers weren’t interested, Brazilian music wasn’t really being played on the radio, on radio or TV, Chico Buarque, Caetano, Chico Buarque was practically banned from being played, and that language to which we had a deeper relationship, identification, it wasn’t being shown, and all that musical promotion was boiling in the undergrounds of Rio de Janeiro, and certainly all around Brazil. So I began organizing a few shows and poetry readings which I presented reading a few poems, me and Marlui Miranda and Sidney Matos organized that, it was called Circuito Aberto de Música Brasileira (Open Circuit of Brazilian Music), so we took over many alternative spaces in Rio de Janeiro, Colégio Divina Providência, Casa do Estudante, the first one was at the Literature College at Avenida Chile, when the theater Teatro Gil Vicente was still there, lots of places. So that reaction brought back the audience which was yearing to hear what Luiz Melodia was doing, still so young, what Macalé was producing, and Cartola and Ademilde Fonseca, where were they? Historical characters from Brazilian music were marginalized in the cultural process. And other young ones who already had a history at that time, already had a contemporary proposal with regards to music as well. And the young ones who were even younger, who were around 18, 19, who didn’t have that same space, so those shows joined those people, and I presented them poetically, reciting short poems and I realized it was possible, and then I thought of Brasília, anything is possible. I managed to get some things on the paper at that time, and right afterwards Macalé proposed to go to “Banquete dos Mendigos” (Beggars Banquet)** at MAM, whose cover later was Rubens Guerra’s.

BERNARDO: But Macalé’s proposal wasn’t the yet the album?

XICO CHAVES: The album, it came from there. So, it coincided that on the day of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the human rights letter, Macalé, by coincidence, decided to have a benefit show because he was broke and had no means to survive, most people didn’t, but with that coincidence of the 25 years of the declaration of human rights at MAM, Heloísa Lustosa was the director at the time, Heloísa offered the space and ONU proposed to gather all those artists in a tribute, a celebration of these 25 years. There was a certain resistance in the beginning because artists resisted anything that was official, but the artists agreed and the first actual reaction concert of artists against military dictatorship, which wasn’t at Rio Centro, was Beggars Banquet.

BERNARDO: That’s 73?

XICO CHAVES: 73. Same year I got here.

BERNARDO: The letter was in 48, right?

XICO CHAVES: Yes, that was December 25, 1973. From September 1973 to October 73, it hadn’t been long since I was organizing that show, and it already had production stamp, alternative production mode that didn’t require that much technology or financial resources, it was all made without money. So that Beggars Banquet show that was later turned into a double record, it was censored for 6 years, part of it still hasn’t been edited, has proved once again that it was possible, because who was there? Milton Nascimento, Macalé, Gal Costa, Chico Buarque de Holanda, MPB4, Raul Seixas, Gonzaguinha, who else? Well, the creme de la creme of Brazilian music that was censored. Even the Beggars Banquet, even the letter of declaration of human rights had a stamp as cleared by the censorship, you know? Because it was an internationally approved letter. So that proved, MAM was absolutely crowded, police infiltrated, they surrounded MAM, it was an amazing thing, but the show happened, and it was recorded by group Soma, which also had another group called Banana Eufórica (Euphoric Banana), it were the people from the USA, with Bruce Henry and others on that. Without that group I wouldn’t have recorded. He realized the importance of that show and recorded it in roll tape and that tape disappeared when the show was over, it reappeared short after. So that was in MAM, which was the reference spot, Sidney Matos was there, Cosme Alves Neto, Heloísa Lustosa was the director and other people who organized the exhibitions and the events in MAM, or authorized it.

BERNARDO: How was poetry back then?

XICO CHAVES: Poetry already was, the mimeographed books were already being released in Brazil, Rio, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, alternative press had found its loopholes so they could publish papers and all, so that already existed, experimentations at the time of visual poetry were already in the making like process poetry, xerox, postal art hadn’t really entered the picture, the performances, let’s say, from that time, were more happenings, that was also going on, but there wasn’t a junction of all of that, there was no place that production could head, it was all too disperse. Censorship and repression made us demobilize, there was no center. MAM was one of the very few spaces. MAM wasn’t really frequented by large audiences, only when an event occurred. That moment of 1974, 75, was a really difficult moment in Brazil for artistic expressions, it was a moment when there was a lot of torture going on, too much persecution, censorship was obviously surveilling and censoring almost everything, music lyrics, exhibitions, pictures, press etc. But something happens, particularly in 75, the dictatorship was realizing, maybe, that the cultural movements, and the social movements had emerged really quickly, so they realize that it was necessary to show a little flexibility. That flexibility will result in a series of changes in the country, it’s like there was a strategy to absorb the opposition once and for all, meaning, the left wing thought, because they had no cultural segments, for instance, to fill the spaces. For example, “o Globo” is crucial, because I remember Roberto Marinho used to say “the commies won’t touch mine”, in other areas of social studies, in the universities, you couldn’t really do much, because those people sustained the existence of the university. In those artistic areas, as a whole, much less. So here’s what happens, Rio de Janeiro, may have been a pioneer in that, because a military who was maybe a little more liberal, I’m not saying a military is totally liberal, just a little more, Faria Lima was named governor, there were no State elections, he was named governor and he put together a team and that team included a really important educator in the history of education of Rio de Janeiro, called Myrthes Venzel, and Myrthes Venzel decided to put together her own team, so who is she going to turn to to set up a cultural team? People who had a cultural history and who were certainly leaning towards the left, as much in television as in art literature as a whole, so she invites a really important person at the time, who was someone from theater, who had a vast knowledge about modern art and contemporary art in Brazil, and who was respected in the field, his name was Paulo Afonso Grisolli, and Paulo Afonso Grisolli is named Secretary of Culture, it was af if he was Secreatary, he was head of the department of culture, the department of culture of the Secretariat of Education and she provides him with all the State equipment. The equipement was all scrapped, abandoned, destroyed, it was in desperate need of restoration, and at the time I was still producing these shows, but there wasn’t much survival, I had left “o Globo”, because I didn’t really fit the internal bureaucratic demands, nor was it really my area to write about sound equipment, I was writing about poetry, a lot of poetry, organizing a lot of shows, and I wasn’t making any money from it, it was more important to me so I started working with advertising at Casa da Criação, I was creative director. I was really young, I was 21, 22 years old, but I was really in sync with the creative process, it was important for me to exercise that at that moment. But parallel to that we managed to coordinate those alternative shows in many spots in Rio de Janeiro, where everybody performed, and they each had their personal standard. In 75 when I met maestro Júlio Medalha who had been invited by Paulo Afonso Grisolli, and he was actually with Walter Franco that day at his house, and Walter Franco was all hairy, and Júlio Medalha in his pajamas, I don’t know, it was a really strange outfit, when he opened the door he said “the exact word is?”, and then I said, “the exact word is yes!”, so he said “come in, then”. Then he pressed a button on his recorder and there was the song “The Exact Word Is Yes˜, by Walter Franco, and right afterwards he asked “so, don’t you wanna work with me at the State Institute of Communication?”, and then I said, “get out of here”, and I went to talk to him. I got there and I found the radio Roquete Pinto Original, the first radio station from Brazil to be a little scrapped. It was off the air, the antenna was falling in Niterói, the antena was inclined, the entire favela was pulling energy from the antena. I checked the equipments, for example, the area of cinema which was at Pinheiro Guimarães in Brasília, I once came to Rio de Janeiro ando I saw Nelson Pereira putting together, I met Nelson, that whole cinema crowd during the student movements, that I hid in the film festivals when the police was after me and I went to Hotel Nacional in Brasília and hid amid the film festival crowd. So I saw Nelson Pereira putting together “Como era gostoso o meu francês”, (How delicious was my French) at that scrapped place, discarted, imported equipement, sophisticated for that time, fungi were spreading around there, Luiz Gleiser was with me at the time, surveying, that’s when I met Luiz Gleiser, and it was waste all around. Technological white elephants were abundant among the State, and you couldn’t import, because the laws in the field prevented that, we needed to have a similar national product, so all of that existed, radio Roquette Pinto had 400 employees who had nothing to do with their time, practically everything was featherbedding. Júlio Medalha and the board nominated me director of the audiovisual division, so they nominated me the director of a bunch of waste, so I went to Niterói and started my first experience there and began organizing public record libraries, before that it was the public discotheque situated at Edifício Andorinha, I moved it from there, and years later it caught on fire, the entire phonic memory of Rio de Janeiro was nearly lost. There were 20 inches records, Noel Rosa, everything was there. So then we started organizing, there wasn’t such a settled bureaucracy as there is today, there was a certain freedom, there wasn’t a managing model to control that, so we had to make it up as we went. So what happened, that thing we did, that I started doing with the alternative movement, I started to bring to the State, which was the only way to make it work. And Paulo Afonso Grisolli created some amazing projects, which to this day are copied, but not with the same intensity from that time, like a cultural pack. So we traveled around the State of Rio de Janeiro, little by little, we quickly recovered a van to project films on the walls of the suburban buildings, at the south side of town, 16 projectors of 16mm films spread to cinematheques at favelas, in many spots. Another van that was also from the same place was recovered and started recording and projecting films in the suburbs of the State, encounters of revelry of kings and popular art, roaming of contemporary exhibitions of which were part Lygia Pape, Amélia Toledo, Rubens Gerchman, Roberto Magalhães and so on. The State of Rio de Janeiro had, for the first time, a free cultural project, with limited red tape. And at that same time, the Federal government begins structuring th possibility of having some kind of an Arts Ministry, it wasn’t Ministry of Culture, so there it was being created the embryo of FUNARTE, the National Foundation of Art, so, it really was part of an absorbing strategy of those thinking segments which were marginalized in the cultural process with certain obvious restrictions. The exiled hadn’t returned yet, the repression was too violent, so at that time Gerchman*** invites a team to start his board, so he asks the best available people at that moment, so he invites them for artistic education events, for example, Cecília Conde, Marisca Ribeiro, who was also a fantastic administrative organizer, and invites many people and has a spot for each one. So at that moment he invites Rubens Gerchman, who was someone who had political concearns about Brazil, his work expressed that in a way, he’s invited to manage Parque Lage, what was it called? Brazilian Institute of Art, which existed here at this space in Parque Lage, it had a conventional structure, painting on easel, the old ladies came here to paint landscapes, that was the template the State had until then. That non political art, which wouldn’t question the Brazilian social structure, which didn’t absorb experimentations, there was a certain restriction and that territory of Parque Lage, there was always someone interested in snatching it. Either business institutions, or public agencies, or TV stations, so, in a way the Institute fulfilled the job of the school of fine arts had here to provide an artistic space. A traditional space, since the building of this place, this was already a place that housed cultural activities and gathered the society of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil as a whole. Rio de Janeiro was a city that polirized practically everything in Brazil, it was the capital of the Republic, so modernism actually begins in Rio de Janeiro, so, São Paulo was really important, but Rio, this is where everything from Modernim arrived from outside, and São Paulo found a way to organize the Modern Art Week, but what was really modern was Rio, so Parque Lage gathered that, so, it was a traditional place. When Gerchman is invited, he proposes to Grisolli, who promptly agrees, he was about inovation. He wanted to inovate, he was a theater man, a man of culture in general, he wrote, he directed, he knew music, he knew popular art, he knew contemporary art, he knew modern art, so he accepts the project to create here the Visual Arts School. Gerchman following the same pattern, invites to the Visual Arts School people with many tendencies and from many backgrounds, democratizes the space which was previously formal and academic with people with different tendencies and of diferente backgrounds, and also absorbing academicism, there wasn’t a radical rejection towards academicism, academicism was part of the Brazilian cultural process. And that’s where I think the first utilization of that thought enters the picture, as far as I can remember, inside a contemporary institution, therefore, inside a cultural and artistic institution that was being established in the 70s, years of major social and behavioural transformations, the whole world was exploding in artistic interventions. We were on the border, crossing from modernism to contemporary. So the visual arts support was diversified, it wasn’t just the canvas, the rock to be sculpted, clay, paper, it’s plastic, Hélio Oiticica had already made his PND, parangolé, etc. Neoconcretism had already happened, the rupture from concretism was already in place, so we had in Brazil a place of reflection about contemporary art, which was highly sophisticated, and so Parque Lage absorbs all that crowd, these people who would like to experiment on every field of artistic expression. And Gerchman coordinates that, so he starts here a model of free school that in a way will resemble the structure created by Darcy Ribeiro for the University of Brasília where the many areas of cultural, artistic and cientific formation will interact and dialogue permanently among themselves. In 65 the military dictatorship had already thrown the first blow against the University of Brasília, and a second one came from 68 to 69. So I was able to see that working in Brasília because there was, for instance, I’m compairing because although they are different matters there was a thought in the 60s that had already conceived a country that could have an accelerated development, Juscelino Kubitscheck’s motto to build a city, 50 years in 5, that’s why we thought anything was possible, so, if it was possible, if there was this idealism, there were instruments for that, so why not create a school that was absolutely free and that could try all these ideas at the same time? Where a person could transit from one class to another without any formality, after all, there would be no diploma, it was a school to form and inform people, artists, critics, whatever. Or even the audience, so there wasn’t that clear separation between Science and art, the thought was global. That was the thought that started in the 20th century, at the end of the 20th century in the 70s, years of great ruptures. So what happens, at that moment, how do I enter the picture, what did you ask?

BERNARDO: At first my question was how did you get to Parque Lage, and Gerchman.

XICO CHAVES: Yes, but then you can’t enter the picture if there is no picture to enter. So the atmosphere in Rio de Janeiro is favorable and in Brazil it’s favorable for that to happen, even under censorship, dictatorship. The dictatorship didn’t really know that well what that was, they didn’t have people prepared enough to realize the danger that that represented for them who wanted to keep the country under iron fists and under those hardships. So that convergence to here and to other cultural spots, to other projects was like this, while there I was taking care of technology, creating new templates, fixing with Julio Medalha the transmitter made in a backyard with a guy who rolled cables to get the radio to work, fixing the lamps and trading valves to integrated circuit, it was a complicated thing, those enormous tables with buttons from the 30s, so that was maintained because that was culture, there was a heritage there that had to be maintained, but the internal part had to be fixed by the genius of the Japanese electric engineer, the son of a Japanese who was there, called Onoda, so Onoda came out of the limbo to do that at Parque Lage, the same thing. The guy who was an illuminator who illuminated corridors here started to realize that there was an opportunity to illuminate other things because that was encouraged, “ok, you have to create a new lighting, because this one is done, it will short circuit. There’s not enough charge, let’s change the ticker”, because the technological activities began to show, so I met Gerchman at that time because I came here to ask to release my book, which was a one page book with 100 poems and he said, “well, go release it, man!”. There were already a few experiments that had been done here by marginal poetry, by other groups who eventually released somthing, right at the beginning of the park it already had an opening, so I got there with that book here, it was called “A Pipa” ( The Kite), which wasn’t made in a computer, it looks like it was, but it wasn’t, it was printed, cut with a stiletto and dislocated to form a picture, each of those sentences, there were 100 poems in only one page. And since I came, I came from the alternative movements of organizing shows and gathering poets, I also participated in Nuvem Cigana, Charme, Simpatia, I decided to ask everyone , “let’s go to Parque Lage, because that’s where the Visual Arts School is, and I will release my book in the auditorium”, and I said, “oh, a few people will come”. We came up with a bunch of stuff, fireworks that came out of those higher parts of Parque Lage, a few posters with esoteric drawings, there was everything. Each one took care of the bees, I didn’t even know they were producing to fill the book launch. Music groups that I invited for shows that I didn't even remember anymore. Everybody came here. I even invited people from Alpha Centauri, in the invitation you see, there’s invitation here, people from other planets, it was an invitation that circled because we were schooled in that from when we had shows and pamphleeted in Arpoador and Leblon, and that notebook at Posto 9, that dirty, crumpled notebook, that’s how... see, “A Pipa”. So there’s that book, which isn’t a book, it’s just a page, but it’s a book because there are too many poems... here, it’s in the plastic, there are only 5, this book here. You have to pick it up carefully because that paper was the same paper from newspapers, bad paper, it folds. Their poems, some abstract, some made with the stiletto, there were words leftover and I had to fill in the space, so here, what happened, it came people from cinema, for music, from visual arts of experimental poetry, graphic arts, ET’s, the guy that introduced himself to me, “I’m the guy from Alpha Centauri and I came here for you book launch”, so, that Parque Lage, the book launch was supposed to last 2 hours, it lasted 8. The pool was occupied, the terrace was occupied, fireworks, I didn’t know where they were coming from, I went to the auditorium, and from the auditorium I threw an arrow towards the stables, which I think was the final part of that event, when I threw the arrow, I even have that picture, not throwing the arrow, but before, throwing the arrow through the window and everybody screaming “go, go”, and the arrow went. Nobody ever found that arrow, never, it disappeared in the woods. So I thought that was really important symbolically, if it’s gotta to be, then let’s go, because here is the ideal place for things to happen. Gerchman heard about it, he’d been here, but then he left because he wasn’t going to stick around for eight hours, so he went home and then he looked for me, he called and said, “man, let’s do something? Why don’t you use that space to do whatever you want?”, he was like that, he turned to the person and said “come here, do you want to have a drawing course? Why don’t you do whatever you want? Show me a little project”. And I didn’t show any project, I just said “then let’s have an event here called Verão a Mil”, because everybody said that, “I’m going a Thousand miles an hour. It’s all a Thousand miles an hour, bro”. Everybody was really agitated at that moment, everybody was going a Thousand miles an hour, so I said let’s do Verão a Mil. So, talking to Gerchman, he said, “take the space, do whatever you please”, I said “ok, man, then let’s release books, records, a bunch of performatic events, facilities here, pull a wire, tape, all of that”, and since the school was heading towards that direction, here was Hélio Eichbauer who already had a few occupations at facilities, actually, amazing interventions with his body group, I don’t know the name, The Art Of The Body...

BERNARDO: Wasn’t it Pluridimensional?

XICO CHAVES: Pluridimensional? And the other teachers also used photography in a different way, suddenly exhibitions were organized, with the students themselves producing, I said, then let’s start a league, let’s call the poets, all kinds of poetry, and he said, “do it, because that could work as PR, that will call out for the audience, and it will increase the number of students”. It was amazing, because the school starts interacting with the city, so people come here to watch the performances and see that there is a visual programming course, that there are painting lessons, there are sculpture classes, that Celeida Tostes, who plays a very important role at that moment, experiments with clay and other objects, and wooden things and uses the very own envinronment of Parque Lage to incorporate in her researches, the students research without the objective to have a definitive piece of art, so all of that starts creating a really strong envinronment in the Visual Arts School, because that relationship between people from the city, it’s not the neighbourhood and the artist, the cultural production in a wider manner and the experimentation turns Parque Lage in the Headquarter of art of Rio de Janeiro, and consequently, Brazil, because there was no other space in Brazil that offered that experience, that had that possibility. They all had been mined, it wasn’t just in Rio, at that moment, when that was happening, it was likely that other places had another group, because here it was an idea, and nobody was the author of the idea, that idea was the result of a historical and cultural process, the reaction of the artistic and cultural class against censorship, the impositions of restriction to freedom of expression. It was natural that in many places there were similar things, but Parque Lage, because it was in Rio de Janeiro, a cosmopolitan city, more cosmopolitan back then than it is today, it housed people from all over the country, they weren’t just people from Rio. Rio has always had people from everywhere and artists that came here. So, for instance, Zé Ramalho once looked for me, I was there at the the building of radio Roquete Pinto, beside Júlio Medalha at the State Institute of Communication, the director of the radio was Rosenberg, and I coordinated that complex that little by little stopped being made of scraps and turning into something a little less old, less rusty. I was there, already building the dance school, now the Museum of Image and Sound, that building at Visconde de Maranguape, which Grisolli participated quite effectively. He obtained all the resources. So we took the dance school and I brought all the technology there, the technological part, films, documentaries. Another part I handed to Cosme Alves Neto. And here at Parque lage we set up a base that related both to the radio and to the audiovisual division. Here there were conditions to get the connections done. That wide dialogue with society, as an artist, with the experimentations in general got to Parque Lage, so MAM, which had a little more restricted activity, but that was still a center at that time, loses that potential, it remains a reference spot until the fire in 78, when Parque Lage plays a crucial role of denunciation of MAM, it was arson, because MAM would always confront the military regime, somehow it was there, it was were Beggars Banquet took place, the shows at the body room, and the sound with Sidney Matos, who was also a target, Cosme Alves Neto was really dangerous for the dictatorship because he showed films which were important in the history of Brazilian cinema, to show Glauber Rocha? Imagine that. The films that showed the Russian revolution, so it was dangerous, he even was arrested a bunch of times. So Parque Lage shaped up to something that wasn’t so easily identifiable. If it was a right wing or a left wing place, he had a bigger, it was wider, his radius was larger, so all that freedom of expression and a practice of said freedom came here, and with it all the experiments that were being made in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasília, Pernambuco, Bahia, so it became a center, for instance, Zé Ramalho once looked for me at the radio Roquete Pinto, up on the... look, he’s getting here, look at him, him, it was released here, this is the release day. Zé Ramalho said “oh, man, I came to Rio, I’ve been here for a while, and it’s really tough, brother. I’m about to launch a chap-book, “O Apocalipse”, (The Apocalypse), can I do it at Parque Lage?”. Look at him here, Zé Ramalho released “Apocalipse” here, it was crowded because when there were music shows, people sometimes didn’t even know the artist, but they came to Parque Lage, he released “Apocalipse”here. So that’s an example. Artist who also didn’t have, let’s say, a built work like Zé Ramalho already had back then, because he was simply unknown, also started to look, “can I release my record? Can I release my book? Can I release my bag of everything? Can I release this experimentations we do here in the northwest?”. I didn’t even have the time to meet with them, so I set up the schedules by the phone. Group Cana Brava, “we want to play at Parque Lage”. “Be there on whatever date, there will be a Verão a Mil, go there, get in live, your group”. Group Água do Chile, “can we perform there?”, “sure, get in line”.

BERNARDO: How did that line thing work? Who ever got in first got to play?

XICO CHAVES: At the time I always suffered to organize it, because there was that line of poets. There was a line of 50 poets to speak, sometimes it didn’t fit. The performances started at 7, 8 pm, and kept going until 3 am. What happened at 3 am? Anything you can imagine. Of course the guy would go up to the terrace to smoke a joint, the other would drop acid and wonder around in the woods, would disappear, would go to the waterfall up there, another group would arrive to play and they had’t let us know. The guy with the saxophone, with the drum and another one was a trumpet, you know? And I’d say, “dude what is it?”, “I want to play there”. And another one would get in with a bag full of publications, things, graphic poetry made in xerox, and you had to organize it all, create a template. There was no standard of alternative production, there wasn’t, that’s why it’s called alternative, and in time you needed a certain organization for all of that, so patterns emerged, the whole it has to be free standard doesn't work. If I apply a professional production pattern it won't work because it doesn’t correspond to the freedom language we want. So here’s what we started doing, it stopped being once a week to be three times a week. We had one day for poetry and music, another day for record releases, but people from poetry would also get in, I mean, there was no way around it, but there was a main axis and another one for experiments as a whole, for instance, Guilherme Vaz joined one of these less complex programs because he was going to use the pool with the symphony he does, I don’t know if somebody recorded it because it was genius, where metal pipes in various sizes he dove them into the pool and, and he played, and as he dove them, the vibration of the pipe would change, so he managed an amazing melody here, with empty pipes inside the pool, using the water system and a complete silence, it was really respectful, the terrace was always noisy, the terrace was a place for fooling around, smoking a joint, talk nonsense, and the sound didn’t leak, sometimes you had to scream into the microphone, “come on, people, it’s too noisy up there”, because I was the host of every show, “now, this guy who came from...”, I asked, sometimes, because that line invaded that space down here, which was the old library, and before that, Besanzoni’s dining room, which has some amazing stories, it’s a shame Arduino’s deade, otherwise he could share them, so that line came through here and it turned into an area where people tuned their instruments, one would read his poem to the other, what went down in that room was as brilliant as what went on out there, the guy prepping, the other painting his face to recite his poetry, putting on clothes, you know? A few covers, this was a studio of craziness and conversations, so while I was calling a guy, he already came “I’m coming!”, so he got there, a guy with a thing on his head, kind of falling on his side, and the poet would complain, “come on, man, it was my turn”, so there was no script, what happened was that people waited, some of them got desperate, but they were there. And since it was always crowded, there was always an audience, all the time, I mean, some people left, others arrived. So, besides young artists, others came here, people who were experimenting, poets, people who were experimenting with different languages, because the most important language at that moment, not the most important, the most present, was the language of visual poetry, crazy as it seems, in alternative productions, it wasn’t the release of a formal text, modernist, for example, Nuvem Cigana which developed an important role in the construction of poetry at that moment, the larger production was of visual poetry. I brought a few books. Launches were held, for example, I have a package from Paulo Bruscky there, and I see here that it was postal poetry, those things that went beyond poetry organized in pages. Look, I made a point to never open this, I don’t know what Paulo Bruscky sent me, I have no idea, I have more at home, things he sent to be released here.

BERNARDO: Was that done in Parque Lage or not?

XICO CHAVES: No. It was done outside, but here was the point of release and distribution. Here, I don’t know, there’s a little stamp, I didn’t open, and I won’t open, I don’t even know if I’m going to call Paulo Bruscky to open that envelope after 40 years. So he said the 10 of those. Here’s another one, Brazil-Belgium, the postal art Brazil-Belgium. Because the school also, see how crazy, the only front is the poem, Paulo Bruscky also, here it’s even falling a, I won’t even open because if I open, look, so, I mean, that poetry was the poetry that represented that moment in the 70s, Really radical for that moment, it’s a shame it hasn’t been mapped out properly, it wasn’t just poetry. We come from something, at that moment, we had already had a manifest of Poema Processo, the 67 manifest could correspond to the neo-concrete movement of visual arts because so far the most advanced point, most contemporary, let’s say, of poetry, of poem, let’s even say poem, it was concrete poem. Poema Processo ruptures with the formal structure of concretism and transforms frame into word. The drawing, the xerox, and the technologies from that moment start being part of the poem, besides the word. So the word is another element in the composition, I mean, it perfectly corresponds to what was happening at that time, when all languages converged and composed a complex of expressions that pointed towards many directions at the same time and what is contemporary art if not that? Parque Lage represented that moment, that borderline between a state of modernist creation and the state of contemporary Art explosion, I mean, it’s like it’s a rite of passage and in this rite of passage it was concentrated practically all the explosion that was about to happen.

BERNARDO: You mean multimedia today.

XICO CHAVES: Yes. So, the visual arts school represented, at that moment, the summary of everything that was going to happen posteriorly. In the experimentations of artistic language as a whole, in thought, in the construction of contemporary thought and in the gathering of all the possible medias that would point to what is being done today in contemporary art, so it was there, besides representing the changes inside the conventional languages themselves. I don’t think that’s what you wanted.

BERNARDO: You talk about something that I really liked in your paper, you talk about imagination in power. What would it mean that idea of imagination in power?

XICO CHAVES: Well, 1968 the world goes through youth manifestations demanding their rights in many places in the world, so there was the movement of May and 68, although I think Brasília preceeds that, that Brasília already had similar movements in 67 to 68, but the Parisian one is the iconic, so, in Paris there were Godard, and all the scholars, Sartre, Beauvoir, especially the people from cinema. Godard had a very important part, making his little movies, so the sentence that spreads around the world at that moment was the youth proposing changes in every field in the area, education, culture, economy, it was the imagination of power, so, youth must play the role of youth in that moment. So that youth in Brazil, I get goosebumps, didn’t rise to power at that moment, it couldn't because we are already under a dictatorship. If we had a change at that moment maybe the country would have been a lot better than it is today because that youth already had a scholastic background, a political background. It came from students movements, it was transitioning to counterculture, it had done a lot of reading, it had played its role to fight for freedom of expression, for all kinds of freedom. So they knew or had the intuition of what was necessary for the country. And maybe there it could create a new methodology, just as it was capable of creating a new standard of performances, shows, cultural activities that weren’t so professional or so stuck for a new country, a country that was going through such a violent moment on one side and a lot of creativity on the other, trying to get out. A good portion of that youth was exactly murdered, killed, tortured, and demobilized during the 60s exactly until this moment and it lasts until 80 something which was a major loss for the country. So Art was the banner of resistance, you see by the very on own march of the 100,000 who is in front of it, the artists, hand-in-hand, so the artists played a crucial role. Exactly because they conceived the free country, they conceived a highly creative country as it is in its cultural background, and its mixed background with all kinds of tendencies with all ethnicities and every possible contemporary and cultural expressions, so the imagination in power might represent that, although it was a French sentence, I don’t even know if it’s French, but it was a sentence that was propagated, forged, I don’t know by whom, but it was forged in France. Here we certainly had other sentences that I don’t remember anymore.

BERNARDO: And that thing you say about... we were joking becasue we can’t say that word at once, trans-interterritoriality

XICO CHAVES: There it begins to appear certain terms that are from those 70s, 80s, they are not all that used then, but they return in the 2000s, trans-territoriality, what else? Transversality...

BERNARDO: No, you talk about interdisciplinarity, ok.

XICO CHAVES: Interdisciplinarity. Well, see that Gerchman’s project for the Visual Arts School, it is basically based on interdisciplinarity. What does interdisciplinarity mean? It means the conversation between every tendency and every manifestation. A person going to a dance course or a body experimentation and at the same time they’d be painting it means that they are acquiring knowledge In an area and certainly, intuitively, he will incorporate that in painting. Or if it’s Science, he will incorporate the same scientifical knowledge into painting, the same with technology. Notice that at that time it already began appearing the first video equipments, the video experimentations are already there, that came from Parque Lage, it was there with Anna Bella Geiger, the artists who came to Parque Lage, besides the usual artists, now established and well known, like Anna Bella, Lygia Pape, Hélio Oiticica, those are permanente frequences, they’re here drinking coffee, because there was a cafeteria, that cafeteria was brilliant, you met young people there, who were worried about the country, and proposing ideas, all the time, there the 80s generation was fermenting, they were already students, a great portion of the 80s generation was at the school in that conversation for experimentations. In the music field came Milton Nascimento, Macalé, Caetano Veloso, they came here just to hang, to take a walk, it became a meeting point. People who came from São Paulo came to Parque Lage, they came from Paris and came to Parque Lage, that’s how it’s established many international bridges, so Gerchman had that ability to attract and incorporate to the school the many tendencies and frequencies and vibrations that were going on all around the world, he had also lived abroad, many others who came here had lived abroad, Hélio Oiticica had a really important experience in New York, like him, other people who had been through many countries. So he began to understand that that cosmopolitan trait of Rio de Janeiro was practiced here, there was no discrimination against Geraldo Azevedo who was from the northwest, why not? We’ve already had mayors in Rio who came from the northwest, our presidency has been occupied by politicians from Rio Grande do Sul and many other States. Rio was used to it. This starts to derail when the capital moves from here to Brasília, and Brasília also starts growing with that trait, but Rio never fully lost it, it lost in the economical and financial sense, but the open mind, the spirit to incorporate anything, that Rio hasn’t lost. So Parque Lage, in terms of art, was this, and it remains so, because that impregnates the physical body, the material body, in such a way that it becomes a spirit, it becomes an unassailable energy, so Parque Lage has that manufacturing and unassailable energy, whatever the philosophy they follow, they may complicate all those rocks, but they will always speak.

BERNARDO: Ok, what would that extradimensionality be? Something beyond form? XICO CHAVES: Ultra?

BERNARDO: Extradimensionality.

XICO CHAVES: What was extradimensionality? As you talk openly to the many fields of art, of science, you begin to incorporate other knowledges there are part of the same thing. poetry, for instance, it's not an instrument of the word, it is the instrument of your expression with the full human being, so that extradimensionality is leaving the restricted dimension that imposed a language to embody from other expressions, so, it’s not increasing complexity, but high dimension, it’s giving other dimensions.

PEDRO: I had a question for you, well, you said, I studied here at Parque Lage for about 3 years, I was 19, more that 10 years, and you mentioned that thing about the rocks. I felt that vibe was weakened, really weakened...

XICO CHAVES: I’ll say.

PEDRO: ... I’d like to know why? It's a question I think has a lot to do with the other, what was it, you said a lot about it, but personally, what was your drive back then? What pushed you to having so much energy to do all those things you did? What was so hot about it? I understand the world going through a transformation is exciting, but why do you think we don't see that excitement here nowadays?

XICO CHAVES: Here’s the deal, those who realize an idea well, is the one who conceives that idea, so that moment there, creating the visual arts school and the convergence of people was a highly potent moment and nobody really knew what to do with all the potency, so we had to let it out, so it started representing everything that was good, bad, positive, negative, of the most various experimentations, I mean, there was a cauldron that was being stirred, but nobody knew what was coming out of it. If it would come to something, what was that, as nobody will ever know, but everybody wanted that soup to be ready, but there was no time, so we had to eat the soup at that moment while it was boiling there, to eat part of it, because in 10 minutes time it wouldn’t taste the same, you had already added another herb, something else. So that is what was genius. In time, what happens, these things work out, they start to represent a certain danger because freedom always scares those who are afraid and those who aren’t don’t get scared by it. And freedom of expression, let’s face it, is a danger to any authoritarian regime. So here's what happens, we were living through an authoritarian regime, the experience was turning out fine, so naturally there were pressures for that thing to cool down a little bit because that cauldron could blow up, get it? It could unstabilize and many interests the threatened interests react so they can limit a little bit something they don’t understand, and it’s even worse, because they’ll be under threat. So I think there were a few demands in the controlling sense of something that would be absolutely uncontrollable. So there, everything condensed. What happened next, Gerchman leaving, it was, in a certain way, a reaction against some kind of pressure. Lack of investments because when you develop an idea you start to need more resources so you can keep things flowing normally. Authorities and other occult forces will manifest through sudden channels that you never even imagined existed, and they are built for that, to mine the things that provide you with absolute freedom. So I think from that momento n, when the Visual Arts School showed that it was more revolutionary in the wider sense of freedom, a few occult forces begin acting on it, and trying to limit the school somehow, within an institutional frame so they could control it. I’m under the impression that that’s what led Gerchman to ask to leave in 69, wasn’t it, Clara?


XICO CHAVES: Oh, not 69, 79, right? So, there was a dialogue here, there must be some documentantion about it, and there was certainly some kind of pressure that made him feel partly crippled, because Gerchman liked things his way, I’ve seen him cause scenes, not only inside the Visual Arts School, but at his own house, when he was limited in his right to express himself.

BERNARDO: How was Gerchman?

XICO CHAVES: He was really democratic, funny, had a sense of humor, and a seriousness, a contemporary depth in everything he said, and it wasn’t a formal thing, Gerchman wasn’t formal, but he had a really organized side, he had a certain reason that made him get to a determined goal, so he had the perfect nature for that moment. If you don’t organize things, nothing happens, so you have to be at least a little organized. Although the organization was informal, it existed, so he tried to contain certain conflicts, he’d scold here and there, he helped organize a course that wasn’t corresponding well to a more accelerated creative process, profound, so he did interfere, but never in an authorotarian manner. There was always a dialogue, so I guess that’s what kept the school in track. Other people helped him in that sense, too, and argued with him. There was a group that, as you record, research, you find people who help out in the sense that they help in balancing forces that sometimes conflicted with one another. So, to carry on, when he left, I don’t know who was the following headmaster now. I know that right after he left, I stayed for a little while.

CLARA GERCHMAN: I’d like to know a little more about that, because here we found he left in March, 79, and we see that there was a plan for the school for the rest of that year. But he leaves and we found out, we notice that many teachers stayed, while others left immediately, so we don’t know how was the rest of that year.

XICO CHAVES: That transition changes a bit. When Gerchman left, it was as if the great energy sphere had left. When the creator leaves, a massive emptiness takes over. A new administration means that another construction will take place, so when he leaves, the closest people, some also leave because they are close people who dialogue on that same level. Others stay because although they can discuss on the same level they feel a strategic necessity to continue, After all certain ideas were consolidated. So Parque Lage takes half, part of the body. I stay a little longer because I thought there was a schedule, I had to carry on. After all the change was that major, but the absence of the main creator motor energy dismantles naturally, any institution, any group, any band where that happens, goes through a period of reflection and change because, after all, new guidance made a new path. I know that Parque Lage didn’t lose the character of polarizing many manifestations, but more than what happened there, there will never be, so there was a moment when theater was dominant. The Visual Arts School was practically a Shakespearean set, that was important, because the theater people came here, tried a lot of things here, many languages of theater were formalized on the Italian stage, which already had a cristalized standard, so here it expanded to columns, to the terrace, because that model already existed, had already been proved viable. I’m still answering your question. A few areas began to consolidate more, that was the case with painting. Painting at that time, unfolded, and so comes another trans which came along at that moment, which is trans-avant-garde, trans-avant-garde also came during that period of transition that was characterized as trans-avant-garde in Italy, but the painting that was produced here, in a way was... it already had something to do with that in the 80s, but it was actually born before that, because paintings were dominant, for instance, with the 80s generation, it practically represents the “how are you doing, 80s generation?”, in which I participated as an artist, but on catalogue I’m classified as a poet, and I prefer it a Thousand times. Now look how it was until the 80s, 79, 80, there were many experimentations in interventions, facilities, in the field of photographic image, in the field of video, super 8, cinema as a whole, experimentations in painting, sculpture, ceramics, they all had been done, I can’t even mention poetics, so it was already there. If in 80 something it incorporates painting more, because painting had a more consolidated development there, then the 80s generation, albeit characterized as a movement about the pleasure in painting, which I think is nonsense, it has a major presence of painters, so, it’s tried to establish itself, and it has, the 80s generation as painters, now the 80s generation also has people experimenting in facilities, conceptual art, etc. Those aren’t among the curators that point the 80s generation towards painting, they’re part of a different one that generated contemporary art in the 80s to the 90s, they were partly in the 80s generation.

BERNARDO: Let me take the opportunity, since you are talking about the 80s generation, painting, because, there’s a paper we’re studying, which is a reference to put together Alan Kaprow’s exhibition, in which he discusses a little bit about that end of the 60s thing, and he talks about that art movement at that moment, which ruptured these traditional relationships with the galleries, and particularly the bourgeois art pattern, that white, bourgeouis, rich, gallery, market pattern and he talks a lot about the artists searching for art as an experience in itself. Can we state that in Parque Lage during Gerchman’s period the experience was more important than the actual result?

XICO CHAVES: It was. Because this was a center of experimentation. The exhibitions set here were in themselves experimental, so it wasn’t about starting an art market here, the goal was to discuss art in all its dimensions, so nothing more adequate to this than experimentation. So it really was experimentation, it was a center of art experimentations supporting all tendencies.

BERNARDO: Even mistakes.

XICO CHAVES: Mistakes, misconceptions, I couldn’t predict, or Gerchman, or any student, predict that a guy would participate in an exhibition with conventional work, you know? Suddenly we got a piece that was considered “bad”. Now here it served as territory for critics to arise, also because all the critics that appear in the 80s, 90s, also came here and participated in this process here, and also the museum of modern art, so the critic thought, the reflection, also lived through this. Now there was one important thing, the one leading the reflection process, the transformation at that moment was the artist, not the critic, not the curator, the curator emerges as a consequence, and out of necessity to tune or organize all that cauldron. Now each one has organized in their own way, but this was the center of observation, then it shifts, moves to São Paulo, see that the 80s generation from São Paulo comes here, there was already Leda Catunda and everyone from House 7, and he identifies with something that happened at Parque Lage, FAAP already existed. Before the 80s generation here in Rio, there was the glass salon at PUC, but it was smaller. There the poetry experience also mixed, Jorge Guinle was there, I was with one kilometer of poetry that ended in a pile of painting the size of this computer paper. There were many people from the 80s generation that came here later, the 80s generation already of the 80s, but during Gerchman’s time that initial crowd was here, some of them really young.

BERNARDO: And Pedro’s question which he says what pushed you?

XICO CHAVES: That’s what I was trying. A second management means change. The change is no longer the original source of all that cord, another one came afterwards. There was a moment of high decadence, the visual arts school had a moment later on when we take over again no it was the triumvirate that happened here in the 90s, 90 something when Luiz Alphonsus, Maria do Carmo and I take over. The school opened again, and once more there was that graphic art course, the other technologies, in that period there were poetry, poems courses, but like the one before, we never managed.

BERNARDO: How come?

XICO CHAVES: It was a different moment, we were already living through something else, there wasn’t the potential we had in the old days. The changes, this is what I think, deep down they had already occurred. They would come about again in 2000 something when FUNARTE returns to a process that was already...

BERNARDO: Do you believe the art world got more individualist, as the rest of the world is? Was it more collective?

XICO CHAVES: Many transformations. Collectivity was the most important, after all people had to get together so they could face the negative forces. So in time the country started living through a kind of, especially, after the Democratic opening, a kind of an unmet democracy dream, actually the dictatorship didn’t exist just because the military had the power, it’s because in Brazilian history the oligarchies always had power, and since they didn’t cease to exist, they are there, in fact today we are going through this moment of absolute freedom of expression, it’s great, we can say whatever we want, but back then we couldn't say it and we said it anyway, so, the collective made… now you may be free, individually, collectively, but there’s an economic dictatorship and it’s not national, it’s worldly, it’s different, if we start to analyze that it came about after we redid the script because there were many things that came up quickly, for instance, I said here… another thing that had, this is important, it goes back to Paulo Afonso Grisolli, you know? One thing that happened there was, until a certain moment, or certain moments, there is something that, that comes from a sewage pipe, from a strange place, that tries to separate contemporary art and popular art, “they’re two different things”, and I think they’ve always interacted, even though it’s different fields, because there’s a proximity to one another. During that period Gerchman manages here, popular and contemporary art coexisted quite nicely. How many times have we held encounters between revelry of kings, tambor de crioula, you know? Between popular manifestations that people came ans watched as if they were watching and experiment of Hélio Eichbauer. The audience changed a little, because people came from the suburbs, it related to the schools from the suburbs, and the periphery of Rio de Janeiro, who came here to participate in educational programs, so, this discussion of what’s popular, contemporary, was actually already here and this debate didn’t present itself as a confrontation.

CLARA GERCHMAN: The Afro-descendant Cycle?

XICO CHAVES: Yes. Lélia Gonzales who came with all the Black movement. the anti-racial movements and against discrimination all came here. Later I remember it was the campaign against hunger, it was here that it was launched with Betinho, so Parque Lage started playing a political role whenever art or culture served as referenced, always. On a certain moment, what happened, maybe in answer to his question, is that also with the strong institutionalization of the great production templates, I had even saved a moment to discuss this here, a series of legislative bureaucratic restrictions arose, they came together with the process of management as a basic reference, so there was an inversion, the creative process decreased, it was subdued to the managing process. If at that time there wasn’t a template, we created one whose reference was the creative process, what comes to happen in time was the subjugation of that free pattern to a managing project, so the laws, the ordinances, the bureaucratic behaviours, the impositions by government organizations, officials, the controlling agencies began prevailing and subdueing the creative process. There was an inversion, control rose and the creative process descended, so, everything that was practiced there, was a little limited by that necessity of having a managing and controlling process. Even legislation upped itself to control. Of course, if you want to control corruption you need instruments to do it. But hey, is the art and cultural field that corrupt? Why do you need to transfer the methods of control of an institution that deals with billions, the exact same tools of control, to an institution or an educational process, artistic, or that sets out to shape artists or market, whatever it is, who deals with pennies? This is wrong, you gotta have control to avoid a series of transgressions in the country, that we know exactly how it started, read Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, Darcy Ribeiro, Gilberto Freyre and many others that you will see how this country was built, with financial interests, political, all the elites’. We are defeating that slowly, the freedom to survive, to cover our most basic needs, we’re still, quite slowly, but imagine that these control tools appear in a pattern to everyone, but it injures a crucial area, in which resides the transformer thought, free, which is art and culture. Which doesn’t need it, so some control is necessary, of course there are corrupted people everywhere, but here where there are no resources to accomplish the cultural projects we should accomplish? The Visual Arts School wasn’t supposed to be facing any financial problem, yet, it does, it always has. If FUNARTE doesn’t have it, for a while it did, but then it emptied, so culture, art, Science, technology, education in Brazil still have an unfavorable position. So these changes, the controlling tools that emerge in society as a whole, they will reflect violently over the spaces where there should be more freedom, so that’s why the school has been through moments like this. There was a time when they wanted to move the school from here, many times, it wasn’t just once, there were many ocasions. We even called the indians. There was a time when I was the manager with Luiz and Maria do Carmo, we brought Raoni, it was during ECO-92, the entire Caiapó tribe and all. Raoni went inside the room to smoke his pipe and receive his spirits, and there was a time when I asked “but what does he mean, Raoni?”, and he says, “wait a second, let me receive the translator”. He came here to support us in a moment when they wanted to take the Visual Arts School and turn this into a center of taxidermy, of stuffed birds, I think. There was another time when they wanted to turn it into a dog cemetery. There were many interests, you picture it, so absurd. Because at certain times this was abandoned, so if it’s abandoned it’s ours who detains the economical and political power. Then no, you are getting on my nerves, so let’s look in taxidermy, because a stuffed bird won’t coot, you know? It has to leave the State hands and be taken by the Federal Government because it’s a protected space, and we have to quiet it down, it’s getting loud. So the Visual Arts School is even louder, it’s not as loud as it used to be in the worst moment of our history, when freedom of expression was more persecuted, that’s when it was the loudest it’s ever been.

N da T:* bloco – carnaval bands that are quite traditional from Rio’s street carnaval.

** - já apareceu em uma das primeiras entrevistas, talvez do Bernardo Vilhena, ou do Macalé, não lembro. Mas se houver referência ao albums dos Stones lançado em 68, fica Beggars Banquet em inglês.

*** Na transcrição está escrito Gerchman, não sei se o entrevistado se confundiu, mas acho que ele está falando do Grisolli.


BERNARDO: ... it’s about the history of Parque Lage, about that moment. It’s not the history of Parque Lage, but Gerchman’s moment at Parque Lage, the establishment of the Visual Arts School. So, since we’re searching for affective memory, let’s try to capture your memories, from your experience there, exactly. The first question, I’d like to know how did you get to Parque Lage, what took you there, how did you find that school, the reasons that motivated Lauro, young Lauro, the student, to go to Parque Lage, at the time.

LAURO: Well, I was working as an artist, I had my own exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art of Rio, in an experimental project. Which was quite interesting, with avant-garde artists. And Gastão Manoel Henrique, who was a teacher at Parque Lage, saw that exhibition and loved it. So he asked me to be his assistant in a 3D workshop, 3 dimmensions, at Parque Lage. I already knew the school had changed its ways completely. I used to go to Parque Lage as a park, a lot, before. Even in 71, Parque Lage was something of a meeting spot for people more connected with counterculture, more free, and less conformed with traditional systems. There was a great desire to change society through the changing of behaviours themselves, and people’s inner selves, I mean, there was no point in having a political change if people’s minds weren’t changed before. And with that, we had the dawning of the Age of Aquarius at Parque Lage... It was a place I visited a lot. Now, the school, which was extremely conservative, was a contrast to that whole desire of new times, new mentality. And, if I’m not mistaken, in 75, Gerchman takes over the school and starts a true revolution. He was extremely brave to do it, and he was the right person to do it, because of his nature, because he was prepared, and also because he was bigger than the school, he was someone who just by being there, he brought value to the school. And so he – and Paulo Afonso Grisolli, who put him there – was strong enough to do it. So, Parque Lage, together with the Museum of Modern Art, was a creativity and visual arts, theatre center in Rio de Janeiro. It became an affective place. And we can’t forget that we were in the middle of a dictatorship, and that both these places kind of worked as free embassies. And the Museum, in fact, had its own guard that prevented people from being arrested by the army or politics. It was a free territory. And Parque Lage also had that spirit, and with many projects, in a very meaningful way. It’s impressive, and I see it there, long afterwards... I ended up being a curator and director of Paço Imperial, art director, now here at Instituto Casa Roberto Marinho, but I served as jury in Belo Horizonte many times, you know... And it’s impressive, because even when you see pieces before knowing who did them, once you read the artist’s background, the best ones had gone through Parque Lage. It was quite visible. Artists from Rio, in general, went through Parque Lage during that time, and in São Paulo Álvares Penteado, which was also strong, and even USP (São Paulo University). Those were reference centres. And that’s what Parque Lage became. Now, my going there as a teacher, I was, actually, Gastão’s assistant. I was really young, but he wanted to imprint a more conceptual trait to his lesson – he is an amazing sculptor, you know, a wonderful artist. And me and Dinah Guimarães, who was my girlfriend at the time and we worked together, as well – she also started working with Gastão –, we proposed a Rites of Passage exhibition, which was an exhibition where we asked people to identify what was a rite of passage in current society, complex, the issue with, for instance, medals, first Communion, I mean, any ritual you went through to become something else. And there was even a really good piece by João Magalhães, which was about the transformation Mário, who was a transvestite artist, went through to become Marisa. So, the piece was about how he put on make up to switch genders. It was a great exhibition, at the time, I mean, it reverberated, and all. Then, at Parque Lage, I started having personal contact with Gerchman, and that was really, thrilling. He was a dynamo, a really intelligent, practical person. You can’t always meet someone that is both intellingent and practical at the same time, sometimes no, but he had a great practical sense. And, also, he wasn’t afraid of conflicts, I mean, by his nature he was daring person. Then I started visiting, every once in a while, his house, he developed personal relationships. And the fact is that once he left Parque Lage, I left too. Me, then Gastão, still during his time I had a separate course, I mean, solo, my own course, and it was about creativity, art and concept. And the course involved asking artists to talk to the students and propose work. So, we had Lygia Pape, Artur Barrio, Luiz Alphonsus. And in class, which was something, in fact, it enchanted me, but it also disturbed me, I had Jorginho Guinle as a student, he knew more theory than I did, by the way. And he, in a way, forced me to conduct the lesson on a higher level than other students could follow. And I was always trying to convince Jorginho to drop the course, because “you have nothing to learn here”. But he loved the course. He was a photographer, and he was starting to work on some oil drawings. They were really simple drawings, minimalist, nice. And he stayed there, and sometimes class would continue at his place, in a dinner party where each artist cooked what they knew how to cook, he also cooked... Those were really pleasant days. And then one day, I taught a class about Marcel Duchamp, and Jorginho disappeared. And I was like “Thank God, he finally realized I don’t have a lot to teach”. Then 15 days later, he showed up. He had actually gone to the USA to see Duchamp’s last work, which was in a crack, and had bought me, at that museum, in Philadelphia, Schwartz’s book 00:09:21], and for his colleagues a bunch of sweet gifts. Then, Jorginho got back again. And it was great, because he was like a teacher, too. But Parque Lage, I think it encouraged that. It wasn’t a belletrist, it was something that student, teacher, they engaged in projects and worked together. And that is something I find quite important. When Gerchman left, my life also... I started studying anthropology, got a Master’s, Docotorate, and, in a way, I lost interest. I mean, it was such a free and friendly space to me, that didn’t even have the patience to, I didn’t even try to stay in a different structure. I know that a great work was developed later, then there was the 80s generation, etc, but I follwed a different path. And when I put it in my CV that I had been a teacher at Parque Lage, I was always certain to add between brackets “Rubens Gerchman period”.

BERNARDO: You are, let’s say, the first generation after 68. So, it seems, I saw it in your testimonal,that you really managed to put it into practice the slogan [00:10:56] The Imagination in Command...

LAURO: In a way, yes.

BERNARDO: It is, right? Because teachers were really young. And following what you said, about Jorginho, how was it to you, still so young, already a teacher, close to so many amazing people, like Eichbauer?

LAURO: Well, it was also a time when youth itself was a really appreciated value. And that made it possible for, with a little irresponsibility, arrogance, but also some wisdom, people to launch themselves. We, in truth, were really daring, my exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art proposed the implosion of the museum, because I called it an institution full of vices, and it had to be transformed from the inside. Then I used the concept of buildings implosion, that one, but also the concept of anti-psychiatry, by Lang, who affirmed that an implosion meant to destroy within you a personality with problems, vices, conservatism, so you could be reborn anew. So there was a boldness and great optimsm. When 68 happened, I was 14, so I’d go to marches sometimes as a cousin’s figurine, the older cousins would go, and I went, but I, for instance, wasn’t a part of any association. People often said they were coopted by the communists, I felt terribly sorry, because no one ever coopted me, and I would have liked that. On one hand there was a certain complex from not participating in political fights – it wasn’t just me, it was a generation – and, on the other hand, we also began finding it idiotic, because we saw that the most traditional structures of the left reproduced the structures of the right. Tropicalia was a central part of my life. Gerchman was part of that, with Lindonéia. For me that was something that changed my mind, I mean, looking for an inner revolution, together with the outter. When I talked about implosion I said “instead of the 60s explosion – attacks, and everything external, and you trying to destroy – an implosion was necessary”, which meant to act inside the structures. There was also an optimism, I think, great optimism, despite the dictatorship. It was a world that seemed to be filled with certainties, who was on one side, who was on the other. And it was known that sooner or later the dictatorship would be over. And the idea was that everybody got ready to be better, regardless of the dictatorship.

BERNARDO: At Parque Lage, I mean, Gerchman spoke a lot about also the notion of leisure as pedagogy, as a pedagogical method. So, in a time when the gathering of people was forbidden, being together, gatheres, was really important...

LAURO: For sure.

BERNARDO: ... Besides your moment, there, as a teacher, how was, outside the classroom, your time there at Parque Lage? Who was your crowd?

LAURO: Well, I was as old as the students at the time. I was 24 when I got there. So, I was really great friends with them. I was Lygia Pape’s assistant, in fact, it was Lygia Pape who opened my mind to be interested in fine arts, in architectural research. Lygia, in a way, changed my life. And my crowd was Evandro Sales, for example, who took classes, João Magalhães, I mean, people who were there at the time. Also teachers. I was studying architecture, still, I graduated in 79. In 78 I was still an architecture student, and I remember that in college you couldn’t gather more than six people without the head of architecture’s permission. So the situation was completely the opposite. I went to college mainly to answer to my family’s demands. My father offered me a really clever solution, since I went to a private university, he told me that if I got into a public school, he would give me the money he wasn’t spending on tuition, so I took a new admission’s exam and got into the federal university. And he payed me. So, that was something of a minimal job. But I thought that my real activity was being an artist, was doing stuff for Lygia, I did Super 8, my own work. And Parque Lage was the first more institutional place where you could be creative on your day to day. MAM was the other, but it was a lot more their cafeteria, or also their courses. For instance, if you didn’t know what you were doing at the end of the afternoon, it was a great idea to go to the museum’s cafeteria, because you would meet Antonio Manuel, Lygia, Vergara, you know... I don’t mean to sound nostalgic, and I think the new generations also resume that, but it was a time when everybody had more time, and there was a mentality – and that I find a little different – less individualistic. And there were some silly radicalism, the art market was considered a leviathan, I mean, it was all about living without the market. Which was also complicated, because if you don’t live with the market, you’ll have to live with institutions, and those institutions also have their own rules. But I think it was a really fertile period, if you take a look at people from Parque Lage, not only from Gerchman’s period, but also a little later. And that movement, undoubtedly, was catapulted by him. Another thing, also, about Parque Lage, they weren’t just worried about training artists, what they wanted was to help shape better people, better art consumers, too. It wasn’t a factory of artists. And that, I think it also gave it a nice aspect, because it wasn’t really competitive, it was a joint work. I’ve been to American schools, British, and you see this crazy competition, even among the artists, the anglo-saxon vibe of effectiveness. And Parque Lage was the opposite of that.

BERNARDO: You want to say something?

PEDRO: In the end. Carry on.

LAURO: I don’t know if I’m talking too much.

BERNARDO: No, not at all, it’s great. About everything you’re saying, Heloísa Buarque de Hollanda has a really interesting analysis, which is about rupturing a little this romanticism that that was good, because necessarily there wasn’t a market involved such as, maybe, in a final instance, and what came afterwards was all bad. When she says that, actually, what existed back then was still the aftermath of the economical miracle, that the children of middle class still didn’t have that competitive and incessant search for the market, and in the 80s, when we have a debt crisis, the second oil crisis, the situation gets a little harder, even middle class artists have to search for a market, Gerchman himself goes back to the market. I don’t know if that goes against what you’re saying, but what I’d also like to understand is if at that time there was a greater desire to get together and discuss than there is later, if people sacrificed their individual searches in the name of comradery, of getting together.

PEDRO: I’m sorry, let me just add something. It’s about the time thing. Because that’s really intriguing to me, I really had more time, everybody had more time, If you could say something about that, also, what time meant at that moment.

LAURO: Let’s start by the miracle thing. The Brazilian miracle, the economical miracle, it actually happened in the beginning of the decade. I know because that really had an impact on me. As soon as I entered the market, the country was going through a recession. For instance, what I did didn’t seem to be a good call at all, which was trading architecture for being an artist and writing books. That was really unwise in terms of professional strategy. However, if you look at it in the long run, the recession thing was so heavy for my architect friends, that if you manage to be successful doing research, art and writing, you have a better situation. That wasn’t what it determined for me. It really was a matter of doing something I enjoyed, having a joyful life, more inventive, or feeling sadder and fulfilling or doing things. In my case, for instance, I was left wing. Everybody was was left wing did Urban Planning, and those who were right wing – it was simple – they did real estate speculation, they worked for real estate. I was left wing, but, on the other hand, I hated the idea of the urban planner who wanted to regulate projects with people’s lives, or had the illusion that they could change people’s lives. So, for me it was a real catch-22, I mean, I wasn’t going to work helping build spikes, but, on the other hand, I also had no desire to build exemplary things for the working class and think I was going to change their mentality. So, for me, Lygia Pape, the art path, the existence of that center at Parque Lage and MAM were like revelations in my life. Revelations, really. And the time thing, I remember Lygia Pape often quoted Mário Pedrosa, with that joy to create, and joie de vivre. That was also an issue at the time, joining art and life as much as you could in your daily life. That was something we effectively believed in. Of course, for instance, people payed their prices, I knew it quite well, “so, I’m never going to be thriving individual”, but, on the other hand, “I have [00:24:12] a family that I know I won’t starve”. So there was a little bit of that. Now, I’m not sure economy is the best way to explain it. There was a tendency in world art towards a more conceptual path, of Arte Povera, and you can see that in countries that were really thriving economically. Now, I believe there was a demonization, a little stupid, of the art market. And there was, for example, a reaction to salons. People were against anything that was competitive, ranking. So people would boycott summer salons... Roberto Pontual, who was a critic from Jornal do Brasil, who organized that, was almost considered a conservative person – which was entirely unfair – because he organized things inside structures. There was a radicalization that, seeing now it’s easy, you call it “kind of foolish, it’s naïve”, but on the other hand, I believe it was that spirit that allowed for such great pieces. In the 80s I believe that illusion was completely through, and we were also returning to democracy, I mean, you no longer have a common enemy to be fought. And, also, I believe the artists transfer their joy into their pieces, that joy is expressed, really, directly, it’s an explosion that occurs. And, also, that sentiment that, for your art’s survival, you won’t be hanging in institutions or State apparatuses. So, I think it’s another... now, both really joyful, in life or on canvas. One of the things I think, sometimes, is that us, Brazilians, tend to be dichotomus, we have people who only appreciate conceptual art, for others paintings are what matter, or engravers for whom an engraver’s job is the most noble and pure thing. I, personally, find this incredibly silly, it’s you judging if you are filiming with a Canon, or a Laika, or a Nikon, or Bolex. They’ll all be really good, as instruments. Or you writing something in ink, or Apple, or PC, Word, or Pages. What matters is the content, what you’re conveying. But there was a time when they were almost clubs, people would declare the death of painting, you know – how many times wasn’t it declared, right?

BERNARDO: Yes, funny you should say that, because it seems to me that during the 60s, 70s, there was more exchange, for example, between the areas. I get what you’re saying, I’m talking about something else, because, I mean, theather people had dialiogues with fine arts, which had dialogues with [00:28:01] Cinema, with dialogued with Design, while nowadays those are professional ghettos, right?

LAURO: Yes. Yes, even in my generation... Because I was born in 54, so I was just a kid in the 60s, I started more or less functioning as a person at 17, in 71, around then. But I thought it was really cool, that whole thing you’re talking about, this intercommunication of all the areas. And the people, in fact, knew about other areas. Then an excessive specialization surfaced, that, quite often, I went over to anthropologists’ houses, or professors, and I confess I was totally perplexed by what people had on their walls. I’m not going to name names, but I once said to an anthropologist, “well, if artists read like you appreciate arts, they’d only ever read Sidney Sheldon, they would never read anything of yours”. There was a mismatch, really. And I believe that, in favour of a so called efficiency, is actually worse. Because, for instance, you are a much better architect, or designer, if you are refined. I work with designers as well, and I always pick those who, on top of their specific abilities, can also be a good interlocutor during the process. Just like the film maker, etc. Now, I believe this world that is more arrow and target, I mean, that the only strong determination is the individual career, I believe that also makes you not really interested in other things. I used to teach at ESDI, Introduction to Contemporary Art, and I sometimes caught people looking at me... they didn’t say it out of kindness, but... “what is this good for?”. So I think this is really distinct, it’s different.

BERNARDO: We found in something writen by Gerchman, in a passage he refers to Parque Lage as a place he wanted to teach people to, kind of how to live. It’s not that much of a cliché, but it’s as if the idea was to live, really. You mentioned the counterculture project of the 70s...

LAURO: Yes, that’s contained within. Hélio Eichbauer is totally that. I even think he’s still faithful to that.

BERNARDO: And there’s this thought that is like, Gerchman lived in New York in the beginning of the 70s, where he got in touch with that conceptualism during a time when the artists were trying to completely dematerialize art objects.

LAURO: Hélio Oiticica, really, he was in touch. And his work comes back changed, a lot more conceptual, dealing with letters, also, with landscapes, the environment, you know. Yes, I think it accompanies. And it’s really coherent, I think with his part in school. Another thing I see in him and I saw it in Lygia Pape was this, in general the scholar, or the artist, teaches for a living, they teach because it’s an occupation that, with his knowledge, he manages to make some money. Camus even said that the time you spend at work is a bargain you make to die little by little so you won’t die completely, of hunger. Well, but both Gerchman and Lygia, I believe they saw it... and I think I can speak better about Lygia, because I was her student, and I was her assistant. For her, teaching was a work of art, it were situations she created, of magnetized space, situations. I mean, teaching wasn’t a weight, a burden, or a time she was wating. It was time she gained, creating, there, in a collective manner, with people, but creating something that was also her work. And Gerchman I believe is exactly the same, also, I mean, that was an existential posture, artistic and political, at the same time. I believe that’s what was so fascinating. And because of that, possibly, it was so pleasant, to be there, doing things, creating. You felt like you were part of something important, and that is priceless.

BERNARDO: Yes, because what we bring here as a problem is this aesthetic action that... Nowadays, with all the expansion of the practices of contemporary art, we already can look at Parque Lage and understand that maybe that aesthetic action of Gerchman’s, who leaves his studio to be completely devoted to parque Lage, is also a work of art, right?

LAURO: I think so. Definitely. And there is one thing I think is important, in a way some accomplishments were banalized with time, but doing that was really original, truly. And to do that in a country... Maria Elisa Costa gives a really curious testimonial. That her husband was a political exile and she lived in France. He couldn’t return, but, at a certain point she comes here for vacation. And what was said about Brazil all the time, was that it was a horrible dictatorship, full of prisons, etc. Of course there was all of that, but, on the other hand, she found the cultural movement and life to be extremely dynamic and creative. And I think that a really cool thing that happened was that Brazilian culture never stopped while there was political repression. It managed to go around it, or ignore, or fight it, but the quality of what was produced was really high, in music, film, art, architecture, all of it. I think this is really valuable. And I believe sometimes... that thing you said, that it is so diluted, and in a was everything was so experimented, that sometimes you create an avant-garde naif, I mean, an avant-garde that is encountering something really great and it is also scholar, because it’s repeating what has already been done a number of times. Gerchman, in fact, I remember he was one of the first people, and that really surprised me, at the time, to question the term avant-garde. He said it was a military term, that he had no interest in that, and also that this idea of jumping through hoops was ever silly. In art, in a determined moment, and this attempt to merge with life, you were constantly trying to do things that nobody had done before, exposing your life, sexuality, etc. In body art, right? And Gerchman said that, that artists weren’t athletes to try and break records all the time, the important thing was the language. That, I think is really contemporary, deep down.

BERNARDO: We’re about to finish here, and my question now is for Lauro. For you, Lauro. What has remained? What was the time you gained?

LAURO: Well, both in the experimental field, MAM, and in my experience with Lygia Pape, with Parque Lage during Gerchman’s period, I think they gave me freedom to write my own language, or my action, mixing up many areas, much knowledge. And also the curiosity and the desire not to blindly repeat a canon, but being a little suspicious of it, deconstructing and then constructing it. Not in a violent sense. For example, first I worked a lot with popular culture, popular architecture, I developed a book about the architecture of motels, which was obviously really anthropological, but there was also a challenge there “what the hell kind of society is this, which conceives those institutions like that”? But then I researched Modernism. And that’s a really long story, but, in a way, my desire was to deconstruct the history of Modernism such as it was told, and try to understand it in a more contextualized fashion. I think that freedom, that suspiscion, of offering new angles, I think it’s a heritage that was really valuable to me.

BERNARDO: How was Gerchman, the man? Not the artist, the educator. The friend, the person, how was he?

LAURO: Look, he was older than me, a completely well established artist. So, my relationship with him wasn’t horizontal, which it was with Lygia, due to our work proximity. But he was a really enthusiastic person, always, challenging. And really active, energetic, someone who encouraged you to do things. There was a meaningful sentiment that something important was being done, and it was worth it, not just for each person, individually, but also for the country, for art. There was this cool thing. And he conveyed that. Not to mention that he had a lot of information, he was a great graphic artist, as well. He was great. For me, that was it, he was someone a little older – he was really nervous, but I was a kid – who I looked at with a lot of respect, sometimes I went over to his place, he was really nice, really friendly and all. He was a really interesting guy.

BERNARDO: Just one final question, do you think it’s possible, somehow, for the experience of the Parque Lage from the 70s to be reissued?

LAURO: Look, I believe that things change. I think that being reissued just as before, is impossible. But I beleive that a sentiment of a free course – which, by the way, Parque Lage still has –, I think it’s nice, together with a scholarization of art, which also occured. And now there are channels recognized by MEC, inside the universities, for people to practice art, which I believe is really important, because it enables those who are starting out, or artists, to do so. Now, I think it’s really cool to alternate that with a freer field, which allows you to make mistakes without consequences.

BERNARDO: That thing with allowing mistakes is what I find interesting. We talked about that, how it was a place where commitment was to affection, not to making things right. You could make mistakes.

LAURO: Definitely. And what I’m about to say is kind of common sense, but it’s true, only by making many mistakes, can you get it right, sometimes. By learning from your mistakes. And sometimes a mistake is right. I remember a funny scene of Gerchman’s, which was like this, when we did Rites of Passage, we wanted to paint a panel black, that was crucial to the piece. It was Mário Marisa’s piece. And Gerchman wouldn’t allow it, because to paint it back white afterwards coats on top of coats of paint would be necessary and it would be too complicated. Then, one day, I don’t know where it came from, a giant Christ appeared, they put it next to the courtyard. And Gerchman’s was absolutely furious, “who put that thing here? No, you have to get it off...” At that exact moment my student who wanted to paint the panel black came to him, “Gerchman, can I paint the panel black”? Then he said “What, Kid”? Then the boy asked “Can I paint the black panel”? He was slurring more and more. And Gerchman was there, fighting that Christ, until he got fed up with him and said “ok, ok”. Then one day he’s walking around and he sees the black panel. So he asked me and I said “But Gerchman, you said it was ok, I heard you”. And he laughed.


CLARA: Let’s talk about how you met my father, and Anna Maiolino...

ANNA: definitely, alright. Well during the 60s, I in the first few years of the 60s, Ifrequented the studio at the Museum of modern Art, in Rio, because I wanted to do a few pieces in engraving, and that was a free studio, so they allowed me to get there, so learning techniques of really elaborate things, engravings in metal. It was during these first few years, those are the years that also my work, which was totally abstract, totally informal abstractionism, was taken in really strong rigor, but MAM. was already opening up for Gerchman’s generation, the new... let’s say that it would be the avant-garde. And within my work, the own crisis of abstractionism that I was working within abstructionism since 53, and we were already on 64 and 65, I was going to the studio because there wasn't any room in my house to have a studio with acid and everything, because of my children, so I started meeting Gerchman, I don’t know when is the exhibition they have at MAM, if it’s 65 or 66, I don’t know, so I start to get to know them, and my work is going to face a major rupture, it wears out, and I start to feel that in abstractionism itself, in what I was looking for, that I want to find a series of questions. So that, looking from the outside, and from far away you can see that those dates, they coincide with the dangerous political moment, dangers within your own family matter, where my husband was always a thinker, a geographer, with a theorethical Marxist thought, and he was a target when we start to understand that there were things that I would have to do inside my own home, regarding the books I owned, the inscriptions, many things that were quite scary. In my case, my work starts to develop something completely, I call it visceral, because Mário, when Mário Pedrosa saw those first few pieces, he also liked my pevious work, he said, “Anna, this is a visceral phase”, so I remember that at the time, I mean, us real artists were quite what young, then I remember I said, “but I’ve only ever heard of phases in Picasso, I don’t... me, phase?”. And that was really something. And I start having conversations, there was only one thing I was upset about at the time, which was when they had that exhibition by the people from the new figuration, since I did engravings, it's interesting to say that, engravings in metal, I was really appreciated at MAM, we participated in the studio in many pieces, but since everyone in the studio was abstract, which was a face, they were artists who like me, we sent out for exhibitions, it was really successful… what happens for us to get to the point, is that… That work I developed in drawings, and engravings, I start participating in biennials, the same biennials Gerchman participated in, so for instance, in the biennials of 60, 61, 63, when I get to 65 at the biennial, my work is already strange, right… Strange for me, but strange... And that's when in Mario's case he begins to pay attention to that work of mine, and it’s the 67 biennial, the people from the new figuration appear quite well, and pop art came from America, that was an incredible biennial for that purpose because nobody traveled, I participated in a room by myself with those engraving of mine, and really… and… but we never got together, I mean, I also got along great with Gerchman, and Gerchman was dating Anna, then he got married, so I didn’t see an intention in talking to them, I mean, I found them a little... talking to him, to Gerchman, to Antônio, was like this, well, this is my work. Mario Pedrosa used to say those things, but not in a sense of me getting there and saying, “Mario, get me in... “, I never asked for it, and at the same time with that shyness I’d say… I was out of something where I felt like I could belong, to a new figuration not for… the figuration of those boys, it's not even pop, because they don't have the same motivations of American pop, of a society of consumption, but it will have throughe Gerchman, and others, but brilliantly a perception that this figuration could be about the political moment, I’m saying that even... the missing ones, that, it really is… it’s not a poster, it’s not something simple like that, it’s a comprehension that will give along with the figurative movement itself, and then people who are my friends, abstract artists who never made names for themselves, they asked for meetings at the museum to see those from the new figuration, and real battles went down there, discussing, and I was… I remember it, one of the times when I was completely in tune with what people were doing, specially Gerchman, to whom I was most connected. There are coincidence that, here in Rio, where everybody meets, where Anna Maiolina lived on my street, she’s younger than me, and Anna went to school... so we’d meet, she knew I was already working with art for longer than she was a student, and right afterwords, I mean, the wedding to Gerchman, and there was Micael, and that’s another coincindence, that’s already in 69, so it’s not about how I meet Gerchman in different ocasions other that the art environment, in 69, Pedro, my husband, is asked to teach Latin American geography… he’s invited by the people from the University of Columbia, in New York, and we go. When I went with the kids, the idea was to stay there for a while, with the dictatorship… now a professor from Colombia didn’t make… mas that, while we were trying to stay, Pedro had to teach, I... Gerchman was there with Anna, I think he already had your sister...

CLARA: ... Verônica.

ANNA: he already had the little one, so I would come over to his house, when the two little ones, mine were older, I could already leave them with Pedro at home, and Gerchman and I would go to openings at the Whitney, at the Museum of modern Art, and we met people, we left the kids at home, so we had a relationship, I was never treating it… let’s say, because Gerchman went there, he went with a prize I think, right? He went with Guggenheim and I went with Pedro, then there I met some amazing critics, one of them was Dore Ashton, who actually was not the critic who would speak about the new figuration, she saw his work, she did the bios, she was known by Rothko, she did the writing. She was a big deal, and she knew Mario Pedrosa, and I ended up having an exhibition there with those visceral things, and they really liked it. But, then I came back, and Gerchman stayed with his family...

CLARA: ... There were other artists, who had been through there at that moment, it was a time when many people left the country.

ANNA: It was, they did, but I don’t think I can remeber when I met Hélio Oiticica there, I don’t know if it was at that same period, because I went there a few times during the 70s to meet people. Well, Gerchman is an artist, was an artist, that in the figuration itself he was different from everyone, he’s an original artist… not demagogically, but it’s a people thing, people together, those little drawings hem ade, I don’t know what else, the population, I don’t know if it was his father’s influence because he was a designer, who faced a previous Germany, I don’t know if it’s Bauhaus... I don’t mean that he went to school there, but he had knowledge and he was an illustrator as well… I remember him. What happens is that Gerchman, so, besides the trip, he also had a cultural knowledge, that appeared in his own invention, I mean, how is it that he makes that passport, that of course, the questions in search of an identity and all, which will strengthen in the 70s, inside and not just the countries moment, but that the local world the turns global, so there are many things like that, that opening that Gerchman, a vision in which he’ll take... that’s funny, when he takes the word to say fight, and I don’t know what more, he’s the designer, get it? How was it that he took all that, where did he get it from. But he also start saying things that other artists from that time aren’t seeing, which is the population, that’s why I mentioned people, the population. Gerchman, of course, there are elements that must have influenced him, in terms of his father being a Jew and a German, his father and his mother, to look is this identity. I also ended up, let’s say, presenting certain features in my work, it’s not presented, but presenting… it’s better to look that way, where I’m also going to see what is the Brazilian people, what am I, get it? With Gerchman, maybe in a less strange way, or less foreign, because since I’m exactly from a generation where those horrible family sories, of holocausto, Gerchman isn’t... I don’t really know, but there’s not that weight. But being a Brazilian besides matters of the new figuration, as the political situation, who are we, I headed towards pieces with whom I don't identify. I do four faces saying bureaucracy and knowing the bureaucracy is a lasting something and within our research systems, it still is. I didn't have to bring up an ideological matter from the political moment, so it's not a metaphor, but things that represented, and Gerchman, with those figurines, he also, then he heads towards a phase when he makes “Lindonéia”, he doesn’t get stuck on that idea. I am going through a political moment when I have to speak about it, we have to speak about it, but he heads towards a poetics where he replaces Mona Lisa, so he’s there all the time working already with matters of what we call contemporary, in the 70s. Gerchman, in those pieces, despite being the painter, the drawer, he by the works I’ve seen of his, he understands that Duchampian thing, of putting Mona Lisa as “Mona Lou”, it’s incredible, his mind, the words whatever they meant, get it? It’s by someone, of course, Brazilian, but also a foreigner in the sense that his vision has no difference not that much, he’s there, there’s this other woman, that “Mona Lou” was a… It’s not that it’s a finding, because great, it’s sold a lot or it didn’t sell anymore, it’s a figure full of humor, and a laughing humor, but you also see the family tragedy, the tragedy of fashion. So he is the new figuration, he leaves, he heads towards those kisses in the taxi, those things, that. He wasn’t going to keep doing the “Missing Ones”. “The Live in Box” was already another... That idea of an architecture and a… the popular thing… get it? Always within the lines, it is… in my case I… so we notice exactly the political situation, I can say it’s a privilege that we went through this dictatorship that was horrible, because without it could have been another way, it might have not injured the 20 years that we injured where they boycotted the biennial. Gerchman was a lot younger than me, in 68 with the Institutional Act we secretly gathered at MAM, with the permission of Maurício Roberto, and some people came from São Paulo, a few artists, and they came, there were Gerchman, Vergara, the current ones, who participated in biennials, I was there too, and inside... we made a resolution that when I see it from farther away I say, it was the greatest collective shoot in our own feet that we took, and we limped, and for 20 years we stood by it, we boycotted, we ended the biennial in São Paulo, and all the salons. When we think about it, the very notion of art, that we no longer have salons... salons of first, second, and third place... all of that was also being discussed, it wasn’t just the art language, we were discussing the art system. That is the moment that I think all of us, the ones I quoted in the ones I didn’t, we were really aware of the representation of the situation, because we needed to speak about it, and also of the opportunity to this figuration represents at the time. For the abstracts that fought at MAM and all, and also for those from outside, Rothko,etc, that could never translate to the abstract radicalization of theirs, that one day abstractionism would be over with. Because abstructionism, the geometrical and informal abstractionism, since they reached the height of what meant to be abstract, it’s already the fabricated form of that which feeds art, the aesthetic matter that was really rigorous, but dealing with space, with sublime, it drops for a few of the artists here as well, no doubt about it... my teacher, my teacher during the 50s, Fayga, was the one who caused the most friction in those discussions. At the time she also had issues with me, in the sense that I was heading towards something that was called visceral, come on, she didn’t see that she also changed from an expressionist figuration in which Goeldi fought her, because she was getting into abstractionism. So this is how it works, people have no tolerance, people grow more radical, and when they see abstractionism being abandoned by the artists themselves, they wanted to hold it together, those discussions appeared at the Museum of modern Art in an actual confrontation. But exhibition there with Gerchman, Antônio and the guys, and the engraving studio at work. And in 65 I stopped working at the studio, because Iberê Camargo gave me an iron press, from those ancient Medeival times of torture, and I started working at home, because to me the environment at the studio became unbearable, for me it was a place where friends would meet. But everybody was abstract and stuff, Mario Pedrosa walked around MAM all the time, which was also our environment, generating friction with the abstract people even through newspapers, a complicated matter… It was painful situation, really painful, because… okay, for the people of new figuration, the gallery owner himself, who begins bringing also a few French people who are dealing with it, and of course that takes up space, it may not take the space of the market, that was still really connected to abstract art, whether in painting or engraving, the engraved thing. Another detail: Gerchman also really liked the graphic thing, he was a painter, but with a graphic mind. His painting has a graphic element, when he marks those figures like that, it’s the painting, but he’s outlining things. So those things also identify me with him, in those pieces. So, when Gerchman put up those enormous pieces of... I don’t even know what they were made of, if it was acrylic, I think he already did that, did he?

BERNARDO: I think the table is made of acrylic.

ANNA: Yes, plastic, acrylic…

CLARA: ... Shaped acrylic, formica...

ANNA: ...It was formica, see there was no acrylic yet…

CLARA: Acrylic or formica.

ANNA: At the time I... I can’t remember here, but we are talking about Gerchman, and there’s an affectionate aspect, I can’t remember, but I can to to figure out from the ages, you see that Nina must have been 5, so Gerchman always said, I really like your children, he said, they were really pretty, but it was a funny pretty, because the boys were twins, they were really tough, and the girls, this one, really pretty, Nina, he liked her. I think he already had Micael, not that we always met... and then Gerchman said, I really wanted... he really said that, that he could make those pictures of the kids with the letters, so much so that we have, I no longer have those pictures, of “AR”, which is developed backwards here, there was “LUTE”, there was “SOS”, and the photographer had the children sitting down, I don’t know what else, etc, etc, etc. You know. This here was put together, I mean, by Gerchman, by the exhibition, I don’t know what kind of exhibition he put next to that one, that was the most of a... how can I say it, the current way of putting something together, photograph over Eucatex, nobody did that, it was a frame with a photograph, and all, Eucatex, you know. And I met Gerchman several times, but those are... those are moments I can’t quite remember where we talked often, and when there was... They had many artists meetings, I went to the house in Laranjeiras, on a street corner. I’d go there very often, to hang out with them and, detail, when there was an exhibition at a more famous gallery, whether it was at Petit Galerie or I don't know what else, that those bunch of kids, a bunch of girls all chasing after Gerchman, and Anna was there, we were really good friends, she’d cry, the poor thing, saying, you see, take a look, but it wasn’t him, it was… they really came on to him, there was one that I think missed her target and had a kid with Barrio, but she really wanted Gerchman, who was also handsome, it was hard, and in fact, I was young, there was the other side, I had four children, and there were also critics coming on to... because in Hollywood those jokes that portrait women in bed with a director, bed, bath, it was complicated, it was complicated with the guys all over the young artists, that was a really trendy thing, and we walked around MAM, a lot, there were biennials, the last one in 67, and that was hard on everyone. Gerchman won a prize andwent to New York, I went there for an exhibition, but the perspective of living there didn’t work out, I came back. Gerchman stayed there longer, maybe for a few years, I think.

CLARA: You rekindled at Parque Lage, it was the return.

ANNA: when was that year at the park, I don’t know when he went to the park?

CLARA: 75 to 79.

ANNA: Yes, we saw each other before, Gerchman also knew of a course, it’s not a course, it was very radical change we made, me and Frederico Moraes at MAM. I came in, I used the studio, but that was another thing, I stopped using the engraving studio, and built my own studio. But I return to MAM in 69 to teach a course of Drawing 101. I was already teaching at home, my studio, and as my work developed. After the visceral things I began developing a denial that I had about every art category, which is a phenomenom that can originally appeared in me, but if you look at the time, the international time, at the same time when our information we would really worsen during the hard years here, we didn’t know what was being done outside… But the idea of his trip which was, he carried on working there, well, many things that happened in the 70s at MAM also, I… the same change that also happened in my work, that wasn’t even that visceral thing anymore, it was a change in which the categories thing was really critic to me, the art materials, in an intuitive manner, it has to be said. But it starts to happen, if we compare it in a concurrent way, for many reasons, the criticism to the traditional support, it is interesting because Gerchman, when he does “AR” and stuff, he’s already following his artist’s intuition. It’s not in denying the painting, but knowing that art can be made in a more philosophical way, conceptual, in many different ways in New York. The spots, which were the centers of art, the center of thought... A few artists start radically working exactly with a kind of art that aooears for the critics, like... there was a really radical art critic there, it will come to me, she ends up writing a book in 72, maybe, in which she says it’s... the book is incredibly truthful in which she says she doesn’t really get what’s going on, many of the works being produced, but that she could see that it’s a work that heads towards... that searches for, not the appreciation of the art object, but the question is really more about the meaning and I don’t know what else, and that the works appear with a disqualified qualification of what’s ephemeral, the dematerialized, that’s something that comes to us and it isn’t imported, I mean, it’s not imported, because, after all, we are an arm of western culture, in a representation that still suffers its transformations, which, by the way, are now reason for other ideological struggles, that mixes religion, where the West, western culture, because it is... it needs democracy to be exerted. So, for us, even the experience of having been in a political situation for 20 years, and to exert a freedom of action in our work, it was also related to the search, in certain moments, the search for an image in multimedia, in means such as video, so we could say certain things. So Gerchman also belongs to that moment, of course I didn’t follow his life, and of course he focused on, he concentrated on painting, he’s great with painting, but he knows that he can suddely make a passport with photography, or a face with ideas he got from Duchamp, get it? Without asking for Duchamp’s permission, this returno f quotes, by Duchamp, this is all a really long story, that I... as I said, I’m there for the one Thousand and one nights... these things, not that we’re allowed, I can use a video for an idea that... for example, in 74, when I make my first videos, that I end up participating in an exhibition, a great exhibition at the Institute of Philadelphia that was called Video Art, it was... there was never again an exhibition where everyone was starting in video

CLARA: Was it Super 8?

ANNA: No, mine was video. I used Super 8 when I was in New York on other movies, and I also used something that was used that was audiovisual, which were slides and then with certain ideas. So now I remember, I'm almost sure of an exhibition that took place in São Paulo in 73, I think he also participated in that with one of his movies, or I don’t know what, or later he did a movie, also showing that his mind was different, and he takes… exactly, it’s quite beautiful the movie, there’s a beauty in the ridges, he called... I can’t remember, if you...

CLARA: “Triunfo Hermértico” (Hermetic Triumph) ...

ANNA: ...”Triunfo Hermético”... of course he’s taking the title from Alchemy, and I was already, in 69 I was there, my work had already... I had read about it knowing, that those metaphorical meanings were entering my work. So there are many stories like this, that resemble each other, but since he was younger, than I, I mean it, I was mesmerized, how did that guy got that, with “Triunfo Hermético”, I was pissed, I mean how did that boy, wow it’s me here thinking those things. But, no, and then he had many means of… I took a video, the video was worse, I had to choose video and 74, despite super 8 being a lot more beautiful, the direct and immediate image with the little machine, I went through a video as if I had taken a step back, I gave up super 8, I gave up on the slides, because video had that which is good and bad, it has sound, and until today if it a plane crosses the sky then all the filming is ruined, but it was instantaneous, that, to me conceptually, it came immediately a few videos that I wanted to do, then I was already doing them photographically, photographs I called passages, well, the whole thing about my thoughts. Now, more or less that, biennial, the 20 years that I mentioned of that shot in our own feet: that really injured is visibly and massively, our presence in the international world, get it? Because if the biennial was our only escape, to show our work, it will be hard on those who can’t go abroad to show their work, it’s not the case, Gerchman and his continuity, the reinforcement of his work had that chance. Antônio Dias I think he goes to Italy, at a certain point, first Italy...

BERNARDO: ... First Paris, then Italy.

ANNA: So, I met him in Paris, we were... in Paris it was at that time of people on the streets, the barricades, it’s funny because it seems like we’re in those moments, God forbid me, we ran towards that smoke... I went to Paris because of a... an invitation I received, I don’t know what, but I was already going, no... there were coincidences, in 75 I got an award that... first in 68, just top ut things in order, from those exhibitions Jean Boghici had, that year of 67, some of the artists from the gallery who held the exhibition, I did it too, it was Mário Pedrosa who spoke to Jean Boghici had that inside his own... at the biennial, at someone’s place in São Paulo, Mário Pedrosa said, we also need to do Anna Bella’s exhibition, I don’t know what else. In that year Gerchman had an exhibition, Antônio Dias had an exhibition, I had one, I remember those facts, and there was... from everything we had, that would longer be a part of that, a few things remained, like an exhibition called summary, it was at MAM, and it was connected to private people who opened it, saw what was the exhibition of the year, and gave prizes, they picked 10 exhibitions of the year, between Rio and São Paulo. So, in 68, there was a summary, one of those miracles that suddenly appear, there was a summary that picked those 10 exhibitions, and there was Gerchman, Vergara, that I’m not quoting Vergara, but he was really active, Vergara, in a political sense was even more... and...and that’s when I received my award, I took my pieces under my right arm, because nobody owned a gallery, and I managed to get in touch with people. Gerchman, since he was already away, Antônio Dias, they found different ways, Dias had a gallery in Italy, Dias’ own work also changed, all of them, they were people who did amazing work, also visceral and everything at that moment, it wasn’t a pamphleteer thing, but it also wasn’t something hermetic, in the sense of not understanding that we were... and other than that, when in 68 I got that award, we had already had the meeting at MAM, we had decided to boycott, and I went there with a bunch of papers on which we wrote the things we wanted, but they were papers we never distributed, it was the opposite, you don’t go to the paper to announce you’re boycotting, because the times didn’t allow for that anymore. I took those papers, there was a biennial in Venice in this year of 68, I went to meet those people, I brought those papers to influence them so they wouldn’t participate in the biennial in São Paulo, and we created with those papers, I met those people who are really well-known until today, and all, and they all signed the paper stating they wouldn’t go, we really went on strike, I mean, the guys in France, in the Netherlands, Holland didn’t send anybody, Sweden didn’t send anybody there were… there were radicalizations, about wanting to collaborate with us, to empty the biennial, and we did it I mean, empty… of course they carried on, but those who entered, those who participated, no one is accusing, but it wasn’t, those things to compromise. At that time I was already teaching at the Museum of modern Art as well. Those people who studied under me at the time were beginning to have a work, in terms of the conceptual thing, all those things that were happening, there was nowhere to participate. And then it’s a new generation, late 70s, etc. Names such as Fernando Cocchiarale, surface, after a certain time, also after studying philosophy, he decides to really become a critic, and no longer an artist, Paulo Herkenhoff, some of these people. And at MAM, what I said about Gerchman at Parque Lage, MAM from 70 to 73, for reasons of my own work, the experimental thing, I get an idea that courses should be taken outside of MAM, at desert spots, there was on one hand the paranoia that we couldn’t do anything around the city, because the museum was under constant surveillance, not in ostensible manner, nor was I kidding about that either. I mean, I start going to farhter places, in a van that belonged to an artist, the students came to enroll to become artists, to draw and all, and I’d say, look, it’s none of that, you were going to enter this van, and ended up at Lagoa de Marapendi. Well, out of 20 students, I had 3 who followed me, and it gave usa n amazing work for the rest of our lives. That experimentation, those courses from 70 to 73, which I called critic art and Frederico called experimental unity, we taught those experimental courses, which ended up in confusion at MAM itsefl in 73, because they started to pay attention, it was standing out, I don't know what else, more than that, and then there are private matters that have no business being shared. I talked to Frederico and said, we are about to get fired, get it? It wasn’t to cause any damage, because the course didn’t generate any money for the museum, nor did it generate any revenue for us, but it ended there, in 73. When Gerchman, in 75, when he gets there… I was always in touch, but not in constant touch, he said Anna, because he knew about that… he told me he was going to teach at Parque Lage, he invited me, but it’s not quite... and then I got pissed again, I said “Gerchman, I had this experimental thing, I’m with these people who are not a group, but they are working with that”, and of course those people regardless of being with the group from MAM, as Lauro was, Lauro they also joked, children of MAM, who were our children, Gerchman develops this new interpretation, calls those teachers, students of mine from 72, they migrate to the school, so I kept on working, in 75 I traveled again and I met Beuys... Hélio Eichbauer, who was also a really good friend, until one day one of those students from MAM, who danced around naked in the middle of the park, that Hélio told them to, because the was a whole blend of things there, she calls me, Anna Bella, they want to expel Hélio, and if that happens Gerchman will leave, and I don’t know what else, so I called, I had a direct line without having any influence with the Secretary of Culture, who I now can’t remember who he was, a really nice guy...

CLARA: ...Grisolli...

ANNA: Grisolli... His name sounds like the name of a pasta restaurant, but Grisolli is a really interesting person.

CLARA: Hélio gave us a beautiful testimonial, saying that when he faced that difficulty of being expelled from school you...

ANNA: ... He did?Really? I’m kind of suicidal, because… only there was nothing to commit suicide about, I had no job, neither here, nor there, no nothing, and then I called Grisolli, I said, but Grisolli isn’t a person who, but he immediately ended it, that didn’t turn into anything, keep on dancing, do whatever you want, etc., that for political moment, but it isn’t, of course the courses, Gerchman had a big meeting for that profile at that moment, of working the idea of freedom. So it’s really... If I look at MAM now, with those gardens, I was running away from there to teach farther away, Parque Lage, nobody was going to go in there to check the middle of the forest what we were doing, I think it’s really interesting, Parque Lage, because last year there was a student specializing, he’s from the Northwest, a very interesting artist, Rodrigo, he participated in the biennial, during the year he was working with us, one of the things he said, well, I come from I don’t know where, they like to be Northwest about it, but it’s okay, I come from Ceará, but I come here to the park, and I started to enter that way, and it’s Floresta da Tijuca, so I take the bus, he was living on the west side of town so he could take the course, I take a bus to the park, I get in, and I’m in a forest, I turned around, and he started drawing gigantic trees, I don’t know, he’s a good artist and he’s still around, I think he went back to normal, but I think he started to draw, to hang things written on the roots, because it is… that story, if you tell anyone, say, take a bus, from the west side of town, I get in, and there’s an actual forest, it’s quite funny, quite strange, stranger than the Amazon forest, for me, to say you live in Pará, and there’s a forest, big deal, we have one right here. But Gerchman knew how to expand, with his mind, intelligence , he’s enlighted, an enlighted character. I think I’m done.

BERNARDO: I’d like you to go back a little bit, in New York.

ANNA: Okay, but I don’t know… Hit me.

BERNARDO: I was studying that Gerchman from 60 to 70, New York is still a black hole, because there weren’t many people there, when you ask about MAM, about Parque Lage, there’s a bunch of people to tell the stories, they each remember a bit, in New York there are few people, how was his life, his routine in New York?

ANNA: I don’t know.

BERNARDO: You don’t, do you?

ANNA: No I don’t know, it’s not that it’s unknown, when I went there to his place, I think... I mean, there were two small children, and well, he worked there at whatever space, showing his work in a given gallery, I don’t know about that, I know, of course, I also remember something about us going to those amazing openings, it wasn’t about being starstruck, it was about meeting one or other artist, I don’t remember if that happens during the time Hélio Oiticica is there, Hélio i salso there during... They meet. So, but that’s when I came back, so Hélio was already living there, he built that house with all those beds, bunkbeds that thing he called. So, since my relationship with Gerchman was more a family thing, we met a couple times, we go… It was funny, I mean, Anna couldn’t even go out with him because of the children, one had to go and in my case, either me or Pedro, I remember one time, and this has nothing to do with what you asked, just a curiosity, we wanted to watch a movie by Ingmar Bergman, and then I went, and Gerchman, when we were leaving, because we didn’t have a penny to take a cab to the thing, so I panicked, out of the blue, because I was… we left a weird movie, and I was at the door with him, he lived on the other side, because I don’t remember, I remember where I lived…

CLARA: Bowery.

ANNA: So, it was far. I lived on 80 something on the Westside, so to take the subway I get scared to go on the street, it seemed… I don’t know why, the movie it wasn’t a horror movie, but something freak me out… on a different day, totally unrelated to that time, it was when I watched Rosemary’s baby. I went by myself, at the last showing, I shook so hard doing the movie, it was when… I couldn’t come out, I remember that, a drunkard walk by, an afro-descencant, and it wasn’t because he was an afro-descendant, and I took support on him, kind of like, hey, buddy, can you tell me how do I get there, because I was completely disoriented, because the movie really had an impact on me, but that other one, Bergman’s... I asked Gerchman to wait, I asked Pedro to leave, leave the kids sleeping, we were always scared, because we lived on the 17th floor, and to come and pick me up, because I didn’t have the strength to go home after the movie, and Gerchman then went, I only remember silly things like this, but they are weird. But Gerchman must have had a good selling period, I believe, he was well known, of course, not that much, but he was known, I don’t know if he worked galleries there. Here already in 60... at that same time, in 69, I met here, visiting Rio, a guy, a collector from New York, who ended up in a place, when we were protesting we went to Praça General Osório, everything was there, we took the banners, and then we decided, it was everyone, if Gerchman was there or abroad, I don’t know, but we decided to show our work, but instead of a gallery, I remember I tied a string between two trees, I hung… Vergara was dating Leila Diniz, everyone was happy, I wasn’t happy at all, I have pictures and it’s really funny, I’ve been looking for them. And then came this guy, who is now 92 years old, he’s still a collector, and he’s a Gerchman collector here in Rio...

CLARA: ...who is he?

ANNA: His name is Harlan Blake, I was with him yesterday, by chance, not by chance, it’s just that he visits during carnival, he’s one of those people who fell in love with it, he bought an apartment here in Rio, but he told me an amazing thing, because one of Gerchman’s paintings, a year ago, that Jean Boghici looked for, he, the painting was in his apartment in New York, he was a very well-known lawyer, I didn’t know, and he came to the Square, he bought my pieces, and Jean came looking for him, he said there was a collector from Germany who wanted to buy Gerchman’s painting, he sold it, because he’s letting go, there are a few things he gives away, others he sells, because he’s old and he single and I don’t know what else. So, I know he took other American collectors to buy Gerchman’s work, no I don’t know how that worked and 69 which is when I came back from there, and after that he meets Gerchman, I don’t know, from 70 onwards, I don’t know when Gerchman returns to Rio...

CLARA: ...72.

ANNA: so, I don’t know how, he has a memory, he told me that story yesterday, about the painting, he said, “wow, I was really lucky, not because I made money, but because I liked it”, he really liked Gerchman’s work, he also bought from Antônio Dias, from we bought those visceral things, and I don’t know what else. So, New York still wasn’t open to Brazilian artists, so much so that Hélio didn’t do anything there, it’s not that he didn’t do anything, just nothing that happened. I, and 75 when I go back there on another trip I got, that's when I start to talk about my work and galleries that were experimenting there as well, but then I don’t know if Gerchman returns to New York or if he remained forever in Brazil, it's things like that, I always remember… I don't know when he leaves Parque Lage...

CLARA: ...79.

ANNA: 79, he stay there for a long time, it’s a long time, 79, not even at 79 I go to the park, I was always a little silly, thinking that… I had already been through that experience, so I was already with those who had been students, some in one or another experience, that was as theoretical as my work, that walks through that younger crowd, but there was still a distance that for me it was… it wasn’t the student, I don’t know what, where are those thinkers going to show up, like Fernando and Paulo, and who choose different paths, they decide to become to curators, others who also end up having a history of being my student, I don’t even remember when I go to the park, it’s late 80s, when there was none of that, it was… Gerchman wasn’t there, it was none of that. And that’s how I went, us, every so often, in a story that takes so long, we do a few things like a spring, they go back, then they go forward. So me at MAM, I couldn’t go back to anything from there, I go back to MAM in 75, not to teach, but to influence on the possibility of an area to show to that younger generation, when I say me, it gives the idea, wow, Anna Bella, has such a power of decision, but it’s just that it’s MAM, and since I left it in 63, I left in sympathy towards Frederico, but not entirely, because there were other stories that were a little annoying and that had nothing to do with me. So when I go back there for a few lectures, and 75, I saw those artists… Tunga was young, and others like him, walking around with their work, video, they were already producing those, and had nowhere to show them, then I start doing something, talking to the board, of course I... building a space to show all that experimental situation, conceptual and I don’t know what else, of course that, what, they will offer MAM for that, imagine that, of course not, they won’t give it away. So they built, and then that magazine Malasartes is released, and in one of the issues they ask me to write about that experimental section, instead of praising it, I criticize, I say, they’re thinking MAM can lend an area, and say, that is the experimental area, I joked, etc, I mean, I write an article a little more... aggressive, no, I name the reasons... and so, these are stories from the 70s, in which... so Gerchman is always somehow following it. I had an exhibition in a gallery in São Paulo called Arte Arte, which belonged to Ralph Camargo, so Ralph came to Rio, organized my exhibition, but since I was really isolated, I think... in a sense... it’s not that I was isolated, or I isolated myself, because then it’s an issue, it’s being a woman, with teenage children, I had too much going on, it was a moment... Too much, so I had no time to party. There’s something else, but that’s another legend. On April 4 in 1964, my birthday is on April 4, so… I got along with Gerchman, etc, the coup d’etat happened on April 1st, so... but that... on the previous year I had a gathering at my place, at Tamarandé, and I called Gerchman, as I called others to invite them over, I told him it was my birthday, but Gerchman interpreted it as a code, he was really serious, he came all serious, saying, “what is it, Anna? What’s going on? No, is it a birthday”? But we were paranoid from day one, with the coup d’etat, that was a good one, so I had to tell it.

BERNARDO: How was Gerchman’s personality?

ANNA: he was a little ironic, quite ironic, which is something really… no, but he was a talking person, of conversations about, what it’s like to be an artist, get it? And he was really involved, and also little maybe exactly with his family too, with Anna, then your mother, he was a family guy, you don’t see that in… although Vergara, I’m not saying that... or Antônio Dias, but it isn’t. There was this family side about Gerchman, more than that, I mean, it was that, sometimes with Mário Pedrosa and Gerchman, we talked, because at MAM, there was the garden, people came over for a drink at the end of the afternoon, and I wen there, to MAM, 70, seventy something with my classes, and that’s a place where artists gathered, I mean, that also probably ended due to the political climate, meetings were often suspicious, there couldn’t be any, I mean, that’s thing about him noticing April 4, that’s him, that is so him, he was always in tune , we can laugh about it, exactly, but it was a little bit about things going… Visual arts, artists in visual arts, who did, who did a great job given the situation, and what they could do to have an engaged art in politics, and while the political moment it's not the professional politician, who is still making banners etc., so much so that I said that about Gerchman, when he does “Lindonéia”, he realizes all of that, they all leave those situations, I do too. But the political involvement of those people with the boycott of biennial, that really mad an impact, against us, but then I go back to Gerchman, younger, and with... well, Gerchman was the only one who had children back then, Antônio Dias, will have his little girl a lot later with Iole. So he moved his family to New York, you see how it is? That was much of the meaning.

I spent time with those people, but not much, because I went to parties, there were party times, when all those people got together, Chico Buarque, all of them, and there were some girls, there was one there, who I’m not sure if the husband had a studio, she had a lot of money, she opened a place in Botafogo, and everybody was around, I also went there to check it out, and then I was a little moralistic about it, because I realized it was a place for people to gather, Chico, Gerchman wasn’t there, I don’t remember, I remember Chico, and it seemed like a place for... with rooms up, and I don’t know what else, so I left. I always had to leave everything before it got too complicated, everything, marches, when I followed that boy who died at the restaurant, at Calabouço, I don’t remember if that was it, and then when I passed Almirante Tamandaré where the... I got my act together, and I said, go home, don’t go to the cemetery, because I have 4 children. The other time, Mário Pedrosa, I mean, because we talked each other into doing those things, Mário Pedrosa, at that thing at the church at Presidente Vargas, the cathedral. Because, there, of course, we were creating a street thing, different from that one we have now... there was an ideal, there was... we told each other, come on, go to the cathedral, but I went, when I saw the men coming over on the back of their horses, I came home, completely, I said, I won’t stay here, you know. So there are those things about me, nothing much, but that’s it. So I talked a little bit about Gerchman, I really liked it, because, as I told her, whenever I can talk about the new figuration, Gerchman is an enlighted artist, enlighted does not mean being well, being lucky, being born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as the say, something like that, it’s about his tenacity to comprehend. He understood that moment, others too, I did too.


BERNARDO: The project is searching for that memory to understand what were those first moments of Parque Lage, the importance of that. But in order to reach that place of Parque Lage, because it was such a physical, corporal experience, an art with a burr from the 70s conceptual, a little from the pieces remain, physical pieces, materials from that period, so we’re trying to track the context of art, contemporary of that culture, that art inserted in Brazil, in the 60s and 70s. So, for that I’d like to talk to you, also to understand it, to help clarify if Gerchman, if his generation, that trajectory they had in the 60s and 70s. So, I’d like for us to start talking, first because you have that text about “Lindonéia”, in which you discuss that relationship...

PAULO SÉRGIO: ... from the 60s book...

BERNARDO: ... from the 60s book, exactly. You talk a lot about that matter of “Lindonéia”, and in symptomatic “Lindonéia”, well, the differences are quite clear between the New Figuration proposal, and what was Pop Art...

PAULO SÉRGIO: ...exactly.

BERNARDO: I’d like you to describe it, please.

PAULO SÉRGIO: That matter of the difference among the Brazilian artists who in the New Figuration managed to produce a richer work, happened exactly because they really stand out from Pop Art, there are few Brazilians, among whom are Antônio Dias and Rubens Gerchman, because many of them naively adopted the mechanisms of Pop, the mechanisms of Pop presuppose three things going on, in terms of thought, the cynical reason was in course in the United States, so, there’s a predominance of the cynical element, which is what feeds Pop, the act of incorporating a grieving Jacqueline Kennedy, next to a soup can, to a work of art, presupposes a cynical reason. Secondly, there’s another element that just... the cynical reason could only occur at that time, not today, today it’s all around, but at that time in the 60s, in an advanced consumer society, like the American society. So they had the both the foundation, the advanced consumer society, as it’s reason to deny this advanced consumer society through cynicism, something that here in Brazil we didn’t have that advanced consumer society, and we didn’t have the cynical element at that time, quite the opposite, we were on the verge of the coup d’etat, and after the coup d’etat on April 1st, 1964. So, at that moment in Brazil, the context was a lot different from the American context. Second of all, the Americans from Pop, with that figuration so strong, so characteristic, of the consumer society, of incorporating, whether the newspaper pages, literally as they are, the comics, literally as they are on the comic strips section, or groceries from the supermarket, just as they are on the shelves of supermarkets, they were colliding with a past of a really powerful painting, which was abstract expressionism, which had created stars, names who are part of 20th century art, like Jackson Pollock, Willem Kooning, Frazn Kline, Barnett Newman... So there was this really recent past regarding Pop, and too close to Pop, which was that really powerful abstract painting, really strong, that had transformed the abstract art language of art around the world, which was the American abstract expressionism. The true anthropophagi of the Americas, who truly swallowed what was best in European painting, and gave back in a new form, absolutely original, who were the great artists from abstract expressionism. And expressionism had spread throughout the United States, also among many smaller artists, and with that, when you put a can of beer, a can of soup, the American flag, or Jacqueline Kennedy, or Marilyn Monroe, at the museum or at the art gallery, you invert things, because it had been set by the abstract blotch, the new figure of the American art was the abstract blotch, so, it had set... created a Gestalt of the American art, which was the new figure of the American art, you invert the game, literally have a can of soup, you abstract yourself from the envinronment, you generate an abstraction about the environment as you introduce the figure. So the figure was a sign of abstraction regarding the environment which was dominated by abstract art, and that was the Pop operation, with the cynical reason, and the socioeconomic foundation of an advanced consumer society. Brazil didn’t have those ingredients. The USA had those ingredients, and Brazil didn’t, those elements weren’t present in Brazil, a powerful art, strong, abstract art, was with Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, and we also didn’t have an advanced consumer society, in the 60s, in the 60s sense, Brazil is still over 50%, 52% of habitants in rural zones, only 48% are uban, just so you get an idea, now it’s 86% urban, 14% rural, in Brazil today, so having a country whose population was mostly agrarian, with an industrialization that was only beginning, in more advanced terms... We didn’t have that socioeconomic ground of the advanced consumer society, so that’s the second ingredient we lacked. So while the Brazilian artist adopts Pop and incorporate and import the mechanisms of Pop, it doesn’t work that well, it becomes a kind of esterilized art, because it finds neither the socioeconomic solidity over which the consumer criticism finds support, and at the same time it also doesn’t find the abstract past of a really strong abstract art, on which that new figure of consumer society is based upon, those elements aren’t present in Brazil, the artists copied or reproduced the Pop proceedings, they couldn’t answer to that moment in Brazil. Now, Rubens Gerchman didn’t copy the Pop proceedings, he incorporated the elements of the figure of popular day to day, but with really characteristic traces, it’s not ready made, it’s not about being a ready made, or the ready made’s subversion as a cano f Campbell soup, a painting, or the boxes of soap mounted in a gallery, it’s not ready made, none of Gerchman’s paintings. He deals with really popular elements from the moment, if it was Pop, it would be by virtue of actually being popular, the beauty pageants, soccer matches, or with “Lindonéia”, which would be a newspaper story, but it didn’t reproduce a newspaper page, not at all, and at the same time he provides a really personal language to those figures. But when there’s a crowd, “The Missing Ones”, or even “No Vacancy”, those are paintings from that time of Rubens Gerchman, none of which finds itself in Pop proceedings, to literally reproduce the newspaper page with the soccer team. If it had been an American artist, or a naïve Brazilian artist who wanted to scream Pop, they would literally reproduce the newspaper page with the unformed team, Andy Warhol utilized many of these proceedings often in the beginning of his career, taking a newspaper page and reproducing it literally. That makes a difference, and that’s why art from that Rubens Gerchman period differs from Pop proceedings, as, for example, Antônio Dias’ art from that time also differs from Pop proceedings. Now, there are artists who applied the Pop mechanisms in Brazil, and those who practiced those Pop mechanisms are barely discussed, and that’s exactly why, that is a fact. Secondly, when Rubens goes to the United States, he also starts working with word, he tries to give force, and that also had to do with the conceptual art matter at the time, because language had been the main theme of conceptual artists, but in Rubens Gerchman’s case it was also different from the artists who were working with word and language. Because at that moment American conceptual artists are making a first move, of really radical reflection about the conditions of the existence of art at that time. Secondly, there’s also a really radical moment of denial of art as a product, to a moment when... theories, of conceptual art, they weren’t likely to be sold in the market, and the exhibitions were literally theory. The exhibitions of the Art Language of English, they held many exhibitions made of files os their theoretical discussions, about the linguistic conditions of the existence of art. They were fed by neo-positivism, by the logical positivismo, as paradoxical as this may sound for today’s thought. So that situation of the word being used in that North American conceptual context, European, mostly English, it’s a radical denial of art as a product, because they weren’t producing marketable pieces at that time, literally, not today, today you sell them... even pamphlets from those days are sold in auctions, nowadays everything is... they’s commodified everything that was possible in art, in art and in the world, eveyrthing is a commodity, what do we call the guy who does the publicity of political candidates, there’s a term for that...

BERNARDO: ...marketeer.

PAULO SÉRGIO: The marketeer, so the marketeers sells politics, and everything is treated as a commodity, but at that time the cynical element hadn’t spread that much, and it was restricted to certain environments, and to certain mechanisms of the advanced consumer society. So those Art Language people, and others from conceptual art, many others, which is why they can write a book about the dematerialization of the art object, the art object literally dematerializes to turn into theories, in concepts and ideas, but then it’s a literal dematerialization of... it’s a... it’s simultaneously denying art as a commodity, because those ideas couldn’t be auctioned, couldn’t enter the market, being hung at a gallery wall. That context is a really peculiar context, from late 60s, early 70s, that ideological political context in the world disappears quite quickly, so the hippies are replaced by the yuppies, and then there’s a notorious return to painting, art as a commodity, the notorious return to painting also corresponds to a substitution of the paradigm of the western youngster no longer being the hippes, for the paradigm of being the yuppie. So, at that moment I think Rubens Gerchman’s word pieces are different from the purely conceptual work, because he insists on a plastic post-forcefulness of the word, so, he doens’t deny the material existence of the piece. In parallel and a little different, quite different, there’s the use of word by Antônio Dias, at the moment when Antônio Dias lets go of the New Figuration matter, those paintings are devices tense with psychoanalytic matters, with political matters, with matters in a kind of circulation of the libido on the inside of the painting, reaching even the political element of the cold war back then, the atomic mushroom, which was the terror from that time, meaning, a nuclear war. Antônio does in the word transition, he keeps the word active inside a stretched canvas, where it’s incorporated as the title of the painting, but it’s incorporated as a plastic element of the piece. The use of words by Rubens Gerchman is more of a sculptural matter, as the one recently exhibited here at MAM, for instance, “LUTE” (fight), for instance. and “LUTE” has an immediate political content. So I don’t really think it’s about any reflection on the philosophy of language, that was a word of command, expressed aesthetically, a political word of command, so there are those differences that have to be noted about the dynamics of American art, and the dynamics of Brazilian art at that time, I think Brazilian artists from the 70s onwards dealt really well with a reflexive art, which means, conceptual, an art that demands thought simultaneously with aesthetic strength, without giving up on manifesting aesthetically, like Cildo Meireles, Waltércio Caldas, Tunga, like those artists who emerged after Rubens Gerchman’s and Antônio’s generation, for example.

BERNARDO: Do you believe... picking up from that last bit, Gerchman remains attached to the matter, I mean, he doesn’t give up on the aesthetic object, the word, for that relationship which is the same proceeding he had in the New Figuration, so, it wasn’t enough to reproduce the paper, you needed a picture frame from the street seller, it was necessary to look for something that’s also more physical than Pop Art, it seems to me. There’s a relationship with day to day life, the objects of the paintings by Antônio, by Gerchman, for example. They have a relationship with life, the material that’s part of life, a little more explicitly than, for instance, in Pop Art, which is a little more colder, Warhol’s work that is often a silk screen, for example. So, is there a work in the manipulation of materials that is a little more elaborate, done with a little more care?

PAULO SÉRGIO: ...well, this is what I think: in the 60s the more physical material thing, for instance, that we can see in Antônio Dias’ work, is the ambivalence of the piece, it’s neither a painting nor a sculpture, it’s both at the same time, as it projects in space, it has volume, it generates space. The same things... when he does a bus, Gerchman doesn’t build a miniature bus, he doesn’t mimic the real bus, he invents a bus that doesn’t exist in real life, just as the comics by Antônio Dias don’t exist in a page made of... Roy Lichenstein’s could totally exist on a page, Roy Lichenstein’s, actually, Antônio Dias’ don’t exist in a page of a magazine, and on Rubens Gerchman’s “Bus”, nor at the apartment building, by Rubens Gerchman’s which is, live in something, I forgot the name, “Live-in Box”...

CLARA: ... “Live-in Box”, “Main Elevator”.

PAULO SÉRGIO: They don’t copy the buildings, they don’t mimic the real architecture, as Pop does. Pop has a mentality in the field, let’s not say it like this, of theory in art knowledge, as does Duchamp when he operated the ready made during the second decade of the 20th century, until 1920 Duchamp’s ready mades operated in a thought system of reflecting on the conditions of the existence of art in the West, what is art, the question is, what is art? Is this art? That was the question. In Pop art, the ready made is already incorporated in the cynical element, nobody is asking, it is accepted as art, the can of Campbell soup. The Brillo soap is literally a box of Brillo soap, that is in the gallery, that is calling it cold, those are everyday materials in American people’s lives, it’s absolutely not strange the american in a can of Campbell soup, nor Marilyn’s face, those are also daily things in life, as much as they get a silk screen treatment, in certain pieces it appears to you as cold graphics, for the Americans it doesn’t, because it’s part of their daily lives, those tech resources, you know? Of course, here we did silk screen as well, at the time, even Scliar got a group of artists on board, they did some envelopes with... and we could buy them, because they were low cost pictures, made in silk screen. But there was no scale, the scale of a silk screen from Andy Warhol’s Factory, as they called his studio, where silk screen was literally an operation there, to deny the artist, because what Andy Warhol is saying there is, you didn’t do it before me, but anyone can do this, because it’s really made in an industrial proceeding, anyone could have taken Marilyn’s face, or the can of soup, and screen print it, you haven’t done it because you didn’t, because that doesn’t involve the craftmanship of Rembrandt, of Velazquez, there’s an intelligence. So those are things that may seem cold to us, but for American society that was day to day, the can of soup was part of their daily lives as well, just as the everyday elements we can see in materials of the New Figuration. But in the New Figuration I think the materials were quite strange, Gerchman’s “Bus” is really strange, Gerchman’s “Bus” didn’t resemble a bus at all, it was a large toy for grown people, invented by Rubens Gerchman, because there wasn’t... it didn’t mimic the form of the bus, it didn’t have direct mimes of the representation that a ready made bus would have had. Nor did the languages of blood that framed the outside of Antônio Dias’ paintings, that didn’t exist in our lives that way, something that in a detail could come close to a day to day thing like that, and it’s an exception in the “Bólides” series, but a situation of ready made was already unconfigured. Because the whol “Bólide” box already denies the situation of reproducing a newspaper page on a plain surface, on a canvas on the wall, seeing as it’s inside the “Bólide”. Now, there are artists who I won’t mention by name, who tried to develop the Pop proceeding in Brazil, and who now don’t have the strength of the pieces that stood out in Pop.

BERNARDO: That thing you mentioned about Hélio, it’s interesting that in the United States they had a thing about conronting the paintings that precede theirs, so...

PAULO SÉRGIO: ...there was, of course...

BERNARDO: ... in Brazil I don’t think that happened, it seems to me that it was actually the opposite, they wanted to understand and conciliate the previous experiences, Neo-concretism, if we turn to a reference that was from quite before...

PAULO SÉRGIO: Because the History is really different, isn’t it, you have to...

BERNARDO: No, but I ask because...

PAULO SÉRGIO: ... no, see, there was... there is a Kandinsky exhibition here in Rio, now. Kandinsky starts working on abstract painting in 1912, 1913, that’s a story, and the History of art develops from the second decade in Europe, with Russian constructivism, with Malevich, and then other great artists, who are capable of developing a really powerful abstract art until they reach Mondrian, the Neo-plasticism from the late 20s, the 30s. In Brazil, until 1949, 50, 51, and 52, the two greatest artists who represented modern art in Brazil, who were Portinari and Di Cavalcanti, they still condemned abstract art publically, you know? A few abstract experiences Cícero Dias had in the 40s, but those experiences were a little isolated, and they didn’t succeed in Brazil immediately, they were experiences of a Brazilian artist who had lived in France for many years, and at the same time he was doing that on the second half of the 40s. There is a gap, the sync we now see in the world didn’t exist back then, now there’s a great sense of sync. I believe the plastic repertoire of concrete art, and neo-concrete, so the severe geometric abstractionism of concrete art, of neo-concrete art generated here in Brazil for the first time, a modern territory, continuous and consistent, where regardless of the artists talking among themselves, because the artists have always had a dialogue, the pieces in an exhibition related to one another, now, I place a Guignard next to a Pancettu, a Goeldi. They are 3 great artists, but their pieces don’t relate. They are 3 great artists, well, take Ismael Nery, Pancetti, Guignard, Goeldi, they’re phenomenal artists. Take Di from the 20s, they’re amazing pieces, but the pieces don’t relate to one another, they’re... an archipelago. Until the 50s, until the emergence of constructive art, as they now call it, that severe geometric abstractionism of the concrete artists, neo-concrete, the modern art in Brazil in the 19th century. Castagneto is already an absolutely modern artist, going through Visconti, through all of them until you get to the 50s, you have a cluster of islands. You don’t have a continuous territory. The great virtue of concretism, and neo-concretism, was a continuous soil of dialogue and relations, that’s why those artists who followed had a really important relationship with them, there are many reasons, that is just one of them. The other reason was that never has concretism, neo-concretism, imposed as a Brazilian art par excellence, by the market, and by the system, by the ideology of the system, so, you didn’t sell concrete art, neo-concrete art, as you sold Pollock, Franz Kline, you know? And they weren’t hanging on museum walls, you know? Those concretes, actually, they still are, you can rarely see a room in Rio de Janeiro, where can you see a beautiful room of concrete and neo-concrete artists, by beautiful room I mean like with 20 pieces each, in a permanent exhibition, there isn’t, that’s the problem, so, first of all, they weren’t dealing against a triumphant art, they recognized the power of that language, the Brazilian artists of the New Figuration, they acknowledged the power of the language that preceed them, they weren’t dealing with the parents who drove the car over their feet, there wasn’t an Oedipal relationship, between concrete and neo-concrete and the New Figuration, while with Pop there was. The first American flag by Jasper Johns was exhibited in public, decorating the window of a department store that no longer exists, which was incredibly fancy. And he, Jasper Johns, was a window dresser, and his way of showing his first pieces was by literally putting them on the window of the department store. Now that flag is an icon of Art History, but at that time it was a decoration at a department store, 56, which, by coincidence, was the year of Jackson Pollock’s death.

BERNARDO: Now to talk a little bit about Oiticica, I think Oiticica is a guy that goes through...

PAULO SÉRGIO: ...he’s older, because he was born in 38...

BERNARDO: ...bur he lives through the 60s, and follows everyone until the 70s, already approaching counterculture...

PAULO SÉRGIO: But Hélio Oiticica is a different thing, Hélio Oiticica is a different phenomenon, to be studied by Art History, I mean, because when he was really young he participated in Grupo Frente, at 16 years old, just picture it, in 1954, he was already with the greatest artists you could meet in Rio de Janeiro in Grupo Frente, Franz Weissmann, Amilcar, the Lygias, Lygia Pape and Lygia Clark, a 16 year old kid. After having a really original neo-concrete experience, regarding color saturation and also in spatial research, because those... he creates those environments that simultaneously are environments and paintings, and he moves to really radical experiences, reinterpreting constructivism quite radically, which are “the Parangolés”. People tend to see that as a joke by a samba dancer, but it’s not just that, those are soft paintings, the soft work Lygia Clark had already done. He does soft paintings, he takes a constructivist painting and softens it. Many times he incorporates the title in the piece, because the title of “the Parangolé” is part of the piece itself, we incorporate the rebellion. So I believe that after he has the “bólides” experience, which are objects that still need, art theory, Brazilian Art History needs to understand it. So Hélio Oiticica is a really complex phenomenon, and he really kept a relationship, not equal with everyone, but with artists like Rubens Gerchman, Antônio Dias, he kept a relationship, but nothing paternal, absolutely fraternal, absolutely equal, all the time. Even though he was more experienced, because he was older.

CLARA: In fact, they even made a “Parangolé” together.

PAULO SÉRGIO: Rubens Gerchman and Hélio... at the time.

BERNARDO: That was already going on in Brazil, that idea of blending art and life, it was already there with Oiticica, in the 60s, but Gerchman really gains... this will be really strong with Gerchman in New York.

PAULO SÉRGIO: But art and life, that’s sort of a generic label that embodies both the powerful things, and the silly things, weak things, so that art and life may cover really good things, really important pieces, and really bad ones, because that theme is still around, it’s still going one. So what matters here, it’s thinking about the pieces, that the pieces are materializations of those themes, when I talk about “Live-in Box”, when I talk about the “Bus”, when I talk about “The Missing Ones”, or the “No Vacancy”, which are Gerchman’s themes, and everyone I’m talking about here, from paintings. sculptures, objects, or whatever you want to call them. Those themes are already connected to the art and life theme, obviously, “No Vacancy” was about unemployment back then, “The Missing Ones” was a political theme at the time.

BERNARDO: And his work is in his life, which is strongly related to what you were saying about dematerialization in the 70s.

PAULO SÉRGIO: There’s that, see, but that also happens with many powerful artists from time in terms of art and life, lots of demagogy, literally demagogy from Brazilian politicians nowadays, for instance, when Joseph Boeuys says “every man is an artist”, of course it’s a lie, but it’s a demagogic gesture, nice, of putting art in the life of everyone who wants to be an artist, you can’t, it’s not true, right... if you want to be an artist and you are not talented, and you don’t have the virtue to pursue it, if you don’t have the talento, you won’t produce any art. Now, if a person wants to somersault at the beach and think they are expressing some sort of relationship between art and life, and that turns into a performance, and I’m talking about an artist I really admire, her work, but she does a performance which consists of somersaults at the beach, and that is related to that art and life matter, children go to the beach and somesault, but I don’t think that makes that somersault an art piece, just because an artist did it. What interests me in her work is when she materializes as a work of art. Now, that performance thing is something else, you know? The performance to be connected to art, it’s really hard to be executed, when certain art performances, imitate dance, it’s neither a visual arts performance, nor a professional dance, a dance being executed by a professional dancer, it’s nothing, you know? So the matter of the performance it really important in contemporary art, and it’s really connected to the art and life matter, many times, in many performances, it depends on articulating itself really delicate and softly to the art matter, and not to dance or theater, which are other kinds of art. So the performance requires and demands, and its large spread starts with the art and life matter, where that could have started, in the beginning of the 50s with John Cage, the first few happenings when we came into a party and a happening started when nobody was expecting it, blending with life, and you couldn’t really tell what was the party, and what was the happening. That is something that has been going ons ince the 50s, that exemplifies. But in the 70s, if you look at it, that art and life matter, it is parallel to other matters which are really important, like the development of a reflexive art, which was inherited from conceptual art, so, the artists began demanding that there’d be an eye on the work, and another one on the thought, so, they demand a certain cockeye, look at what I’m showing, but at the same time, think of what I’m showing, there are works today that absolutely deliver themselves freely, with no reflexion demands, you know? You don’t really have to reflect in order to think of Jeff Koon’s neo-pop. People who waste their times reflecting about that, are trying to make up things where the are no things to be made up, because it’s all handed to you as it is, a carmine wrapped in gold tie, or a balloon rabbit, realized, carefully made, with the help of I don’t know how many assistants, how many thousand hours spent polishing, that has everything... but you won’t spend that much time thinking about it or reflecting too much, about this neo-pop which is Jeff Koons. But at the same time there are artists who demand reflection, lots of it, and that reflection may bein painting, or in sculpture, or in installations. Now, the matter of art and life, as I see it, the group who accomplished that more fully was the hippies.

CLARA: Picking upo n the study of the universe of exeprimentations, I’d like to bring Parque Lage to topic... Gerchman lived with that whole universe, being among the American efervescence, and then he comes to Brazil, and takes on the challenge of that school, which we later understand is an transdisciplinar school, which is promoting that interaction all the time, whether it’s the show conference, you know, multidisciplinarity...

PAULO SÉRGIO: I think that is really important, that is the main theme o four conversation today, that role Gerchman played as an educator, on the second half of the 70s, because I think it’s in 76?

CLARA: 75 to 79.

PAULO SÉRGIO: 75 to 79. I didn’t witness that much, because I was abroad, I came back in 78, but I went to Paraíba, but we were in touch, we kept in touch... Now, the important thing here is the efervescence of the school, the vitality it had at that moment was really interesting, because the best theater groups there were started there, it didn’t just bring theater, I went to a couple of plays, around the pool. Asdrúbal Trouxe, for instance, which has launched many of the talents around today, but Asdrúbal Trouxe o Trombone, I’ve seen plays by them there, weren’t there? And I saw those plays. Together with the theater thing, it was permanently opened to constant debate about art, and about the artists, and the fact that it was a free school, and it is really important that it remains so to this day, I think Parque Lage is still important to this day, for being a free art school, because the school... the artist’s issue today, many artists look for the academic environment today in order to support themselves through teaching, so it’s important that there are these formal art schools, like EBA, UERJ, because, it’s not that I see that many artists coming from those, but at least many great teachers are there, making a living, thanks to the existence of those institutions. But Parque Lage’s case is different, because it gives access to a young person who wants to study art, without having to face the commitment of following academic subjects with their credits and prerequisites system, so that’s an alternative entrance. The importance of Parque Lage, the occupation of that building by Rubens Gerchman at that time, it was really important because the teaching at the Intitute of Fine Arts at Praia Vermelha had been interupted, the Institute was on that old Army building, which was the old Army Sargents club, and that was created, the Institute of Fine Arts, many important students and artists attended the Institute, which had teachers like, for instance, Iberê Camargo, he was a teacher at the Institute of Fine Arts. That was interupted. In 1975, when Grisolli starts at the Department of Culture and invites Gerchman to recreate the Institute of Fine Arts, Gerchman first of all is smart enough not to use that name, Institute of Fine Arts, and create the School of Visual Arts, (Escola de Artes Visuais – EAV), which already makes a huge difference, because of the rancidness that the Fine Arts name had, that had a pathetic rancidness, there’s a pathetic rancidness kept by tradition, it justifies itself when the school is centennial, but it can’t be justified in the creation of a new school in the mid-seventies, so it is already different in that sense. Second of all, the place, a privileged place, you are in the middle of a parque, close to Floresta da Tijuca, right next to Floresta da Tijuca, in a palace like that one to start a school, you add the place and there already are two new elements. Thirdly, eventually the program developed by Gerchman, which was extremely open, open to what you were mentioning, which is transdisciplinarity, that is really important, because that is something that is under discussion all the time, but it’s really hard to put it into practice. To put interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity into practice is really hard, and Gerchman manages to do so at that moment, during that time, it seemed to me, the realization of these projects of a really strong interaction, for example, between visual arts and theater. Not only because he brought plays to Parque Lage, but also because the artists blended with the theater groups to put the plays together, you are not... there wasn’t a little performance by an artist, when they had performances it was a group like Asdrúbal Trouxe o Trombone doing a play there. Then you resize the performance matter to another scale. Another thing I find really important, to underline it, which I think, it was a really diverse audience you saw in the conferences held there. It wasn’t just that club we now have, of people interested in contemporary art, it was a diverse audience, I mean, the audience you saw at a lecture there, it really consisted of people in many areas. People from music, theater, fine arts, effectively participating, so that provided a great differential to the experiences, now we have really closed experiences in ghettos. People often, from music don’t know... except for the great stars, you don’t know who are the artists going around the country today, you can say the same about fine artists, if you ask the name of five contemporary classic composers, they won’t be able to tell you, you know? Despite a few experiences, Gerchman’s heritage being kept, being brought back frequently. I think the great thing about Gerchman, in the Visual Arts School, was the fact that he started it by creating foundations that are... they have the effect of demonstrating to its successors, I mean, it’s not the growth of a... which goes in genesis. It’s really solid ground, complex, rich, that serves as reference to the floors that have been built, so much so that the reference always comes back in discussions, about the Visual Arts School, it’s that Gerchman period, why does it rusurface? Because it didn’t start small, it started big, it already started important, complex, with a dense thickness, it’s not a reference of remote origins, but it’s an ever present origin, you know?

CLARA: Wow, you think that always resurfaces? I ask it because, in our research, there are no publications, there wasn’t any audiovisual material until then, so I felt that...

BERNARDO: Gerchman recorded an interview before he died, left a testimonial, an interview, which he recorded to Clara’s sister, a testimonial about Parque Lage, and he says to him the great thing was this place where people, the students who he doesn’t even call students, he calls them users...

CLARA: ...and they’re not teachers, they’re guides.

BERNARDO: That those people who were always there, they got in in the morning, and left at night. Then Hélio Eichbauer, who was his great partnet in that school, in that project, talks a lot about the importance of joy so people would be able to produce, to get into a creativity state, a creative state, and he talks a lot about... Gerchman also says that, leisure was crucial in their methodology, at that moment, that’s why I say that, when you talk about that art/life thing, because all the students tell that they hung around all day, being with other people, even when they weren’t in class...

PAULO SÉRGIO: ...because they were wellborn.

BERNARDO: That’s a critic, that’s what’s interesting.

PAULO SÉRGIO: That is my situation, because I spent 8 years in Europe.

BERNARDO: And it’s funny because our generation looks back, and calls it hippie. So, I mean, because at times, I ask myself, and it’s a question Pedro always brings: that Parque Lage, from that time, is it possible to exist, to reissue it?

PAULO SÉRGIO: I think it’s stuck in the 70s Ethos, I think now it’s a free art school, it has to be really differente from that time, because the attraction of the market now is huge, it’s not the same as back then. There are art courses in England, in which one of the most important classes is how to defend your work to an art dealer, and another class teachs how to build a nice portfolio, at times those things are more important to a student than having a great Art History course, than know Art Theory well, than knowing contemporary art, for them those classes, like certain courses in Brazil nowadays, like cultural production, cultural management, the classes that students care about the most are how to prepare projects for Lei Rouanet, how to prepare for bids, you know? There is a money thing now, which has no parallel to that moment, it’s not news that art is a commodity par excellence, that is not news. Maybe in the West, it is quite possible, that since the Renaissance, art is a commodity par excellence. Surely in the 17th century, in the turn to the 18th, it already is a commodity par excellence, more than wheat, and now, more than oil, art is a commodity, but today there’s a difference from those days, now art is recognized as product of knowledge, and knowledge is the greatest producer os value in contemporary society. At that time it wasn’t, it was conventional work, handwork, until the 19th century, until the mid 50s of the century... until mid 20th century, until the 50s, 60s, handwork, the traditional worker at a factory’s assembly line, was the main producer of value, value component in a commodity, in an automobile, the management but, etic, it integrates the composition of value, the capitalist invention is part of the composition of value, but the handwork was huge. Now the handwork, its part is ridiculous in any commodity. Those machines, not to mention the software, which is purely knowledge, it’s one of the main commodities of our time, and it’s produced without any material of physical bit, except for the computer hardware. But when you take the same hardware from your cameras, the manual work in those is laughable when you compare them to the knowledge involved, the work of the knowledge of the project inside those cameras, the hardware inside them, the softwares, to make it automatic, all of that is worth a lot more in the composition of the final product value than the handwork, and art is the production of knowledge by experience since Leonardo Da Vinci sentenced it on the second half of the 15th century, that art is an intelectual thing. So art is the paradigm of commodities, in a time when knowledge dominates, so it being a commodity par excellence in the Renaissance is different than it being a commodity by excelence today. Today there is a social ground of economic infrastructure, where knowledge is an actual commodity, it participates in the composition of value, there’s a really strong knowledge component, so art being that which still guards the author’s visibility, that is not a collective production. We know art depends on an author, that all men are not artists. So that authorial matter, whether it’s collective of a small group, whether it’s an individual, it’s really important in a time when knowledge is the main producer of economic value, and it is the product of knowledge par excellence. So, what do you prefer, an actual apple, since you like art and life so much, or an apple by Cézanne? That’s a joke with my wife, said you only like still life, you don’t like to see living nature, what would you prefer, Cézanne’s apple, or an actual apple from the store? Of course, we sell it immediately, 250 million dollars, take the money and by 100 apple farms.

CLARA: May we ask, I’d like you to talk a little bit about “Trilha da Trama”...

PAULO SÉRGIO: Trilha... I was invited by Gerchman, to talk about Antônio Dias’ work, and I was... at the time I was writing a paper I chose to call “A Trilha da Trama”, which was later published in FUNARTE’s book, that series that included Gerchman’s book, Carlos Vergara’s book, Wesley Duke Lee’s book, about Meireles, there’s Waltércio Caldas’ book. A series titled “A Arte Brasileira Contemporânea” (Contemporary Brazilian Art). And I was writing a paper for that book, called “A Trilha da Trama”, and that’s why the lecture was called that. Because I was talking about what I was writing, and it was interesting, it was funny that... it was a great friend of mine, we later became great friends, it was the beginning of our friendship, I attended the lecture, the great Mário Carneiro was in the audience, and since I started a great digression about art history, I started with the cathedral days, and talking, etc, to get to the conceptual art, and to Antônio’s work, at that moment Antônio’s work in 79 because of Nepal’s role, and there was going to be a huge turn on his work at that time, of that lecture, I had just seen the first papers in Nepal. And when I did, there was an intervention from Mário Carneiro, that I never forget, I have a question for you, “you’ve just summed up the whole western art history, to reach Antônio Dias”, the whole history, it goes through gothic... and I liked Mário’s challenge, because I really was an inexperienced teacher, I was just starting at the time, after years away from Brazil, in 78, I had left in 69, and I stayed in Europe for 9 years, I came back before amnesty, because my parents were really sick, they both died in 79, my mom died in January, and my dad in December, so I returned sooner. Before amnesty there were a couple of headaches of about six days of interrogations, but okay, never mind. And the important thing was that I had spent all that time abroad, I really must have woken up to a more diversity diction, more differentiated, really because from the 60s I took Antônio’s work, and I started talking only about his work, and that historical introduction I gave, really was unnecessary, for... and Mário Carneiro’s observation was really relevant, a dear friend.

PEDRO: What I like about that time, was exactly that Mário Carneiro attended your lecture, there were people...

PAULO SÉRGIO: ... yes, Mário Carneiro is one of the greatest photographers of Brazilian cinema, and great filmmaker, and also artist, great engraver and painter. I remember his engravings, I didn’t know him yet, the first engraving was somewhat Morandian, the first engraving I saw, it was at a gallery that had called Brazilian papers, at Praça General Osório, and when I saw that still life, engraving on metal, I never forgot it, I traveled, and years later when I came back, I became friends with Mário.

BERNARDO: So then how was MAM during the 60s here?

PAULO SÉRGIO: I went to MAM all the time because I really liked watching movies. So MAM’s Cinematheque, after it moved to MAM, because before it was at ABI. You know where it’s the entrance to MAM, where you go in to get access to... no, the entrance to the administration, that straight one, the offices, which was there, it was a curtain, there was only the school quarter. The exhibition section was only inaugurated in 67 after the IMF meeting, it was also when a trefoil was made, called students trefoil, that trefoil at the end of Aterro, it didn’t exist, and that’s where the restaurant Calabouço was situated. Then they moved the restauran, there was that struggle, it culminated in Edoson Luis’ death later, but MAM was in 67, it kicked off with a beautiful Segal retrospective, a text by Ferreira Gullar in the catalogue, I still have that catalogue, and it was the first time I saw the retrospective of a great artist, actual retrospective, because I had already seen the retrospective, great artists’ retrospective.

BERNARDO: MAM was also an environment of gatherings?

PAULO SÉRGIO: Exactly, because there was a cafeteria, where now there’s the design store, that was a great cafeteria, where you now find the design store, and that coffee shop now. Everybody got together there, but I went with my group of friends to see movies, and I met everyone there, Antônio Dias, Rubens Gerchman, etc, but there was no proximity, and I needed a few years of therapy to become talkative.

CLARA: Were you already back when MAM caught on fire?

PAULO SÉRGIO: Well, I got the news in Paris, I had gone back to Paris, because that was in April, that lecture, I was already in Paris to prepare for my return, when I heard two huge news, the fire at MAM and the death of the Pope who only lasted a little... that John Paul I, who was only around for a short period, those were the two great news that shocked me, a Pope that only lasts for a month, I don’t know, and the fire at MAM, when I came back MAM had... but I saw a great exhibition here, in 1977, I got here in 77, and I went back in July 78 to... right afterwards there was the fire at MAM, June 78 I went back to Paris, to pack my bags, and came back. But then when there was the fire, it was exactly at that moment when I was in Paris, and it was terrible, it was shocking, because...

CLARA: It’s said that part of the MAM axis was dislocated to the Visual Arts School, which was really solidary...

PAULO SÉRGIO: ...even Centro Cultural Cândido Mendes got a lot of important exhibitions, exactly because of the fire at MAM, it was really important for Centro Cultural Cândido Mendes, because it filled a gap of artists’ exhibitions, Cildo Meireles had “Fiat Lux” , the mountain sermon there, at Cândido Mendes, Anna Bella Geiger had an important exhibition there at that moment, Tunga had a really important exhibition there, called “Pálpebras”, and right afterwards had “Ão”, at the new galley, José Resende had an exhibition at Centro Cultural Cândido Mendes. So there was an intensive schedule, that searched for those places, both the Visual Arts School and Centro Cultural Cândido Mendes which had been created exactly a little before the fire at MAM, in the end of 77.

BERNARDO: How would you describe Gerchman’s personality?

CLARA: You can say it, no censorship.

PAULO SÉRGIO: Come on, Gerchman was a typical guy from Rio, first and foremost, quite a carioca*, was he born in Rio?


PAULO SÉRGIO: He was quite a carioca. I met Gerchman a little before, Gerchman I knew a little separetely. I had conversations with him, every once in a while, because he used to live at Rua Professor Estelita Lins, and I lived at General Glicério with my parents, I’d come down and see Gerchman, it it was easy to pick up a conversation with him, because it was easier with him than with others, because he was friendly, talkative, that carioca thing I was talking about. And secondly, he didn’t pose as an artist, he was a common citizen, because there were lots of artists who posed as artists, there still are, the persona...

PEDRO: Nowadays there are even classes at the university...

PAULO SÉRGIO: So he had that thing of not being a poser, he presented himself as your equal, so... I was just a little younger than him, Gerchman was born in 42?


PAULO SÉRGIO: 1942, I was born in 46, there was only a 4 year gap, from him to me. So, we had an easy time, which came back when I returned, I mean, there was... I talked to Gerchman, the cinema thing at that time, the Cinematheque at MAM, I want to call attention to that, it also brought that diversity of people to MAM, you know? Cinema people who went there and hung around the same place the fine artists visited every day. I was always with Gerchman until he left Rio after he was sick, our last encounter was at Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica, I remember as if it was yesterday, I remember, he was in a friend’s car, a black car, and he called me, we talked, and he died a few months later, it was at that street close to Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica. It was the last time we ever saw each other.

N da T: * carioca is how you call people from Rio.


BERNARDO: I’d like to start with you telling us how did you get to Parque Lage in that period in the 70s.

CELSO GUIMARÃES: Yes. Let’s. There’s something that predates it that no one knows. In 1975, 76, remember a Veja in Germany, because at that time I was in Germany getting a degree, I greaduated in 76, and in 75 I was talking to a great friend of mine, and in 76, from 76 to 77, a piece about Parque Lage is published, saying Gerchman had taken over. It must have been around that time. And that the Institute of Fine Arts (Instituto de Belas Artes) had changed its name and all, and I said “wow, that is cool, and all”. That friend of mine, who I will not name, he is well known, he said “no, Celso, it’s really good that you’re returning. Good for you to teach”. I said “they only have top artists, it’s not a recently graduated kid who is going to teach there”. And that was it. I graduated in 76, in the middle of the year, ok, in 77 I return to Brazil, and in March we have Gerchman, on of my wife’s cousin knew him, so she told Gerchman I was back, I dealt with photography and all that, and he said: “tell him to stop by Parque Lage”. And I didn’t pay attention. 30, 40 days go by, one day I take a bus, I was here in Laranjeiras, I took a bus and I was like, ok, I’m going to Parque Lage. Then I went to Parque Lage, you know? I got there and I said, “It’s me, I’d like to talk to Gerchman, Mr. Rubens Gerchman, hey, I’m that girl’s cousin”, and then he goes “Mr. Celso, it took you a while”, you know. Something tragic happened there. The guy who taught photography had just died. He said “we need someone to take over the class, because there’s no one. Talk to Roberto Maia. Go and talk to Roberto Maia that we need you now, talk to the boy”. Then I came to Roberto Maia, right, people, I don’t feel it, this is something I, a conversation we had before, Clara, people, I don’t feel it, but Gerchman’s right hand was Roberto Maia. He was the right hand of the thing, he was, like, the Golbery of Parque Lage. Then Roberto Maia talked to me, and I said “Roberto, I’m Celso, I do photography, this and that. “Celso, fuck, your classes are on Tuesdays and Thursdays, you’ll start right away”. “But don’t you want to see my work?”. “Dude, we believe you”. I was like “of course, then, let’s do it”. And then I left, and I started, that’s how I started at Parque Lage, you know. and it was funny, right, because it was Roberto Magalhães, I already knew him from the arts, Rubens, and many other artists, Celeida, Celeida I didn’t know by name, but there was already a reference, who else? There was, well, a series of art generals in there, to reference the dictatorship, and I said “let’s give it all”, and so I began that which I didn’t know was going to be my career. I was a designer, right, I got a degree in Visual Communications, in Germany, and I specialized in photography with one of the greatest guys in photography, which is Otto Steinert in Germany, and I joined, I landed at Parque Lage, among those amazing artists, and it was, you know, incredible, especially because Gerchman was a really unsettled person, but at the same time, really positive. He didn’t have, he didn’t, how do I put it? He had an explosive temper, but lovable at the same time, you know. He had both sides. He didn’t want it, the ball was in his court and he had to answer you know, with good work, and that’s what he wanted, and you know, that’s how we did it, for the two years he was in charge, 77 and 78, right, when he was in charge of Parque Lage. the time spent with him was the best possible. Roberto Maia, he, a support, we had many events, and it was fun, right, it was a different world. It was something, despite all the hard times the country was facing, those final years of the dictatorship, this whole thing, it was a different world. The world was more pleasant. I think the world now is really bad. Taking, to make a comparison. Maybe for the young ones who didn’t have the opportunity to make one, to have this reference, maybe it’s good, but at my age now, I believe the world is. We have more easiness, more everything, but also, something we lack is direction. Parque Lage had direction, at the time it had direction, it had a purpose, it was doing it. The other day, I don’t know who said it, “there Parque Lage is like a Brazilian Bauhaus”. I disagree, okay. It may be intended as a Brazilian Bauhaus, but in formation, it didn’t have, returning to that thing about pedagogy you were asking me a while back. It didn’t have that structured format that a Bauhaus had, ok, but it had direction, it had an intention, a desire to put art there, in its place in Rio de Janeiro. Turning Rio into a new cultural spot, and that surely in the contemporaneity that Gerchman proposed, he made it. So much so that the people there, the way that, the dynamics Parque Lage had to receive and give the opportunity for everyone to work there, now we don’t see that anymore, ok. It’s different. It’s all quite different. And it’s being a pioneer, right, the price of being a pioneer and I can say the result was really great. I’m sure it was really great. So much that the consequences, the 80s generation, and from then onwards the many tribes that came, you know, originate from that time and that provided dynamics to art in Rio de Janeiro, which is a really complicated place in terms of art. It’s really closed, you know, really restricted, but not at that time, back then it was open, right. What happened in Rio de Janeiro happened in Parque Lage. It was extremely interesting, right. It was day and night. The other day my wife said, “back then you disappeared”. You know? I didn’t disappear, I was working. Only those who work understand, not in the morning, but in the afternoon and at night we stayed there talking until one, two in the morning, right, and talking about our day to day, right, our proposals, all of that, and that made me disappear from home, and then one day she complained about that, and I was just starting out, I had to be where things were happening, I couldn’t just be a mere bureaucratic teacher, a government employee, who gets there, teaches his class and leaves. No. There was continuity and the opportunities that generated the many actions there. I believe that’s the way things worked at the time.

CLARA GERCHMAN: I’m going to ask you to talk a little bit more about Roberto Maia. it’s because we don’t have many testimonials from Roberto. I do, right, personally the memory of Roberto having been first and foremost a great friend, a great friend of my dad’s, and secondly a great collaborator, right, and we don’t have a lot, we couldn’t gather a lot of material. So, if you, since you were friends and colleagues, during this time, it would be interesting if you could talk a little bit about him.

CELSO GUIMARÃES: Yes. Roberto was one of the great characters I met when I returned. Roberto Maia was, you know, and extremely dynamic person, culturally speaking, refined culture, extensive knowledge, good with solutions. That was one of the things Gerchman always saw Roberto as, besides being his friend, his right hand, anything that needed taking care of inside Parque Lage, Roberto Maia took over. And the many actions we had, for example, photography laboratory, the first thing I asked for was a photography lab. Roberto Maia, on the spot, he was an architect, right, and he said “Celso, let’s take care of it, let’s see what you want”. “I need this and that, I wanna do it”. “So let’s do it, let’s set up a laboratory”. And we set it up. It was precarious, but extremely eficiente. By precarious I don’t mean that it compromised quality, no. I mean as in, you know, it wasn’t Germany, but it was a functioning lab, and I had what I needed at my disposal. So, that kind of thing was very Roberto Maia. International exhibition of photography, right, Roberto Maia, “let’s do it, Celso, let’s go, let’s pick it up? Germany, look, Germany is full of demands”. “Let’s sit and talk”. And Roberto, as an architect, understood, he solved a problem that was a space problem, because Germany, it demanded from us an educational exhibition. Because the exhibition had their proposition, they had a sequence, a beginning, a middle and an end and people had to enter and see the continuity because that’s what it proposed. So, we didn’t have the space for that amount of photographs, and they all had a format zero, 118 x 96 is a monster photograph, those beautiful panels, things we didn’t have in Brazil, not ready. See, high quality, everything ready for it, and Roberto Maia in his capacity as an architect said “no, let’s cover Parque Lage”. So we cover Parque Lage with a parachute, because that provides the convenience of, he was well intended, if it rained the water wouldn’t go through, it hits and falls, it’s like an umbrella, right, so we closed it. We closed that pool, and covered it and we created an amazing space. We pulled the steel cables and created true galleries where people entered and visited. So that was the ability, the ability, you know, of someone who deals with architecture, and that was the dynamics, right. We never dropped the ball. There was no way around it. I had the exhibition, there was another exhibition I brought to Parque Lage, the photography at the fair in São Cristóvão. We had many exhibitions by artists, photographers and other artists where problems came up, but we solved them, right, and because of my, that relationship of mine which was profitable, right, with the time, you know, to participate in the meetings, both with Gerchman and Roberto, you know, about what we were going to do, what was going to be done. And there was a great thing about Gerchman, he needed “you take care of it for me”. So, in terms of management he offered to those he managed, you know, the opportunity to carry on with what he was thinking that he wanted to do and that is good, you know. It’s not me doing it and you all just reproduce it, ok. Now we, after these 38 years I’ve been teaching at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, we miss the university and this sort of thing. There people don’t delegate, because they think they’re going to lose it and it’s quite the opposite, when people delegate it’s because they’re going to win, and Rubens did that quite well, he knew it quite well. In fact, there’s a story that happened to a professor who is still there, I’m going to tell you, that when he arrived in Brazil, right, I won’t say his name, because you probably already know who it is, he was arrested, lost his documents. It was Gerchman who took him out of jail, you know. He went to bail him out, with a serious problem, a very serious problem, because his documents were stolen, and all that, and when that happened, he took charge and went for it. He wouldn’t let anyone else, he took charge in these situations. That is great. And Roberto Maia, back to him, in the moment, inside, the inside dynamics, he also knows, he fully supported Gerchman. It was a terrible time, first because we got payed every three months, right. Nobody got their salaries in time to pay rent, it was every three months. And it was small, but there was something nice, we had pleasure in being there. A pleasure you can’t find anywhere, right. It was a pleasure to be in a community where everyone was equal. Nobody, in fact, in one of the exhibitions we had at Parque Lage, we could see the list of paychecks. Everybody, Roberto Maia made 3 thousand réis more than me, like that guy says, “three something, three whatever currency we had back then more”. Ok. So nobody was there because one made more than the other, no. Everyone was equal, ok. It was the condition of classes we gave, and our jobs there. And that provided a harmony among everyone, you know. There were the guys who were, you know, who weren’t hired artists, they were people who were government employees, who had a few things there, some trouble, but the thing, nobody was despised for being this or that. Everybody worked just the same, get it. The ones from the State worked there, because there were those who weren’t State employees, we were working, following our proposal, we had our classrooms, right, I don’t know. There wasn’t, it wasn’t a place of disagreement, and it was a place under construction. When MAM caught on fire, the first order of business for us was deciding what to do there, because of their situation. What was Parque Lage going to do, you know, to help that loss, that waste, right, that the city was suffering with the burning of MAM, the birning of the artist from Uruguay, his paintings, that whole thing, and that march, where did it come from? It was Gerchman, and I had the pleasure to photograph it, you have some of my pictures in that thing, the CD, the march, and it was like that, it had major repercussion. So, that’s what counted. And you know, the pleasure, I mean, it was a pleasure to go to Parque Lage. There’s no memory, right, from Parque Lage that makes me uncomfortable or something of retaliation, right. Even if we were payed every three months, it wasn’t like that, it was proactive.

CLARA GERCHMAN: And that really beautiful thing there was, the school would feed on itself, for intance, photography students took photos of Celeida’s classes, designer students would diagram, you know, there was something. Ir really seemed like it.

BERNARDO: So, interdisciplinarity.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Interdisciplinarity.

CELSO GUIMARÃES: There was interdisciplinarity, but there was the crowd that was always there at Parque Lage, I mean that crowd who only wouldn’t sleep there because the doors were closed and they were asked to leave, but they hung around all day. Those people participated a lot, you know. I had two exhibitions there, I took care of typesetting, I had my photography section, we would leave to photograph it, I took many pictures of Parque Lage, while I was there I photographed it a lot, every possible event, right, particularly the days of my classes, I would come out, I always had a camera on me, and students are people we provoke into discovering, you know, inside Parque Lage, situations that would prevent us from leaving, creating a reason, right. That was extremely proactive, you know, it was dynamic inside the school, you know. The other really interesting thing I saw about this integration, this interdisciplinarity, right, it was us, participating all together with the other teachers. Not that many, I was close to Celeida Tostes, with her students, I was close with Roberto. Roberto taught language, I taught a more laboratorial photography, more technical. His students came to me, and my students came to watch so, it was all facilitated. It wasn’t a sectioned thing, you see. This is mine, this is not. And I don’t know, there are some there, Marquinho Bonisson, who is an artist, there are many there, many who ask, every so often I run into a student of mine, from my time, who is teaching at Parque Lage, who is teaching at Fundão, and Clara, it’s been many years and we end up not keeping everyone in mind, but the generation that was created, the generation, the push Parque Lage gave, ok, then ok, if he has, if he can establish a paralel to Bauhaus, it was the push Parque Lage gave in Brazil, like Bauhaus did, right, for the first few years, you know, when there was no diploma, and nothing in the cultural or scholar system in Germany. And that was not Parque Lage’s proposal, ok, it was more open, right, and that’s why you can make a few comparisons, pedagogically speaking, between some areas, but not between a scholar sense like it was in Germany and Parque Lage. I believe Parque Lage was more open, right, les restricted, it was Lattus less Strictus, right, in terms of art.. There was more of this dynamics, it was more dynamic. It wasn’t about a diploma or something, it was about the following: let’s create, this is a creation area, ok, and then everyone ruled their nook, right, which is how I call the classrooms, their lessons, many people like, even Jaime who was the sculptor, you know, traditional, you know, Jaime Sampaio, he was really sweet about the dynamics Gerchman was installing. So that’s why Parque Lage had its importance in the state of Rio de Janeiro, and maybe even in Brazil. That’s what my photographs with my students were about. The first class, it’s funny that in the first class it’s good to see this here, there were two classes. There was the afternoon class, and the night class. The afternoon crowd were college students, ladies who wanted to learn about photography and what, and the night students, who were professionals that came in wearing their jackets and put them on the back of their shirts and wanted to learn about photography. So, out there they were professionals, but inside they were photography students, those people who had image as an object, right, who were interested in that. And so there are many people, including Claudia Saldanha, who took the class. Today I was looking at a photograph of a really nice person, Mark, an englishman, right, photographing the daughter of, oh my God...


CELSO GUIMARÃES: No. Of oh My God, I’m drawing a blank.

CLARA GERCHMAN: It will come to you.

CELSO GUIMARÃES: Yes, it will come to me. And I was looking at the picture, you know, people who passed, there were architects, there was another architect, also a friend of mine who is now a colleague at Fundão, you know, she was my student, she studied architecture and was a night student you know, that I called the toothpick* class. They came in and put the toothpick on the chair and we left for the lab to do photography. And I had a system which was about taking the material there, I took spot and stuff, and we did it, and since it was night time, then let’s photograph portraits, let’s deal with artificial light, that whole thing. That thing with everyone sitting down, somebody took my camera, and at the time I had a black moustache, you know, Gerchman, at his class, this here was when I put my first, it was the first time we put a stage, because there was a music show there, we set up a tage. Then the stage became your Gerchman’s piece, you know.

CLARA GERCHMAN: I think it was for Verão a Mil, wasn’t it?

Celso: No, I can’t remember what it was. It was a stage set up for a rock band, for a live band, you know, that thing. Then we closed it. When in the exhibition, as I told you, we closed it all.

CLARA GERCHMAN: Do you guys, do you think, you were really young, were you, let’s say, aware of the greatness of this school, and that, because, for instance, you talked about culture, afro-descendants cycle, the first show, how is it? Electric guitars, the first international exhibition of photography, I mean, it was really avant-garde, that moment, that space.

CELSO GUIMARÃES: I don’t think so, nobody is aware of that, you know, the responsibility that now we look back and see in hindsight. We didn’t know. Nobody knew. Not even Gerchman. What Gerchman wanted was to act as a headmaster and do it, and there was the dynamics, you know, he wanted things to have the dynamics he was proposing for art and contemporaneity back then, the end of the 70s, the end of modern era, turn that into a center. Now, for us to think we knew it, we didn’t have the slightest idea, I think it’s impossible. Just like I didn’t know how important I was when I went to the School of Fine Arts, for these 38 years. Maybe it wasn’t that important, maybe it wasn’t. So much space, so many right. How many people are gone, are retired, and we have no memories of any given event. We remember Parque Lage, because despite not knowing it back then, ok, we knew we were at a stimulating spot. There was this place, you know, that stimulated art. Of that we were sure, that we knew. Now, if this repercussion of value, right, of the thing in relation to Brazil, to Brazilian art, this I thnk, this is a consequence, it’s a product, right, of a reference that was planted through the idea, ok, the modification of the Institute of Fine Arts to the Visual Arts School, this whole thing. Celeida was a real character. This here, we left here and went to Bento Ribeiro, to pottery in Bento Ribeiro to buy clay, Celeida and I. “Let’s go?”. “Let’s go, Celeida”. And so we went. She wasn’t driving then, I had a car, I took her. When I get there she starts, outs her hand in the pot, takes it, starts with her interventions, and then begins gathering the pieces and she gives them and the doorman there, was there working on his pot, she puts in her hand and wanted to do one herself, she’s a real character.

This here is the oven Celeida made, ok, outside. At that time, this was in the first year, I got there in March, in September I was robbed. They took my Hassel cameras (Nikon), all of that. They broke in my place on the third floor, here in Laranjeiras and stole them. So I got an Instamatic and made these pictures. So I walked around with a small Instamatic, there wasn’t another, it was Instamatic. I got a Leica from a student who didn’t want it, he found it too complicated to take pictures with the Leica, so I bought his from him, and Mark, this englishman who had gone to New York, I asked him to buy me a photometer, we put it there and me, the Leica, I started photographing with the Leica-M3. Yes. But not this. This is Instamatic. It was a high quality little Instamatic.

BERNARDO: How were these actions by Celeida with the school?

CELSO GUIMARÃES: She burned the pieces, she made an oven to burn the pieces, because we didn’t have an oven. There at Parque Lage there was no oven, you know. So she built this one. This boy here, I don’t know his name, he’s Chilean and he was an engineer and he calculated it for Celeida, the structure, the whole structure for her to build the oven and burn the pieces, you know. It was on the side, at the back, you looked at it in front of Parque Lage between the stable and Parque Lage there in the corner, it was all there, we cleaned it, and built the oven. And Celeida, who is so much funnier, because Celeida, we were there building the clay and Celeida in her boots, she looked like a rich lady, you know. Such a character. And that was our, it was the event I organized. We went, the idea was to photograph on Sunday the fair in São Cristóvão, Sunday or Saturday, something like that, ok, so we photographed on the following Saturday, no, 15 days later we went to São Cristóvão’s field and extended a series of strings there and put up the pictures, you know, and we had an exhibition. And people who had been photographed were there, so we took it, I told everyone to make copies so we could give them to the people, and people got there and we gave them their copies, you know. So it was a commotion, you know, people going “look, there’s that guy, whatever”. There at the fair and they’d ask people to come, understand? And we did it, I made a series of photographs I still keep. I think I’m going to put them, here with this group of photographs of everyone and I don’t know their names, and some of them have names on the backs, some of them don’t. These pictures, ok, we took them to Parque Lage and had an exhibition at Parque Lage, where we invited people from the fair to come to Parque Lage to see the exhibition there. To leave the field in São Cristóvão and have the exhibition at Parque Lage. So we took this trio, she played at the fair and we invited them to the exhibition at Parque Lage. I don’t know if you have it, Clara, the piece that was printed in O Globo about the exhibition? Who did it? Who did it, if I’m not mistaken it was who, My God? Who was the writer from O Globo? No. JB, it was , it wasn’t Walmir Ayala, no. It was Frederico de Moraes.

He even says it, he used quotes, “the thickness ok, of the exhibition”. Because we did it, it wasn’t thickness, it was what we had, you know. Because concurrent to our exhibition, there was this really sophisticated fashion exhibit, ok, and our thickness was our black and white with fish, cow head and everything they had at the fair in São Cristóvão, right, in comparison to others, it wasn’t the thickness of our work, it was the spontaneity, you know. He even says it “it wasn’t that spontaneity that was our exhibition”. And with xaxado playing inside, and at the front door were the fancy ladies, you know, really sophisticated, right, with the other colleague’s exhibition. It was really great, by the way.

CLARA GERCHMAN: How did you get the material to work with, this one, the negative?

CELSO GUIMARÃES: It was ours. We bought it. You bought it, in fact, one of the problems we could see was rew, right, that we call rew, right, rewound. We bought a roll of 30 meters, right, I had a little machine to rewind it, then we took the old 35mm cartridge, and the cartridge didn’t always have felt film in, and sometimes that breaks and scratches the entire roll. Then if you do it too quickly, it scratches the film. So I was looking at that black line, you see? It’s the rewound film, ok, but we didn’t buy a rewound film, we bought it, we did it. The situation we had was the same one I implemented at UFRJ, the negative we buy the rewound film, 30 meters, and you make many, like 10, let’s say 10, more or less 10 36 cartridges, more or less 8, 10, ok, you split the tin, ok, so people could buy it and have more film, and it was a lot cheaper, right. There were these improprieties, get it, we only knew it when the thing didn’t show on the thing that black scratched line, right, but it’s part of the deal. Now with computers it’s not a problem, the black line disappears, we clean the whole thing, there’s no problem, right, but these conveniences we didn’t have at the time was the retoucher, and retouchers are a pain in the ass, right? It’s a little brush and you have to do that thing, you try the tone, put it on your tongue and do it, on the white little plate, and it stays, you know, that thing, and I already don’t like it, it’s not part of my memories. I deleted it, ok. I still buy film, with photography, I’m using film, I take photos, put it on a beautiful scanner, import it to the computer, and then I get to work on the computer, because I still think photographs through film are better than that pasteurized thing that happens with digital, you know, but and it’s no fun. Here’s the deal with digital for me, digital is no fun, ok, it’s fine for you to work with graphics, when you take pictures and turn it into image photos, as I call it today, it’s fantastic. But actual photography, you know, that photography us traditionalists had, right, to enlarge using lenses, I don’t know, it’s terrible. There’s no chance I’ll like it, but ok, that’s my problem. So we bought it, right, the developing film, and that’s where Parque Lage hosts it, the part, we bought the chemistry and prepared the lab, right, the developer, the fixative, the switch, those traditional things, ok, both for film and paper, and we made a gallon of 5 litres, more or less, a gallon of 5 litres is an incoherence, right, 1 deposit of 5 litres, more or less, and so we prepared a large quantity so everyone could work, and it worked out fine. It worked. The paper, people bought their own paper, right, because some like it pearly, others prefer it glossy, other prefer I don’t know what. I always stipulated the paper at that time was more radical, right, photographs with more journalistic tendencies, for documentation, you know, always glossy paper, ok. Despite me personally always using paper matte, right, or semi-matte, not even matte. And with that I, but when it was more documentary it was glossy paper. So it’s really quite traditional. It’s my school, right, but that’s it, things like that. Anything else?

PEDRO: I thought it was great, Is there anything you remember that you would like to say on the record for posterity?

CELSO GUIMARÃES: For posterity?

PEDRO: Or any curious story, something you remember, something with Gerchman?

CELSO GUIMARÃES: Curious story?

PEDRO: Yes. At Parque Lage.

CELSO GUIMARÃES: I am a terrible story-teller, nothing.

PEDRO: From those crazy nights at Parque Lage.

CLARA GERCHMAN: The little bats.

CELSO GUIMARÃES: No. The little bats, no. We can’t tell anything about the little bats, you know. There’s stuff about, there’s João Grijó, when he showed up, he’s deceased, portuguese, and João Grijó was really funny, because he was really calm, he was a great character, and there are no stories, but his act, where he worked with an octopus. Octopus, you know, octopus for him, the octopus is one of the smartest animals in nature and he would tell about the experiences of the octopus that he went to the Aquarium in Portugal, right, in Lisbon, to see what the octopus did, what was the deal, you know, a real character. Those are acts, right, the octopus, and that’s when I came to know, in fact, that my favourite philosopher was Flusser, he wrote a book called Vampyroteuthis Infernalis, which is about giant octopi, right, abyssal, and he relates men and octopi, that we descend from the same lineage as the octopi. The octopus goes to one side, and men to the other, right, and he does the thing. That really reminded me, right, when I started studying Flusser a little deeper. It’s João Grijó who talked about the octopus, get it, and we would mess around with him, you know, about the thing with the octopus. And then there was that octopus in Germany, right, that picked out the winning team, he picked it out, right. And it was a really interesting story about João Grijó. A fantastic artist that crossed through Parque Lage and came to Brazil, moved here, and died stupidly, right, and about a decade ago, more or less, I had the pleasure to know him. I participated in visual communications with him, you know, exhibitions he had. Celeida, there’s Nelly. Nelly Guttman, they were all from Parque Lage, right, students who studied under Celeida, Nelly, Maria Vasco, and a number of people, great people. We need to talk. Remembering things is really complicated, it takes us by surprise, but remembering here.

BERNARDO: And do you think the world can go back to being pleasant, like those days, or has this ship already sailed?

CELSO GUIMARÃES: No. Ship has sailed. I’m not a pessimistic guy, no. It’s just that this is a generation, you know, an education Brazil has lost. We’ve lost that education, you know. I’m not saying you don’t have education, please, you’re younger, right, but the type of education, the type of, previous generations, until the generation, until the 70s, you know, I don’t know, 50, 1950, 60, more or less, ok, eighteen, born in the early 60s, they lived albeit an extremely hard time, which was the famous military dictatorship, there was humor. People from Rio have lost the humor, you know. Rio de Janeiro has lost its humor. There are lots of great and interesting things? Yes, there is. But there are no other Ziraldo, Henfil, there’s nobody else. You don’t stand out, they are few, and when somebody stands out there’s the politically correct who won’t let them, and we were incorrect. We’re from an incorrect generation, you know? There was no politically correct with us, right. That is what we lost, the spontaneity. That’s why I say that, of course today we have beautiful things, there are beautiful things, as I said, a fantastic camera like this one and you don’t need those gigantic cameras, you take a photo camera now and you film with it, high quality stuff. And everything today, I saw a guy doing a wedding, and he had a D-11, right, Canon, on a support, he had the flash up there, with a little table, and I don’t know what else, the camera here and him with a tablet, only looking at what is the camera, you know? A guy by himself gets there, in the old days you’d se a bunch of people to photograph, film it, you know, the hitters here and the guy alone with a camera. So the technological aid is fantastic, but it has a price, right. That’s what I think we lost, you know? The inventive and creative aspect, not this ingenuity without being academic. The ingenuity of you know, Brazil still has a loto f that, out of here it’s less, ok. Here you, as they say, make do, you are always making do, always doing something or adapting something, but there’s no humor anymore, you know. Humor in Brazil, I think Brazil has lost its humor. That really bothers me when I’m teaching, people can’t read between the lines, when you feed them what’s between the lines, you know, when you make a joke in the middle of a serious subject, that, people can no longer catch it.

BERNARDO: But always in a stupidity tone, right?

CELSO GUIMARÃES: That too. There’s also that.

BERNARDO: That still remains, a little.


BERNADO: Has it been more cosmopolitan?

CELSO GUIMARÃES: Yes. It’s been more cosmopolitan, exactly.

BERNARDO: It’s been smarter.

CELSO GUIMARÃES: Yes. I’m saying it’s getting stupider. That’s the term. It’s becoming more stupid. Not only in terms of demanding, but also the volume of people, right. Rio de Janeiro used to be a lot smaller. Me, when we talk and people say “this and that, and all”. That in 1970 was 70 million. Think 40 years later, it has tripled. If it’s not that, it’s almost that, you know. And it was 350 years, 340 years, 400 years I’d say, 450 now, well, 400 years, 70 million, 450, thrice as much. So you can no longer have that environment we had, you know. That’s not what’s wrong with Brazil, no, please, I don’t think it’s a Brazilian problem, it’s a world problem, ok. Germany, I lived in Germany for nine years, that is horrible, you know. Not as a country and all, but in terms of humor. Germans only have a sense of humor when they drink, and for them, it’s all about work. It’s work, but you can work and have humor. I always believed that if I go to work cranky, if to me work is something that leaves me with a serious expression, I don’t work. I’d rather not work. Because then I go to work on a fight. Work for me, it has to be joyful, happy, I have to enjoy it, and so I go back to Parque Lage, we had joy at Parque Lage, you know. There was a sensitivity thing, way more important than the cranky stuff, you know, “since you’re just working and there are only serious artists, no”. It’s a serious work, but we do it with a sense of humor, so it’s the lack of that which I think exhausts me here. It’s not technology, it’s not the amount of people, it’s you know, the lack of humor, the lack of intelligence. I think that’s it. The lack, you called it, the lack of intelligence, you know, people are limited, they barely read, they’re not really provoked, you know. Back in my days there was Pasquim, it made you laugh out loud. It’s a fantastic group of writers and today there’s none of that. It’s something like, it’s pastel. Pastel. It’s like pastel. Like you say “you lost it”. You lost it. Ok. Ok.

* a transcrição diz “palito”, então traduzi como toothpick. Mas faz mais sentido se for “paletó”, nesse caso, trocar para jacket. A não ser que seja algum material específico de fotografia, ou algum jargão, que não conheço.


MARCOS FLACKSMAN: Visual Arts School, VAS. Let me tell you a little bit about how I met Rubens. Rubens, I met him, if I’m not mistaken, I don’t even remember the date. I started to work professionally in 1964. Just so people don’t start immediately doing the maths and so they don’t think an old ripe person, I’m not an old ripe person, I really am, I'm already an adult, but I started really early it was in theater. So, scenography for me, my approximation with scenography was because of my passion for theater, and a passion for freedom, in truth. Let's speak clearly, because inside the theater groups, you exerted in a society much repressive than it is today, way more repressive than today, more freedom. So I was also searching for that. Besides that, within arts in general, I don’t like to mix my work, I think my work isn’t part of the fine arts chain. I do not think of myself as a fine artist. In fact, I take issue with fine artists. But that space in unreal world, I think that’s a common ground among us. I mean, we were all young, quite young, we were all pro left, we were facing quite an explosive period of our national politics. Similar to this one, but this one is less, it's more organized, you know? Then, it was less, it was more, it was more dangerous. So much so that there was a revolution, not the revolution, coup d’etat in 64. So we were all engaged in a revolution and we were all really young. Me, for instance, at the same time that I started working in scenography, and in theater actually, I was part of a government project that was about alphabetizing according to Paulo Freire’s method. This was all really old. Paulo Freire’s method, we established, there was the famous 11th floor of the Ministry of Education and Culture, which was situated where now is Capanema’s building. And the 11th floor occupied, it was occupied by the literacy method. Well, at that time, early 60s, I met Gerchman, I met Vergara, I met Roberto Magalhães. The first time I ever smoked pot was with Roberto Magalhães. Amazing, isn’t it?

CLARA: In good company.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: In good company. And other people from back then, Antônio Dias, who was from that 68 crowd, the famous exhibition of 68 and all. After that, those guys go into, I mean, I became a professional of theater, and those artists, Vergara is a partner in this studio to this day. Vergara is still my partner, he’s like my broher, and Gerchman was always in touch. I followed the construction of the studio in Barra, Barrinha, I was with there on many occasions. and when, I went to Europe, I went to Europe in, the end of 67 with a scholarship from the French government, combined with a scholarship from Itamaraty. Really fancy. And my brother, Alberto, he had gone to France. He was arrested here in 66, right before the AI-5, we managed to obtain a habeas corpus and got him out of the country. And he left. He left in the beginning of 67 and towards the end of 67 I went, I got the scholarships, I got the tickets, I got a prize from Air France, they gave me the tickets, so to sum it up, I went to Europe, I spent five years there. I had a five-year gap which was between 68, a large gap, between the end of 67 and the beginning of 70, I mean, I was here in Brazil for one year and a half, then again I got a prize ticket from Air France, then I went back and stayed until 73. I came back with Daniel was one-year-old back then. When I get back, that was 73, things were, I mean AI-5 no longer had such a mean effect, so violent. But we still weren’t breathing any kind of freedom, in fact in my opinion we couldn’t breathe any kind of freedom until the end of the dictatorship. Because there are people, Glauber himself, who was nuts, he’d say “well, Golbery is a genius of our kind”, and there in Europe, because he was delirious, he’d say “because Geisel is really engaged in opening...”, engaged my ass, he was a German torturer, son of a bitch, torturer, a complete asshole of the worst species, as they all were, all those Generals were. I hate those people. And when Gerchman was invited, if I’m not mistaken, by Grisolli himself.

CLARA: ... By Lina, he was recommended by Lina Bo Bardi.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: Yes, recommended by Lina Bo Bardi. Grisolli, if I’m not mistaken, was already Secretary of Culture, or not...

CLARA: ... he was in the Secretariat of Culture.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: Gerchman was invited, Gerchman was invited to do what, there was an Institute, which was a government Institute, if I’m not mistaken, probably, that took up a building, I don’t know exactly which building, but it was at that entirely military area at Praia Vermelha, which was an Institute of fine arts, and that Institute of fine arts, because I never visited it, but from what I heard it was an Institute that served people who wanted to learn quite well, and it’s great, it’s wonderful, and I have nothing against it, you know. But the students weren’t exactly young and they were people who, either did it for fun, or to pass the time, or as a complementary course to the fine arts course, an exercise of the fine arts course which was something that favoured painting, observation painting, outdoor painting, it was beautiful, spectacular, I’ve got nothing against it. Except that it was too little. So he had a concession of a place that I think it’s key for all of that to have happened, the fact that he went to Parque Lage, took over Parque Lage. And Gerchman invited a bunch of people he knew in areas connected to arts in general. I got a scenography workshop, which I’ll discuss in further detail afterwards. But, I met people like Gastão Manuel Henrique, for instance, who I knew from having worked with his wife. Who was a wonderful actress that worked with me in an amateur group in Niterói. We did Electra, she played Electra, I don’t remember her name, it will come to me. So I met Gastão, who was married to her, he was also friends with Vergara, friends with Gerchman and stuff. Roberto I already said I knew and all. When we joined the school, those people, we had a bunch of meetings, so there were doubts in the air, I mean, we knew, I mean I didn’t go to pedagogy school, none of us did. No one from the crowd did. I don’t know if Heloísa Buarque has a pedagogy degree, but I don’t have a fucking thing, she studied literature if I’m not mistaken. So, the doubt we all had was the following, how do you build a course, how do you set up a free school. Because that word was inseparable, I mean, we put the word free next to everything. Because our greatest desire was that thing of having things, of having schools and being with other people, and having performances, and everything free, free of censorship, free of limits, free of everything. We were at the end of, right after the end of the 60s which was one the most revolutionary and libertarian times we’ve ever had. Today, I don't see anything similar in that generation of my children. I have children that range from 42 to 17 or 18 years old. I mean I have a range and I haven’t seen, I haven’t seen in their generation. It’s a generation that is a lot more quiet let’s call it that. When he got there, my doubts were the following, how do you do, I mean, actually, scenography, let me talk a little bit about scenography itself, how was the course subject. Scenography, for me, especially at that time, more than anything, it was a subject connected to drama and not to architecture, to drawing or to painting. Architecture, drawing, painting or any other spatial intervention to me was an instrument. It served as the instrument. Okay, so far so good, it’s all great, how amazing, how awesome, it’s an instrument, spectacular. Well, but it's true, so I remember that for a long time when I dealt with it, when I taught workshops and I dealt with people, people asked me, “is it important to study architecture to work as a set designer?”, because the set designer, the architect, today you can get a degree from UNIRIO to call yourself a set designer. Because there wasn’t, and UFRJ, because there wasn’t, a set designer was a marginal like any other. And an architect could be a set designer, but since nobody ever asked for any signatures for anything, anyone could be a set designer. But scenography was that thing when you, starting from, for me, starting from drama, so, starting from an idea that doesn’t have to be literary, but it’s a dramatic idea, that necessarily involves a human being, it involves the theatrical act, or dramaturgy, or the dramaturgic literature that existed, so, whatever you wanted, you could think about the space where it happened. So that was the goal of the scenography workshop. So it’s what we did there, what we did at Parque Lage, which was a place of freedom, I mean, here’s what we did, we did dramatic reading. So basically what we did was dramatic reading. In my workshop, we did dramatic reading. We chose a play, one of which we set and I have results. Hélio even took it, Hélio digitalized and put it in the exhibition, which was, we chose, “A Senhora dos Afogados”, which is a complex play by Nelson Rodrigues, who was a little arrogant. I directed “A Serpente”, which was his last play. I will stay, if anything will, if people will remember my name for any reason, this will be the reason, it’s amazing. It was really hard to get it done, it was done, the play was refused by many actors and actresses from the time who were able to do it, the play was amazing, and we did it. And us, and “A Senhora dos Afogados”, which is another one of his neglected plays, you’ve never seen or heard of it being produced, it’s been produced, many times, but it’s not among his preferred plays, it was a play highly structured in Greek tragedy. Let me take a moment here to talk a little bit about Nelson Rodrigues. He went by the school to see the exhibition. Nelson, on top of being someone with the most incredible sense of humor, and he was, he also didn’t make it easy on anyone, he was irritable, radical, he was a self proclaimed reactionary and all. It was all a big front, a massive smoke screen. And I saw Nelson giving, one of his characters was the intern with the dirty ankle, did you know that? I mean, he had many characters and his work. One of the characters was this famous intern with a dirty ankle who walked around in sandals, always with a dirty ankle, he said she was from Pontifícia Universiade Católica (PUC). And there were other characters. There was a character who was the brother-in-law. The brother-in-law was a terrible character, he was a vulgar man with a little mustache, he was the guy who kissed the widower’s neck, who was his brother’s widower. So, the brother died, anda t the wake, he gets there and he kisses the widower’s neck. That was another one of his characters, to sum it up. Nelson Rodrigues was a special character and we chose him because I was in touch with him at the time, it was really fourtunate that I met him, and I was producing a play. I had done one of his plays, I don’t remember the date, if it was a little before, or a little after I did his. But we did it. So what did we do? What was the methodology, the methodology, that didn’t exist, was this. First I had a thesis, which was ilustrated in humor, because I also have that quality, which is often considered a fault, that I don’t take it seriously. I can’t take anything seriously, anything. Not a thing, absolutely nothing. Not even sickness. Or pain. I can’t take it seriously. because I believe our best escape is through humor. Because without humor it’s impossible. You can’t live. I don’t think you can. And if you do, you do it bitterly. It’s quite an unpleasant survival. So, inside, here’s what we did, we read the play like it’s done at a table reading, how actors do it. So, we read the play, we discussed the characters, the subtexts, the psychology of the characters and what that meant. And if I’m not mistaken, that happened with 25 students, all at the same time. They could get together, work together, or work independently. And I, at the same time, gave them an idea about the story, the development of the scenic spaces, which are, any space is a scenic space. But, there are patterns, so I wanted them to know them, so that was a little bit the didactic aspect, so there was, we came from Greek theater, went through Roman theater, kept on going, came, went through Medieval times, pre-classicals, Opera, and all of those, all of those theater stages provided great architectural heritage, architectural heritage we considered, and the historians and critics, I’m not a critic, they considered them dramaturgic heritage from the time. So Greek theater, which is the most spectacular theater ever created, was a heritage from Greek tragedy and comedy. There was also Greek comedy, people only know the tragedy, but they also had comedy. Which walked hand in hand with tragedy. Well, and then, I had an exercise with them which was almost a group therapy. They were people, absolutely heterogeneal, young people, older people, some ladies that, not to be pejorative, so, older ladies who were there from the old art Institute, and here’s what I proposed. I’ll tell you about a cliché from American cinema that all of you, I told them, that all of you have already seen. What is the American cinema cliché that you also must have seen, which is spectacular? It’s the guy, Gene Kelly did a movie like that, it will come to me, it’s the poor artist, who normally lives in a fucking, because we know what it’s like to be poor in Paris, when you’re poor in Paris you’re fucked, you live in the street. But the guy was poor and he lived in a cool little apartment with a skylight and everything, a piano, and he had a problem that he couldn’t get inspired. He had the possibility to do something but he just didn’t get inspired, so every day he sat at the piano and smoked, digressed, sitting in front of the piano. So I told them that, “I don’t want anybody sitting at the piano, because that’s not how it works, it’s a lie, this is American cinema, here’s what I want you to do, considering the conversations we’ve had all this time, what you said and what you felt reading the play, anytime any of you get an insight on the street, you’re taking a bus, you’re crapping, you’re eating, you’re fooling around, you’re doing whatever it is, you’re at the fair, if you get an insight, you write down the image, what was it in the picture that got you the insight. That, so we took those ideas, people brought it…

CLARA: ... Inserting your day to day life, right?

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: Within their daily lives, so, I didn't want people to stop a moment to concentrate on schoolwork. There was no schoolwork. I said, either the this is part of, or can you incorporate this feeling of creation to your lives, and not let it disturb your lives, or you don’t, stopping is pointless, to stop and sit at the piano is an American cinema thing, it doesn’t work. And as a result of that we had, I don’t remember how many, but, I don’t know, 20 or 15 different works about the same theme. Completely different. I mean, the same play, discussed by the same group, ir generated 15 different settings, and they could choose their spaces. One of the spaces was Parque Lage itself, that pool area, but they could choose a Greek theater, they could choose the Italian, an Opera Theatre, etc. So that’s the kind of work we did there. When the first year or the second year was over, I don’t remember anymore, I began having doubts about didacticism. Then, I remember there were meetings when we had all those people there and with Gerchman also, I spoke to Gerchman many times, so, kind of, kind of fucked, so here’s what happens, there’s a major gap within the classroom, so I think we could have inside the school or the partnership with the school, a basic course. So I began thinking there should be a basic course, which was a basic course of you talking about a square, and for people to know what it’s a square. Otherwise it’s a mess, then it’s crazy, if you go, if you have to start by explaining what is a square, I didn't have time to do the things that I wanted to do, because I didn't want to talk about geometry, I wanted to discuss drama. And I have a background as an architect, I am an architect, I have a heavy geometric background. I used to teach spatial geometry, those things, so we, geometry for me was very important for spatial projection, but it wasn't important for creation itself. It was a tool at my disposal, so, then I, amid this, amid this, this discussion about the basic courses, that’s when the school was shut down. The school is shut, it was an act, that I remember it was an act off authoritarianism, using arguments that were not fake, right.

CLARA: What do you mean it was shut? Did they invade?

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: No, shut, no, it was shut, your father was fired, I don’t remember exactly how it happened, he was fired it was shut. And they changed management, and a guy took over to establish a standard school. Your father had set up his office in the bathroom of Besanzoni Lage. I mean, so, that libertarian spirit and open spirit of the school, and one of the arguments is that people smoke pot in the park it inside the school, which was true, I myself smoked. So there wasn’t… Fuck it whatever, what’s the big deal? No big deal. Well, and, but now you can’t, imagine it back then, picture that time taking into account the military regime. So, when I got to the school, I found a, because Gerchman, your, that Gerchman had invited a bunch of people I already knew, we were all really young. I already knew Roberto Magalhães, I already knew Gastão Manuel Henrique, I already knew Vicente Formiga, I already knew, he was my classmate, both of them, Vicente and Roberto were my college mates. I met Roberto, I met Celeida there, and I met other people I won’t remember now, but Astréia, who I mentioned to you, Astréia was funny, because Astréia taught free drawing, live model, and she did it by the pool. I don’t remember if the model was nude, but it must have been, like we have them at the School of Fine Arts, and I remember I took her class, sometimes when I left early I took her class, I drew, I loved it, it was an opportunity to draw with other people, and there was a time when she had to do, I don't know what the fuck she had to do, I had to replace her as a drawing teacher at her class. I loved the school, I mean, whenever I could, I would do it, at the time I was already working a lot at set designing, I worked some big spectacles that took up a lot of my time, and we were already setting up the studio here as well, which wasn’t here, this is like his fifth or sixth address, but we begin setting up the collective studio, and in this studio there were Vergara, Manuel Ribeiro, Sebastião Lacerda... So it was a large studio, it was also a collective studio and it just went against every possible rule of setting something up, of a functioning business. None of us had ever owned a business. And we had the studio. Inside the school, there was a mandatory, it wasn’t even, it wasn’t up to you, it was a necessary experience with other people in other areas of activity, for instance, Hélio, who is a really well established set designer, and is probably the only survivor I know from a time when set designing was discussed at the highest level and who was, those were cultivated people let’s call it that. Hélio is one of those people, has always been, and even when he was young, and Hélio had the body workshop there. So I was in touch with Hélio’s workshop a little. I was in touch with Astréia’s workshop, I got in to attend the class, I never forgot, I wasn’t a student, it’s a shame I wasn’t, I didn’t have the time, but I never forgot Roberto Magalhães’ classes, teaching how to use colored pencils. I use a lot of colored pencils in my drawings and much of what I heard him saying. And the litho and engraving workshops Vicente had there, the photography workshop by Roberto who was a master for many generations of photographers and was also an architect. And hanging out in an area, that was an area full of people who were there, who found their spaces there, like the people from Nuvem Cigana (Gypsy Cloud), from poetry, Heloísa too, I don’t remember exactly what she did, but she had her thing, some philosophy encounters, she was a great sponsor of this libertarian poetry field, unpublished poetry, etc.

CLARA: we see that the spirit from the time includes a lot of leisure. Also the importance of leisure.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: It was,it is important to, here’s the deal, the disqualification of scholarship background, I mean, many of us also had an academic background. I for one had an academic background, let me translate it, let me open a bracket, buy a academic background what I mean is that I have a college degree, from the University. Hélio had studied scenography with Svoboda, in Prague. And I don’t know, Gastão, I don’t know if he’s an engineer, it was something like that, I don’t know if he’s an engineer, many people who had academic background, but there were others who didn’t. And what we wanted was to gather people around creative ideas. That was it. Creative ideas that could be about poetry reading, so, literature, that could be about performance, which is something that I, for instance, am really suspicious of, to this day. When you restrict it to fine arts. The other day I went to an exhibition that was in place, I don’t really want to identify it, but there was a piece, there were several sound boxes, like around, they must have cost a fortune because they were good stuff, all connected, I don’t remember exactly what was on the side, there were a couple of things on the side but it was so insignificant that I don't even remember what it was but it did a humming, that humming that you wanted to eliminate now in order to record, that was the humming. So you are inside the gallery, I mean, there were other pieces, but you had to listen to that fucking thing. Tunga was there, and I said to Tunga, “Tunga, fuck it this is not possible, fuck, you have to do something because that’s not possible”, you know. So that’s that. And I’ve seen conceptual art, of tying a string as if it was here, you put a nail there, you put a string there, string here, string there, you tie the stairs, you pull it here. I have nothing against it, I'm all for it, crazy people are crazy and they gotta be on the loose as far as I know, you know. You bite by people, if you’re biting people you have to take something for that. But if you’re not biting people, let it loose, you know. But no, to sum it up, there’s got to be a limit. That’s why I told you I think set designing is an art more related to drama and not, more to drama, and not to fine arts themselves.

CLARA: You mentioned your theater roots, “I come from theater”. Paulo Afonso Grisolli was a great partner, Secretary of Culture at the time, and he was really suportive, for as long as he could, of the school. I’d like you to tell me a little more about that opportunity to actully bring, the scenography matter, the theater, to the school, because I believe you made that amazing contribution. I’d like you to talk about the importance of bringing dramaturgy to school, because it is a Visual Arts School, and you had a friend who was Paulo Afonso Grisolli, you came, that was your background, how is it...

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: Grisolli was part of the generation that preceded us a little. I met him when I started doing amateur theater, then we got together, merged two groups, one was our group that was called Grupo de Orla, the other was a group more connected to the left wing, I think it was called Grupo Bibsa, from which came Moisés Achemblate and two other people who, Hilário Stanislau, I mean, actors too, and Grisolli, so we merged these two groups and we started, first a group called Teato Mambembe, and our intention was to produce theater and plays for the working classes. It was 1963, so we did Electra which we took for instance to the steel company, is it? No, no, no the steel company is in Volta Redonda, no. Yes. Let’s go,thousands of workingmen, we presented our play among the workingmen and stuff. It was a version of Electra by Sophocles. It was a modern version, so the chariots were actually racing cars and I don’t know what, I have some vague memory. Gastão’s wife was working with us the time. And then I went, after that we started here in Rio a group that I think is a really important group in the history of Rio’s theater. We only did a few things because it was a very brief theater, but we did Sartre, we did Dead Without Burial, I worked on Dead Without Burial with many actores who are miraculously still alive, one of them is Peréio, Aldo de Maio who is no longer with us, Ary Koslov, Têtê Medina, I mean, people who would then carry on doing theater, and Grisolli directed, as Maciel did. And then, during the civil work, the redevelopment work at Largo da Carioca, that theater was a shed, it was a shed, it was my favourite theater to work, ever. It was a wooden shed, a three sided arena. It was spectacular. And then, so actually, we had theater, theater ran in my veins, I had had experiences, few, but I had a few experiences that showed me that the theater was a space of freedom. Why is theater a place of freedom? Because it was a theater of recreation. You, I mean, the theatrical universe, it was separate, necessarily so, because of a language matter in the real universe. It is the dramaturgy universe, the invention universe. So, inside the school, I think that’s it, I never had a play inside the school, I wish I had. I saw a few performances there, and they were amazing. Performances on the pool, setting up a stage on the pool. I never had resources to do that, but I think, and also the music shows, the, the poetry readings, the performances, the movie projections we had there, I told you I saw Tim Maia playing a gig there. I saw Tim Maia, me and everybody else, there were so many people there. I saw movie projections there, I saw films by Santeiro, Rosenberg, Glauber, I saw a lot of things, and we had the projections up there, close to a small tower there, the screen, amazing, it was a place of experimentation, and people, and it was a place of communion. Evidently, when you do that, there’s always a wide opened flank so, I mean, how do you set aside the bum from the libertarian, you know? So there was one too many people who hung around, laying there, getting high, laying around the corners. So that was something we had to deal with, and in a way, in my head, what could be done wasn’t to shut it down or to forbid, but, to have a little more control, at least during the working hours, because painting always was, it is still done today, it was done under natural light, below the archs. So I mentioned all these people I met, when I got there and I recognized all those people it was a major frustration when it was over, I remember, when, I have amazing memories of meetings in the bathroom, where your father’s office is, Gerchman’s office, Bezanzoni’s bathtub and we took it really seriously. I have, I don’t remember everything, I mean, it’s been a long time, you know but I have, I know I have interview material that I have given at the school about my work outside the school and inside the school at the time.

CLARA: And do you believe you were aware of the importance and the quality of the work you were getting done there, because it was an amazing team, everybody who’s been through there. And still go through. But everybody…

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: ... I think we, I don't know if we were aware of the importance, being aware, to this day I don't think I'm aware of the importance, to tell you the truth. I mean, it’s not me, I think, I don’t know how to speak of the importance of it. I think there were a few evident and physical and measurable things, such as the fact that it was a space where we could exercise freedom. Which was something, today for example, you go out, I mean one of the things that was said about those ridiculous manifestations that occurred, both of them, one sponsored by PT, with sandwiches that I don’t know what kind of sandwiches they were, and everybody in red, shirts, it must’ve been distributed, everybody in uniforms. We didn’t have uniforms, we were against uniforms, we were absolutely, this was the world on the other side. People who walked around in uniforms were on the other side. And that ridiculous manifestation of people wearing our national team’s jerseys is ridiculous. We didn’t resemble one or the other, get it? We were libertarians, we were in favor of individual freedom and we were affictionados and devoted and, to freedom of creation. We were there to encourage people to create freely in the many segments connected mostly, to visual arts. Because it was a visual arts school.

CLARA: And do you have any anecdotes to share?

PEDRO: I’d like to ask you something about it. But when you say we, who are these people? Was it a large group, do you believe that sentiment that you call libertarian resonated in your generation, or was it something restricted to that crowd?

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: No, it was a restricted, here's the deal, there were people, I for one was hired, I probably made a laughable amount of money but it doesn’t matter. We all did. But we, we were hired, I was hired to do that, I had a schedule, my workshop had a timetable, I had to have it, it’s impossible, how do you gather people. But people circulated, so the people, the teachers, we weren’t called teachers, we were called, I don’t remember if the coordinator...

CLARA: ... Directors?

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: No, it was workshop coordinators, or stimulators, we didn’t want to use, because I was never a teacher.

CLARA: My father said the students weren’t students, they were users, and the professors one professors, they were guides, enablers…

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: ... yes, guide also is, I’m not that fond of guide, no, I much prefer coordinator, but anyhow, it doesn’t matter. There was a group of people who coordinated and organized those workshops and the function of a required result, I mean, I demanded work from people the way it has to be done in a workshop like that, now, in answer to your question this is how it goes, regardless of this group of teachers which by coincidence maybe, or by Rubens’ own competence, or pure luck, it was a highly creative group that after its existence carried on living off their creativity, I mean, I don’t know if 100% but close to 100% of the people involved. But not only that, as it also added the character of the school, the vibe, the atmosphere that ruled the school, it gathered a lot of people, so much that I remember that when enrollment was opened for those workshops, I had, I don’t know, they were hundreds, and we could, I had a 25 people limit, otherwise they couldn’t fit the classroom, so people just do it outside, then. But it wasn't just about the timetable, not just around the workshops, it was around the libertarian idea, around the idea of culture, so from there it came, that was shown in Hélio’s exhibition at Casa Daros. From there many things were published, poems were published, thesis, people spoke, you see, I talk a lot, everyone there was, there are people who talk more that me, crazy as it may sound. So everyone had that speech, and there was this thing, about the period and, which would be a period that if I had to illustrate, using my own exercise, for that period I would use that famous poster by Hélio Oiticica that said, “I’m a marginal, I’m a hero”. I mean, I didn’t think I was a hero, but I thought of myself as a marginal. We all thought of us as marginals, but not marginals who were going to mug you at the school’s door. We didn’t do that. But we were marginal because we wanted to exercise all kinds of visual arts, because it was a visual arts school with total freedom of choice I mean, there was nothing that could fit the existing didactic canons, or canons created by a new left, let’s say, or a new school of thought. I mean, it also wasn’t a church. We didn’t start a church, let me make that clear, because otherwise, sometimes you get those people together, “but you’re a genius”, “no, you’re the genius”, “no, look at her, she’s hot, she’s hot and she’s a genius”, “wow, how many geniuses, we are all geniuses”, and so it turns into a Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. There was none of that, nobody thought they were a genius, nobody thought they were any fucking thing, and it wasn’t a church, so, the fact that it wasn’t a church, ended up attracting a lot of people who manifested there and who weren’t from there. The very own marginal poets found in Parque Lage at the time a house, which they didn’t have, but none of them, as far as I remember, none of them, who was around there and taught a few classes and I don’t know exactly which was her course was Heloísa, who sponsored because of the literature thing, she really sponsored those people. Many people appeared at the time and had connections like this, one of them, Ana Cristina César, for instance, is a little known poet who had a nice exhibition at Instituto Moreira Salles and all, she was never there, she never taught a class, but she certainly was part of that atmosphere that came, that breath of fresh air that the Visual Arts School provided. Anecdotes, I have, I remember, the memories I have were like, one of the memories I have was of those night movie projections that were absolutely spectacular, amazing, it was always crowded. Of a few moments and performances which were performances and poetry readings and crazy things in general, because there were a lot of crazy people there. We didn’t arrest the crazy people nor did we reprimand them, so there was a bunch of them. And also that gig by Tim Maia. That gig was registered in my memory, because it was the only live show by Tim Maia I ever attended. And it was amazing, he did that whole thing of his, I don't know he probably didn't even charge for it, and he, everything he did on his professional gigs, that whole thing, the encore, the clown, there’s no sound, work the sound, he did that whole number, I don’t, that was unforgettable. He did that whole number there. It was crowded, full of people, and Parque Lage for us, it wasn’t just the house. It was the park. We didn’t, I mean, we couldn’t really occupy that place in a more, I mean if we had been in England or in Japan we would have occupied it more effectively but in a way the territory is occupied by us. And I also think that moment when Gerchman, actually, you may say that it was Gerchman who created that school. And created that form of instituting a free school. That was his creation, it demanded a certain courage, he probably had to face a lot of red tape, that I'm unfamiliar with, other people I know, it is endlessly annoying, but on the other hand, it was something we didn't have to make any effort, it wasn't an ideological attitude, it wasn’t a revolutionary attitude, let’s say like this. It was, but it wasn’t, I mean, it wasn’t a revolutionary armed group attitude, for example, in which we had words of command. Nobody had no fucking words of command, nobody had anything, but we had that thing within us that we thought we had conquered a space of freedom with people we thought, who were young like us, who he thought wanted the same things and wanted to explore the same thing, and that happen for some time, it was a spark. It was a spark I think grew, it could have grown further. Nowadays I don’t know how the school of visual arts works, I don’t know how it works, I was there quickly the other day talking to a lady who is no longer the Principal. She was one of the Principals. It seemed really nice and all, and every so often I feel like going back there to draw in those corridors, you know? Dear memories. But it was, it was something, when Clara got here, Clara said, yes, “no, you can talk about the technical stuff, you can talk about affective stuff”. We all had and extremely affectionate relationship with that, with that school Extremely affectionate. Extremely affectionate because it spoke of, it spoke of our spirit, it spoke of who we were. I got there, I felt way more protected as if it was a womb, than I did inside the theater. I have always felt really protected in the theater. I walk into the theater and I feel protected. This must be how Cardinals who are not pedophiles, that enter a, which is rare, but how they feel when they walk into a church and feel protected. I always thought, when I walk into a church, and I'm not a Catholic, but every once in a while when I walk into a church, and when I travel and go to churches, and a few large synagogues in Europe and all, you, I have the same feeling of protection. I mean, you are in the holy place to put it like that. The school for us as the theater for me, as a movie set for me, it has always been a sacred place.

BERNARDO: How was Gerchman? The person, the human being, the friend?

CLARA: You can say bad stuff.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: No, I won’t say bad things. Gerchman was a sweet guy, as Nelson Rodrigues would say. He was a guy who, really restless, creatively, that is a virus which in my generation attacked all the people I mentioned. Myself included. So, I, for example, I’m, I’m 70, I never, if you told me, “I have one, I met a 70 year old guy”, for me, now, I would say holy shit, that guy must be lying on the floor, he probably can’t even move. For me, 70 was a dead person. A 70 year old was someone who, if they hadn’t died, they should have. Now, I mean, surprisingly, as I said in the beginning here. Peréio as well, Peréio is 74, this is an anti, Peréio being alive goes against nature. More than, me too, me, my being alive also goes against nature a little. Se we had, that first, that young and immortal look. We were young and immortal. And that was not up for arguments. And we were young and immortal people who followed, who admired, and I’m sure Gerchman did too, we appreciated culture. Cultural heritage. He went to the USA, and I went to Europe, and I was with him in New York, so we never gave up on that, we were never ISIS, we didn’t, I never had the urge to pick up a sledgehammer and beat the Venus de Milo there at, you know, I never had that urge. I may not adore David, in a get down on my knees, oh my God, kind of way. I don’t get down on my knees, but the heritage, all of us, and Gerchman too, he valued cultural heritage, and he transformed cultural heritage. And Gerchman has a thing, although he never did theater, I don’t know if he ever designed sets, but Gerchman also had that thing, to concentrate on that exercise I mentioned earlier, which was the daily life thing, and the insights in day to day life, he focused on the everyday life. His art was an interpretation of a vision of the obvious, the simple. It wasn’t about inventing a being that doesn’t exist, those were existing beings, so he talked about people, criminals, people who had shockingly commited crimes, I mean, driven by mystery, soccer, sexuality, and also the Concretism thing, when he had a really concretist period, at the time, particularly during the 70s, the “AIR” thing. And the aesthetic, he has a hands on esthete, I mean, he was a hands on creator, I mean, he was an artist. So, I think, he was a candid character with the torments we’ve all had to face for our whole lives. And in him I felt it really strongly, every once in a while, I wasn’t that close with Gerchman, but we always met, and I always felt that torment, which was the torment of subsistence. He also had a lot of children. How many children did Gerchamn...

CLARA: ... we are 4.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: 4. I have 5. So we also, he also had a lot of children, and we always had that, how will we subsist, I mean, how will I survive. You paid something, or you create a sculpture, how is it that you put a price on that. You know how much a bag of rice costs. Because that is determined by the market how much it costs. A can of Coke. But your work is really complicated. So, he, I think he, as many people, myself included, we’ve always been, we’ve always had a share of our anxiety related to that, to subsistence. Although, I lived in France, I work in France too, I worked in architecture office in France to subsist and all. You find way more professional protection, particularly if you have an academic background in more civilized countries, let’s put it like that, first world countries. But I never really missed that. I think deep down, the fact that you have no regulations, I mean,for you to have a counterpart, you have to be regulated. Nowadays in order to do anything you have to be sponsored, you have to go through a selection of, you need I don’t know who’s approval. There is a douchebag, a dude, I don’t know who the fuck that guy is, what does he have on his mind, if it’s anything other than shit, who will take your project and who will aprove it or not. I’ve had projects that I joined, book projects that I didn’t do, unfortunately, one of my regrets, a project of a book of my work, but I wanted to do it my way. So I got it, there was a lady, and the editor, who worked with art books who was interested, so we had a project, we made a project. That was sent to the Ministry of Culture and they said no, that it wasn’t worth what I was saying, it was worth so much. So I called FUNARTE and said “look, I don’t know who is the clown who said that, but do as I say, tell his mother to come work here, tell his mother to work on the book, it has to be his mother, you know, because from the look of things he doesn’t”, so that type of thing, I mean, when you, we had high anxiety about making ends meet, but at the same time, we, I mean, we’d raise our hands to the heavens if we could have direct contact to the consumer. Who is a consumer to whom you normally don’t have a direct connection. I mean, people who work with fine arts have access through galleries, people of all kind and all. So those who do theater are fucked, then. Then it’s through a producer, if you want to produce your things like I would like to produce a spectacle, I would like now, I have a personal projects now, just to give you an idea, to put up a simple performance, a play that has already been acted in Brazil 50 years ago by an American author, brilliant, that takes place right after the economy crisis in the United States. So, it’s something quite similar to what we have here today. Similar to an extent, but similar nonetheless. So it takes place inside a living room, in an apartment, of lower middle-class, let’s say like that, of a Jewish family in the Bronx. I told my children, I would like to put on a performance for you to see, for you to know how we did theater. How was our theater. I was in theater my whole life. My children were raised with that. My children were raised from the money I made doing theater. It wasn’t by being an architect. My architecture, I really like the show’s architecture, was sustained by theater. I remember my family at the time I told them I was going to do theater, “how will you make a living”, that, that whole drama they threw in front of you and all, I didn’t give a shit, fuck it, but then when I decided to study architecture, “my God, Mazeltov, now you’re saved”. Saved, my ass. I decided to study architecture because I did well in theater. I had a lot of opportunities in theater and because of that I could study architecture, I mean, it’s an inverted situation. But I think Gerchman also had that trait, I mean, he has his market value, but, he worked with all those things, I never discussed business with him, the fine arts business, but I know because I’ve got people at home who suffer from that. He was a guy, he was a special guy, a special person because he was an artist, he was libertarian, he was funny, which was the most important thing, and he was even cute, Gerchman. Gerchman was cute, he looked like a movie star, he did really well. Gerchman...

BERNARDO: ... he did well with the ladies.


CLARA: 4 children.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: He did well, he did. We all, in general, we did well. Because we were really young, we were kids.

CLARA: Were you 30 in Parque Lage? Dad was 33.



MARCOS FLACKSMAN: 5. In 70? wait, 44 and 10. 54, 64, 20, 74, 31, I was 31, I was 1 year and a half younger than Gerchman, and 1 year younger than, I was the youngest, I was the youngest of them all. Today I, when I started in cinema in 67, I was making a movie with Leon Hirszman, I didn’t know anything about cinema, nothing. Because it’s really irresponsible. People are really responsible. So, I did it, I learned a lot, I learned a lot from a guy who is my friend to this day who is an incredible photographer, and who lives in Paris, Ricardo Aronovich, I learned and all, but we started too soon. I was 21 years old. It was too soon, we started doing things really early. I became a professional and that I got that trip prize when I, when I was 20 years old. So, the generation of mine started really early. It's a trait of that generation. And then 68 there was, and that's another subject, but that the school is really involved in that as a reflection of that, and 68, there was a libertarian movement, a movement that happened all around the world. It started in Chicago, at the universities, than it was London, I was there at the Swinging London in the 70s, your father went to New York at that time as well, and that time was a time when Brazilian art produced Tropicalia, I myself was connected to, marginally, but I was connected to Tropicalia. And so, the school, that movement, it was a highly efervescent moviment, you know? There was massive cultural efervescence. With that generation. Of course there are other generations, the generations that are out there, there’s the current generation, but what I know, the generation I know, was that one, and it was explosive. It wasn’t a generation of, and we liked everything, really, and we were libertarian as a whole, in all kinds of behaviour, and that’s what made the school, one of the reasons the school was shut, sadly.

PEDRO: May I ask one last...


PEDRO: It’s because that is a cloudy part of our research, which is Gerchman in New York. You mentioned...


PEDRO: If you can remember anything...

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: ... look, I remember, I remember his loft, I thought his loft was a little darkish. I told him, it was a big loft, and I remember that at the time he was going through his concrete phase, he was working on “AR”, for instance, and I remember, the studio floor. Another one that he put in the water, I don’t remember how he did it, because there was a super 8 phase as well, there was a major super 8 production. Gerchman himself must have done super 8, everybody did it at the time, so it was a mixture. And it was the time when Andy Warhol’s Factory operated in New York as well. So there were those heavy ruptures, because there, it was heavy, that thing was a 24/7 orgy. Gerchman wasn’t like that, but I mean, it existed, and in a certain way it was cut from the same cloth. I reunited with, I remember now that I reunited with Gerchman years later, we had a pleasant time, and brief, when Antonio Pedro was Brizola’s Secretary of Culture, in Brizola’s period, he was Secretary of Culture in Volta Redonda, me, together with Caique Botkay did a, we tried to regiment people and, establish a kind of course made of free courses as well. Except that it was in Volta Redonda, which is two and a half hours away from here. And we did that, and I remember being with Gerchman at the time, he had, I don’t know if it still exists... does it? The, his outdoor panel there...

CLARA: ... it was 88, 89.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: Yes, right, it was years later. The last, I mean, we were together a lot. And I ran into him here and there, and I talked to him a little before he died, and he obviously didn’t believe he was going to die, and I also didn’t believe that he would die under any circumstance we weren’t among the crowd of people who could die, we had been cut out of that group. But many o fus have died. I haven’t died yet, but many of us have, sadly. And he was one of them, I was really sad, I really felt it, but, he was in São Paulo at the time because he was getting treatment there, so I seldom saw him, we spoke on the phone, the last long phone conversation we had, the last of the last, the last few times he called me was to talk about Clara. That Clara was interested in performing arts, he wanted me to shelter her, take care of her, dads are dads. And I...

CLARA: ... and I took your class.

MARCOS FLACKSMAN: Yes, she took my class, met me, met me and quickly gave up on having a closer relationship, but she knows I’ve always really liked her father.


CLARA: Ney, it’s a little bit of what we were talking about a little disorderly downstairs, which was already great. But, to hear a little about that encounter you both had in 75, which was fruitful...

NEY MATOGROSSO: I just can’t remember how it all started. I only remember the 3 of us there, me, Gerchman and Luiz Fernando talking about it. But I can’t remember how it started. Then we arranged to go to Filgueiras, which was an out of town house Fernando had at Baía de Sepetiba. And Fernando picked the place where, at a certain time of day, and island of sand surfaced, right in the middle of the Bay. And when it surfaced, there was no trace of humans, no nothing, only little crabs, and animals that walked and birds who appeared to feed on those little animals, those little crabs. And there we stayed for hours. I started digging a few holes where I could enter, as if I was an animal, all because you get into the place’s vibe. There were those crabs coming out of the sand. Then I said: “what if we dig a hole and I go in?”. It was one of the ideas, but we photographed a lot more than that. And it ended up being the album cover. It was a hole, and I was in the hole, coming out of it as a weird animal. We tried a lot of things there. He chose that picture, took it and came up with a cover project that I loved. It was a normal paper, beige, no treatment, rustic. And then the symbol came up. It already came with the symbol. I saw the symbol, and I liked the idea. I said “what is that symbol? Let’s add one of those”. And he said “it doesn’t have a meaning, it means “Água do Céu Pássaro”. And I said “but isn’t it an explicit meaning, “Água do Céu Pássaro”? But I liked the weird aspect of it. And that ended up being the name of the record, “Água do Céu-Pássaro”. Then, during the concert, people knew and referred to “Homem de Neandertal”, because it was the opening song, and the most recognizable one. The first edition, when you opened it and took that little banner with my name cut, there was an incense powder inside that fell off. But it was a really nice smell. It’s really interesting, being able to do those things, because nobody wastes time doing that anymore, an artist like Rubens doing an album cover. I don’t even know if he did another one before, or later. But for me that was an honor, to have Rubens doing my cover. I was a singer starting over, I had left Secos e Molhados, it was my first solo work, and having Rubens doing my cover was the highest honor.

CLARA: And he really appreciated that partnership as a graphic artist. It was really meaningful to him.

PEDRO: That record of yours has a really interesting parallel to Rubens’ work. Rubens had come back from New York, had started the school at Parque Lage, I don’t know if he was already in Parque Lage or not.

CLARA: I don’t think so, it was a little prior.

PEDRO: A little prior. But Rubens had this idea he called new geography, which was like an inversion of poles, his eyes turned to South America, shifting the North’s leadership.

NEY MATOGROSSO: Which was my thing too. We had that affinity, being turned to Latin America.

PEDRO: What was going on at that time? Because you didn’t just corner in your work? How did those themes happen, let’s say, in many thinking heads of that moment, in an organic fashion? I don’t know if it was something you arranged to do...

NEY MATOGROSSO: Nothing arranged. I actually had that costume with the horns on the back. The idea was that if I did that, if I released it, it would fall behind like a wing. It was monkey skin. I told the artisan that build me that costume, “look, I want some horn wings, but I want that horn that does that”. And he went after it, managed it and build the costume that had an effect, that outfit had an impact. So, each did a thing, but my interest was Latin America. Especially at that time, I loathed the United States. I knew the United States were to blame for our country’s dictatorship. And I sing in Spanish in my record. So, it really was turned to here, to South America. So, it matched his mind and everything came together. It was all really pleasant. Our encounter was really pleasant. After that, we still had at photo shoot at Floresta da Tijuca with Ivan Cardoso. I showed her a picture we have downstairs. Ivan has many pictures from that shoot we had, which was really funny. I had a little leopard skin loincloth that I wore in the beginning of the show, only it, of course, with a codpiece, but it was just a loincloth. Then I put on fur trousers, because there was none of that politically, there wasn’t. You could wear animal skin, there was none of that. Then we went and he wanted it to be just the loincloth. I said, “ok, I’ll keep only it”. When we there, in the middle of the woods, there was an enourmous tree, a little inclined. He said, “will you climb that tree?”. I said “I will”. Then I go all monkey, climbing up that tree, and Ivan shooting. Because the three of us were there, me, Rubens and Ivan. I really liked those two contacts, because it was all really open, at the time things came about. Nobody showed up with anything prepared. The only thing prepared beforehand was my costume. When I got dressed, nobody knew what was going to happen. He didn’t know, neither did I. And we made up as we went. And in the pictures, too. When he asked me to climb the tree, I said, “of course I’ll climb the tree”. It was a huge tree. I said “I’ll climb it”. But I didn’t climb it like this. It was like that, I climbed like a monkey, grabbing it and climbing. And there are the pictures Ivan took there, the one where I’m among the leaves, people don’t even realize it’s a person. There it’s more evident, because he coloured it. So, my skin has color. When you saw the picture, you didn’t understand what it was, you saw someone’s face among some leaves. Then you started paying attention and realized there was also a half naked body, camouflaged.

BERNARDO: I’d like to go back, a little prior to the album photo, the trip, I’d like to ask you to remember a little bit about that encounter, how did you meet Gerchman.

NEY MATOGROSSO: I told her downstairs, I can’t remember how it was. My memory begins there. I don’t know how he arrived, through whom he arrived. I’m under the impression it was through Luiz Fernando, who was the photographer. Because Lulli was involved with Fine Arts, she attended ESDI, Luiz Fernando too. So, they were connected to Fine Arts. I think that was the bridge that got us together.

BERNARDO: Did you have any connection with Fine Arts before, too?

NEY MATOGROSSO: No, I had no connection, but I was well aware of Gerchman’s importance to Tropicalia, we knew all that, but I wasn’t in touch with Fine Arts. But I thought it was great, because when I was a kid I used to draw a lot, I wanted to be a painter. My father wouldn’t let me. He said he didn’t want an artist for a son. So, for me, getting close to an artist, a painter like him, it was almost natural, because I wanted it.

PEDRO: We've been talking to artists from the time and they are all unanimous in saying that it was something that is a lot harder nowadays. It happens in a different plan, but there was a close connection between music artists, visual arts, poets. What do you think allowed for that to happen?

NEY MATOGROSSO: What allowed for that to happen was a beach in Rio de Janeiro called Posto 9. Everybody met ar Posto 9. Every artist, every scholar, you could meet them at the beach. But there was a time when artists of every field went to the beach. Did your father go?

CLARA: A little...

NEY MATOGROSSO: But he was part of that group that went, even if he wasn’t a goer, but he was certainly friends with most people there.



CLARA: And did you ever go through Parque Lage, ever played a concert there...

NEY MATOGROSSO: I did play a show at Parque Lage, yes. They covered the pool. What was it? How can I not remember which show it was. It was wonderful because it was a place of total freedom. The thing the beach offered which was total freedom in every possible sense, Parque Lage provided it too, in every way, to people who took the courses. I played there, wonderful, what a scenery. Of my own scenery I know very little. It was “Destino de Aventureiro” (Adventurer’s Destination), the show I played at Circo Tihany. I played it inside. So, I used only a few sceneries. At a certain point, when they opened the aluminum walls, there was a starry sky, which was made of a black cloth with sequins. I used only that starry sky as a scenery for the show at Parque Lage.

BERNARDO: Did you know that in 75, the year of that cover, Gerchman explored Mato Grosso’s up-country, that he had a project for a ballet?


BERNARDO: In 75 he did some super 8. There’s a lot of stuff from Mato Grosso, many drawings. He talked to the indians too, there are pictures...

CLARA: He also did some research with poetry. Were you together there in any of them?

NEY MATOGROSSO: Mato Grosso, no. I also told her that he filmed that photo shoot we had. So much that I asked Joel to come after her to see if she had that because it would be really interesting to have pictures from that photo shoot. He filmed it, but couldn’t find it anywhere.

BERNARDO: There’s that matter Pedro is referring to, by Torres Garcia, that new geography, that search. But Gerchman was also really worried, which is something other artists also say, because it was a time to comprehend Brazil. To understand Brazil, it was necessary to go back to the world and understand its very origin, the origin of people. So, Gerchman seemed really worried about his roots. I think that was a collective sentiment, wasn’t it?

NEY MATOGROSSO: With me it always was, starting by the name, which evoked a Midwest totally unknown then. When you said Ney Matogrosso people would react “Mato Grosso”? What was Mato Grosso? They thought it was filled with indians and snakes, nothing more than that. That was the reference. My grandfather was Argentinian, my grandmother from Paraguay. I mean, there was no way I couldn’t refer to that, because it’s in my blood. On my first record I already sang Coubanakan Coubanakan, which was a really successful song in the 40s. Spanish, I always do it in Spanish, I like it, it’s the only language I dare to sing, because I like it, and I understand. So, no I don’t sing in any language that isn’t Portuguese or Spanish. But I think it was a moment in that fucking awful dictatorship. And we wanted to understand ourselves in all that.

CLARA: Yes, and you were so daring. You got an amazing space of freedom.

NEY MATOGROSSO: Yes, unbelievable as it may sound. One of these days I saw Mautner saying something that really stuck with me. Mautner said, I saw it on a program, in a series that the Brazilian government, the military government allowed that freedom, that liberation here in the South side of town, anda t that beach, especifically as an experiment. I really wished he would explain further, since he knows it. Because, paradoxically to the dictatorship, we had freedom we don’t have anymore, because people don’t even want to have it. They are a lot more prejudiced today than they were then, they are way more conservative. Today I find the youth to be a lot more conservative, their minds, in general, are a lot more conservative than young people’s minds from the 70s, when we experienced the peak of permissiveness, craziness and liberation. And I’m baffled by people not wanting that, and being happy with mediocrity, which is a shame.

PEDRO: Actually, out of everyone we interviewed, wonderful people such as yourself, great artists, we managed to get to them, in great part because they really liked Rubens, and everyone, that is unanimous, and to me, that is the biggest question mark, I still haven’t been able to understand, actually. Ok, the hippies turned into yuppies, and moved to Wall Street, like Jards Macalé said when we interviewed him.


M: But the world has changed, and stuff, but what happened to people?

NEY MATOGROSSO: Along the way there was AIDS. Along the way came AIDS, so everything that had been conquered in terms of freedom, AIDS caused it to reced, because there was... I don’t know how old you are, if you know that when that thing surfaced, the press called it Gay Cancer. And I thought to myself, and I said it when people talked to me about it, I said “people, it isn’t real. There’s not a fucking virus in the world that is restricted to a group of people”. And soon we knew it wasn’t a gay cancer, because women started catching it too, so it was something that... that thing... many gays got married at the time, just so you can see how crazy... how big it was, because there was so much prejudice, because any gay person would be contaminating people with a disease, a gay cancer. It never happened. It never happened, but it was created and spread. So I think at that moment there was a massive throwback, from which people still haven’t recovered. I think that is the main cause. Think about it, a disease that affects people’s sexuality? What were we exercising the most at that moment? It was our sexuality. There was no taboo, no prohibition, you know? But I think that’s why, that’s it.

CLARA: It’s a shame.

PEDRO: Yes. Me, a 33 year old, I was really repressed about it.

NEY MATOGROSSO: Yes, think about it, that whole generation.

PEDRO: I really was.

NEY MATOGROSSO: More thant the current ones. Because the current ones ignore the disease, because they didn’t see it, they don’t know, they think it’s wasier, it’s better to live sick and taking medicine, I don’t agree, I think if you can be healthy, choose to be healthy. I mean, it’s not that much of a sacrifice to wear a condom. But... so, you are the generation that really felt it. The “no, come back, don’t go any further, you can’t go any further”.

CLARA: I’d like to go back to what we were talking about South America and North America, because I think that’s really interesting, how you were thinking the same things.

NEY MATOGROSSO: “Sangue Latino” (Latin Blood) already had lyrics that spoke of that, it explicitly said “the northern winds don’t move mills”, and censorship had problems with that. At the time we knew about Project Condor, the military thing, we knew about it, it was no secret. Nowadays they talk about it as if it was something that has just been discovered. We knew, we all knew, that all the dictatorships were inflated by the United States of America. Because of the fear of what happened to Cuba. They were afraid to lose control over Latin America.

CLARA: Yes, because my father was coming back from the USA, and he left this country because of the dictatorship, he had a young child, you know, that whole deal, he went to New York and it was beautiful, we see that in his background as an artist with the Latin-American community...

NEY MATOGROSSO: Yes, and with the dazzle, which was something that also existed in America, that hippie movement, libertarian, and of freedom, it happened here and there. Now, there it’s a lot larger, because there...

CLARA: Were you there, did you go along at any moment with that group?

NEY MATOGROSSO: No, no, no. I didn’t even want to visit the United States, I was so... that was such a crazy think in my mind, that I studied English, I could write, I could read, and I understood it, I was never able to speak. I have a block when it comes to speaking, because for me that was the final submission, to speak their language. It’s crazy, because nowadays I think it stands in my way, but I couldn’t do it. I wanted nothing to do with that, because that meant the oppressor.

CLARA: And is there anything you’d like to say, maybe about my father, the man, any anecdotes, do you know any...?

NEY MATOGROSSO: Well, we weren’t really that close, we had those two works, and we were like, I think he liked me, and I liked him, so we were like this, friends who ran into each other ocasionally, it was really pleasant, being with him, there was affection between us, but we couldn’t be considered friends, we didn’t spend enough time together, we didn’t, we didn’t...we didn’t hang out much. For reasons...

BERNARDO: But how is it, I mean, another thing, also comparing the generations, what called my attention was the ability, like actual creative intelligence, I mean, it was really precarious in terms of material and technology of what was produced, almost like the thing with Glauber, a camera in hand, an idea in mind, it was the bare minimum to get it done.


BERNARDO: And the way you described it was really... the way you described your works with Gerchman seems like that, really in a “let’s do it” sort of way.

NEY MATOGROSSO: Yes, yes, that was it.

BERNARDO: "Let’s do it".

NEY MATOGROSSO: I think the mentality in command was that, “let’s do it, whichever way we can. We’ll do it however’s possible”. And it results in an aesthetic, it results in a specific something that you see, and you know it wasn’t done now. Even though it was all really good, really interesting. The technology we have now wasn’t available, but we did it. There was creativity, there were ways to look at things.

BERNARDO: Because Gerchman seems to be a character, that renaissance man who thought of an artistic situation from many angles at the same time, from clothing, I don’t know what, so he seems to be a really creative person, fully capable of doing things, and full of energy in that sense, “come on, come on”. Can you remember how the creativity thing was for him at work, how was his attitude?

NEY MATOGROSSO: There wasn’t... it was all free, he said it like that, he released me on that island… first we reached an agreement that we could dig holes so that being could surface like the little crabs surfacing there, that being could surface from the ocean with a leather outfit, horned, I don’t know, and surface from a nest on the floor like this. But I was loose, I was loose and he was loose and very few things we repeated, we repeated an entire sequence of pictures which was like this, I was running towards some birds that left flying and it looked like I was about to fly with them. But a lot of freedom in everything, a lot of freedom. I was actually showing off. I was showing off to the photographer. Who was the photographer I was really close with, who was Lulli’s husband, with whom I had photographed many times before, so with him I was in front of Gerchman, comfortable with Luiz Fernando, like we were, you know, in Pantanal, just me and him.

CLARA: Could you describe for the camera, which you described for me before, that outfit you mentioned with the horsehair, you mentioned it looked like a wing.

NEY MATOGROSSO: Look, it was a costume built of many materials, there were monkey skin bracelets, which was a cut stripe of monky skin, and the fur came all the way to here, I had some ox teeth bracelets, there was a vest that held those ram horns, which was also made of monky skin, then I made another one from goat skin, which was also a long skin. And at the bottom I didn’t wear anything, just a loincloth. I had a part that was made from ox skin, like this, full of stipes, and we didn’t use it, because there was no need to use it, because it was in the water. But it was a really, really interesting outfit, because it mixed everything, on the head there was a bone extracted from a turtle’s belly, that was a turtle’s belly, the bone of a turtle’s belly. And there was also horsehair, it was everything mixed, it was all... the important thing was translating a picture between animal and man, but that could also be... becasue an animal and human, but there are no horns or fur, horns on the back. Also that, it was a hybrid, but a hybrid that doesn’t exist. That didn’t exist.

PEDRO: So, to wrap up, I have two questions, they aren’t questions, but first if you think there is, our current generation, contemporary, if there’s an antidote for that square attitude.

CLARA: Relax, Pedro, everything is going to be alright.

NEY MATOGROSSO: No, I mean like, Brazilian society.

PEDRO: No, but it’s because I get a little desperate.

NEY MATOGROSSO: It’s something that scares me a little, I’m baffled by people’s opinions, I say, “dear God in Heaven, turn on the lights in their minds, for the love of God, we can’t be like this”. But that is all a result of what we... the impulses, the governments, there was the disease, which was the cut, but then came Collor, cocaine, so it was already a different mentality. It was another mentality, now I don’t even know what it is, because I turned away from that a long time ago, but I don’t even know what people take anymore. But back then it was LSD, pure, which was a transformative experience, that I think if humanity wasn’t so frightened, they’d be using LSD in psychiatry. Because the revelations people had when they took that was something that maybe 10 years in psychiatry could maybe accomplish. But not even that is the same, I mean, so I don’t know, there’s no way to link it, I can’t. We have to move on, now, I think people have to move on no matter what, with freedom, there’s no other word, there’s no other idea that has to be chased more than freedom. Of expression, freedom. Freedom. It gets you to many places.

PEDRO: And then to really conclude it, those last happenings, you called it a fucking horrible dictatorship, how do you feel about the latest manifestations, for instance, people asking for dictatorship once again?

NEY MATOGROSSO: I think whoever asks for that don’t really know what it was, they are unaware of what it was about. They aren’t. One of these days I took a taxi and the driver said that. I said “for the love of God, snap out of it, you don’t know what you’re saying. You don’t know how it was, you can’t be considering supporting something like that, because you have no idea how it was”. But, in my perspective that people have to be free, I think people need to manifest. Even if that’s how they do it, but they should have the right to express themselves, what they think, what they feel. And let’s see what we do with that information, right? I don’t think they will be a trigger that will change History. I really don’t.


BERNARDO: How did you first meet Gerchman, how did this friendship start, how did you become friends?

ANTÔNIO: Well, that’s exactly what I was remembering today. I visited a first exhibition Rubens had at Galeria Vila Velha, at Barata Ribeiro, close to Galeria Menescal, more or less. It was a gallery of, it was an antique shop, but not only Mrs Ruth there, someone who appreciated new things, in that environment, at the time, but also her brother, Harry Laus, who was an “Army Coronel”, but he was an art critic for JB, I think it was Jornal do Brasil, if memory serves me right. And so, it was the first exhibition I saw with only Rubens’ drawings, right. It was a small space, so she mostly intorduced drawings, even so, Rubens’ drawings were quite big and, you know, considering what you saw back then, I immediately noticed a completely different stroke, at that time maybe a little too close to Dubuffet, you know, but I say “no, that guy has a way with his hands that is different”. And so we started seeing each other and he was the layout man at Manchete, I also did that work from time to time, you know, just like Roberto Magalhães was the illustrator at Senhor, like me, right? Vergara I knew from around, He’d ask: “how is it that you can come from the northeast and then live in Copacabana?”. “I mean, but it happened, right?”. So, it also happened that I bumped into Vergara, four years my sênior, I was 15, and he flicked me for being from Paraíba. “Hey, Macureba”. Well, that’s just to say that we began meeting when we were really young, and exchanging ideas, and we carried on. When Rubens got married it was to a girl who was already my friend before she met him, right. When Anna Maria got from Venezuela, we worked the same shift at Goeldi’s studio. But Rubens always had a strong stroke, really personal in his painting, right. I really appreciate that same period of his in the 60s, because it’s something really authentic, it’s really, a part that is really him, right, I mean, the stroke, sometimes, it’s a little rude, kind of. I’m really stepping on it strong here, but it’s really personal, and it captured the spirit of the time quite well, you know, besides conveying other things, other thoughts that you, what was it when they spoke of Pop Art? That really resembled a street vendor from Rua da Alfândega, right? “The I Fix Watches”. Right? But the identities thing, I mean, , “the blond wants to meet a petite lady, but with full lips”. Which I think has its highlight when he does that think with “Lou”, right? That “Lou Series”, with the references he makes with Brazilian art then, with Tarsila, with “Abaporu”... I think that is a really singular chapter in the history of Brazilian art, from that period. Unique like that, there isn’t any, it’s a little hard, as I heard a while ago that someone shows up with a stroke like his, you know? It’s a really strong personality in his way of handling the elements of his painting, really strong. So much so that years later when he reprimands that style a little, he’s no longer the same guy, it’s not the same brush, it’s not the same paint. You can tell it right away, at least I do. So we had a continuous friendship, until 66, when I decided to take a scholarship they gave me in France and right after Rubens had the National Prize, at the National Salon, and the trip prize he got was to the United States, and we exchanged a few letters, from here to there, from there to here. Then I met him around 79, something like that, probably. No, 69 or 79? 69, 70, it’s around then. I stayed at his place. Then there was a moment, later, when he moved to the studio at the Bowery, we had a task force, a bunch of Brazilians breaking walls and knocking down what was a place of, a kind of a night salvation army hotel, you know? You’d drop by and “bam”. And there was a place with 1 room and 1 shared bathroom. We tried to find out what was the pavement, because only ato ne point when a huge hammer fell like this, “bam”, and broke a width of more or less 1 centimeter, “it’s wood underneath”.

BERNARDO: So I’d like to go back to the beginning of those 60s, because how was your relationship, what did you worry about since there was no market for a young artist like today, right.


BERNARDO: And I’d like for you to comment on how was it, how was that whole producing art thing at that time, with a dictatorship, no market, right? Chosing that, and how did you share that anguish, and maybe tell me a little bit about, if you can, for instance, I don’t know, because I’d also like to understand a little bit about the importance Jean Boghici had for you at that moment.

ANTÔNIO: To give you an idea of how things happened. So, in 63, Loiro Pérsio, who was an artist at the time, you know, reputed, and he exhibited at Tenreiro, at Rua Barata Ribeiro, there, close to Bairro Peixoto, you know, large paintings, 2 meters, 3 meters, get it. He’d become friends with me in those nights out, bars and all. And then when he realized I was in a situation of shortage, reallym, he said “no, I’m bringing you someone here”. And he brought Tenreiro, who took a look at my folder full of little drawings and small collages and all, he said “ok, I will give you every month, that many, and all”. It’s not even worth mentioning how much it was, because with the inflation it didn’t add up to that much. But at the same time we make that deal I told him “ok, but my work is going through changes right now and I’m in the process of changing my figuration, and all that, it won’t be exactly this and all”. “It’s ok, you keep on working, and I will open the Ipanema store with you”. He was going to close it here and reopen in Ipanema. It was the end of 63, more or less, he came over tom y place to see what it was and I gave him my pieces. He said “I can’t open with this, they’ll wreck my store”. And I say “but this whole time we had a deal and all, you know”. “Yes. But it’s ok, it’s ok, there’s nothing to do about it, I can’t do this to you”. And what he’d already bought he kept for what he’d already payed and all. At that moment when in Jean Boghici appeared, he took a long time to really have an exhibition, it took almost a year, no, for instance, you are going to have an exhibition, and that’s that, the res tis up to you,, you know? Well, he had an exhibition here in december of 64, didn’t sell a thing. Not a thing, nothing. Well, just so we won’t call it nothing, we sold one or two drawings, maybe, in really curious situations. And then Jean told me, “well, they’re not mine, but if you’ll allow me, I’ll take them to France and I’ll have an exhibition. Because he opened two months later, and everything was sold, and that was great for me, certainly, but indirectly, it was good for everyone who was around, right, let’s say Rubens most participatively, right, Vergara, and Roberto Magalhães. The market was really hard, you know, there was no market. When I got the “Paris Biennial Prize”, one of the biggest French galleries sent it, the owner came to talk to me, and by coincidence she spoke Brazilian, because she’d grown here. She asked me “how many pieces like that one you do a year?”. “I don’t know, about 4”. It’s not possible, you know. But it was the measure of my economy, it was how much material I could buy back then, you know. At a certain point I began working with polyester and I kept one person in an extra bedroom I had, that stayed there at night. One day that person waited for me to come home and said “look, my security told me that the police knows you have plastic”. And by chance I knew really well about the whole C-4 with the French, and “not at all. I work with polyester, you use a little more reagent, and it heats, and it may heat up a lot, but not enough”. The next day I gave it to someone, because every so often things got complicated. Well, when I left, in a way I felt really relieved, to be able to go to a square, breathe, and know I wasn’t being followed, who was I going to, who was I meeting, right. Me and Rubens always remained close, there was no other way, right. Despite a few differences every now and then, that are not even worth remembering, because they weren’t really significant beyond that moment, I believe he was a really important person at that moment, you know. It was really important the work he did around, really important the work he did around the Visual Arts School. Also really important in every contact he could establish for us to have a better cultural situation. In that sense Rubens was really open-minded, right, more so than in a personal sense. So, that’s it.

BERNARDO: And how was it for you, that time for Antônio, because it comes from Rubens way back, in the years you worked with him, and he was really pissed about the idea of being Pop, of getting his work confused, all of yours, at the time with glue, the figuration pattern. Vergara also told us now that at the time he was really pissed, because it wasn’t Pop at all. But did it bother you that cliché of you being Pop?

ANTÔNIO: It always did. And that year it has already opened at Walker Art Center “Pop International” and further along it will open at Tate Modern an exhibition about Pop. I’m in both of them, but I’ve already explained that I’m not Pop. But what they want is exactly to show a different version of Pop, or of what they think Pop is.

CLARA: Is Gerchman in both of them, are you together?

ANTÔNIO: Right? So, I think there’s still no interest in being Pop or not. What matters is showing we have a point of view, a mark in that development line. I put it like that, not because I believe there’s progress in art, but you have to think, right?

CLARA: Wonderful experiences you exchanged. You weren’t tongue-tied at all, right?


CLARA: At all. And it’s incredible, because looking from the outside, seeing one, you in Europe, and my father in the USA, and the exchange remained in high level, right?

ANTÔNIO: Yes. We only had that means back then, regular mail, an Olivetti that normally everyone had, slides... After a while it got dangerous to send slides.

CLARA: No. What I thought was interesting was that the two of you, right, you both left your country. You had the European experience, and he had his experience in the USA. And that really influenced both your works, and you kept corresponding. You discussed your work with each other, you were always following the other. That is really interesting, isn’t it?

ANTÔNIO: We had to, because, well, nothing. It’s hard to tell you why, but originally I think we had a matrix here that looked for a, an effective point, not just affectionate. And that point was missing whenever it was about relationships with the so called market, and everybody ended up jealous of their attraction section, which means that everybody deviated from each other a little bit. That normally happens when there is a generation, where there are many characters, too many personalities acting up and with differences among them. And those differences always occured, they always existed among us. In an interview with Ferreira Goulart, he does everything to throw me and Rubens against each other, when there was everything to... There was cotton and alcohol, because Rubens at that time, was really popular, let’s say, populist, and I, I was always regarded as surrealist, no classification problem, because I’ve always appreciated the surrealist matrix, myself. But that’s not all. And, however, at that moment we didn’t just have a confrontation between us both, which represented a whole bunch of artists from that time, that moment, who had one view or the other, right. Even those who had a position closer to Hélio’s, who I thought was more exempt, Hélio Oiticica. I remember an exhibition we had in Minas Gerais, at the university’s rectory, about the current state of affairs here, it must have been at the end of 64, beginning of 65, and the sign was that “Pare” (Stop) that we had already used here, which was Rubens’ layout.

BERNARDO: Was that one organized by Frederico?

ANTÔNIO: That in Minas was. And who made it there? Me, Ângelo de Aquino was already there, was it me and Rubens, I think me and Rubens. We left from here bringing pieces from a whole bunch of people. And there Frederico Morais said: “just for that massive space? It won’t cut it”. So, we went to, I remembered a project I had discussed with Hélio, which was like this, “The Cold Project”. We give instructions on how to build an object, right, and the object had to be built according to that. So, we went to the supermarket and started buying the material that was useful to rebuild Hélio’s pieces, and that’s what we did. At the opening the General in Office of the area dated a painter, so he arrived there and took issue with two crossed machine-guns of Escosteguy, when you opened it said: “Vote”. The General said: “this is subversive”. “You think so?”. Then somebody up there talked to Frederico’s assistant, that half those pieces had been built there at the market, and she took a bag containing all that was left from what we’d purchased that was hanging there, cut the nylon with a cigarrete, “tuf”, the whole thing fell, and everybody started running and kicking the bags of cumin, yellow paint, greens, a great confusion. The Dean was all over the place saying: “my hall, all painted again, right”. An old lady ran towards “Nest” by Hélio Oiticica, and there was a nest which was made of aluminum, something made of wire, full of eggs, the old lady started throwing the eggs, right. When I left it there, I was able to catch a bus, the Police was already blocking the road, because there was a General there, all of that. So that’s how we did it back then, right. It was about facing what was in front o fus. Our film by Antônio Carlos Fontoura was a strong example “See Listen” (Ver Ouvir). Really where I, actually which I believe he is best presented out of all the movies I’ve seen about him.

BERNARDO: Why do you think that?

ANTÔNIO: Because it’s more authentic. He wasn’t, let’s say, a guy who’d go to the middle of the street doing this, showing what he wanted to show, identifying with that visual around.

BERNARDO: That description, right, of the situation in Minas, it happened, I don’t know why, because, I mean, it obviously reminded me of the the exhibition at MAM, that in 65, no, is it 66? When Hélio arrives with the people from Mangueira, right?


BERNARDO: 65? 65. Yes. So I’d like you to talk a little bit about that moment, of Opinião, what can you remember?

ANTÔNIO: Same thing. The military would always start itching o bit about visual arts. Way less than with theatre or cinema, but we were provoked, you know, people who made us closer, and it comes a time when we feel, discussing among us, we felt it was the moment to create some kind of a sense of what was being done, even if there were still some great differences. Those who came from abstraction, those who kept on doing figuration, you know? There were amazing blends, like, Ivan Serpa moves from concretism to a completely detonated period, entirely expressionist, unlike his whole life, and he has his admirers and his way of being seen within the context. I believe that moment was necessary for us to survive, as a category, even, artists, to know who was whom, and the presence of series with Boghici, the pieces they brought from Europe, so, who were people from the same generation or maybe a little older, because there the crowd is more, they only start later, they don’t start that young, that was it, it was a great opportunity to say “we’re here, we’re going to stay here, and we want to be here”.

BERNARDO: It was, but an issue that it was that relevant, to remember it, for Brazilian history it is crucial, I’d like to ask you, to bring back your memories from that night which is the famous G-4 Happening.

ANTÔNIO: Yes. It was interesting, because I think that was our first media approach, you know? To think that was media, because there was a camera from Globo, I don’t know whose camera, and many o fus who also had câmeras. And it seemed like we were communicating with the people, throwing beans to half a dozen people. It was funny, it was a play, right, performed in a jesting manner, playful, you know, particularly after the military had already risen to power, and that in that space, among other things, we have to say the names of people who made these places, it was Sérgio Bernardes, amazing Brazilian architect, and David Drew Zingg, an American photographer who came from Look Magazine to Brazil and never went back to the USA. He was a great friend and someone who registered the film “See Listen” (Ver Ouvir) for example, it was his camera. Then, when I did the cover of Gil’s record, that was later, in 67, it was also David who photographed it, and at a certain point we all ended up, after an extraordinary guess in São Cristóvão, where we wanted to see Gil dressed as a gorilla, we went over to David’s, and Rogério Duarte, who was the Art Director, started saying “he’s there, he’s there on that corner”. “Who, who’s there?” “Che Guevara is there”. Everyobody had smoked so much. Maybe he even appeared, but not to me, no. But that was a funny scene. It was a pause in that creative moment that was so excessive for us, you know. Tropicalia was beginning to surface, that was being discussed, Rogério Duarte, he really encouraged all that, right. Rubens too, I must say. I didn’t go through any of that, I wasn’t here anymore, but I followed it, every once in a while I got a paper clipping. But amazing things were happening, once Manchete Magazine, there was a picture taken from above of a person in Ipanema, at the beach, an a great circle of people around him like this, as if it was a huge fan. You know who was it? Roberto Magalhães, giving hand consult, at the beach. It was an amazing period.

BERNARDO: What do you think happened that we no longer have that humor, specially since you have an extra something, right?

ANTÔNIO: But of course we have that humor. Don’t you have humor? Come on. Just watch “Porta dos Fundos”, which is almost becoming a scholar, that’s how humorous it is. It was. It’s true, right? Not yet? Paula says not yet. Paula discovered “Porta dos fundos” for me. She’s saying we are friends with Rodrigo, from other means, but. No. That humor I believe is parto f our mentality here, you know? It’s not something you can say, “has been lost”. No. We have that when we watch a soccer game, while we’re having a beer, eating meat dumplings, you know? When we’re at “Amarelinho” it’s one thing, at “Bracarense” it’s another, right, there are different goals. This city is a lot like that, São Paulo is also a lot like that, isn’t it? I think Brazil, which is no longer a young nation, is a country that walks towards a portion of the population that is more or less elder, for the elderly, almost like the elderly going towards the elderly, but it’s a country that knows how to live through those hoops you have to jump on your way down, right, it’s almost never on the way up. But then, you do this and that, and manage, and that’s what we did back then, that’s what we still do.

BERNARDO: But let me finish here, because we’re going to, I don’t know what. We just want to know if you can give a final testimonial about Gerchman’s personality, how was that man, Gerchman?

ANTÔNIO: Avid. Ready. True. In more ways than one. In many senses. You can look up the definition.


BERNARDO: To begin with, first of all I’d like you to try to contextualize for us who was this Armando...


BERNARDO: ... In those 60s/70s, where did you go...

ARMANDO: So I can explain how I met him.

BERNARDO: ... exactly.


BERNARDO: And in this introduction, please talk about you, introduce to us how you met Rubens.


BERNARDO: ... How was your first contact with him.


BERNARDO: And how the friendship began.

ARMANDO: Ok. Whenever you want.

BERNARDO: It’s rolling.

ARMANDO: We were there, possibly mid-60s, and my life was going towards Engineering or Law, right, when, due to one of those inexplicable reasons, I also decided to study something called Journalism, and I ended up at the National School of Philosophy, that had a Journalism course, where now we find the Brazilian Academy of Letters building, the new one. There, way before, there was the Federal Court of Appeal when Rio was the capital, and from that moment, that building was turned into the School of Journalism and the National School of Philosophy. And I was... we met there, me, him with Zuenir Ventura, and Zuenir Ventura was a professor who at the same time, was from the days of the University of Brazil, so, the School of Brazil was the National School of Philosophy, anda t the same time her was a professor at ESDI, which was the College of Industrial Design (Escola Superior de Desenho Industrial), which was the first experience in Brazil in the area of Design, and particularly Graphic Design. Great names came from there and it was exactly at that point that it es established a contact between myself, that former almost engineer, former almost lawyer who possibly wouldn’t ever have the opportunity to get there, right. I see myself, little by little approaching people through Design, people who somehow worried about those aesthetic matters. And what Journalism necessarily also wouldn’t assure. Zuenir asks me to start an internship, practically on the first lesson fell in love with the student, he worked... he was one of the editors of Diário Carioca, which was the paper that... and it also refers to the Design thing, the paper that most, with Jornal do Brasil at that moment they were acomplishing a truly important graphic reform. Jornal do Brasil was already a little more developed, but Diário Carioca, it was Amilcar de Castro who worked on renovating Jornal do Brasil, but Diário Carioca was made by visual designers who were more turned to the press and those people, somehow, aiming the experience from Jornal do Brasil, a little, so, by an Artist trying to get that experience also to Diário Carioca, so they start getting in touch with art critics, with people who, somehow, I mean... that paper was concearned about contemporary, about what happened in Rio de Janeiro and all, so, I mean, something that happens little by little. From that moment, that was possibly two years after I was hired by Jornal do Brazil, where I started as a writer in the international section for a short time, because I spoke many languages and all, at the time, working at international really meant that you were familiar with languages, you basically translated telex and telegrams from international agencies, which were the only sources of international politics. So it was important to know languages and stuff. We’re talking here, again, we’re in 64, around that, and Brazil, at that moment, suffers, as we all know, a really violent political transformation, right, which is the fall of President João Goulart, the coup d’etat that deposes the President and that’s when they settle what at the time they named a Provisional Military Government, anda t that exact moment, so, March, April, I’m sent to cover those events, I was, maybe, the first reporter to enter the Copacabana Fort when it was occupied by a famous Coronel Montanha, so, basically, I came after him, but he didn’t know I was a journalist, fourtunately. I only ended up there because I lived at Posto 6, in a building that had a view of the Fort, so I realized there was something going on there. That was on April 1st, 1964, and I, as a reporter with a certain flair and all, run, I left my house running and went straight there, without informing the newspaper, I went there, straight there and I found out by his arrival that it was being taken over, the famed taking of the Copacabana Fort, which was really important for the Military strategy at that moment. So, having said that, closing that bracket, in Jornal do Brasil I’m quickly moved to work as a special reporter at Caderno B, again, more of the same, I was going to be an engineer, I was going to specialize in international politics, and all of a sudden I find myself at Caderno B, which might have been the most efervescent space, right, regarding Brazilian culture, at that time. That was already a bit traditional at Caderno B, Caderno B, the audience possibly knows, right, our future audience will know it was a Caderno B that if it happened, let’s say, neocompetitism somehow explodes in Caderno B, Caderno B itself and so it goes, So, there already was a tradition at Caderno B to cover fine arts which was uncommon at that moment within the great media, the meadia, let’s say, mainstream. So that’s where the story begins, my story with the people and the artists and, particularly Rubens, right. The editor at Caderno B at that time was a playwright called Paulo Afonso Grisolli and, at that moment Caderno B gathered people who ranged from Fernando Gabeira, Marina Colasanti, for instance, right, art critics like José Carlos Avellar, who else? Ely Azeredo, people who really were in a moment, well, of... Geraldo Mayrink, people who were transforming, let’s put it like this, Brazilian culture in every field, right. In fashion Iesa Rodrigues was attempting a new language, so, with pieces, graphic, as well, introducing a new kind of stroke, let’s say, in the press, and so on. And I, in my daily agenda, they ended up thinking I had more... a certain aptitude, a certain sensibility, I was more opened to talking to artists, right. So, in 1965 I have the opportunity... and 66 I have the opportunity to do a couple of stories that apparently, os historically transformed in moments, let’s say, of great change in the understanding of what would be the future of art, the transition from Modern Art to Contemporary Art in Brazil. The first was in 65, which is an exhibition that the Museum of Modern Art promotes, called New Brazilian Objectivity (Nova Objetividade Brasileira), which granted me the cover of Caderno B. I think it was the first time that Caderno B dedicated an entire cover to something that was a big question mark. Nobody knew what would that exhibition mean, how important it would be for the future, and it reunited exactly all the names that came from Neoconcretism and who blended with, let’s say, with those new names, among which was Rubens Gerchman. So, when I was writing the story I thought it was important to listen to opinions, right, I was more interested in the new ones than in those who, in theory, were more well established. And one of them, better yet, two of them attracted my attention in particular, and right afterwards two others also attracted my attention, and I, from that moment, approached four people at that exhibition. Rubens, Antônio Dias, Roberto Magalhães and Carlos Vergara, so the four of them, somehow, are a little like the center of what was new that this exhibition was bringing in 65. So it’s a privilege in my life that, from that moment, we established relationships that last literally until now. Except, unfortunately, Rubens is no longer with us, but the other three, I still have, I have that... I really say, I believe that is the right word, the privilege and the pleasure to have grown together, changed together, transformed together and it’s... We’re talking about over fifty years. So that is a moment when I meet Rubens, right, and he, in fact, he wasn’t living in Brazil at the time... he was away in the United States at some point, but I don’t remember if he... in 65 I believe he was still here, right, he traveled a little later, to New York, and the same with Antônio, I mean, I think Antônio travels in 67, 68 to Paris, right, where he participates in the Paris Biennial and basically settles down in Europe, and Roberto and Carlos made the decision to face the Brazilian situation right here, I don’t think they ever left Brazil for long periods of time. In 66 I have the opportunity to write another story that also ended up being an interesting story and ended up being really outstanding, which was the exhibition Jean Boghici organized in a small gallery in Copacabana called Galeria Relevo in which Jean with a rare sensibility, one he still manifests, he organizes that exhibition that, if I’m not mistaken, the other was called Nova Objetividade Brasileira and that was, if I’m not mistaken, it was... Criação 66, something like that that was the idea that that was, let’s say, a central point, right, of what, at that moment, was most important in terms of creation. I don’t know if that’s the exact title of that exhibition, but it’s one that was organized in 66, and another in 67. But the gallery itself, chose some of those artists from Nova Objetividade Brasileira, those four I just mentioned in particular, in a coincidence, and it organized a really outstanding exhibition when they chose really strong pieces, really scathing, and so, from that story my relationship of those guys, let’s say, particularly the four of them, becomes deeper and stuff. And, finally in 66, right after that story, I get a scholarship from the French government to get a Master’s degree in France, and from then, I travel in the end of 66 to France, stay for 5 years and I was also lucky, right, these things, really when they come about you get on it and off you go, I was asked to be the international correspondent of Jornal do Brasil, which was the most important paper in the country, by a mile, anda t the same time I was 23, I mean, I guess I was the youngest correspondent in the history of Brazilian press, but in Paris I got the chance to hang out with the artists that got there at that moment, and that was an evolutionary process until 68, when Brazil turns into a bloody dictatorship, a really violent dictatorship with AI-5, etc, and that’s when there was massive emigration of intelectuals prosecuted by the regime, and soo n. I’m in Paris a little... playing the part a little bit, the government’s part, let’s say, being a good guy in exile, right, so people looked for me, everybody wanted to read Jornal do Brasil, and everybody... Som y house was some kind of a spot where people went, it was a newsstand, somehow or they read it there or they got the chance to... I even came up with a system for the paper to go through everyone’s hands. We’re talking about a world with no internet, ok, so the only communication tool was the paper, right, from the physical point of view it was a necessity for everyone. Nobody had a telex at home to learn of what was happening. Censorship was already a fact in Brasil, so the Reading of the papers was already made with, let’s say, a certain filter and stuff. And the artists, somehow, participated really closely in that period, particularly Sérgio Camargo who ended up becoming a great friend of mine, who lived in Paris at the time, he switched from Paris to London and back, and Antônio, who lived, although he lived... then he went to the Biennial in Paris, but he decides to move to Italy, but then we keep in touch, I often go to Milan, he comes to Paris, we established a contact that was long lasting and still remains. So that’s a little bit of my story, let’s say, in which I literally throw myself inside the world of fine arts, right, through completely unplanned paths, ok, but that really made my life. Those are people who were part not only of my development, basically my point of view, right, and eventually made me a journalist who was a little bit differentiated at that moment, seeing as there were few journalists who had that view I’m referring to, right, who had the ability to see politics and that was it.

BERNARDO: That moment, well, when you met them, and spent time with them, and wrote about them... how was it, how is in your memory the time you spent with these artists, because there wasn’t a market in arts for them, right?

ARMANDO: Nothing.

BERNARDO: Except for Jean who opened that path.

ARMANDO: Jean attempting to open the market in exhibitions...

BERNARDO: What was the torment of those guys? Do you remember?

ARMANDO: I do. I remember a few things from that time. First I’d like to talk a little bit about that interesting period, because, the art market as we know it in Brazil today, literally didn’t exist, right, I mean, so many of the conversations we had were exactly about creating almost circles of art consumption, right, so that’s when the strength of cinema rises, for instance, it’s a first attempt to reduce the costs, to make it a little more accessible to work, that was really clear at that moment, every artist was worried about that. There’s also the matter of that rupture, right, so they were often mistaken for artists, but back then there was a tendency, not just by the media, but by thinking individuals as a whole, right, to think of them as agitators, right, so that’s an important part for us to understand later the path of each of them. It’s natural because the language they used was a language that people couldn’t understand it was a fundamental rupture in the matter of art language, but that was it was confusing, right, with the moment Brazil was going through. So the pop thing, the whole thing about creating chatracters who never would have been present, like “Lindonéia”, for example, to take a really typical example of... so, things, they’re current things. You take something like soccer, and suddenly from there you introduce that into your work, so you take the reference you have of soccer, it was a Portinari from the 40s, kids playing a friendly game in the upstate of São Paulo and stuff. So that was kind of how you saw it, and you never introduced players, numbers and jerseys, for instance, in Rubens’ case, and so on. Antônio was heavily influenced by cartoon, right, that was really strong, practiced in France and in the USA and so on. Things that even ruptured a little bit the Brazilian warmth and so on. So, you know, things that weren’t part of the deal. So the artists, I think that is a key point to understand that moment, those artists still weren’t acknowledged as fine artists, they were a hybrid of many activities. They were graphic artists, they were called art directors, so, at the time there was a publicity that had market relevance, right, so the art-director who quickly became an art director also fitted that, but no, that was a more sophisticated art director and stuff. Then a third party would surface and say: “no, but he is a quite a poster maker”, and on it went, I mean, never or rarely did they have this identity as an artist clearly defined. So that leads to a market problem. So selling that in unimaginable. Why would I have that at my place? And pay however much for it? I mean, no. Was it cheap? It’s hard to say now what was cheap and what was expensive, things were what they were at that time, right. So it was really complex at that time to come out and say, if an art dealer defined that Rubens’ work was worth X Cruzeiros, which was the currency we had at that moment, people could say “well I wouldn’t pay 1 Cruzeiro for that, because that’s nothing, that’s a... literally, I’d be taking home a nice illustration, to which I may relate or note and stuff”, but thanks to american art they start getting some space, because in the USA, fast, artists on the same trail start getting some market value. That’s about my point of view of what happened to them. And thanks to... I even think that, for instance, the fact that Rubens went... I remember he mentioned that he was going to the USA, that’s what he was searching for, right, he wanted to understand, right, how those artists managed to turn something that was a hybrid here, right, into something called art, right, something that at least the name they liked, no prejudice regarding the idea of being called artists right. So there are people who still have a hard time accepting that label, right. But neither Rubens nor Antônio had any problems with that, they’d really love to be artists, but they had a hard time embodying that in a public sense, they admitted it privately, look, I’d like to be, but I’m not recognized as such. So I think that when he told me he was going to the USA, he told me, we were all truly surprised because it wasn’t common, just to remind you, to remind our audience that Brazil was in the middle of a really strong dictatorship, right, and the USA was the great enemy of the left wing, or the Brazilian liberals, those who wanted Brazil to go back to its rightful state. So the USA were the epicenter of the Devil, the Devil lived in the United States. So Rubens shows a bit of his character, right, of rupture, and a little against the current, and even his colleagues who were really surprised, I mean, between Europe, whose governments were clearly against the Brazilian dictatorship, Rubens picks up and decides to move to New York, right, which is nothing less than the most important city in the country that, literally, was the sponsor, right, at least that’s how Brazilian intelligence lived, right, what was going on in Brazil. So that’s an interesting trait of Rubens’ own history and I think that... I’m not sure it answers your question. I mean, I think that’s the context, let’s say, in which things happened. That is the period I’d call pre-market, I don’t think there was a market, right, they each lived off jobs, right, works they did for publicity agencies, pieces they were commisioned to to individually, the exhibitions were really important, because they were the opportunity they had to show their work and so on. And little by little you start to create in Brazil a perception, right, and that took a while because the country, as I said, was too closed, few people could see that. So, the role I ended up playing was that role, almost involuntarily. It was kind of by chance. It was a little by chance, I got interested in that subject, I’d come to Grisolli and say “ok, so I want to do a long interview with Vergara”, “Vergara? Who is Vergara?”, I had to explain, I had to sell the idea that Vergara was a relevant artist to my editor, right, and my editor, in turn, had to sell that to the editors of the paper, tomorrow Caderno B will feature an entire page with Vergara, “excuse me? A whole page with Vergara?”, you know? Those were things that didn’t fit, let’s say, the level, let’s say, of knowledge of information of what was going on was really differentiated, really outdated, and this is no criticism to none of them. They each had, evidently, graphically, the politics, cinema in particular, theater, so they really preceeded contemporary art. There was some importance to art, Djanira had space, Portinari had space, Guignard had space, they were well known artists, recognizes, and so on. But there was this movement, right, that was going on, and I was in tune with it, in a way, maybe because I was 22 or 21, they spoke to me directly and all. So, maybe those two factors came together. The power I had as a reporter, of being a little boring, of coming over and fighting for my space in the paper, being there at that moment, in the section that was, let’s say, the most important cultural section in the country, the most influential in the country, which was Caderno B, and finally the capacity, also, of having found an editor, in my case it was Grisolli, who had no idea that years later we were going to live different adventures, but basically he was a playwright who had... I confess that he didn’t find it great or bad, he said “Armando, ok, do it, no problem”, he had an accessary attitude, and I think he was somehow sympathetic knowing it was about a worthy piece, at least judging by what he read, right, my story, “that guy says some interesting things”, and stuff. I’m under the impression that Grisolli never met any of those artists in person, so much so that when the idea of asking Rubens to be headmaster comes up, for instance... to create the Visual Arts School, he asks me “is that one of your friends? One of those you found interesting?” from that time, it was importante. So that’s how things happened.

BERNARDO: Funny you should say that, because it reminded me of a... it’s in the film, something Vergara repeats often, that was already funny, that Vergara said you already see that notion of what is today’s contemporary artist, right?


BERNARDO: That multi-professional. That Vergara mentions that idea, that producing art wasn’t enough, they had to build a field of knowledge, and a field of formation that made the audience, the interlocutor of that art to receive all that charge, right, so he could understand that art. Therefore, it was necessary to produce the context for the art to get to his place.

ARMANDO: That’s it. At the time I talked to my friends that first we needed to build the wall to show these pieces, right, and the walls didn’t exist, the walls, at the time, weren’t ready to receive that work, nor did the walls think that those had anything to do with them, right. So that was the greatest challenge. That also defines really well what was that moment. It was a time when the artists surfaced and started building that work, but they didn’t have a place, to use a trivial language, they didn’t have a place to hang their work, when you think all the pieces are hung, and they weren’t. But anyway, it’s that metaphor, a little bit. It means the idea that really, the country and the people, the moment wasn’t ready for their work. Based on that, I fully agree with this perspective and this idea he has about it.

PEDRO:That in that period, well, not even you, who works with that, with creativity, right? Why did it blossom so much at that time? Why was that generation that was so powerful in terms of creativity, let’s put it like that?


BERNARDO: They were restless.

ARMANDO: I think we can’t, we can’t have be poor in our view. I mean. Brazil was no more than a chapter in that story, right, we didn’t come up with anything. Let’s make that clear. None of that would have happened had the world not been efervescent. So, no point in wanting to see that moment as if it were... back to that Rubens story, before the others Rubens realized “no, wait, that’s coming from other places”, and that’s when he had that attitude, in my opinion, brave, ruptured and said “I don’t care if the USA feel like this or like that about what’s happening in Brazil in terms of politics, but when it comes to art things are... there are things that interest me going on there. I want to be there, I want to see...” and stuff. Hélio, if I’m not mistaken, had already been there.

BERNARDO: I think he went a little before.

ARMANDO: I don’t know, but it doesn’t matter, the fact os that Hélio, possibly sharing that perception, with an involvement completely different from Rubens’, they are absolutely different people, but I think they have the same movement. Hélio was also searching, right, he goes there “no, wait. This is where it’s happening”. So that is a world issue, let’s not forget that right afterwards there are things like May of 68 in France, when the State is being discussed on every matter, so their work is all about that, let’s say, it’s the imagination that tries to rise to power, right, which is the same famous sentence that illustrates the walls of Paris, right. And just as you have, for instance, in New York, amazing things were happening. There’s Andy Warhol, who is an advertiser, and art director who suddenly becomes a hit and begins, he’s the responsible for the opening of a market. So, that guy, he’s a guy that, of someday, maybe in a few centuries someone describes right, a definitive work about market creation in the 20th century, maybe he will be the central character because he manages to make it, what we were just talking about, he manages to get people interested in that work as an artistic value and stuff, something that up until then, he was an art director with exquisite taste. So he was even acused for making something easy, something reproductible, using characters who already were well established, it doesn’t matter, we are not discussing that now, but the fact is... So, in answer to your question, I mean, what’s going on, I mean, Brazil is right there, I mean, we are on that vibe, trying to find a place for that. I think that those artists, and Rubens among them, maybe the most, Rubens is the most active in that process, the most active, and the most openly participant. We are not discussing quality here, we’re discussing intensity. I guess that’s it. Rubens was the most intense artist who engages that moment with no limitations, to the point of, literally to the point of giving up his space here, etc, going to the USA back then wasn’t like turning a corner, and paying for a ticket fare split in 10 months, no interest, and sometimes paying cheaper than someone might pay to go to São Paulo, depending on the day. Back then, going to the United States meant, literally, being 12, 14 thousand km away. I just mentioned, what I was saying, people read the paper so avidly because it really was a different world, it wasn’t just about languages, it wasn’t thatN, it was really about a rupture from your birthplace, rupturing with your history, your trajectory, your friends, literally. And you exchanged mail, phones didn’t work, awful. So the only way to kind of know what was happening was a letter that would arrive 10, 15 days later. I mean, it would be outdated, right, so the limits of a paper, you couldn’t send, for instance, a larger envelope, you had to send what you were allowed to send, you could only fit folded paper, and you had to write on them, if you put a picture, there was a chance that letter wouldn’t be delivered, maybe your letter would go through the censors. So, just to give you an idea of what it meant to decide to go away then. So, what is that? It’s you... they knew, right, they clearly knew back then. And he told me a bunch of times that he went really scared, he was heading towards the unknown, he didn’t speak... Rubens was always... he never wanted to learn languages, he hated that idea, and also... that was also something really specific, peculiar to him, he was tough, Rubens has always been tough, all the time, so that trait also appeared at that time, so “jeez, I’m going to have to learn English...”, of course when he got there, there were a few basic words he had to learn. That he told me he could really say, I can communicate with him, you know? That’s as far as he went. If I’m not mistaken, I think he traveled with Silvia, who was Silvia Roesler, that was her name, then I don’t know how it was.

BERNARDO: No. It was Anna Maria.

ARMANDO: I know, but I mean, Silvia ended up meeting him, he got separated from Anna Maria and there was a moment when Silvia told me he was never fluent in English. I mean, he really was, let’s say, it wasn’t just the Rubens handled it, he didn’t, he knew enough to make himself understood, and communicate and all. So that really was something... It’s one of his traits, and he wanted it to be like that. So that’s it, I think back then the world was searching for his way and he really embarked upon that. I don’t like to call that a Brazilian phenomenon, I think we have our own traits, like everyone, we have things that are Brazilian, but I think the activity as a whole, the search for this new language, it’s a universal language, really. It really happened simultaneously, it’s no coincidence, all around the world.

BERNARDO: You know, you’re talking and I’m getting a little insight which is...

ARMANDO: That’s great.

BERNARDO: ... how would Rubens’work have been if he had gone to Paris, instead of New York?

ARMANDO: I’d tell you it wouldn’t have been what he did. I state that categorically. You may notice, if you compare all those artists from that time, right, you realize that, maybe not... it would be weird if I said he was more or less, I don’t think we’re making comparisons here, who did it better, or who did it worse, but I think that trip, somehow, it changed the way, it changed how Rubens saw the world. I mean, he has an anglo-saxon view, I mean, the freedom he found in the USA to create is greater than it would have been in Europe, Europe, because in the United States their politics are, right, it didn’t matter so much in art, while the artists that somehow went to Europe saw, not all of them are somehow impregnated by Europe, that’s Europe, Europe is an often ideological speech, so art had to have a... they were all something, they all had a purpose, right, nobody said “no, I’m doing an alienating piece”, that for some of the... if somebody said that to Rubens it would kill him, whoever approached him and said something like that, “that’s a joke, it’s silly”, Rubens if he could, and many times he nearly did, he’d pick up a fight, you know? But, anyway, I think maybe that’s it, in Europe you found yourself more easily employing the ideology that Europe was always a more... a more verbal region, a place where this discussion came up more often, not, you know, with art, but above art, art was supposed to serve that. Don’t forget we’re talking about a time when comunismo and the importance of the Soviet Union is huge, there’s the Berlin Wall, there’s the whole discussion in Europe that results in the rebeliono f the youth, who no longer want to hear about it with Maoism, right, that starts representing, somehow, a new people, without discussing here if it was also a fascista thing or not, but that fact was that Maoism was a paradigm shift, right, it ruptured with a series of dominant things at that time. And the USA, on the contrary, liberalism, right, it generated that advantage, I mean, people did whatever they wanted, right. It’s a little, it’s the trademark of American society. The government has absolutely nothing to do with it, the less government,the better. So that space is really interesting for Rubens, right, and for all the artists that, eventually, afterwards, begin approaching... The success of POP is a little bit of that success, of the freedom to do it. That was really important, right, for the growth of each of these artists we mentioned.

BERNARDO: We also can’t, right, in this research that’s been in our lives for a year and a half, here with Gerchman and what was left behind, it’s impossible, I mean, you can’t separate what Gerchman is going to do in the 70s, not only in terms of art, but also the editorial thing when he does Malasartes...


BERNARDO: ... the knowledge he brings from that american conceptual art....


BERNARDO: ... So, I mean, that artist has to go beyond the art object, this is totally connected to the american art he finds, right?

ARMANDO: That’s it.

BERNARDO: With Fluxus group, with conceptualism, all of that, right?

ARMANDO: Everything, everything. It’s a... he somehow got a doctorate in the USA, right, he literally got a practical doctorate, he really updated himself, right, and he had that rare opportunity, right, he first... we have to acknowledge Rubens’ capacity to learn, because since he was so tough, people tended to “Rubens doesn’t listen, he speaks”, and there are artists who, on the other hand, Roberto Magalhães only listens, he never says anything, right, those are traits that simply are, because they’re part of the person, right, they really are like that, that’s how it works, but when you see their work you realize it’s not exactly like that, Rubens is one of the artists who listens the most, because you see he puts it into practice, a series of things you didn’t expect from an artist, in a way, out of necessity, let us never forget that, I mean, he still hasn’t... those guys still hadn’t been able to create an identity of fine artists, because that was a terrible struggle I was lucky enough to follow, I was really sympathetic to it, right, and I had the privilegie, because I was a known journalist, but they had a hard time saying “we are artists”, they regarded that with a certain doubt. So, somehow, they all looked for the knowledge they had in other activities, paralel activities and soo n, and they put their creativity to use in other languages, but they put it to good use, but once again, the market wasn’t established yet. Then, in one of those beautiful opportunities, I mean, life anded up making Rubens, right, possibly each one of us, right, life ends up offering those artists the possibility of being more artistic than they’d just like to be. That is apparently contradictory, but in Rubens’ case, that’s what happened, he got way bigger, right, he was way more important, he had opportunities, let’s say, professional and personal, existentialist that end up creating a space for him inside Brazilian Art History way more important than if he had eventually just kept being an artist in the literal sense of the word, to use his gestural capacity, right, to be able to produce something else. That seems like an interesting data.

BERNARDO: That’s amazing.

ARMANDO: And proof of that is that in one of the greatest moments of life, Rubens ends up being a headmaster, a creator and headmaster of a school, when in reality, why did I suggest his name, right? That’s exactly why, because I could have chosen, I could have recommended one of 50 artists I knew back then, because that story, if I may share it, but the same editor of Caderno B, Paulo Afonso Grisolli right, he was let go from the paper at that time, I believe it was 72 or 71, around then, between 72 and 74, he goes back to doing theater frequently, he starts an important group in Niterói, Grisolli was always... he’s from São Paulo, if I’m not mistaken, he was from upstate São Paulo at Paulista, so he was always a theater man quite restless even though he’s highly conservative. You looked at him, he almost seemed like a priest there, if you gave him a cassock, you’d simultaneously start praying there and you’d go to church with him and all, he had an extremely ecclesiastical physique du rôle. And then he’s asked by Myrthes to serve as Director of the Department of Culture, that’s how it was called, because back then the Secretariat didn’t exist, so he gathers that group of people he ended up meeting at Caderno B, he was the person, one of the most important people in the country for many years, right, and him, at that moment, so he invites a few people he knew from previous years at Jornal do Brasil, and one of which, he asks me to be... I was an advisor, special advisor and all. I remember that’s when I learned the acronym DAS, DAS is a public service acronym where people are classified by numbers, right, so DAS 6, DAS 7, I even asked him since I knew nothing about it, I asked. He also didn’t know it, and so a crucial character comes in and explains why Rubens was chosen. Because it wasn’t even Grisolli who, let’s say, went along with my suggestion. There was a... when this whole unsettlement started, right, in the Department of Culture, let’s do this, let’s do that, a million ideas and so on, ando ne of the ideas was that “let’s take that Institute of Fine Arts that functions at Parque Lage...”, and so, in the spirit of restlessness, of preocupation, wanting to move, to change, to do things, we saw that phenomenal place, we’d go by and we saw that group of old ladies at 3 o’clock, nothing against old ladies, but it really didn’t fit the place and it screamed “wow, this place could be put to better use”, so, but, coincidentally, there was a group of ladies in their 50s or 60s, holding watercolors, those pieces of wood, the paints and all, drawing right there bucolically, in front of the garden, so everybody went by and got a little, I wouldn’t say pissed, but, I mean, “oh, that place could be a little more interesting...”, and all. And that conversation came up there, we were interested in that, and in many other things, right, and even gazebos, just to give you an idea, we had such a crazy vision at the time, that I remember turning to Grisolli and saying, “Grisolli, look at the gazebos fom the squares in Rio de Janeiro”, the gazebos were a really important tradition, right, where music got a chance to be performed, but Grisolli turned to me and said “gazebos? Are you out of your mind?”, and I said “but nobody uses the gazebos, let’s use them to do things”, so I had thought of that, and the guys, in meetings, you can imagine, right, “dude, let’s have the first network of gazebos in Brazil”, and we did, so the idea was that we... of course, nothing was ever seen through, we had a lot going on and the obstacles and the red tape are sick. I even, I’d like the opportunity to tell about my, me letter of resignation, right. So I suggested a kind of music festival featuring bands from Rio, because I knew Rio had this tradition of bands, but those bands had no venues to perform, nobody was interested in those bands, nobody... to hire a band to perform in a theater and all, it won’t work, you know. So there was this idea with the gazebos, which were situated in public squares, beautiful, an amazing place, you had a 360 degrees vision, and at the same time the sound was really amazing for the band, right, ant the audience, there really was room for the audience, so it was done, it was ready, there, and all, “Armando, let’s do this thing, can you do it?”, I remember I took off in a jalopy that belonged to the Department of Culture, it was a car owned by the Secretariat of Education, right, it said so on the outside that I was... everybody thought I was a teacher, coming over to investigate, examine schools, and I was visiting squares with gazebos all over the State of Rio, right. I saw places I didn’t even know existed, Bom Jesus de Tabapuã, Natividade, cities that people from the city of Rio de Janeiro had no idea existed, I mean, anything above Campos was not Rio, but it’s full of cities there. And they all have squares, and they all have gazebos. So we saw there the perspective of a single network, right. Nothing in Brazil, not even cinema, there weren’t even as many movie theaters as there were gazebos found at that moment. And the bands, in turn, also existed, everyone was happy about it, “wow, you’re thinking about recreating those bandas? I play the trumpet...”, the other played something else, they recovered them from the back of their closets, the guy would show up with an instrument he hadn’t played in 20 years, you know? So, literally, something that had been filed away, unset and so on, major happiness. And then I got there, returned after 2 or 3 of those trips, and then an important character enters the scene, his name is João Rui Medeiros, I think he’s deceased now, but he was someone who, somehow, he was like all the great bosses, there’s always someone who makes it possible for you to be a boss, being a boss is never something that happens on its own, right. You use your prestige, your name, etc, and stuff, but it won’t happen unless there’s someone to get things going. Then you see the stories of the great characterswho somehow acted on some kind of leadership in the world, you will see there was someone around who sometimes nobody knew who they were, and you know... but you often don’t know and all. And João Medeiros was, let’s say, the engine of the Department of Culture. He was really well informed, as were we, it was a characteristic of all o fus there, he had a vast network, which now we call network, but a network of friends in every area. So he knew people... He was a man from theaterm basically, and I think he started out as a producer, which gave him that baggage, right, the producer is always the guy who knows how the machine works, he gets there... and if it doesn’t work, where it’s stuck, you have to undo it, and he knows how those things work, maybe it’s his profession, in every area of culture, he’s the guy who makes things happen. He’s almost a foreman, the engineer, the architect, they’re crucial, but if you don’t have a foreman, it’s not gonna happen. And João Rui, of course, that comparison is even mean to him, he was so much more than that, he’s a scholar and stuff, but he was the only one who had that ability, he was a high level scholar, and at the same time he had that ability. And Grisolli respected him, and listened to him, right. And Grisolli quickly realized he couldn’t do anything without a guy like him, and he was smart enough to call him, “ok, so stay with me”, and he was on the same hierarchy level as me, we were a group of advisors, right, DAS I don’t know what, and we were each there, nobody knew exactly what we did, but there was this group who advised Grisolli and stuff. And from that moment, João Rui gets there and in a way taught, right, taught Grisolli how to do it. So, in my case I got there, rising up and all, and he said “now you have to start a proceeding”, and he explained to me how it should be done, everything involves red tape, nothing worked without a proceeding and all. So I asked him how to do it, and so did Grisolli, how do you do it, who do you do it for, well, to sum it up, I know that 3 or 4 months after I had listed them, one day I turned to Grisolli, “is the gazebo thing over?”, “yes, the gazebos, João Rui, whatever happened to the gazebos?”, “no, it’s being processed”, that’s when I learned the jargon. That was the fundamental jargon to understand what was going on. So those processes, they had all sizes, etc. So, at that point João Ruin informed me it would continue being processed for another 3 or 4 months, until I took over. And then one day, I think I was there for 6 or 7 months, and it showed up, I got to my desk, and there was this thing, like 70 or 80 cm, almost a meter high of paper, that famous folder, above which it was stamped process number... established, instituted on the date... when I took a look at that folder, I who didn’t have a letter of resignation in my pocket, I turned to Grisolli and said “well, given the size of that file, I’d like to be let go of those functions, because it will take me at least 6 to 8 months to read the whole thing”, and stuff. And, really, I’m not cut out to do this, and then I quit, when before a picture... If that had been photographed, it would have been fun, because it was me, Grisolli, bringing him that huge, heavy thing, giving it back, and João Rui watching and saying “there’s no way around it, it’s how things work” and stuff. So the gazebo thing never happened.

PEDRO: This is something I find interesting, you are talking about those people who were starting out at the Secretariat,how was it... why was there this concession for the Secretariat of Culture? I mean...

ARMANDO: for the Departament.

PEDRO: for the Departament. Because judging by the repression...

ARMANDO: Nothing. That is a miracle. I call it a hiccup in the political history of Brazilian Culture, right, that Department was a hiccup... I think... when you look at it, I never stopped to consider it, but maybe because... first of all, because as usual, people are more important than situations, so Myrthes Wenzel who I barely knew, it’s said that she managed a teaching institution in Niterói, which was kind of like a private school in Niterói, a head, something of a blend college and Parque Lage, right, a few libertarian thoughts by some educators back then, from Paulo Freire, going through a few foreign ones, the English experiences, right, with education of youngsters and so on, and all of them had that libertarian trait in common. So, when, strangely, a military, right, who was, let’s say, the state governor at that moment named by the Dictatorship, Faria Lime, if I’m not mistaken, that was his name, he was an Admiral or a Bridadier, I can’t remember his patente, and he didn’t know a thing about education, but apparently, somebody from the family named Myrthes as someone really prepared to take care of education, and all, which apparently was an excelente choice, her resumé sufficed, right, so she had the perfect resumé for that, so... ideologically maybe not that in tune with what they intended, but then, they let it pass and she went ahead, took over the Secretariat and started her work in education. So, what I imagined happened was that she... there was a Department of Culture whose director chair needed filling, so she must have searched the market and looked for it “is there a name? Someone interesting...”, and as I said before, Grisolli had just left a position that gave him visibility and importance, he was the editor of Caderno B in Jornal do Brasil, saying that, at that time, was the equivalent of saying you are news director at TV Globo right, to take care of cultural matters. So, evidently, along with the New York Times Review Books, you know, the guy, the guy really was in charge of the most prestigious space in the field of culture. It was a good way of... It wasn’t hard to sell that name. So he was kind of available, like every intellectual he didn’t have a job, and stuff, a paycheck, even if it was... but it was money. And he must have seen the possibility to... between conversations with Myrthes, there must have been "look, if you want me to work with you, I’m going to do a relevant work, that will be like X Y Z, and I’m going to ask a bunch of people with that mentality to work with mt, do you agree?” "no..." I remember I met her, I was with her 3 or 4 times, an adorable old lady, who reminded me of Countess Pereira Carneiro, the owner of Jornal do Brasil, one of those ladies, she must have been around 60, wearing glasses and all, really fun, “that’s fabulous”, she always said that, “how fabulous, what a beautiful idea”, and all, and so she conquered everyone, Grisolli felt totally comfortable. So these things, it’s an episode, as I call it a hiccup, something no one expected from there, right, it wasn’t planned, none of that, and from that she made a choice, and from that choice, things started to happen and everybody realized that. São Paulo, people from São Paulo came here, people from Rio Grande do Sul, “what’s going on, that you guys are managing to do things?”, of course, don’t think that things didn’t ressonate, and also didn’t... we were heavily criticized, right, at that moment the dictatorship was reasonably popular, so it wasn’t like “oh, you are... I’m glad you’re here”. That was for a group, but not for all of them. It really was amazing.

BERNARDO: Gerchamn told me a funny story about Myrthes that there was a complaint in the department...

ARMANDO: A whole bunch, right?

BERNARDO: ... that there were naked people at the park? And then Myrthes went to the park, to visit the school, and on that day they organized a model class, live model.

ARMANDO: Live model. Yes

M1: She got there and she said “of course! Of course there are naked people”.

ARMANDO: Yes. How do we do... how do we do...

BERNARDO: And live models, can you believe it? So she adored the school, spent the day, had coffee, ate snacks.

ARMANDO: No... she didn’t go there too often, she wasn’t that kind of person, she was an older lady, right, and she also lived, she still lived in Niterói, she didn’t have much free time, outside of her office job, right, to be able to visit things, there were things scattered all around the city, so she seldom, seldom went places. We’d go there often, I visited her office quite often with that João Rui guy who was literally... that’s why I call him a crucial character, he arranged things so that everything would be set for when you got to her office, you know? And stuff. He quickly developed a great relationship with red tape, right, because there’s a permanent red tape, let’s not forget that we got there, we always get to those places, but there’s already a functioning machine, you know? So that’s what’s important, the new and the machine don’t converse, and from that, the machine expels the new as soon as possible, right? That I learned, in my case, in the example I gave, I mean... I couldn’t, I had to respect the machine, right, and when that big folder was ready, the machine fulfilled their end of the bargain, it took my idea and said “that idea...” It ended the file, “... it is possible to do”, I mean, it ended like this, and with a million demands, right. How to pay those people, how could you do it when some of them had been former employees of the Bom Jesus de Tabapuã’s City Hall, how could he play for a service of the Department which belonged to the State, and we were from a different section of the State, so... you know? And then it was really confusing, those crazy things from Rio de Janeiro and all. So, that the red tape does wonderfully well. So that’s what’s important. So Myrthes did that and João Rui did exactly that... he organized that relationship between the new and the machine.

BERNARDO: I had the feeling that at that time we were interrupted, by the phone, you were heading towards telling us the story about the resignation letter.

ARMANDO: Yes.Right. It was... Well, first of all, my relationship, then one day Grisolli started putting a team together, right, if I’m not mistaken I believe the first people he asked were Cecília Conde, me, João Rui was the first one, João Rui was the first person Grisolli accepted, right, let’s say, the job, when João Rui said he’d go with him, so that’s a matter that, if you want to write Rubens’ story, we have to go through that, because... The João Rui turns to me and says, “Armando, what do you think about transforming...”, so we’d change up that school, that crazyness of those meetings we had weekly, where everyone said everything. They were, maybe, the first few meetings, let’s say, disorganized, there were no topics, nothing. Grisolli sat at the head of the chair and just... it was a meeting that kind of reminded the ones we had at the paper, those famous staff meetings where you decide the following day’s edition. So, of course there were things there that had been discussed, if there was something going on at PETROBRAS that would obviously be parto f the meeting, it would somehow be discussed, somebody would suggest, this guy says this, this guy says that. So there were mandatory things that were continuous, let’s put it like that, that hadn’t been settled and, from then on, total freedom, and since I was in the beginning of the process, the idea was to shake things up. So, make it happen, or, always discuss those theaters firstly, because that was the area, let’s say, of pleasure and privilege of the director, right, (Grisoli) always there. Marília Pêra was an important character at that time, because Grisolli, for people to know, he made a name for himself as a playwright and a theater director for a little known play, and it was called Onde canta o sabiá?, and there was a theater called Casa Grande that has absolutely nothing to do with the one we know now, that was a really poor theater, in Leblon, and it had a tendency towards experimental thinhs and stuff, and so Grisolli put together that play there, with Marília Pêra practically starting a career in theater, accepting a part with an unknown director, from an unknown author, and a totally different language from everything that was being done at the time. It was also a little, again, as I said, none of that happened by chance, it’s because there was theater in France, right, that was going through a revolution, there was an author, if I’m not mistaken, a director called Javier, I never forget that name, he’s an author who changed the history of contemporary theater... he finished... he created... he eliminated the space on the stage, he’s responsible for eliminating the space on stage. I mean, the audience was now part of the theater. That is... Look at how it is now, you know, what a trivial thing that is, but once again, things... there’s someone who goes there and bam, they do it, right. And Grisolli was really impressed by that, etc, and he brough to Brazil that concept of participation, he also has participated somehow, he was part of the group Teatro de Arena, in São Paulo, right, which was really where Brazilian theater had it’s revolution, and here in Rio it was Opinião right, it was... right, Opinião, famous Teatro Opinião was doing the play, right, first with Nara Leão and then with Maria Betânia and where Grisolli was also amazed by that arena, that idea that was an arena space, how well it worked. I mean, you could tell a story, right, with everyone there, kind of working in an arena theater. Again, it wasn’t a national invention, but they were things that forged the idea of joining stage, and audience, and all. It wasn’t the case with Pinel, because with Pinel the audience only worked because it either cried or sang with them, right, or manifested politically, because the play had that role and all, but it didn’t, the dramaturgic point of view, it didn’t foresee any participation by the audience. So, when that was done, the meetings always started with theater, so... and the Department of Culture had many theaters under its guidance, so, then I let... everybody let it happen, Cecília played an important role, because she took care of body matters, she was a musical person, but she also took care of... at that time there weren’t many specialists in contemporary dancing, none of that, so it was ballet that was final. So Cecília played that role her family had a music school at Graça Aranha, they still do if I’m not mistaken, the Conservatory, at Graça Aranha. So she had opinions about these things she was so young warrior and stuff. So from a certain point everything was liberated and all and then Art history surfaced in that context I was talking about a while back, look, I realize there and opportunity to, literally give a little more muscle to the tragedy that was being an artist at that moment right, well who knows maybe we can form people, let’s have a space right where things can happen and all. Rubens was absolutely fascinated by everything, he was… That's my theory he had the hots for Lina Bo Bardi, , he thought she was a very interesting woman, she was married to Bo Bardi and all, you know, really serious, an architect, he met her, if I’m not mistaken in São Paulo, I think he met her, and really I also met her, it was... we all had... Rubens was a little older than me, I was probably about 26, 27, I was, I don’t know, that was 75, right, 74, 75, then I’m older, 29, 29, 30, and Rubens was 32, I don’t know how old he was. And then when Parque Lage started being discussed, I said “why don’t we seize the opportunity and use that as a lurch, why don’t we bring there exactly what is happening in terms of language...”, so, to really have... let the other places be, like Belas Artes, they are well established museums, showing work that... The very own Museum of Modern Art was already doing it… Let us not forget that the Museum of Modern Art was the space where Rubens and practically all those artists, it was the only place in Rio de Janeiro that allowed them to really have experiences, Lygia Clark was teaching there, Goeldi was teaching there, Rubens was always there, all of us... cinema, MAM’s Cinematheque, did it, right, it made us know a cinema that wasn’t just an American cinema, I mean, the Museum of modern Art it’s crucial, in fact, a great subject that you can work on is the Museum of modern Art, because I don’t think there’s any institution maybe in Brazil that has, right, if you think about it, I mean, from the beginning, or even with the same drama, with the fires and the problems of all sorts that they had, but it's amazing, it's a history, and architectural importance, Aterro do Flamengo didn’t even exist when the museum was built, can you imagine? I mean, it was the first thing they built in Aterro, before the monument for Pracinhas, so Reidy’s project ias a really revolutionary thing, to this idea, and architects from all around the world... Calatrava, whenever he comes here to see the Museum of Tomorrow that is under construction, he makes a point to go there to see what you can do with concrete and all. On top of everything we have been saying here all those artists right, who have been through there, not only in fine arts right, the museum became a space for thinking, extraordinary restless and all, not to mention political and stuff, it really comes together right, later. But, close the brackets. So, the museum was the only space right, except at the museum was a museum, so it couldn’t offer the didactic aspect the importance it eventually needed, so that’s when I suggested that… In one of those meetings, that idea of doing, which was more or less conceived at that moment, and João Rui turns to Grisolli and says, “look, it is possible to do it, if we want it, we can”. Then Grisolli said, “but won’t it...”, he was scared, right, once again, it was like everyone was walking on eggshells, right, no idea, first we were absolutely inexperienced, by the involvement, the political scene that surrounded us and stuff. Let’s do it, let’s do it, the meeting ended, and that was it. To try and turn the Institute of Fine Arts into a teaching space, whatever that was, all the names bureaucracy thought it needed. And then, on the following week, who is going to do something like that, right? How is strong enough to face those people? A challenge like that. So, back again, Rubens had a great relationship with Lina, and I, in a way, through him, ended up having it as well, I met Lina when she came to Rio, we were all fascinated by that Italian lady who is truly beautiful, beautiful right, a little dirty, but interesting, that was a very European thing for that moment right, and in Rio you really see that, in São Paulo not so much, but here people dress lightly and stuff, I often mentioned it to Rubens, “there’s that little problem”, and he’d say “I think so too, but ok, let’s carry on”. I don't know if they ever had an affair or not, I have my doubts, it's not something that he's ever admitted to me, but he would like to have had. I don’t know if it happened. And then we once talked, we met at Degrau, a restaurant here in Leblon, but it wasn’t where it is today, it was on the other side of the street, exactly in front of the building and old building in front, it was there that the restaurant operated, and so on, we were talking, and we had that idea that Lina fully supported, because I didn’t have… I was a kid, right, also his friend, my opinion wasn’t that important, but when Lina said, “hey, this is an interesting idea, go ahead… etc. So Lina left, we... We didn’t even take her, she was staying at a friends house, and we stayed there drinking and stuff and it was at that moment that I remember that the idea came up, his tough way… “am I going to do that?”, and stuff, and the Rubens thing started, a certain, also left me in a foul mood permanently, for having to put up with all that red tape, take each of our own problems, only he, in fact, the difference between us is that I was access, so I basically didn't have any responsibility, I'd leave it there, with everything I have to say, in fact it's great being an advisor right, the adviser says, he tells you what happened and goodbye, but somebody has to do it right, and then the idea was that Rubens would be the headmaster. It wasn’t juat “develop a concept, whatever you think”, and stuff, and hand it to someone for them to do, the idea was that he… The only way I thought the school would happen was if he did it. Then again, because of the characteristics of the new, I would never recommend Antônio, I would never recommend Vergara, Roberto, that whole crowd didn’t make any sense it wasn’t going to happen because of vocation, now Rubens had the trait, Rubens was, he was tough right, he had authority, and a good sense. You can be an asshole with authority or you can have an authority that works and at times authority is crucial and he had authority, he liked being authoritarian, but at the same time he was really charming, so when he wanted he could change the tone from one minute to the other with no problem, if he thought the tone needed to be a seductive tone, a humorous tone, whatever it was, he changed his tone of voice, so he made things happen, so that gathering of personal traits made me sure… As for the intellectuals, I had no doubts, but that was the personal set that he had for better or for worse. He also could, for example, his authority could eventually lead to a rupture with Grisolli himself as it often almost happened, because Grisolli what’s the opposite of Rubens, right, Grisolli tolerated Rubens because of the project he was developing. I understood it perfectly, there were many times when I had to keep it together, I mean, “but Grisolli, that is crucial, it has to be done, it’s the only way, you’ll have to remove that, you’ll have to fight him...”, because things are ahead, right, you move forward, and obstacles surface. And if it hadn’t been for Rubens’ personal features, that whole thing would never have happened. And many friends who were Rubens’ enemies became his friends because they wanted to be part of that project, so Rubens was able to understand all of it, you know? So that’s why I call it the two sides of him (Rubens), there were people he couldn’t tolerate, he was really radical, “I don’t like that guy”, so said guy couldn’t even come close, but in the name of the project lots of people ended up participating, despite not having any personal relations with him. So, to answer that objectivelly, I think the idea is born exactly because of everything that had happened before with him, the arguments I used for Rubens to accept the position, both with him, and in that conversation with Lina, and then saying, “Rubens, you are the only one who can do this, you are the only person who has the baggage, that history and the toughness to face it”, being tough was an e xpression from those days that I’m using today on purpose, I don’t even think people do this anymore right, but I’m making a point to do it this way, because that was his trait at the moment. And the story of the letter it comes out right at that moment, because talking to Lina we said “Lina, what’s the worse that could happen, right?”, I remember saying that, “it’s him, if it really doesn’t work, then he picks up and leaves and that’s all”. And then she said “he could get arrested, right...” so that was all that she could say at that point, and she did it, right, “the worst that could happen is you being arrested”, which many of our friends were, etc. We are not talking about the days of torture, that was a little earlier, so prison was terrifying thing, a threatening thing but we didn't have that terror that we later grew to have regarding it, years later, it’s important to say it right, that from a certain point in Brazil there is a period of two or three militaries in Brazil who have in fact instituted, quite clearly instituted the torture basements, so it was a risk that nobody wanted to run and it was about armed struggle along with a series of other things that happened in Brazil at that moment. So, at that exact moment I said, “write a letter...”, you know? Calmly. I didn’t even call it a letter, I said “write a note”, because we only spoke through notes, nobody wants to face the red tape, say the following, leave it ready, I don’t really want to piss you off”, so you go there leave a note on his desk and that’s it. So there wasn’t... “oh, can I do that?”, “of course you can, it’s a way of, you’re being invited, you can also uninvite yourself and leave”. “So I think I’ll do it”. He had that way, he sounded a little nasal, right, “I think I'm going to face it, it's necessary, and stuff, I'll get beaten up, but I don't know what, maybe it will be cool and stuff.” He was really excited, he really wanted to do it, right, and just as the rest of us, there’s a side of us that pretend we don’t really want it, does a little… Not to use low expression here, but you can get it, “no, insist a little harder so I can say yes”. And then I spoke to other three or four people particularly the artists, his fear was the reaction and he was perfectly understandable, because you also need to put that in context, Lina didn't have any political involvement, quite the opposite, through her husband who was a guy who had been through anything you can imagine, he was Chateaubriand’s dearest, so he said yes to anything, there was a moral issue let’s say, minimally resolved, there was, right, really, suspicions regarding how a few pieces that didn’t get into MASP and ended up at his house, so that already happened at his house, and Lina was his wife got so there was no way she could say it was like this or like that. So you didn’t bring it up, we pretended nobody ever brought it up, and everybody carried on pretending, and on we went. We looked on the bright side of things, Lina was a great architect, really competent, a high-level scholar, besides being beautiful woman etc., so all in all it's great for you to have everything, really at one place. So from then… for Rubens that was also particularly important, I saw that Rubens’ women were really interesting women. He was always worried about women being at the same time interesting on an intellectual level, but he also cared about aesthetics, right, Rubens was always around beautiful women. So that was it, so, in reality, there was this issue, I remember perfectly well when he said “what will people think?”, which I subscribed. It was a problem, in fact, quite serious, and the great matter that was presented to each and every scholar in that moment that was about to do work, right, that involved the government, and rightfully so. And that is true for any regime, imagine what’s going on in North Korea or in Venezuela, wherever, whatever… You say, “no, I’m not taking a job at the Ministry of Culture, I will work at department x, departments directly related to this government...”, where noboby makes a difference, nobody wants to know, but comparing to the moment Dilma is facing, if I say I’m going to work with Dilma, it has a weight, right, “Come, on, you can’t work with Dilma now, maybe Dilma 6 years ago everything was more reasonable” There is a... the intellectuals have that purity, or that necessity, let’s say, to be independent, that I believe makes perfect sense. And Rubens, for better or for worse, he was, he called himself, a pre-anarchic, it’s a... he was part of a libertarian group, and then suddenly to work for the Military Government, you know? It’s no walk in the park. So he really took a few weeks to make this decision, and I let him comfortable enough to do so, I asked Grisolli not to bother him, João Rui was already wanting, “come on, call Gerchman to see how things are, to see if he’s made a decision, if he’s decided or not”. I was like “let him be, because that’s not our decision to make, you can’t tell him to do this or that, I’ve already said everything there was to say”. And then he was asked to the office, they explained how everything worked, he asked subjective questions, how much did it pay, he wanted to know the extent of his powers, how far he could go, those natural things anyone would. Even so, he got there and... to use political terms, he consulted his basis, he heard a bunch of “yes”s, a bunch of “no”s, but not really firm “no”s, and Rubens was really moved by it, really moved, and I’d dare say that until a certain point, he would say no. Because he was sensitive, that type of thing, Rubens was someone who had a... how could I say, he had a strong personality, but really subjected to moods and relationships, he could be influenced, he... there was an expression, impregnated by the ears, so he really didn’t want any of that in his Bio, the idea that he was ok with the government, for him that was awful, maybe worse than for everybody else, for him that was a matter of life and death, but on the other hand, he really wanted to work on that project, because it was a once in a lifetime thing, right, how many artist around the world had the opportunity to do what he did? And todo it... And in spite of all of us telling him that he had total freedom to do it, we ourselves didn’t know if he would have it, we said he would in order to convince him to say yes, but I confess to you that I was really surprised, every day I got there and saw how far he had gone. In fact after I left, I’d still stop by, we were friends forever, I would go there, I would get there and I’d say, “I can’t believe what you’re doing”. And he was really happy about it, evidently. The press fully supported him, although there was a critic from Jornal do Brasil called Walmir Ayala né, who had serious doubts about what was going on there, and it was normal because critics from that moment also weren't prepared, nobody was prepared for what was going on there, that’s what’s interesting. So, that letter, which wasn’t a letter, it was a note, right, at least the idea was to have a note and it worked almost like a metaphor, get it? It was something that kind of said, “you...”, I think the idea of the note was born as a way for him to deal with this dilemma that he was never going to deal with, right, because he would be under permanent pressure from that group, of course, it couldn’t be any different. As long as there was a dictatorship there would be people who are absolutely against it, so he would be like he was supportive, however well he did everything there, and at the same time he had that enourmous desire to go there and do it. So I believe that note worked as an alibi, right, it also worked as a metaphor for the situation at that moment. I mean, I have…That’s the situation, right, and I think that note represents the situation and I have it with me, I fully support the idea that it is part of my doubt, that gives me the right to do it and explain, which was really important to him, for those who are against what he was doing, that maybe wasn’t politically correct to do it at that time, but the project itself justified it. I think that was it. So every time we talked about it I remember that there was never a time when we gathered all our friends right, and the artists are all like all the journalists, advertisers all of them, when they can, go take a hit, they will say bad things, when they have the opportunity. So, all it took was for Rubens to leave and “he’s conformed, he sold out to the regime”. And there was no way around it, ten minutes earlier the guy would be “ah, cool project, I’m going to be part of it”, the same people who participated int the project had serious doubts regarding ehther they should be doing it or not. So that was really part of that moment, and I think it really pained him, it did, it was a process... He shared with me at many different moments that anguish about what he was doing, but it was Rubens, Rubens was always really dramatic, right, that was another one of his features, he was dramatic by nature, he was pained, but he showed his pain all the time. He had a sarcastic humor, dirty, he also spoke ill of everyone, I mean, he played the game, he heard everything and stuff, but at the same time he was on a mission, he knew there was a mission there, and he took charge of that mission and let’s do it whatever comes our way.

ISABELA: Oh, just to... listening to you speak like that, the impression I get was that the government was distracted regarding culture, because they probably couldn’t care less about it...

ARMANDO: of course. They could care less.

ISABELA: ... And when they got distracted, they allowed that many people from Jornal do Brasil’s elite joined the department right?

ARMANDO: right.

ISABELA: who thought of culture, who discussed it at the time, so Grisolli, you, and other people, I understand that came…

ARMANDO: of course. And everyone he invited, right.His friends, who aren’t my friends or friends with the people from the paper, people who grew up in that generation, his generation, right.


ARMANDO: Hélio, right, Hélio was not from the paper, but he was a revolutionary man... O Hélio né, o Hélio não era do Jornal do Brasil, mas era um revolucionário...

ISABELA: I know, but I think, that environment, which is given to Rubens, with a... I don’t know, seeing somthing he could accomplish...

ARMANDO: oh, no doubt about it.

ISABELA: from what you’re saying, at the time, society didn’t participate in things.

ARMANDO: no way…Not at all.

ISABELA: so, getting that space as a space for society to participate, I think that…

ARMANDO: that’s it. It was a benefit that

ISABELA: ... almost avant-garde...

ARMANDO: no doubt, totally.

ISABELA: Because that only went back to being discussed with Fernando Henrique, right?

ARMANDO: that’s it. You’re right.

ISABELA: so, I’m listening and thinking, your choice for being about art, and also for being from culture, because you were in touch with those people, for geographically being in the noble part of town.

ARMANDO: Of course.Knowing the importance of it all.

ISABELA: ...Somehow...

ARMANDO: It was at Degrau, right?

ISABELA: ... That exercise of citizenship from that point of you to change things at a time where that was unthinkable. So for me that is just valuable and now I’m thinking, just to finish up,that is my question. What did it mean back then and what is this history that has been going for 40 years? I don’t know if that can be a last question from your point of view and today, looking around, you know?

ARMANDO: Cool. Ok.

ISABELA: another Think that I thought it was nice of you to say, and I’m glad that you then closed, was about that trait of us finding people who want to change the world, to change something, they have to be tough, right, they have to fight.

ARMANDO: there’s no other way.

ISABELA: they have to fight, they have to give up on…

ARMANDO: Yes. It’s true. Great, because I conveyed my message, I’m happy because that’s it. And now you ended up provoking me, right, and now my advertising side surfaces a little, what is the title I would give, right, to this, the way, right, Rubens having faced the moment, right, that life of his, that artistic path of his, right. I think I reality Rubens was, he participated in armed struggle in his own way. So, I think that instead of grabbing weapons in the literal sense, right, like many did in that moment, he found that project, and not just a project, because his life as a whole, even with thisperiod that people call lighter, which is that final period, when kisses suddenly surface, inlove and all, and many people still beat him up, right, “like Rubens doing those paintings?”, I mean, that's it, I think armed struggle can be made in a number of ways, so the common feature, together, that path is this, it is an artist, right, who really found in his work, and his activity in and out of work, his armed struggle. I mean, he fought the entire time with the weapons at his disposal at that moment. So they are weapons that range from the most radical, when he goes to the United States and face complex existential moments, he has a complex personal life, everything, right… He was facing each struggle it away with the weapons at his disposal that until he reaches the end, right, he really starts to get more, apparently softer, right, which is really an age thing, the notorious path we all have to follow, but for me, right, what I discussed with him, I’d say “you have never walked away from the armed struggle”, because he was always fighting his own work, all the time. That is something that not many people know. Which, in fact is also not his only feature, it’s that they are, in general, silente, right, people, when they do that, they do it, not always publically, "no, I won’t deny this, I think this is all really shitty, what I’m doing, it no longer has anything to do with me”, people say that when, sometimes, they’re being investigated by journalists, or when they give those testimonials that are so common nowadays, right, testimonials for history and so on, but Rubens did that internally, right, so I remember I seldom saw him during those last few years, we grew apart, for professional reasons, that crazy life we lead, we can’t always be around the people we want, but he used to say that, right, that really “I can’t understand why people crap all over my current work, but that’s the weapon I have at my disposal right now, I do it with all my heart, I work hard, I enjoy it, and so on”. So I think that’s it, maybe the history of Parque Lage, right, back to him, he is, maybe that’s the moment he uses his most powerful and visible weapons, right. The weapons that gave him an army. All the other struggles were individual, and so on, but that was the moment when he was the General, right, let’s put it like that, in a situation where many are involved.


CLARA: The project is called “O Pensamento Pedagógico de Rubens Gerchman”. (The Pedagogical Thought of Rubens Gerchman).


CLARA: And we are going to tell a little bit about the story of Parque Lage.

FREDERICO: You are going to suck everything from Gerchamn. You are not terrible.

EUGENIO: Yes. But we are going to squeeze you first. We want to know all about you. Actually a part. The exhibition is now focused on a file by Gerchman. And it will unfold over everyone he invited to participate. Really the pre-text is that period of Parque Lage, but putting it into context with the experimental space of MAM, with the magazine Malasartes to which he was also connected. So really let him be a pre-text to go because real all of you got together frequentely and walked around a circuit that had those corridors as I was telling you. A group kind of formed then. And what’s curious is that in 75 you coincide, an invitation from Pontual, you coincide at a roundtable to debate the situation of Brazilian art in that moment that was published in...

CLARA: Debate.

EUGENIO: ... it was at...

CLARA: Casa Grande Debate.

FREDERICO: I remember there was a debate.

EUGENIO: ... it’s curious because it’s a year that seems really important. The year when Malasartes is being born. It’s a year when that debate is going on. And it’s the year when Lina Bo Bardi is asking Gerchman to manage the school. Her and Paulo Grisolli. And then they call him and he’s in doubt. That’s why the exhibition is called “Com a Demissão no Bolso”, (With the resignation letter in the Pocket), that’s how the exhibition is called. Because he said in many interviews that he didn’t know what he was doing taking over the school. He had never managed anything, ever. And actually what we want to hear from you starts with that. What did the Brazilian context need at the time? Because that focus is a change of atitude since art... it’s really emphatic and that seems to be the opinion among many of you regarding the previous decade. It’s also not casual that, for instance, Malasartes will publish Resende’s paper on education, on training artist. And for the first time Kaprow’s paper is published - “Miseducation in Arts” [00:04:16] Kosuth’s paper.

EUGENIO: But were you a facilitator at the time?


EUGENIO: You really were a very active guy at the time and somehow Parque Lage was born from that connection, with the experimental space from MAM, with what had already been done. There was something in the air about proposing a different way to do art. I’d like you to say...

EUGENIO: What connection do you think there is between the experimental practices of MAM that you followed closely, and what would become the spirit that iluminated, what excelled in the Visual Arts School proposal that Gerchman and the group of colleagues brought?

FREDERICO: Well. My memory isn’t serving me quite right in a few aspects, etc, in a few points. And sometimes dates get a little confused, sometimes the logic, let’s say, of the thought we develop. But really, as far as my memory goes... really, I mean... because Parque Lage’s school, it was actually the old Institute of Fine Arts which was, let’s say, a scholar entity. You know? The headmasters were always scholars and all. It, in fact, I think it started in Urca, if I’m not mistaken. Only later is it moved. And it was under the administration of the secretariat or the Department of Culture os the Secretariat of Culture of that State, which at that point was Grisolli, Paulo Afonso Grisolli, who was a journalist, he worked at Jornal do Brasil, etc, he was a person who was a good speaker, etc. And he invited Gerchman to manage it. Now the year...?

CLARA: 1975.

FREDERICO: 1975. Well. So that’s a little after a few things, actually, that we had already done at the museum. So I have to go further back in time. Here’s what happens. When I settled in Rio de Janeiro in 1966, if I’m not mistaken, it’s July. And, curiously, and Gerchman also enters the picture, because the last thing I did in Belo Horizonte, where I come from, was an exhibition called “Vanguarda Brasileira” (Brazilian Avant-Garde). Actually what I named Brazilian avant-garde waswas a group of artists from Rio de Janeiro. I actually only include artists from Rio de Janeiro. And Gerchman participates in that exhibition, Antônio Dias, Hélio Oiticica, Escosteguy, Maria do Carmo Secco, if I’m not mistaken, Dileny Campos, who were married at the time and all. And that exhibition was held at the rectory of the University of Minas Gerais in a new, unfinished building. You know? And Gerchman, Vergara, and I think Hélio had done and exhibition at a gallery that had been launched a few months earlier. He did that banner: “Pare” (Stop).

CLARA: At Relevo?

FREDERICO: At Relevo. No. It’s not Relevo. It was at another gallery.


FREDERICO: G4. Exactly You see? And so for that very own, let’s say, “Pare” logo, it also worked for the exhibition at the rectory, it was actually a long poster on a paper, let’s say, precarious, almost like a newspaper, something like that. And behind it there was a small photograph, a small cv and a testimonial from those artists, and all. And that exhibition... Belo Horizonte at that time was actually producing a few things, quite trendy, etc, and there were at least two interesting things at that exhibition. Hélio Oiticica participated in it... he had been invited to participate in that exhibition. For some reason I can’t quite remember now, he couldn’t make it to Belo Horizonte. But the poster had already been printed, his testimonial, and all. So me, Gerchman and Antônio Dias decided to recreate Hélio Oiticica’s pieces, because he didn’t go, and didn’t send his work. So we went to a city market that sold fruits, greens, all that stuff, which was sort of a bohemian spot on Saturdays. Sometimes we went there at lunch time to get a drink, to eat chicken gizzard, and that. And so then we took that concept of appropriation, which was a concept that was mainly worked by Hélio Oiticica, which in a way corresponds with the necessary differences to a concept by Duchamp, ready-made. So what did we do? We bought an egg basket. In the old days there was an egg basket that was made with wire. So, when pressed, it was turned into something original like that. It was easy to bring. And then when you opened it there, there was this basket specifically designed to hold a dozen eggs, roughly. And we bought that and brought it to the exhibition. And at the same time we took a wheelbarrow, those used in construction jobs, with crushed stones, sand, etc and all, and Hélio Oiticica’s pieces were actually those two here we recreated. And what happens is that at that moment, the exhibition was in 65 or 66, you can check that later, and, therefore, it was still the beginning of the dictatorship, I mean, the coup d’etat, etc. And at the vernissage... because the university’s dean, for the first time it was someone who didn’t come from Human Sciences. He was actually a professor of... teeth treatment, what is it?

EUGENIO: Dentistry?

FREDERICO: Yes. Dentistry school. I forgot his name. He was a really worthy person, really interesting and all. And then he... and he did a good job. At a certain point he was even asked to be the Minister for Culture. But then it didn’t work out. People from São Paulo didn’t accept anyone who wasn’t from São Paulo, because culture is a São Paulo thing and stuff. So he ended up being overthrown. Because Ziraldo also got in. And then there was that whole talk about the Brazilian gem, that regionalist thing, etc. So there was significant force against him, and he lost it. But he was there serving as the dean. And there was also, check it out, the guy who started the coup d’etat in Brazil, the military dictatorship, some marshal... General Guedes, who later wrote a ridiculous book, you see, called, “Tinha que ser Minas” (It had to be Minas), because the coup started in Minas. One day before the coup d’etat, April 1st, I had been to the Soviet Union, you know, on a trip through all those socialist countries, and I had been sending my stories. Back then we sent stories via Mail. So on the day before I had that: Introduction to the Soviet Union. And I had already published it three months earlier. Because that trip lasted nearly four months, and all, an interview I did with Khrushchev. I’m one of the few Brazilians that has ever interviewed Khrushchev. I even had a picture with him, hugging, they took it from me when I came back. You see? And then my house... my mother’s house was invaded by the police. You see? My brother was arrested, and all that. Just imagine if they had found Khrushchev’s picture there.

When I went to Cuba and took a picture with Fidel, then I made a few copies and distributed it around a few places, etc. But not that one. So there was that General there, the minister. And then people decided to have a happening. So there was an egg fight with Hélio Oiticica’s eggs. And they got the rectory office all dirty. The stones too. You see? The crushed stones, tiny rocks with sand, etc. So that exhibition at the vernissage ended in a fantastic happening. You know? The dean remained stolid. He didn’t do anything to reprimand. The General also must have gotten really scared. He also didn’t know what he was going to do. He knew how to have a coup. But then that was it. So that exhibition was my farewell to Belo Horizonte. It was the last thing I did. Exactly in 66. So a few months...

EUGENIO: You said goodbye to Belo Horizonte with eggs and fight?

FREDERICO: Yes. That’s right. And about 3 months later I came to Rio de Janeiro, because I lived in a situation really similar to that one. It was a ranch like this. Only trees. There was also a bank, and all. There was a view of the city, etc. And my father in law made the mistake of selling it. So that was my excuse. I’d wanted to come to Rio de Janeiro for a long time. So we came here. I came with her parents and all. And here’s the deal. I mean, because of the exhibition in Belo Horizonte I was in touch with Gerchman, Dias, Vergara and all. So when I came to Rio de Janeiro I was initially connected to that group, including Vilma, who worked with Gerchman in the magazine... at Manchete. Vilma also worked as an illustrator and graphic designer in newspapers in Minas. So she became Gerchman’s assistant and all. Gerchman was kind of a rascal. He made a few scratches and Vilma took over. That fast thing Gerchman did. Gerchman was always... his nickname was big dirty one. So, I mean, that was my first contact. And it’s also fitting to mention an exhibition that occurred here in Rio de Janeiro in 63, by the Group Otra Figuracion from Argentina, it was Luis Felipe Noé, De la Vega... I even... I just finished writing a book about Noé that will probably be launched this year in Buenos Aires.

FREDERICO: Yes. It’s a group that brings back figuration after the concrete period, informalism, a certain northen influence... from POP, but maybe even more from Europe. And it was a really radical group, with a really interesting production, especially Noé and De La Vega, who ended up killing himself. And then there was a connection with them, by another artist who was also a revolutionary, whose name I’m failing to remember now, he even came to Brazil. He did happenings. He was a fantastic guy. I put them on the First Biennial of Mercosur.

CLARA: Doesn’t that have anything to do with the First Latin American Biennial, with Mário Pedrosa and Ferreira Gullar when you are together?

FREDERICO: No. Not the first. It’s not the first... the biennial is called First Visual Arts Biennial of Mercosur. I founded that.

CLARA: Yes. Yes. But the 78 biennial.

FREDERICO: No. There was a Latin American Arts Biennial in São Paulo.


FREDERICO: But it wasn’t Mário Pedrosa/ Actually... I mean, he participated in the debates. I did too.

CLARA: Yes. Yes.

FREDERICO: I mean... but that was organized by the Biennial Foundation of São Paulo.

Well. So here’s the deal. That group had an exhibition in 1963 at Galeria Bonino. And when I had an exhibition at Galeria BANESDI, of a reinterpretation of Opinião 65, so I gathered a few testimonials that I did those catalogues, all in black and white. So it was a gallery a little larger than this. I don’t know. Twice that size. But I could put up documents, paintings, etc. And then there’s a series of testimonials, and some of those testimonials also had Dias, and stuff, both Dias and Gerchman are really affirmative about the influence that exhibition had on their work, because it was really aggressive, it had a political aspect, not all of them, but Noé had, De La Vega had. And that expression surprised that group and they say they were influenced by that exhibition. About 2 years later there was a second exhibition by that group at the Museum of Modern Art that also reafirms it. That exhibition was even introduced to Rio by Geraldo Ferraz, who is a critic from São Paulo who was at a certain point even closer to Modernism... he was married to a Pagú. But then he got too reserved, or even reactionary their analysis of arts and stuff. I myself had a serious fight with him. But that exhibition was really meaningful and all. And Gerchman calls to attention that character, that dirty painting. He calls it. I don’t know... I think he used that expression about a dirty art and all. I mean, the speed with which the work is executed, so I mean, Gerchman felt really stimulated because actually he was considered by the group, or by outside people as kind of a dirty guy who didn’t really take care of... he wasn’t a refined artist. I mean, there was no subtlety. He was really straight. Not only in the terms approaches, the terms around, that connection he had to the city, with things that are going on, with what happened in mass culture, but also in the execution itself, when he was always really fast. He always discarded things really fast. At the time I even had a counterpoint. Because Gerchman has a piece called “Rei do Mau Gosto” (King of Bad Taste), which is a painting, it has a sum of icons, kitsch Vasco da Gama’s badge, I mean, the tourism things with beveled glass, all these things. So I had a counterpoint with Vergara, which would be “the king of good taste”. Because Vergara has always been a virtuous artist, really fine drawing, really exquisite. In a way he had some influence from the people from São Paulo, who were always really careful to do things. And it’s a work that takes time, and all that. And Vergara has never really forgiven me for that. But recently we commented on that again. Because I still think Gerchman has... Vergara is also an important artist. He did great things. But that difference was crucial. Dias was half way, I mean, in that situation. And Roberto Magalhães did his thing, those mystical things. It was an important group. And that was the first group I got along with in Rio de Janeiro. But then the generation I really support, publicly, as an art critic, is the generation of Cildo, Antônio Manoel, Barrio, who were always at my place. Well. So what happens, then? At last, we saw... I was still following their work. And when I got to Rio I was invited to teach, by Carmem Portinho, to teach at the Museum of Modern Art. It’s curious. It was on a day like this, an afternoon, and on a corner I meet Roberto Magalhães, who lived in the end of Leblon. And his studio was something like this... it had a mystical vibe. There was incense, there were things, there were some amazing notebooks. You see? And we were always telling stories. Suddenly I go to the museum, I talk to Carmem, and Carmem invites me to teach Art History. So I started teaching Art History there. Ando ne year and a half later, I think two years I took over the coordination of the course section of the museum. And later Carmem leaves the museum, moves to ESDI and also brings me to ESDI. I was also a teacher at ESDI for about two years. I’m self taught. I don’t have any degree. Well. So what happens then? The museum... I started noticing that the teaching structure at the museum was a... there was actually no structure. I mean, it was one of the things more or less common to many other institutions, even in Belo Horizonte. I mean, an institution that attracts a certain amount of artists or theorists or art critics to teach a few courses, but it’s as if it was just a space rented by the teacher. So each one took care of promoting their own thing, they did their own press-release. One had 50 students. Another one had 2. But they didn’t really agree on anything and stuff. So there was no... and some of them were decidedly bad as teachers, according tom y observation. But normally it was those who had more students. And that always bothered me. When I took over that course, then I changed things a little bit. At the time I even published a detailed flyer. And what did I propose back then? Here’s what I proposed. Because normally classes at the museum were in the afternoon. Normally between 3 and 5 o’clock. The lessons... there was sculpture studio, engraving studio, some other kind of studio and...

CLARA: And where were they, Frederico? I mean inside the museum? Where did they take place?

FREDERICO: Back then there was only the School Block. The exhibition block didn’t exist yet. So the exhibitions were actually there. Opinião 65 was at the School Block. Later, thanks to Carmem Coutinho we make a deal with the International Monetary Fund which was about to have their anual, or bianual meeting which I think they held in certain countries, so they built the school block inside the project by Afonso Eduardo Reidy. In fact, all the furniture that were used were left for the museum. At that moment, so, I mean, the exhibitions were only at the School Block. Because the School Block was created inside a project and there was a project... this conversation will keep going until tomorrow if you don’t interrupt me. You have to cut me.

EUGENIO: Oh. I love it. Then it’s easy.

FREDERICO: Well. So, then, I mean, Tomás Maldonado who was the leader of the concrete-invenciónistas...

EUGENIO: Who will later be the headmaster at ULM. Of ULM school.

FREDERICO: Exactly. Who was considered a thinking machine. Everybody praised his capacity. They loved his lessons. He was a huge guy, gigantic, like this. And he was invited by Sodré, who was the CEO of the museum, she was also on the board of Correio da Manhã, which was an opposition newspaper, it was practically shut down by the dictatorship to do a school project. And he worked on a project of a technical art school. That project was approved, but it was never realized.

M: He was invited to work on that project in which year, more or less?

Frederico: That was around 55... 56. Because at that time there was something in Rio called Grupo Frente, which was more or less like Grupo Ruptura from São Paulo, which was Waldemar Cordeiro. So Grupo Frente is created in 54, and has its first exhibition in 54, at IBEU, the second one in 55 at the museum, and later in 56 advancing upstate to Volta Redonda and Resende. One of the exhibitions of Volta Redonda was exactly inside the National Steel Company, which was the first big, that now is Vale do Rio Doce, which was the first great plant in Brasil, a project from Getúlio Vargas’ time, that nationalist thing. And the president was a General. And Maldonado, who had also been to Brazil in 53 in a previous exhibition that also had major influence over Grupo Frente. There are two exhibitions of argentinians. The 53 one, with the concretes that went to Holland, and the 63, by Outra Figuração. The first one influenced Grupo Frente, which was in the origins of Neoconcretism. And that second one influenced that group that somehow is born during the first half of the 60s to oppose to concretism. But having Hélio Oiticica as some kind of a bridge between concretes and... I’ll send the bill later. So here’s what happens. Well. And that project didn’t work for the museum, but it’s in the origins of the College of Industrial Design (Escola Superior de Desenho Industrial), ESDI. Because at that moment, already in 63, it was launched, during Lacerda’s government, who was one of the right wing leaders, even in the military coup d’etat, but the Secretary of Culture was an art critic, Flexa Ribeiro, son of an old professor by the same name Flexa Ribeiro, who was a professor at the university who, actually, beat Mário Pedrosa when they were both fighting for the position because Pedrosa, his thesis was about the Gestalt. Maybe the first book on Gestalt. Not only in Brazil. In the world. But he was defeated by that Little Flexa’s father, the son. It was a thesis about the spaniard, Velazquez. So it started the College of Industrial Design. But at that time when it was launched, he was already the dean at ULM. And he had already left the leadership of the concrete-invenciónistas. Well, So that’s what was going on with the museum. I mean, classes were in the afternoon. Normally from 3 to 5. Normally this is what happened, I mean, mothers took their children to school. They had some time, about 2 or 3 hours between dropping off their kids and picking them up, so they went to the museum to take a class.

EUGENIO: But you admit that also Maldonado may have influenced the School Block?

FREDERICO: No. The course was part of that School Block. in Reidy’s project, which came before Maldonado, the museum was inaugurated in 48 or... it was determined that there would be a School Block there. Now the project of how the school would be was Maldonado’s. I never read that project. But it didn’t follow through for lack of resources or anything. But when they decided to start the College of Industrial Design where I also taught for almost 2 years, then they called Maldonado for the first meetings. But the project was modified along a series of meetings with other participants, teachers, critics and some who came from outside. And some of the first teachers, I was on the second class, Bergmiller, Wolney, that other guy from Ceará, they were connected to ULM.

FREDERICO: They had scholarships, too. Wolney did. Well. And Bergmiller came from there. Bergmiller was Max Bill’s student. Because Tomás Maldonado, as a good Argentinian, he overthrew Max Bill, who was a founder of the school, and took charge of the rectory and stuff. Then he went to Italy to work with Olivetti, and all that. So, I mean, his thing was a lot more connected to the Industrial Design world and all. That’s why it worked out fine. But the project was refurbished. I didn’t read the original project, you know, I don’t really know what changed. Well. At that moment when I settle and when I became a teacher in Rio, that was more or less the situation. So what did I do? My idea was to have the classes connect with each other. I mean, that they weren’t isolated courses. That the museum stopped being a place where a space was rented for classes to be taught. Because when the museum opened, there were classes there. Fayga Ostrower taught a course. That other... well. Ok. We always forget names at my age. But there wasn’t a... it wasn’t... I won’t be able to remember now. But there was a group of teachers teaching there. There was even, I don’t know, someone in charge of the culture area. So, I mean, when I started those were the courses. Sculpture, and stuff. So there was Pedro Correia de Araújo who is the son of another one by the same name, who is a strong scholar and stuff, but he had a technical expertise. Then it was Maurício Salgueiro. There was the engraving group with Ana Letícia, Edith Behring. I taught History. Painting was Ivan Serpa. And Ivan was also one of the pioneers os the art classes for children, which was already a sponsor at the museum, but before the museum open, he was already teaching at another building where there was that carnaval group that had a parade the previous Saturday. A really tal building, by Theatro Municipal.

EUGENIO: But you take charge of the course in?

FREDERICO: In 69. I got there in the end of 66 and took over... coordination.

EUGENIO: Then you reformulate?

FREDERICO: Yes. So I was teaching History. And they asked me to coordinate the department. So I got the idea to relate all the activities. What bothered me was the idea that in those studios they only learned techniques to do that, to do that thing with no responsibilities. People went in and out. They didn’t get a degree. They didn’t have anything. And to me it didn’t make much sense. I mean, what we sometimes criticize, the dancers who spend 10 years lifting their foot, plie there, etc. Or the pianists who play all day long. I didn’t want it. The engraving studio was a lot like that. And the engraving studio was kind of an independent thing. At the back of the museum. But it was there that the first meetings about the Nova Objetividade Brasileira (New Brazilian Objectivity) took place. So that’s what I did. I tried. And then I started naming, 3-D, studio this, 3-D, 3-A, etc. And what I did was impose. I mean, so here’s the idea. The student would enroll now at the museum, and no longer at the class of a student by a certain teacher. And he could circulate through all the studios. And even make a choice, let’s say, chosing what was more correct for him. At the same time they had to, had to is just an expression, because you couldn’t force a person in, and make them take Art History lessons. Because I wanted them to, at the same time, learn how to paint, to sculpt, and have cultural information, historical information. That, I mean, initially. Then I expanded it. So I started the Contemporary Visual Culture Course, which was a... in a way blended a little the idea of art and design. So that course, you see, it was a one year long course and the classes were daily, in the morning. And in order to join the course people had to take a kind of oral exam. So there was a comission that included Bergmiller, Fayga, there was a literary critic that was really well known and respected, and someone else, etc. And it was for 30 students only. One of them was Silvia. No. But Silvia was in the second class. Because a lot of people enrolled.

CLARA: A waiting list..

FREDERICO: There was a waiting list. So from that waiting list a second course was born, the Arts Course, and there the first wife of Gerchman... the third one, who was really beautiful and all. People were really...

CLARA: She studied at ESDI.

FREDERICO: No. I don’t think she studied at ESDI.


FREDERICO: Not during my time. She wasn’t my student. But she was a student there. So there was also that second course, which by the way, was a little more fruitive than the first because many artists later... Nelson Augusto, the people who later go to Parque Lage, Amador Perez, I mean, people like them. Well. So it means I started tomorrow’s course. I mean, I was starting to occupy the museum temporally, in a more full time manner. And then there was this other course too. That one didn’t necessarily last a year. You see? But it worked. You know. And then here’s what I also thought. We could have night classes. So, since the museum was close to downtown, a little on the outskirts, but I always imagined those people left work, goverment offices, they could, before returning to their neighbourhoods, their homes, for dinner, for other activities, that they could go by the museum and attend not... then they weren’t courses, they were conferences. So I started a sort of a forum in which we had daily classes, more or less from 6:30 to 8 pm. Because the museum... some went to the museum area to fool around, to hang before going there. But then I thought they could take other classes. And so the subjects were open. It could be comic strips, it could be politics, it could be economy. Sometimes, exceptionally, it was a course that had 2 or more people. The artist, for instance, a path from the object to the body. Me, Anna Bella, and I think Guilherme Vaz. So sometimes it was that. And we had that class every day. And then they payed something. Well. Not yet satisfied, I thought, “Well. What about Saturdays and Sundays, what can we do?”. So, I mean, on Saturdays we had Ivan Serpa’s class, which was Ivan Serpa’s classes for Children, and he’s a pioneer in that field. A little after the art school there was... what was it called? You’ll remember later. The school was created and stuff, and then it motivated the foundation of little schools in Brazil, and even Latin America. But I think Ivan Serpa was even before him. But he taught that course, and he was fully supported by Sodré, Leomar Muniz Sodré is her name. That’s Alzheimer’s for you, we remember it 20 minutes later. But what bothered me about Ivans Serpa, who was really respected, who idealized and founded Grupo Frente. He encouraged a bunch of things. Then he had a lot of publicity. He gave interviews. He defended a geometri art at that moment. He taught his class. But the mothers sayed there beside their kids. That’s another thing that bothered me. I thought that had a negative influence, because one of the ideas in the teaching of art to kids is not shaping artists, exactly. The idea is to encourage the creative processes. Those creative processes, they could be applied in politics, in sociology, in anthropology, in the teaching of other things, not necessarily art. But Ivan Serpa I thought, deep down, he wanted to create, to shape young people, not just children, but little by little, also youngsters to be a little Ivan Serpa, because Ivan Serpa was extremely meticulous about doing things, he had an extraordinary technical control, he was an incredible artisan. But I didn’t think that was working. Besides, those mothers around were prospective buyers of Serpa’s works. So that bothered me, and I felt it was necessary to separate things. The children needed to stay with Serpa. So I managed to turn a few of my students into monitors, and I also wanted a group of monitors, who started to make little platelets about conceptual art, about, etc, really precarious. So I started a course for those mothers. While the children stayed in one room, on the other the monitors taught about Brazilian art, international art to separate. So that... I never had a relationship like that... in the museum... we didn’t fight, but it wasn’t a strong relationship with Ivan Serpa. Then I wrote a lot about Ivan Serpa, his wife really liked me, thought I was the one who wrote best about Serpa. Those things. So there’s that. And, finally... that was Saturday. And on Sunday I got on really well with Cosme, because me and Cosme Alves Neto who was the manager of the cinematheque, who was a Stalinist communist, like, believed. So much so that the day before the coup d’etat he was showing Battleship Potemkin here at the museum. And you know when he was arrested they burned the film right before his eyes. Really cruel. And so...

CLARA: On Sunday?

FREDERICO: On Sunday I used the cinematheque for something I called Popular Art Course. And here’s how that course was advertised. It was once every Sunday. The cinematheque had 220 places available, and sometimes we had 300 people over, so they sat on the floor and all. So on a paper like that, on a sheet of paper, we anounced by month. So, that Sunday we will have that. And it was a diverse thing. For instance, if an artist came to Rio, for instance, I don’t know, Humberto Spindola from Mato Grosso, for example, to exhibit at Bonino, I would invite him over, so he could give a testimonial about his work. If Romero Brest from Argentina came, and maybe it coincided with Pierre Restani being here, then let’s have a debate with Romero Brest, Cildo. So each teacher from the museum had to teach at least one classe a year at that popular course. It lasted, I don’t know, about three years. So it was working quite well. Ok. So the last thing in that project was that in spite of everything there was a gap in January and February because that was considered vacation time. And it was also something that bothered me. Actually January and February are the peak of Rio de Janeiro, it’s the sun, the heat, everybody is outside. I mean, because people from Rio sometimes are like “hey, so come over anytime”. Is actually means “come by the beach. Come by the restaurant”. At that moment he’s all about the outside. It’s all great. And I thought I also needed to seize that. And that’s where the idea for “Domingos da Criação” (Sundays of Creation) came from. I mean, the Sundays were born, regardless of the political aspect... it was in 60... 70, now it’s been nearly 50 years, there’s a really political interpretation of the Sundays, which actually wasn’t true in the origins of “Domingos da Criação”, but that I don’t discard. And now if you imagine that “Som do Domingo” (Sound of Sunday) which was the forth... it was six Sundays, it was the fifth Sunday, and though the day, because it started around 10 am and it lasted until 6 pm. 10 thousand people went through the courtyard. I mean, to gather 5 thousand people, 10 thousand people during the dictatorship was in itself a political act. And Sound of Sunday was exactly the most violent Sunday in terms of people feeling furious inside, I mean, the repression, that thing that, for example, the way they... they used a lot of beer cans and they pressed it and beat it. I brought over a few drums... those gasoline drum gallons. So, that was used for drumming. That famous Brazilian percussionist. What’s his name?

BERNARDO: Naná Vasconcelos?

FREDERICO: Naná. He was there doing things. It was all really strong, really violent. But there were also people playing the violin, there were these nature things. So that was the proposal. I mean, Sunday was born as an extension of the courses. And the first Sunday, well, on one hand, I mean, as an extension of the educational sector of the museum. The second reason was the fact that I wanted to experiment more intensely new materials for the matter of... as raw material for the artist. At the time they already spoke of land-art, happenings, I mean, all that. So there was that first Sunday, which was in January. It lasted until August. It was always the last Sunday of the month. And here’s how it worked. I got in touch with a few industries to ask for, well, scraps, waste, leftovers, let’s say, those factories. For example, if it was paper those...

CLARA: Coils.

FREDERICO: Coils. Klabin, for instance, gave us some coils. The very own newspaper where I already worked, O Globo, leftover newspaper coils, which back then was that thing. So that... one of those coils could unravel a process, like Vergara did. Or, for example, threads. Or tissues, for instance, they were also those blocks of leftover threads, barbs. When you opened that, it multiplied. That was a party. It was a joy. So, I mean, working a little bit that idea of materials. Cildo even kids in the movie, “they’re commodities”. So, I mean, I wanted to experiment that. And also, I mean, adding this discussion about the materials, the potential they had, and the educational matter, there were other matters and other principles that surfaced. First the idea that everyone is potentially creative and only don’t exercise their creativity if forbidden from doing so. Either due to family repression, of political repression, or a lacking education. But, if stimulated, all people are potentially creative. And I always safeguarded that not every creative person turns into an artist, nor is every artist creative because there are also the bureaucrats of creativity. So that was a principle. Another one is this. That initially every material can become raw material for the artist. Another matter was that it was necessary to question why “Domingos da Criação” also posed another question. Because you shouldn’t forget that the those courses were at the museum. So, I mean, at the same time there was a discussion about the concept of museum. So, I mean, that relationship, traditional museum relationship, in which the museu mis kind of a deposit of works of art, I mean, of artists’ pieces, deep down as if it was some kind of a mausoleum. But the museum also establishes a relationship that is kind of dictatorial, let’s say, between artist and audience. The relationship is always that relationship... and also that it has its correspondent. For instance, the artist and the audience, also teacher and student, which is a vertical relationship. So, a respectuful one.

CLARA: Frederico. There was a really beautiful thing I read you did, you at that time, which was, it was an invitation for people to go to Aterro, “Aterro belongs to everyone. Art belongs to everyone, it belongs to the people”.

FREDERICO: That is something... it’s something else.

CLARA: And that people... the artist would be there all day so he could explain his work. That is really interesting.

FREDERICO: No. Yes. But that’s already a... actually, that was earlier.

CLARA: That was...

FREDERICO: Arte no Aterro (Art in Aterro).

EUGENIO: Because actually for me, personally, that is interesting. You know when I wrote, with Hans, the concept of Casa Daros, one of my references was “Domingos da Criação”.

FREDERICO: No. Exactly. That’s right. But so, I mean, there were all those things. So, I mean, that relationship of sacralizing the work of art. So I always had the idea that someone who had no cultural background about History faced the pieces as if... and instead of stimulating there was a kind of repression. It’s as if each of those visitors told themselves, “I will never be able to do anything like that”. So my idea was to say the opposite. That we all could produce works of art if we’re encouraged to do so, if we have materials, if we have wide space, if there’s no educational repression regarding forms and stuff. And it’s the same thing with the student-teacher relationship. If I respect the teacher too much it will also keep me from advancing. I mean, so it’s those relationships. And with that I also wanted to question a little bit those researches they did on people who went to museums. Normally it was “why did you come to the museum?”. Normally it was “oh. What is you favourite artist? What was the piece?”. It was all too academic, too bureaucratic. Well. And, besides that, there is another connection, and that is extremely important, and it also explains what you mentioned earlier. I also took into account the geographic location of the museum. If I had already considered the museum as a location that attracted public workers who are traditionally bureaucrats, I mean, to go to the museum and attend a class about arts, or about a certain subject, he could bring his girlfriend and then be on his way to fool around with her, I always considered the fact that the museum was at one of the extremes of Aterro do Flamengo, it’s in Aterro. So, I mean, I’d go so far as saying that Aterro was an extention of the museum, and not that the museum was a spot at Aterro. Because there are other sources of... there was space for aeromodeling, now there’s space for skating, there are many spots for leisure. But, I mean, the museum wasn’t really considered. And, finally, I considered that realationship that exists between middle and end of the week, between leisure and work. So, I mean, because of the title given to the Sundays, there was a reflection about the concept of Sunday. What does it mean to be Sunday inside a capitalist structure where people work all week long and on the weekends they also develop a bureaucratic leisure. They either go to a social club, or attend a soccer match, or watch... so, I mean, because deep down those who explore work also explore leisure, economically. It’s the same structure. So I took that into account. And also because another aspect is that the museum at that spot was on the way of people who went to Aterro, to the beach, particularly on Saturdays and Sundays. People who, for instance, were on the border of Rio de Janeiro downtown, the neighbouring areas around the bureaucratic center of Rio de Janeiro never came to the museum. Suddenly they came that way and there was a major crowd. They could go there and start crating. And the materials were put in the museum. I gathered everything and saved it at a deposit. And so, on Sunday I took all that and it was, let’s say, liberated little by little as the day went on, so I would release it all at once. And then you saw how it worked. The first one was called because it’s “Domingo do Papel” (Paper Sunday). It was actually a Paper Sunday. The other one was “Domingo por um fio” (Sunday by a thread), and the other was “Tecido do Domingo” (Tissue of Sunday), the other was “O Corpo a Corpo do Domingo” (Sunday Melee), the other was “O Som do Domingo” (The Sound of Sunday). So, I mean, the idea was to discuss the structure, the texture of Sunday, let’s say. What is Sunday? How is it made? How is it set? Hence those titles which were studied. And, on the other hand, I mean, we started with paper, because me and the factory spent a little to the owner, the president, one hour, one hour and a half to convince him, which already is fantastic. And I “no. I’d like this, I’d like that”. And they gave it, sometimes they even arranged transportation. And there’s “Domingo Terra Terra” (Sunday Earth Earth) as well, which was the most radical. And so we kept it and distributed it. And there were even some inside problems which were really curious, because the museum employees, the guards and all, they got minimum wage. For example, Sunday... the Sunday tissue, there were entire pieces given by Bangu. Bangu was a great tissue factory that even had a few fashion shows, and “well. My son doesn’t have clothes to wear, and here you are, wasting it”. That... they stole it, or tried to steal it. It was kind of an embarassing situation. It was hard to even explain it to them. I was always really good friends with the security guys and the people who held lower jobs at the museum, because I believe it’s always the people with lower positions that support the museum. There are people who have been there for 50 years. They didn’t improve their lives. But anyway, they’re there. So there were those issues that came up, on the other hand the critics from the newspapers, Walmyr Ayala, then Marcos Berkowitz, Cledivaldo Prado were always insisting that we were destroying the museum, we were defiling the museum. I mean, because on Mondays the museum was a mess. But at the end of the day it was clean, impecable as before. So, I mean, I started with paper because it seemed more immediately relateable. Vergara had taught a course on... or it was after, I don’t know, with paper, because he served as an intermediate in the Klabin thing with papers here and all. Colares, Antônio Manoel, I think they also taught a few courses there. And so, paper was more easily handled.

EUGENIO: Then it’s a question that to me... that I was talking to you before, that I think afterwards in the year 78 when the museum burns down, many people say, they always stress that part of the collection was lost, and I think that’s important. But I think what it meant for the circuit here for, let’s say, the new generations at that moment. They lost the Experimental Nucleus they had, Grupo Escola (School Group), the space where leisure i salso a way of... a place kind of between accepting and experimenting also in escape. I’m also interested because really we support the period we are questioning. Really, with the fire. It’s a moment where there’s a before, and an after. And there’s repercussion at the same year, whether by coincidence or not with the political situation, with the end of the period, of that Parque Lage period. They’re all kind of associated in an exchange of... in a change of spirit that will occur later. I’d like you to... because you witnessed all that.

FREDERICO: Yes. But look. So, I mean, there was that Sundays thing. We tried to discuss what were Sudays because I remember I paper I wrote when I was a teacher at a school in Niterói, Centro Educacional de Niterói (Niterói Educational Center), they once chose me to be the Spokesman for the class in their graduation, so I prepaired a text for them, it’s in one of my books, and I stress, I talk a lot about the first thing. The first gesture, the first drawing, the first kiss, the first orgasm, the first I don’t know what, and also the first defeat. So I call the attention to the first thing and all. Now I think I got lost in my argument. So I do that... there was something about it. It will come to me. But I mean, the idea was that. For instance, those bureaucrats. Here’s what I think. Because the creative man’s problem, the creative person, is that he can always get away from his routine, from bureaucracy. Because for him idleness is also important, because without idleness, without reveries, without imagination, you don’t produce anything. If you’ve had the same routine for 10, 20, 30 years, I mean, it’s a useless life, a boring life, meaningless. And I stressed the fact that a bureaucrat is a guy who’s counting the time all the time. He counts the time to come in, to leave, to have a snack, to retire, to get a medical release. He has many maneuvers. He spends his life counting time and doesn’t even see time itself passing and how he actually lost all that time thinking about how to take advantage of it. I mean, he couldn’t do it creatively. Because I also always thought about how art’s role is not strict to the art universe itself. I mean, it has to transcend. That’s a little ideas I somehow searched for in Dilthey, I mean, that idea that the art experience may be complete in the sense that it establishes a connection to your life, to your day to day. Because many times you go to the museum to see a work of art, and sometimes, for instance, you also reach that level with an excess of information, of theory. And that theory, many times, instead of helping, it blocks you, because you already get there, let’s say, knowing. It’s like you were looking for confirmation of those theories your teacher explained to you in the piece. So I think that relationship with the art work is a relationship, let’s say, really similar to a romantic relationship, with the advancement of resource, the process of seduction, co-opted by the art piece itself. You have to be seduced by it. And there’s a moment after that when you get an insight when then you... there’s some kind of full comprehension about that piece and all. But you actually need to consider that not always the comprehension of the piece happens while you are contemplating it. Sometimes it happens in a different situation. When you’re having sex, when you are doing a certain kind of work, when you’re having a fight. It’s like that missing link for that insight happened. So, I mean, it’s what Dilthey... those are my words. Not necessarily Dilthey’s. But it’s a moment when that refined experience which is the art experience will establish that link to your day to day life. I mean, so a good contemplation, a good experience of the art piece also helps on your daily life. That is not a didatic process, straight, but it’s what I think. So, I mean, my idea about the Sundays was not only to raise that matter about Sundays, but also to question that bureaucratic behaviour people have, professional. I mean, so people for the first time were there doing things that wouldn’t involve getting payed, that weren’t about making a financial profit, but it was simply an opening process. And it’s actually quite curious because people initially related Sundays to children, when I actually never left the children out, but that wasn’t the final point. And what happened was that parents took their kids and started to say, “no. Do it like this. Do it like that”. Then they inverted it. It was the parents who started doing things like their children, because the process... I initially invited 2 or 3 artists, Vergara, I called Antônio Manoel, Serpa never wanted to go, for instance. Just to launch certain processes. So Vergara takes the coil, unravels it and all, then he leaves and people stay, doing their thing. So that was the process. There were no teachers there to teach you, to check on you, there was no nothing. And Sunday became a kind of a reference at that moment. Then it started being done at many places, Rio Grande do Sul, upstate Minas. And simolar things came up. There was a certain analogy to “Tá na Rua”, that theater group. There was an Argentinian who walked around, he did a thing with clouds, with wind, works with wind. So, I mean, that was the whole process I tried to establish at the Museum of Modern Art. Now there’s even a consequence of that, and then there’s another matter you called that we really created an experimental unit. And there’s a great deal of confusion between the experimental room and the experimental unit. They are two different realities. The experimental unit was something with me, Cildo, Guilherme, Luiz Alphonsus, etc, which was attended by a few students, and, in fact, by a few monitors already. It was something that didn’t have a space, it didn’t have an exact spot, there was no desk, none of that. It was simply an attempt to think the work of art and to think those new things, the matter, for instance, of multisensuousness, the handling of other materials, I mean, and also the intelectual matter. But that didn’t last long, I think less than 2 years. But there was... Cildo, who organized a few conferences. Cildo is really reserved when he has conferences, he doesn’t talk much. Or I had a student who was a physicist to give a conference about physics. I mean, Guilherme Vaz, for instance, he had a piano performance. Instead of using the keys, the piano keys he used, the back of the piano, with the strings, which, by the way, he used later. At the time I did those audiovisuals too, so I did this one with a presentantion on Klee’s exhibition. So the soundtrack was exactly that thing he did with the strings. But at the popular art course he had that piano performance. So, I mean, it was about discussing those matters. There was actually nothing like, no exhibitions, nothing objective. But later that experimental room was created at the museum, which was a defined space, a room beside the Cinematheque. And there we had exhibitions. They’re two different realities. At some point they may meet, but one was even a little more conventional, even if we’re discussing avant-garde art. Not every piece exhibited was avant-garde. There were some great exhibitions there. But that was the unit. And one thing the unit did, and that I personally took charge, was that I did a research on people who went to the museum. And then, yes, trying something different. And it was a really interesting research. There was a student who was a sociologist, who then helped me out a lot, Paulo Fogaça, who also did audiovisual works and some of my monitors. So I developed a question form and we started interviewing people who went to the museum. And it was a form that took sometimes 15... 20 minutes, and sometimes even more than that. Eveyrthing recorded. I have all these recordings. I dont’ know if it’s still possible to watch them because it was all in cassette tape. But so, to do a research on people who went to the museum I first divided the museum, the spaces in the museum. And I split it 12 ways, I don’t know, 12 spaces at the museum. So the museum space was the Exhibition Room, the School Block, Cinematheque, Library, Cafeteria, Restaurant, Parking lot, the Terrace, a stone area at the back, the fishermen stayed there, the stone garden by Burle Marx that is there, that visible one. And then I divided the museum in times. I had four different shifts. From 6 am to noon, from noon to 6, from 6 to midnight, and from midnight to 6. Because each of those spaces at each of those times had a different audience. For instance, early in the morning it was the stone space there, by Burle Marx. Nannies went there, they took the children because there are certain residential buildings there. There were, I don’t now if there still are. Manoel Bandeira lived right there. So they stayed there, talking. The official space, let’s say, of the museum, is from noon to 6. And it was the exhibition, the library, the cafeteria functioned. Then, for instance, from 6 to midnight it was that museum that before, let’s say, those classes, I called it “Audience-building Course”. That was the name. I wanted to build audiences for art. So there were those people. But it was mainly at that time, people who went there to fool around, to escape a little. So it was a favorable space. And then there was a marginal museum that worked from midnight to 6, which was actually also the museum of male prostitution, so much so that it still goes on. I say, that extends to Aterro, already. So it was a little dangerous, heavy, nobody was brave enough to cross that area. So, I mean, once those spaces and time frames were defined, then we analyzed all the interviews. And the idea... because it started, actually I think we started with 18 spaces. Then we reduced it to 12. And so we started with those interviews, to define certain paths inside the museum. For instance, the parking space was related to, for instance, the restaurant. Because the yuppies were there, not the hippies, they came to the museum to have lunch to discuss business, but who never entered the exhibition space, who never saw a film. And then there was the hippies’ spot, not the yuppies, who sat on the floor, they got there a little before noon, and waited for the library to open, or for the movie sessions to start, some of them were free. They stayed there idly all afternoon. Maybe they went to the cafeteria. There was a space at the cafeteria which was where all of us met almost every day after 4 during the 60s. And there we discussed all matters of art. Artists came from São Paulo to go there. Suddenly Hélio came from the previous generation, of Dias, Gerchman. Because in the old days those discussions took place at the School of Fine Arts. There by the entrance of the school there was a restaurant called Amarelinho. People went there for dinner, the teachers. But then, after the museum, they moved there. And that cafeteria was crucial, because we discussed marches, things we were going to do. And there were people who went mad, who threw rocks at the museum. So what was the idea? So my idea was to define what kind of people went to the museum, to each of those spaces at each of those times. And once we defined that, here’s what the project it. We spent a whole day with that person at their house, talking to their parents, if they had a job we looked for their bosses, we found out who they were so we could gather those 12 people at a kind of closed space. We wanted to have the yuppies talking to the hippies. The guy... the backpackers with etc, and to have a discussion to see what it was all about. And the final idea was to have an exhibition documenting those cases, which was never done because the museum got scared, with the idea, specially about that marginal museum, that museum, etc. And, curiously, at the time, one of the museum directors was the professor I assisted when I was teaching...


FREDERICO: No. Not at ESDI. At the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. I taught at a bunch of places, but always short periods. I never had a career. Also because I don’t have a degree, nothing. I had notorious knowledge titles, those things. So, I mean, what’s the conclusion? The 2 most characteristic characters who frequented the museum were a woman around 30... 40 years old, who lived on the South side of the city, who had a college degree. Some were just married. Others had jobs. But that was a typical frequenter of the Exhibition Site. People who came for the exhibitions. And, for example, another typical frequentes was more or less that hippie who hung around there, outside the museum, but who lived arounf downtown. I mean, close to the docks, those things that were... or who definitely didn’t work and normally studied at night, when they did, and who also went to the museum out of idleness, etc. So, the question I finally asked was “what were these people looking for at the museum?”. So my idea was that people didn’t just go to the museum, with the sole purpose of seeing a piece. I even started picturing another kind of museum collection, which is the breeze, for instance, at the museum, the lighting, the clarity, the space. That was also part of the collection. Not just the films, the books and the works of art. So, I mean, people went to the museum many times looking for answerd for questions that had nothing to do with art. For life matters, existential matters. Certain maladjustments. It’s like they were going there to clear their heads. There is a beautiful testimonial in the film they did about me, by a lady who then became a theater actress, and she said, “look. I didn’t have a lot of money”. We noticed that she was middle class, well dressed. But at a certain point she says, “look, the museum was my backyard. It was where I searched for answers”. Even answers to problems that weren’t quite clear for her. So she says she spent 2... 3 years going to the museum, including Sundays because it was a really stimulating space. So it wasn’t necessarily so she could see an exhibition. The exhibition also occurred quite often. But sometimes she didn’t go to see it. But she said, “look. Back then...”, the lady said, “... there was no alternative. We either did drugs or went to participate in protests, in terrorism”. So, I mean, if the museum shouldn’t consider that type of question, or non-question, but which a question in its schedule. Why, for instance. Why was the second typical frequenter that sort of unemployed, yuppies, commerce workers, a banker, at the most. I didn’t have work, or a degree. There’s something being said about it. So it’s not that the museum schedule was reduced to a marketing thing. “Well. So that’s what they wanted”. Also because they didn’t know. But maybe the museum could conceive exhibitions and being, still being an art piece, so they could bring back some answers to many political matters, social, economic, etc. Because you can’t isolate the work of art in some kind of ivory tower.

EUGENIO: I ask you, first regarding... the first question was about that experimental precedent of MAM, as it would be the Visual Arts School which was also a space of unity, of experimentation, invention... that had that reference. And I was also struck by Rosana Palazyan’s testimonial in the film “Domingo da Criação”, in which she transmits that sensation immediately. And that although in these years many artists are going through New York, rethinking a way to produce art, they are going to New York, they are gathering in New York, they are rethinking it, gathering, art meeting the latin-american artist with the Latin community that many of those artists you mentioned are also going through New York. So...

FREDERICO: Well. Ok. So here’s the thing. Parque Lage had its academic origins for a long time, and all. A few exceptions. Every once in a while, I think Iberê Camargo at a certain point created an engraving studio, but that actually wasn’t even inside the school. For some time it was at a pavilion that later belonged to ESDI, etc, where I had a few exhibitions when I was a teacher at ESDI. And there were that kind of things, But it was... I mean, an academic structure and all. The teachers were stable, they had guarantees, public work and all. And then when it was transfered to Parque Lage, then it changes, because it’s a differente scenery, it’s another environment, because the space, it also has influence over the behaviour. And Gerchman, when he went there... of course I have better memory about what I do, what I did. I don’t know everything about what other people did. But I think there was something curious, I think the initial work Gerchman did at some point really reminds that structure I developed at the museum. That thing with establishing a strong relationship between the courses. I don’t know if the very fact that she was my student... what’s her name?

CLARA: Silvia?

FREDERICO: Silvia. If that didn’t help. Because in the classrooms there was a little plate, “space A”, I don’t know what, each one had a purpose, so I think Gerchman also noticed it was important, I mean, that the courses had a connection, and that the sum of these courses also related to what was happening outside there... So I think he started a series... I think that this structure bears a certain resemblance. And I’m not competing... who did first, who did second, etc. But, anyway, there is a flyer explaining how that whole thing worked. And the newspapers covered it well. At least they covered “Domingos da Criação”. And they covered it outside their columns, because the official columns really beat up “Domingos da Criação”. But it’s just that the first... on Monday right after Sunday there it was, on the cover of Globo, Vergara already had that column. So, I mean, there was a balance, and all. They were horrible with me, the the papers supported me. And turned the Sundays into something that surpasses the art field. It became something more important. But, so, I think Gerchman introduces a certain dynamics at the school. I think he felt the park had another... it was a different form of attraction, which was really inviting, that it’s always more pleasant to work in a ventilated space. Then there was the Sugar Loaf close to there, there was the terrace, all of those. And Gerchman was always quick to do things, his inventions and all. So he started working on some publishing too. A low quality paper. Nothing much. And Gerchman always had good press coverage and all. I mean, he had good relations. So I think Gerchman, in a way he... not in a way, he was clearly a second temple at the Visual Arts School, totally different from the old space. And luckily he had Grisolli’s support, who was someone who had good transit with people in culture and all, so there was no commitment to the more closed structure, more bureaucratic of the Secreatariat of Culture. In the past it had even been managed by a critic, Celso Keller, but he was a guy who had good relations, but with relations inside the system of power. And Gerchman wasn’t part of that, but he had power, let’s say, cultural over his work, the whole collection, his work regarding his group. I think he can have a series of initiatives. But I think at a first moment there was that dialogue with what was done at the Museum of Modern Art, and all.

EUGENIO: I heard you, for instance, talk about some principles, that are also in Gerchman’s proposal. His workshop was called, he named it himself, it was called Daily Workshop, so, the importance of relating to the outside space. At a few moments he also says and we saw the intention in many of the documents, on the importance of the leisure logic and the space, and companionship. He wanted students and teachers to develop relationships he wanted leisure to be present so unite different practices through multiple workshops.

FREDERICO: Yes. I mean, when you take any position in a cultural structure, your greatest reference is actually your very own work. And Gerchman’s work had those features. The daily life thing, the city thing, the urban environment. I mean, I think Gerchman from the 60s was an extremely important artist. I even think he later lost at a few times the strength he had in the 60s. But that black series, for instance, is amazing. After his insistence, Gerchman’s insistence in addressing things that were part of his daily life. And Gerchman began working on a... he and somehow Vergara... for instance, that guy from the South, that artist, but with a different treatment as well, and he resembled Vergara more, he was virtuous. Oh, my God, what is his name? I think Gerchman and 2 or 3...

CLARA: Iberê?

FREDERICO: No. No. Iberê. Iberê is older. Here’s what I think. At a certain point Gerchman in his work, he created a series of images that said, let’s say, about current Brazil. Here’s what I think. I used to say... the thing seems a little demagogic, but it isn’t. But here’s what I think. A country isn’t solely made of industries, railways. I mean, it’s not just about economy. A country is also made of images. Those images are crucial to build character, to shape culture, to build a behaviour. So I think Gerchman, for instance, in his work, he understood that. Not that he theorized on that. But Gerchman created a series of images that translate not just that moment in Brazilian life and, above all, the difficult moment of Brazilian life, which were the dictatorship days, but he also built a kind of pluramagístico* archive that talks about Brazil. I mean, you can see that in the past, maybe, an artist like Djanira, for instance, who wasn’t modern in the Gerchman sense, Vergara, Dias. But when she, for instance, dedicates part of her work to fixating, for instance, certain kinds of work when she fixates, I don’t know, the guy who makes flour, the guy who produces cotton, the guy who produces salt, I mean, charcoal, plants, she created a seires that one of those Brazilian sociologists, Guerreiro Ramos, an extremely important guy, here’s what he says, “Djanira’s work teaches how to understand Brazil a little”. And way before Guerreiro Ramos, Spengler, when he writes the Decline of the West, he says Rembrandt taught a lot about how to think the world with arts, but a series of things in his work were crucial for the sociologists and anthropologists to understand. So I think Gerchman created a series of icons, logos, let’s call it, that speak of a Brazilian reality. I mean, that’s all part of the picture plan. And we create images all the time. And Gerchman it’s like he was making those images that cross our minds concrete. Imagination, deep down, is the dynamic of the image itself. So I think that when he goes to Parque Lage he brings a little bit of that spirit of establishing the school relationship, not only with the park, but with the street itself, the things that were happening and all. And that, if I’m not mistaken, there were also a few works...

CLARA: It’s no surprise that his workshop is called Daily Workshop.

FREDERICO: Yes. Exactly.

CLARA: And now you were talking a little bit about those collections, those recording you made at MAM, the users, the typical audience and all. It’s all daily stuff. So it’s a lot.

Frederico: Yes. No. Well. Because I think art can’t...

BERNARDO: Vergara said something really, which is about their generation, Gerchman’s, in the beginning they had to create context for their beauty to exist. Gerchman’s bad taste beauty, for instance. So, they had to write, to promote it. They had to do all that work, besides the studio. And what Parque Lage in a way is also a more mature and more complex way... it’s Gerchman’s search to create a context for that new beauty to... so that this new art can emerge. Do you agree?

FREDERICO: But see. When I said, when I talked about those courses, for instance, from 6 pm, the course was called “Audience-building Course”. My idea was exactly to increase, to create an audience for art. For example, still thinking about museums, in terms of gallery. But I think in the 60s, actually, this is what happens, the artist... or way before then, the artist was a professional of a thousand fields because he didn’t limit himself to doing his painting. He had to frame it, he had to promote it, he had to take care of the exhibition, he had to do everything. Today there’s a great expertise. So for each item of that which the artist made himself, there’s a specialist that keeps a company that takes care of that, which increases cost, increases difficulties. And in a way there was a certain gratuity, of greater generosity because the artists had the necessity to produce, they had to do it, and the market didn’t have... there wasn’t really a market for that new production. The market was to produce things... people who came from the Week of 22, from the 30s and 40s. I mean, the icons. They were Guignard, Di Cavalcanti, Marcier, those. So I think that really happened. So the artist had to unfold. He even spent part of his time that could have been dedicated to work, promoting hiw work. He had to build an audience, just like I wanted to build an audience for a more theoretical discussion, that the idea of those courses was also about introducing a little theory, but not turning that theory into the main foundation of the work. I, for instance, I don’t consider myself a theorist. I’m intuitive. Things shape up in my mind, I do it. Then... sometimes they don’t even make sense, the comprehension of the whole meaning of that which I launched. And, on the other hand, time adds meaning not only to pieces, but also to things that are done. And they get new meanings if it has an initial potence.

EUGENIO: then I’m interested in hearing you say that Gerchman somehow brings your artistic research to his proposal, the school.

Frederico: But he couldn’t bring something that wasn’t his.

EUGENIO: ... he didn’t bring just your artistic research. He also brough other people’s artistic researches.

FREDERICO: Oh. Yes. No. No. No. But here’s what I say. The thing is...

EUGENIO: ... Eichbauer’s, Magalhães’ research.

FREDERICO: No. Exactly. Because the artists, with many exceptions, I mean, they have to unite also to form groups, even so they can survive somehow. One helps the other. And then the differences come. I mean, they each follow their way. Then I make that joke, The King Of Bad Taste, King Of Good Taste, but they’re still friends. But somehow I was criticizing Vergara, more than Gerchman. But now O also realize that there are other aspects that maybe I hadn’t noticed about Vergara at the time. Just like I also think I can criticize some of Gerchman’s stuff, but I think that the 60s really had an extraordinary dynamic, I mean, there was tremendous boiling. Even because there was an element for us to play with, which was the dictatorship matter, even those who didn’t go on marches were fighting it, because the problem with repression was not just military, it was a repression of thinking, it was a repression of behaviour. People were frightened, everybody was suspicious of everybody, always thinking someone was infiltrated. I mean, it was a terrible atmosphere. I mean, for us to go on marches, Vergara had the meetings, “look. you go there”. What? “this is the password”. It was really hard. I mean, well, in Gerchman’s case, this is what I think, specifically. I think Gerchman took his own work as a reference. And it was unavoidable. Vergara would have taken his work as reference. Just as Resende has as reference the school they built in São Paulo, Escola Brasil. And you will see that Resende’s school for example, had nothing to do with Parque Lage’s school. Because Resende’s school, in São Paulo, which was Resende, Fajardo, 2 or 3 more, they all went through Wesley Duke Lee, Nelson Leirner, but mostly Wesley Duke Lee, who was a reactionary, politically. But he was a refined designer. Quite pedantic, but he had major influence over those people. And through Escola Brasil many people passed, dozens, maybe hundreds of artists who were really important. But it was something really conceptual, really hygenic, really clean. I mean, almost the São Paulo style. Vergara somehow, had a lot more of that São Paulo style than the Rio style in the beginning. And I think Gerchman’s style is more Rio de Janeiro. So, I mean, it’s the opposite. So there was a certain order, a certain scheme. For instance, when they do a... when I say Gerchman started a whole process at the school after it stopped being the Institute of Fine Arts. And luckily, he had that support. So he opens the rooms, does the workshops, has the daily life thing. But, for instance, come the 80s, when they had that exhibit, although it wasn’t the 80s generation, because it’s already that boy, the...


FREDERICO: Lontra. I mean, when you look at the title itself, “How are you doing, 80s generation?”, I mean, that title is a really Rio kind of thing. It’s like “hey. How are you? Ok? Come over anytime”. That thing, “come over to Parque Lage. We are doing things there”. And he did those things, those concrete, those jazz things. So, I mean, for me, Parque Lage was never a school in the traditional sense. For me the school was a state of mind, it was an atmosphere, because there was no regiment over how to teach, how to be a teacher. I think Gerchman somehow starts that process when he joins it. When I went there, you know I also managed the school for a while.

CLARA: 86... 87?

FREDERICO: Yes. Two years, give or take, even less, because everything of mine is tiny like this. Now I memorize things by the decades. The 60s, the...

CLARA: And how was your time?

FREDERICO: No. Well. So, when I went there I had left BANERJ’s Gallery, which I managed, I did those things, etc. And then a few artists, Ascânio and others who were my students and all, they started doing “Ah. Frederico”. I don’t know what else. They signed a petition, I was taken there and all. What I made wasn’t even enough to pay for transportation. I don’t even mean taxi. I mean bus. But I’m always excited about what I do. They don’t last long, but it’s that first time thing. First this, first that, first... the first one is the good one. The second and third are not that exciting. What was I saying?

CLARA: You were talking about when you managed the park.

FREDERICO: Well. So when I went there I tried somehow, I’m thinking now, recreating a little bit about the museum spirit considering it was a different space. So I go back to insisting on that thing that... because we had the same structure there. Each teacher had their students. And the worst ones had 50, 60, 70 students. The good ones had 5... 6 teachers, the ones who were more demanding. So what did I do, I mean, it was once again trying to have him enroll at Parque Lage, that he took those classes, they could come to the studios, and even make a choice, let’s say, “well. After doing it, if the question is engraving, do a little more of it”. But I also wanted to insist on theory classes. In spite of calling myself intuitive and not a theorist, I think theory is important, but it can’t come... the work piece can’t be an illustration of a theory. I think it’s the opposite. The work generates theories. Of course later, at another point, it may be the beginning of another work. So, I mean, that was my idea. So much that one of the first things I did was moving the library which was in the underground, already smelling like dust, and I put it in the main room of the old palace, which was that big space with a pool view, and right next to it there was the cafeteria, and I somehow reproduce a little... I’m thinking now. Because I wanted people to also spend some time Reading books, Consulting them. On the other hand I took another big room at the beginning and I turned it into an exhibition room. I started organizing exhibitions there. Including Bispo Rosário’s exhibition, many artists’ exhibitions. Also to establish that connection with the art world, the other... the whole circuit. And also to call people to see the exhibition. Not necessarily to take classes. And another thing I tried and couldn’t make it, it’s one of my frustrations, was the Sculpture Biennial. You know that. Because I always... I have that thing... since I don’t work with those closed groups and all, I mean, never... you know, I thought... the fact that I’m a journalist and I’m writing for a a public, people I don’t know, and I don’t know who is my reader. I didn’t know. And so I thought of that thing, of bringing art to the streets. That was a constant fator in many of the things I did, since Belo Horizonte, even in Rio de Janeiro. So when I did Art at Aterro, the idea was somewhat that, too. But I thought of the Sculpture Biennial to create some kind of a counterpoint to the São Paulo Biennial, just like the Mercosur Biennial was also a counterpoint, I mean, let’s say, to emphasize a little the art produced in Latin America, as opposed to the international art, that came to São Paulo. So, I mean, and once again, considering the space, because we need to think about all of that, because each space generates a... and then I thought, for the first time, of using the school terrace. Because the school has a terrace, that not many people know exists. And it’s a nice place. It’s under the Sugar Loaf. So my idea was to have a Sculpture Biennial that expanded through Parque Lage and at the same time allowed the creation of a permanent scupture exhibition on that terrace. Because that was only a few stairs away. The terrace is there, nice. Evidently you had to think about pieces that could resist the weather, the rains, bird poop, I don’t know what else’s urine. And all of that I have the drawings projected. They were made. We had the biennial. We made the regiment. And it even reached the first stage, which we opened, actually, I mean, we invited a certain number. It was already rupturing with the idea of everyone enrolling. So we invited a few artists to present projects. And they even received a little funding to build those projects. It was me, Sheila Leirner. I don’t remember who else was in the jury. But then the problem is all the red tape. I mean, there was an idea the the ship consultants, there’s a name for that, I don’t know, there’s a name for that category, they started blackmailing the Government of Rio de Janeiro. Back then it was Moreira Franco, who is now a minister and all. No, we support it, but we want, I don’t know, some discount, taxes, I don’t know what else. We even had a few meetings, lunch meetings at the Government Palace. But it got hard. When I realized we couldn’t make the biennial happen, then I let it go, because I didn’t make... I made a couple pennies. But I started there really enthusiastic. When I felt I couldn’t do it, I left it. And at the same time, I repeat, there with all those conferences, it was also a daily thing. Then the schedule was monthly. So I called it a forum. It was also at the end of the day. I created courses and attracted people. But then the biennial didn’t come through, I mean, it was really controversial. So, I mean, at the time the prototypes... they must be at the school. I don’t know where they are, they were payed for. And it was a strong group, interesting, and stuff, there were even a few artists who only emerged later, almost in the 90s. But that’s it. I mean, it’s one of many frustrations. But I insist on that matter, that the one who started that process, let’s say, of expansion, I think it was Gerchman. I mean, at that time.

EUGENIO: Yes. I need a few things from the year 75... 79. Otherwise we can’t patch it up later. We need to talk about the moment... because you participated in a few events between 75 or 78? Did you participate in events at Parque Lage? You were invited, it’s there on the planks where it’s announced with Luis Felipe Noé, with (Felipe Ehrenberg).

CLARA: Roundtable.

FREDERICO: I really don’t remember that. I mean, I can’t quite remember it. But anyway, those are two common points in my work. One is that taking to the streets thing. Bringing art to the streets. I mean, when I do “Do Corpo a Terra”(From Body to Earth), when I do “Art at Aterro”. Ok, for intance, back to the course at the museum. I’m sorry. But it’s just so... it’s because I... just to comment on an example, one of my ideas that is somehow related to “Domingos da Criação”, it’s that at the time I published a paper, whole page, it was published at Globo, “Pilot Plan of the Future Ludic City”. That was my concept of museum. That the museum was a pilot plan of a city dominated by playfulness, that everything you did constituted some form of game, let’s say, in the ludic sense. I mean, that everyone’s creativity could manifest. But in reality that was my concept of museum. So, for instance, I even affirm at a certain point... because he had, annually... there was an Association of Modern Art Museum. So I was part of that association. At a certain point I dropped all those things I participated in. I didn’t want it anymore. But there were a few meetings and they were interesting. There was Cordeiro, Zanini. Cordeiro always had controversial ideas. And so that’s how we got together. And that paper was actually a thesis I presented in Belo Horizonte in 69. So, what did I say? I thought that that moment when the concept of art work changed drastically, it wasn’t just a painting anymore, just a traditional sculpture, engraving, drawing, there was the matter of the object, that Hélio really discussed, and Gerchman. Because, for instance, the New Objectivity was actually born with Gerchman and me, because... we’ll come back to that. But anyway... I’m losing myself in my... the concept of museum. So this is what I thought. That the museum could even think about the building itself. I mean, the museum was no longer a building where you put works of art. That many museums turned into mausoleums, of sphinxes and those things. But that the museum could provide activities, that it would have the entire city as a recreational area. So there was the idea that the city was a major exhibition hall. That was the concept I discussed in that article. So, I mean, the museum was that provider. And that was already in the era of... the computer was already becoming an important thing. You programmed everything and all. So, I mean, many of the street manisfestations were connected to that idea. But it was also connected to the matter of art education. Because, for instance, I took my students, I wanted to discuss Pop Art, so I took them to fairs, I took them to supermarkets to show. Because then we analyzed Andy Warhol, I mean, the stacking of those brand’s products. Or I took them to talk about, for instance, Minimal Art, so I rented a bus and we went after those primary structures of the industries, the gasometers, that architectural minimalism. Or to discuss Land Art. We rented bulldozers, tractors, to open escavations in Barra, which, back then, was nothing but sand, white sand, pretty sand. Even the physical effort. Or we went on hikes to see if we felt anything wrong with our bodies. Then there was the Sunday Melee. So, I mean, for instance, it made no sense to have a traditional studio. I mean, where you teach a certain... you spend a year studying solder so you can make a sculpture like Pedro did, and even Salgueiro at a certain point, when there are a thousand things going on, possibilities, the concept of object is already wider, it disqualifies that traditional sculpture. So, I mean, the studio may be anywhere. If I’m at a beach, the studio is on the beach. And what’s the raw material? It’s the sand, the water, the wind. And the techiques to me taught are those adequate to that context at certain times. So, I mean, it was also a simultaneous discussion. So at the time it was a really radical paper. I don’t want to set museums on fire. I even joke that they accused me of messing up the museum, that there was a deformation of the idea of museum. Isn’t it? Of “Domingos da Criação” in 69. It was in... 78.

BERNARDO: I want to know. Go back on that anecdote. Why was it that you and Gerchaman created the New Objectivity?

FREDERICO: So, I mean, for instance, there was a discussion about the matter of the object. Hélio Oiticica, for example, he wrote articles about the object matter. And the concept of object at the time was something we say... it was different from painting, sculpture, and traditional things. It was something absolutely new. Now Hélio enlarges that concept significantly. For him, the object could be anything. It could be the light hitting him, his body. But then when I organized the Salon in Brasília, which was from 66 to 67... yes? Or 68? The date is somewhere. So it was a salon that was revolutionary, in a way, not only because in order to do it, I traveled the whole country to find new artists and bring them to Brasília, because taking into account that radial character, let’s put it like that, of Brasília, the capital of the nation, the interior expanding outward and at the same time attracting creative forces to Brasília, so in the regulation book, I introduced the object as a category, but aware of the fact that it was a tradition, and because the object wouldn’t be a category because it questioned everything. But I wanted to bring that structure of the salons to a discussion about the object. So, I mean, with those invitations I made, with the artists I launched, the object was the most important thing in that salon in Brasília. And the great controversy of that salon was Leirner, a little bit. Have you heard of it? So it was that kind of funny thing, with the stuffed pig, with a ham tied on the outside. An already wrapped ham. And the other piece was a tree trunk where he makes a cut and builds a chair. I mean, those works were called... what was it? It was a name that was really... almost scholar. You know? I don’t know what introduction. “Products and Derivatives”. That was the name of the piece. But it was known as Leirner’s pig, because it was controversial, because Leirner was accepted as an artist. But Leirner has a traditional of provoking since his early days because he comes from a family of artists, of maecenas, of collectors. And he sent the jury the picture of the pig asking “why did you accept my work?”. It was the first time anyone ever questioned a jury for accepting their work. And so it was controversial. The critics, Walmyr, Geraldo, that... I mentioned them, so everybody started questioning the jury, Frederici, above all, I was part of the jury, but I was a coordinator. And they said, “oh. The jury slipped on bacon”. And then they’d say “the juvenile critic”, referring to me. Then I wrote an extremely violent text. It’s Geraldo Ferraz. So I wrote something full of “ile”s, imbecile, senile, I don’t know what else, to contest it. But anyway, the debate in question was about the object. And then Terranova... I have to runs circles so it’s all clear. So Frank Terranova came up with a contest idealized by Jaime Maurício, who was a really dynamic newspaper critic and all, but he didn’t have the best nature, he was somewhat mercenary, and he had great relations with Sodré, with Correio da Manhã and all. Well. There are other pieces of gossip. But then he created that... which was called “The Box Contest”. So Gerchman began raising the matter of the box. Because he said “that we, Gerchman, etc, we already do that kind of thing”. And, in fact, at some point, there was also a relationship with a few boxes from the group, another figuration, Noé, those guys. So, I mean, he said “if we are already doing boxes here, why would we import an idea?”. Because he thought... Terranova, and Jaime Maurício thought they were importing an idea, when he and Gerchman commented on that. At the time I was writing for Diário de Notícias, a newspaper that was already initiating... it was already in deep decadence. But it was an extremely important newspaper, particularly for the youngsters, there was a... large student. So I had a column and I could write whatever I wanted. So I was coming to Rio, looking forward to doing things, and I went ahead and did it, I wrote whatever I wanted to write, which didn’t happen in many columns out there. So Gerchman started talking about boxification, avant-garde, and all. I don’t know if he came up with the term, and stuff. But I started giving publicity to Gerchman’s behaviour, which was the idea that they were trying to frame Brazilian avant-garde in the box form concept. So, from that thing with Gerchman, the contest and the publicity in my column, because it wasn’t the paper yet, but it was read by people who were interested in art and stuff. So I worked at the museum, and we started having debates inside the museum, at the back, close to where the engraving studio was, which was that closed nucleus of a few hysterical women who stayed there, working metal. So we started having those debates and from that came the idea of the New Objectivity. So, I mean, Gerchman was really active, and we gathered other people, Hélio Oiticica, etc. We even made a manifest, I wrote the minute for the manifest, but then it was discusses, a few points were reviewed and another final text was released. But the minute, the script of that discussion, I also wrote. The problem was that at a certain point I disagreed with the group. Maybe I was a little naïve. I had gotten here from Belo Horizonte. That was right afterwards, and I was really eager to do things. But I thought it was shaping up to be kind of a family thing, friends. So, for instance, Dias would bring in his father-in-law, which was Escosteguy, he also had his wife participating. Hélio would get, I don’t know, a cousin who was also Oiticica. Cordeiro would bring in his mistress. I thought that... I didn’t like that. Because I got to Rio with a will to establish a dialogue between Rio and São Paulo, because Rio and São Paulo were always rivals, it was always a war. Sunnis and Shiites or Palestinians and Israelis. And since I was from Minas, I gave myself some authority. It was I who practically invited all the artists from São Paulo to participate in that exhibition. There was Cordeiro, many of them. At least they were there. But then when those things started, I said “ah. I don’t like it”, because I thought the initial criteria was being lost, which was the matter of the object. Of course. Almost everything that was there were objects. But I, naively, left it, almost when we were about to inaugurate it. And the text, for instance, it was up to me to do it, and I didn’t. And so Mário Barata came along, and he wrote a text, which was kind of a silly text. Because Barata supported, in a way, the avant-garde, but he was a college professor, And Cordeiro wrote the text for São Paulo, and Hélio Oiticica wrote the New Objectivity text, the main one. The exhibition was launched. It was a hit. But I left when I started disagreeing with a few names. But that’s another thing in favor of Hélio. I mean, anyway... and the context took place. I even think Vergara got one of the prized. And the contest... then there was I don’t know who. From the jury. But so the New Objectivity was born. But it was an important exhibition in the sense that maybe after our Opinião 65 and 66, in which all of Gerchman’s group participated, and with Hélio Oiticica, like I said, he was a bridge between the neo-concretes and that new generation, maybe it was the first attempt at a sum of the different tendencies of Brazilian avant-garde, which Hélio expresses quite well in his paper. Matters I already addressed in my column at Diário de Notícias. Because I had a lot of liberty. I didn’t even need to comment on the things that were happening, because it was an uncensored paper. When I went to O Globo. For example, I had to be a lot more careful to write it, but also my column was much more efficient than, for instance, at Diário de Notícias. So I believe that after these two exhibitions, I really had a first attempt do analyze those different tendencies of Brazilian avant-garde. And maybe more than that. Maybe the first objective attempt at giving an opinion not only about the art being produced in Brazil, but also about the political situation in Brazil. And I think the New Objectivity was important in that sense.

EUGENIO: I’d like you to comment on how was Volpini’s trial.

FREDERICO: Well. That was really tough.

CLARA: That was really significant for my father.

FREDERICO: Yes. But your father managed to do the trial’s painting. I’ll tell you a story about that later. Well. Here’s what I think. It was a salon caled Global Winter Salon. It was a salon that happened in Belo Horizonte, sponsored by Globo Network. Globo TV, Newspaper, etc. That salon had a jury. And people enrolled. And serving as jury were me, Gerchman, Sheila Leirner, Caribé and Mário Cravo. So we accepted a few pieces and stuff. The salon was launched. And on the following day, repression showed up and confiscated the works of that Lincoln Volpini, they were three small pieces. I’m certain someone reported them, because it was a small thing, I think 30 x 40. Three pieces. One called “so you don’t say I didn’t mention mountains”. Then there was that other piece. I don’t remember what it was called.

CLARA: “Penhor da Igualdade”. (Pledge of Equality)

FREDERICO: “Penhor da Igualdade”. Which I believe is a reference to the National Anthem. And there was a third one. But that piece was the reason for all that situation, and it was a piece like... a painting, that was kind of an object, that had the rectangle from the Brazilian flag made of wood, and there was a rhombus, and inside it, there was the circle. And inside the circle there was this curve where you read... what is it? The writing on the flag?

CLARA: Ordem e Progresso. (Order and Progress)

FREDERICO: Order and Progress. So, in place of Order and Progress, he put a question mark. Now, below, the inferior part of that piece was that it was well divided in 2, it’s a photograph of a girl, ragged, poor, dressed and all, before a tree trunk that had been knocked down. A trunk which, in turn, faced a background... a kind of... what do they call that thing in Cuba, by the sea?

EUGENIO: Malecon.

FREDERICO: Malecon. A granite wall. And then someone found out that on that wall it said “Viva a Guerrilha do Araguaia” (Hail to the Araguaia Guerilla) in small letters. And the Araguaia Guerilla was the big taboo of the Brazilian repression, because the Army slaughtered about 70 guerilla soldiers in the middle of the Amazon Forest and all. Nobody was ever allowed to say a thing. Only really recently, I don’t know, 10 years ago or more, when Globo started a series of stories. Genuíno, for example, was part of the group. It was a massacre. It was more than that. More than 70. So nobody talked about it. That subject was a taboo. So a bastard, a prosecutor of the Military Court followed the report that condemned the acceptance of that piece. Which, by the way, that artist... I don’t know if all 3 of them but 2 of his pieces were acquired by Globo. The aquisition. Because we had aquisition prizes, which were smaller prizes. But now everybody writes on their resumé, “aquisition prize”. But so, not only the artist was condemned as a provoker, but the jury was also considered co-author of the pieces because he accepted them. I mean, the jury ensorsed that criticism to the military system. So we were taken to court. The artist Lincoln Volpini who was still an art student. He hadn’t even graduated. And the 5 members of the jury. No. Except for Sheila Leirner, who left 2 days before, over a family health matter. I don’t know. She had...

CLARA: I think she’s in one of the paintings.

FREDERICO: Her son was born, or had been born recently. So she doesn’t finish her work as a judge. But curiously enough, the first piece on that was published at Estado de São Paulo, which was where she worked. So we were all taken to court. And I worked at Globo. That trial took 2 years. And I couldn’t say a word about it. And, on the other hand, the critics didn’t manifest against the trial. Wow. The artists didn’t manifest either. Everyone was scared shitless. So those were 2 years of a terrible solitude, because we were alone and all. I mean, we had to go there and play the piano. Piano is an expression to point your finger. We later got a lawyer, which was Técio Ulisses Silva, and the trial was in Juiz de Fora which was the headquarters of the Military Judicial District of Minas Gerais, Fourth Military Region. So it was that. Us sitting there on the bench, and all the militaries at the table, the representatives. And we were being trialed. At the end we were cleared, but Lincoln was sentenced to jail for one year. But since he was a first time ofender, he was never arrested. It was the first time an artist was condemned for an art piece presented at a salon. And the end of the trial kind of coincides with the fire at the museum. And that’s when I write an article at O Globo relating the two events, the two tragedies that marked Brazilian art. I mean, the conviction of Lincoln Volpini, who practically never did anything else again, and the fire at the museum. It was on the same day. I mean, people said I was instructing the museum, and the museum was actually burned. And those really were two hard events. I mean, now the coordinator was the daughter of Pedro Aleixo, Eloisa Aleixo, a charismatic rich lady who follows the charismatic people’s religion, the catholics. And worried about her shoe burning. It was there among the wreckage. And then a few years later she even... she had a lot of prestige, because her father was the vice-president during the dictatorship. The military was the president. And the vice-president was Pedro Aleixo, who was part of the political party UDN, which was always a moralist party, a party of the wealthy. Well. We all have good and bad times. Well. It’s Guignard’s thing. That is more complicated. But then she managed the National Museum of Fine Arts. She actually tried to do a god job there, do some renovations, she encouraged it. Sometimes she’d attract Watercio to exhibit there, a little to right that awful wrong. But that was it. It was a moment of... it was kind of like the height of repression. The only parallel that can be found was the non-opening of the Paris Biennial exhibition by the youngsters, which was also closed. And then the character was a photographer. What are they called? Photojournalist, which had a great tradition, that... the picture was a picture of a military falling off the motorbike in one of those struggles between students and the police. He was at Avenida Rio Branco. And the other work was a work by Antônio Manoel, which was about censorship. And that’s how the boycott to the biennial started. Now the example also in the fire was that there was a really beautiful thing, which was the march. and that is also another initiative. I don’t know if it was just his. But I think the main character was Gerchman. And even because the most criminal thing about the fire was the destruction of 80 pieces by Torres Garcia. Practically the whole series more or less known of his work... the advisory work. But I actually visited Torres Garcia’s widower, to give her my condolences, because the Brazilian Government didn’t even do that. And his studio was kind of in a basement. But every now and then a painting came from there, and so I think the production was a lot larger. But so, there was that beautiful thing that the march came, the fish construction. Because since it’s a constructive work and it actually is a construction of fragments, it allowed, that fragmentation of the work, it allowed a re-fragmentation. And people doing it, and all. And it also generated that whole thing with Mário Pedrosa, the poposal for the Museum of Origins, so, which was an old idea of his. Because Mário Pedrosa was always really open to things that were more or less parellel. Not only did he defend the art of the mentally ill, Nise da Silveira, but he also defended, for instance, children’s art, and in Ivan Serpa’s case, also the indians thing. So he wanted to build a museum that was the sum of all that. I mean, marginal art, art of... and with the avant-garde art, the avant-garde production. But I also don’t know if it was a viable idea. In fact, Heloisa, when she was the head of the National Museum, she tried to create that Museum of Origins inside the museum. But I think it was more of a smart thing than actually. But she opened a Mario Pedrosa room. But that was good moment. A moment that the city noticed. Because it’s curious, I mean, when we... back to the Sundays thing. I mean, those testimonials by people who called the museum an extention of their homes, their backyards, I mean, showing how important the museum was, that if they didn’t go to the museum, they would probably do some silly things. But, I mean, that fire also showed that the museum went beyond those people who managed to turn the museum into a a kind of private oxygen. I mean, it was the city’s heritage. I thought that was a beautiful thing. It was even moving, because it united people of many areas, people from Pasquim, there were many things from Pasquim, banners. And it was a nice arrival. It looked like some Parangolé fish by Hélio as well.

BERNARDO: Rubens always told me, when I spent time with him... he hated and people mistook his work for Pop. And Vergara told me the same thing two weeks ago. That he hates when people mistake them for Pop. Do you mistake them for Pop?

FREDERICO: Look. The artists are not really reliable. You see? And artists lie a lot. You know? In fact, Borges used to say, “artists are liars, and plagiarists of themselves”. No. Here’s what I think. I mean, at some point, yes. I think there is a relation. But it’s not the American Pop. I mean, it’s a Pop that was born here, cultivated here, that’s it, I don’t know. When Vergara adds a certain, I don’t know, an object to his work, that eventually resembles a North-American artist, that piece by Vergara, the works of Gerchman when confronted by our reality, here they get a political dimension that the United States don’t have. Because American Pop was much like a salutation or... the consumer society, the idea of quantity, the idea of publicity. I mean, mass culture, fast communication, quick. But it had a more hedonistic character. In the beginning, for intance, you take, for example, the one who did the food thing, the...

EUGENIO: Oldenburg?

FREDERICO: Oldenburg did those things. So you see it’s a pleasant thing when he shows those things. Now, on the other hand, Pop is not a restricted thing around because you have... within American Pop, you see Liechtenstein, which is almost a classic in the culture, that he took the screentone as a basic element and he redisigned not only art, but Pop itself, as he redesigned Art History itself from that icon which is screentone. And his thing is cold. It’s almost minimalist, that interpretation.

EUGENIO: But you said before that, for instance, in Gerchman’s case, when a few others who worked with icons...

FREDERICO: Yes. Yes. But...

EUGENIO: ... that is was... that this is also how you make Brazilian History.

FREDERICO: No. No. There is. I mean, I get it. I don’t... here’s what I mean.

M: No. No. No.

FREDERICO: Pop, in Brazil, those artists didn’t import Pop literally. It has come contact. Also because it’s the moment the influences shift. Because up until then, art was an European thing. From France, Germany, The Netherlands, etc. I mean, people who received travel prizes in Brazil all went to Europe. And Gerchman... Gerchman was one of the first few that went to New York. I mean, but Dias goes to Europe. Roberto Magalhães goes to Europe. So, I mean, it’s when the reference shifts from Europe to the United States. There’s a correspondence, for instance, between Nouveau Realism by Pierre Restany and those... including those who who destroyed posters, and Pop. There’s even a discussion over who came first. Europeans claim that they founded Pop. But it’s different because there’s even a theoretical content which was almost literary between the French and the North-American. Because the North-Americans are going through that enthusiasm of the new consumer society, as today there is an enthusiasm over technology, computers, the whole digital thing and all. So, I don’t believe that connection is disposable, but I also don’t think it was a connection... even because at that time, I mean, contact, magazines came from Europe, and even from the United States, a lot later. So much so that the Biennial in São Paulo starts in the 50s. And it comes a lot more from a search for European information, bringing to Brazil a certain kind of art that was being made, particularly in Europe. The United States enter the biennial years later. And the magazines got here 6 months later or more. But the artists from Antônio Dias, Gerchman’s generation, then from Cildo’s generation... I mean, they frequented the library of the American Embassy. And they had access to American magazines. And the consulate was in front of the Museum of Modern Art. And, for instance, Cildo’s generation, they were still in high school, but they had access to university libraries, which was Darcy Ribeiro’s thing. So, the speed with which foreing magazines got to the university library was great. So they were up to date and were already in the loop about post-Pop, which was already the conceptual thing. So, I mean, there was some influence. No doubt about it. But I just don’t think it was something like being Pop’s menial. And somehow even Gerchman was the one who got closest to it. And, in fact, Gerchman was the first of them to go to New York. But that was after he got the prize. So, I don’t think they were literally or totally dependant on Pop, but of course they get in touch with it, but with different traits, because the materials were different, it was a different reality. For instance, Gerchman’s work is a lot more political than most artists’.

EUGENIO: There’s also the Latin America matter, for North-American Pop, fascination or the relationship with the mass means, mass culture, which here remodels itself as popular culture. It was the aproximation to indians culture, popular culture...

FREDERICO: No. But popular mass culture is a theme. It’s a theme.

EUGENIO: No. But there’s even major inner discussion, between Latin-American theorists from the time about the subtleties in each field: mass culture, popular culture, indian culture... that’s why there’s that flexibility or the many variations of Latin-American Pop, different from the Cubans who take Fidel and Che, that the Colombian people also approach Brazilian people in a different way.

FREDERICO: No. But I myself had an exhibition called “Brazilian Artist and Mass Culture”. At ESDI. In that pavilion that faced... so I gathered a bunch of artists who dealt with mass culture themes. And Gerchman is one of the characters. It was the first time Hélio Oiticica showed the “Horse Face” work. Che Guevara appears quite frequently, because Che became a cliché, clitchê. It wasn’t me who invented that. So, I mean, there is this mass culture. But I don’t see it like that. And, on the other hand, I mean, I think that… because mass culture, in the United States, it already had technical and technological quality, a lot wider than in Brazil, because we were still poor with regards to the means. So, I mean, it’s a little precarious, and that is really visible in Gerchman, it becomes a strong trait in his work. Even politically, because in that precariousness we make a positive value. And there they... you see. Oldenburg’s works are all really well made. Liechtenstein too. There are teams. Andy Warhol, I mean, his workshop was called... what was it?

CLARA: Factory.

FREDERICO: Factory. Factory. Exactly. I mean, he had assistance here. And, once again, the artist did everything. I mean, only little by little is a market created, the market is born, there are a few buyers, a few collectors, you can even have assistance, things to work with. But back then… and later Gerchman turned that into a quality, that speed. Because the ideas were kind of bubbly, they came like this, and you had to put everything out there. So I think in that sense Gerchman was a true champ. He did that really well. And differently from a Vergara, who by his form, by his background, works a little slower. I mean, Roberto Magalhães, well, he wasn’t even part of mass culture because he remained in his alchemic work and all. But it’s a work that he sometimes took a month to finish a piece. Those notebooks of his. Who’t the other one? The other is...

CLARA: Antônio.

FREDERICO: Antônio also has a Pop thing. But he quickly evolved to a more conceptual matter. And then he entered… he went to Europe, spent some time there. Then he went to Italy where conceptual art had a certain force. So I think in the beginning there was the comic thing, his first works and all, that comic narrative, there was a lot of blood in his things. But then he already starts with those bulbous forms that come out of the painting and stuff. I think there is. I think there’s a dialogue with Pop Art. I don’t think it was just importing it. Also because at that moment Brazilian art was gaining force. There was the whole concrete thing. Which, by the way, those artists, Gerchman’s generation, at a certain point they even go back to a few neo-concrete matters. Gerchman, mostly. And when he goes to the United States, particularly, when he does the letters, the texts and stuff. But that’s it.

BERNARDO: How was Gerchman? Last question. How was Gerchman?

FREDERICO: How was he?


CLARA: Or Rubens?

FREDERICO: Gerchman was a little like...

CLARA: Don’t hold back. Don’t hold back.

FREDERICO: No. No. how was him personally? Gerchman was someone, extremely polite, fine or refined. Gerchman had a side kind of… I wouldn't call it rude, but sometimes he was tough. You know? I mean, because he gave his opinion. I mean, he didn't hold back or anything. He wasn't someone… My wife could talk about him, because she worked with him. But Gerchman's like this. He's a lot like his work. Artists are a lot like their work. You see Antônio Dias is really brainy. Really, like this, and all. So, I mean, his work is really introspective, many things like that. You have to decipher those things. You know? There are things that even he can't decipher, as he himself says when there's always a corner like his says, it can't be explained. And then it’s extremely controlled. I mean, he doesn’t open himself too much and stuff. Gerchman was a little more impulsive. He opened up. He spoke. He was more exapansive even in his way of... but he was a really stimulating person with his work and stuff. So much so that he’s a character in many initiatives and stuff. Antônio Dias never had the initiative to do... because Antônio Dias is more of a... how do you say it? Those guys who do everything in hiding... because he’s a... politically, there’s a name like this. He’s a conspirator.

EUGENIO: Clandestin?

FREDERICO: No. No. Not clandestine. I mean… he does everything kind of silently and stuff. He brings the thing more or less ready. He’s really critic like that. Gerchman was... Despite having that kind of impulsive thing he was more skilled, I think, in dealing with political stuff. Dias, for example, was really reserved. Really difficult. Roberto Magalhães didn’t care. He kept to himself. But he’s a wonderful guy. And I really like Roberto Magalhães. Amazing designer. I mean, so...

CLARA: He’s our hermit.

FREDERICO: Yes. That’s it. Groups normally split their duties. You do this, the other guy does that, etc. And being only four of them makes it easier. Now if there were too many, you see, there are fights, because people dispute power and stuff. But the group was important. It is the first generation of post-constructivists and all. But the lucky thing was Hélio being the the link. Lygia a little. But Lygia was also a weird person. sick, really reserved. She loved... whenever you called her at home, she was sick. Headaches, I don’t know what else, “I feel that”. She never went out. And...

*There is no translation to English.


BERNARDO: Firstly, I would like for us to forget a bit about Parque Lage. I’d like to go back in time a little bit, to ask you how you and Rubens got close, how did you meet, and how was that first moment between the two of you, artists.

ROBERTO: Well, we met, I think it was 1962. It was the year of my first exhibition at Galeria Macunaíma, at the old National School of Fine Arts (Escola Nacional de Belas Artes). I had an exhibition there, and I began frequenting the school - like an intruder, isn’t it? – and I started meeting the artists. And one of them was Gerchman. That was 52 years ago. So, it is a friendship from way back then. We’ve always been really close, we’ve always visited each other a lot. Then, more recently, Rubens went to São Paulo. He moved to São Paulo and we got a little disconnected, but the friendship always remained. Even when I visited São Paulo, I went over to Rubens’ place, we went out, had lunch. I was a permanent friendship.

BERNARDO: That first moment, how was the exchange of work experience between you two, how was the dialogue, during those first days of the discovery of the arts?

ROBERTO: We were still very young. I was 22, Gerchman 20. And it was a period when Fine Arts were really booming. Not just fine arts, but all kinds of art. Those were the days of Cinema Novo, of Bossa Nova. There was a renovation aspect to all the arts. So we still had a lot to exchange, many opinions, lots of new ideas. And we worked on those ideas, on this new boom in arts, not only in Brazil, but all around the world. That was about it.

BERNARDO: How was the debate of your poetics? Because Gerchman was always saying, when I met him, that you didn’t like, you know, Pop. And Vergara, we talked to him, he said “we weren’t pop”. How was that contact with the themes of your paintings?

ROBERTO: Brazilian art, at that time went as far as, let’s say, Di Cavalcanti, Tarsila, Portinari, Pacetti – that’s as far as it went. And our generation, it started doing something completely different. I think those movements, they bloom spontaneously within the young. So much so that these new generations come with other ideas, other themes, another way to express themselves. And it is something that germinates in a new generation. And we lived that time, but we had our own language, regardless of what was being done in the rest of the world, regardless of what was being done in the United States, for example, which is where those Pop art movements surfaced. We were, also, Brazilian, South-Americans, at that time we didn’t have the communication we have today, right? It was actually something spontaneous.

BERNARDO: I’d like for you to try to remember and tell me – I know nothing, ok? – describe to me how was the night of the happening of G4.

ROBERTO: Oh, the happening of G4. I remember, like, there were lots of people. It was in Copacabana, at a transversal street, I don’t remeber which one. But there was this gallery, it opened its doors to young artists. And it was something kind of, let’s say, crazy, because nobody did that. I, due to being shy, due to my own nature, did not get involved with that happening, but other artists, like Gerchman, he did something there – I can’t quite remember what, but he did. It was quite theatrical. And the artists participated in this movement in a, like, theatrical fashion. I don’t remember exactly, I remember the confusion.

CLARA: It was that main elevator, that everybody entered, he sealed it, and, then, that whole uneasiness began, people broke it...

ROBERTO: Ah, ok. See? Those things, my memory is not that great. But I remember that environment that existed there. I don’t remember in full detail.

BERNARDO: Can you remember, like, why the will to organize that happening, where did it come from?

ROBERTO: From those same artists, Who were, besides me, Gerchman, Antônio Dias, Vergara, that group in particular, that decided to do it. I don’t know why, I don’t remember why, I was a bit out of tune.

CLARA: You were really young. Do you think you were aware of how great, I mean, of the power of it all?

ROBERTO: We didn’t. We really didn’t. So much that, speaking of something related to me, I, back then, did sculptures. Like Gerchman did the elevator, I made a big revolver, a big wooden microscope. All home-made, I made them myself. They were objects, just as Gerchman did the elevator, those live-in boxes, those buses. I, later, had an exhibition, there at that Opinião-65, at the Museum of Modern Art – with this group and many others, from São Paulo included – and then I didn’t know what to do with those objects, I even gave away things that would have been precious to me. They were big objects from back then, but I had no idea what I was doing, I mean, professionally. I just did it.

BERNARDO: You didn’t really have much of a market expectation, right?

ROBERTO: No, because the market, it practically didn’t exist. The art market was also a phenomenon that began at that time. There were practically no galleries. I remember there was Galeria Bonino, Petite Galerie – which was the first, it was at Avenida Atlântica – maybe a couple of stores. There was no art market. And that generation coincided with the beginnings of an art market. The market existed for those artists I mentioned, Di Cavalcanti... But it was quite amatuerish, get it? It wasn’t a professional thing, like today.

BERNARDO: How was it that during these first few years, those 60s, all that period of Opinião (Opinion), Nova Objetividade (New Objectivity), how was Gerchman from that time?

ROBERTO: It was always the same thing. Always agitated, anxious, nervous, enterprising, always wanted to do things. It was always that way. Always the same person, talkative, had an opinion on every subject, he was controversial. And always a comrade. We traveled to São Paulo a lot, took things to try and sell them. It was all really initial. Unlike today, when things are more professional, that movement from those days, which was really personal, really amateur, doesn’t exist anymore.

BERNARDO: Do you miss that?

ROBERTO: Sometimes I do, yes. But maybe it’s not that I miss the structure we had, but our youth, you know, so many dreams, so much hope for things that... Those things never come true, do they? It’s like an utopia, an ideal that never happens. It seems the world only gets more and more complicated, doesn’t it? Instead of getting simpler, easier, no, it gets complicated.

BERNARDO: There is a period during Gerchman’s time that is, well, somewhat enigmatic, which is when he goes to New York. When he went to New York, how was communication between you two? Did you exchange mail, were you in touch?

ROBERTO: No. With me, it was very little, nothing. There was practically no communication. He went and he stayed there for a while. And for a period of time, also, I traveled to France and stayed there for a while, and there was also no communication – I stayed with Antônio Dias there, at the time. But I suppose that with Gerchman in the USA it was some other subject, something else, a different vibe.

BERNARDO: And you went to France. What was the year you came back from France? Do you remember?

ROBERTO: 69. I was there from 66 to 69.

BERNARDO: I want to ask you, then, how was your reunion with Gerchman, after New York, when he returns, in the beginning of the 70s.

ROBERTO: There was nothing, well, that I recall, extraordinary. We rekindled our friendship, kept on working. There was nothing, from what I recall, extraordinary.

BERNARDO: Did you notice anything different about him?


BERNARDO: Because his work changes a lot, doesn’t it, after New York, after being in touch with that scene.

ROBERTO: Yes, but I don’t think there really is anything that significant, that is a transformation, in his work. I think he was always really coherent in what he did, even after he returned from the USA.

BERNARDO: And during this period before Parque Lage, the first few years of the seventies, what were you doing? Were you already teaching?

ROBERTO: During the first few years of the seventies, I was a bit out, totally, of the art life. I was going through a very introspective period, meditation, so I was completely out, I wasn’t in touch with anyone. I was like that for 4 years. And after 74 I started rebuilding my contacts, my friendships, my love life. And that’s when Gerchman began organizing the transformation of the school that existed here... – I don’t recall the name of the school.

CLARA: IBA – Instituto de Belas Artes (Institute of Fine Arts).

ROBERTO: Institute of Fine Arts, to turn it into something called Visual Arts School. Which was something absolutely revolutionary, that didn’t exist at the time, it was a first. So, that was the period he was organizing it, and he asked me, among others, to teach here. I accepted, of course, gladly. And he really managed to make a great place out of here.

I don’t know how to teach. But, anyway, I tried to understand what the students were doing. And I encouraged what they were doing, I didn’t want to change anyone. But I was a man of few words, get it? I spent all my time in that room, I observed and all, but I didn’t criticize much. I just tried to encourage the potential of each of them. Now, I remember, also, that Gerchman was faced with major opposition to open this place, the way he wanted it to be. Major opposition, indeed. He was always complaining, talking about people who were against this place. And not just personally, but with political ideas, too. And they wanted to turn this place into something else that wasn’t an arts school. It’s a huge place, beautiful, great location, so, politically, it was really targeted. And Gerchman faced opposition to open it. But one of Gerchman’s traits, and it worked out, is that in order to do what he did here he stood up for himself, you know? One of his traits, that helped him accomplish this, was his courage to stand up for himself, to face those political and personal oppositions that were contrary to his ideas. He faced them, and won. Had it not been for this internal strength that he possessed, another person wouldn’t have managed. He managed because of that, too.

BERNARDO: Did you exchange ideas with him about your workshop, about the students’ performance? Did you talk about that?

ROBERTO: Not much. I felt really comfortable here. He let all the teachers be free to do what they wanted. Including the school run – I don’t mean the administrative part, but the behaviour of the students – it was really free. As it still is, I assume it is. So this is one of Parque Lage’s features, that release, that unconcern about the rules. What every artist should have, right? It’s really free.

BERNARDO: Did you collaborate with other workshops as well?

ROBERTO: I don’t remember. I participated to observe events that took place, movies, plays. I participated as an expectator, but I did not collaborate, no.

BERNARDO: We had an interview with Eichbauer, Hélio Eichbauer...

ROBERTO: He was one of them.

BERNARDO: ... he says something really interesting, about this idea of freedom. He says – if I’m talking nonsense, you guys please set me straight, ok? – it was important to have a lot of freedom, but it was important to have method. And it was important for production, for creation, that there was joy in the environment. Do you believe this perspective to gather freedom, method and joy was particular to that time, was it something about those days?

ROBERTO: I believe it’s not just about the time, but... it’s something really personal to each individual, you know? I believe that in order to accomplish something you need those three things, freedom, method and inner joy to do what you love, what you can do well. So it really depends on each person. Of course that spills. It spills in the environment, it exerts influence over other people, particularly the youngsters. They’re important, these three things Hélio mentioned. I think so, really.

BERNARDO: You taught during the 4 years Gerchman was here, right?

ROBERTO: I don’t think so. I can’t remember exactly, but I was a teacher here for a little over two years. Or in two different periods – I can’t remember. I know 74 was one of them, 76 I remember teaching here. But I can’t remember if it was one period, in sequence, or different times.

BERNARDO: And did you hang around, also, here, out of school hours?

ROBERTO: I did, it was a beautiful place. There was no other, in Rio, that could replace Parque Lage. No other. Because before Parque Lage artists used to meet at the Museum of Modern Art. Before the museum it was at the National School of Fine Arts, then Revolution came, they closed it, they prevented anyone from entering the School of Fine Arts, they threw a bomb at the school door, and the artists that gathered there went their own ways. Then they started meeting at the Museum of Modern Art. After the School of Visual Arts was opened, it became a meeting center, the focus of attention for artists, students. And it was really important, at that time, there was no other.

BERNARDO: Did Parque Lage and the experience as an educator here somehow influence or change your ways as an artist, the ways of your studio work?

ROBERTO: No, no, they didn’t. As I said, I don’t know how to teach. Because how can I teach art? There’s not really a way, is there? You can teach technique, you can teach the student to develop that which he is capable of doing, but art can’t be taught, there’s no way to pass that on. Now, I found it really important for me this contact with the student, with people who were beginning. Because, deep down, I also learned a lot from people who had no experience. I also benefited from it, I learned a lot.

BERNARDO: Do you remember the time when there was the fire at MAM, how did it echo? What is your memory of that moment?

ROBERTO: I remember. I remember I heard – of course, everyone heard – that there’d been a fire at MAM. It was shocking. But at the time I wasn’t really involved with things, you know? I was still really disconnected from the world. What year was it?

CLARA: 1978. There was a march, they made signs, and he organized a crowd leaving here to the Museum.

ROBERTO: No, I didn’t participate in that. I wasn’t, I’m not someone, you know, really connected with these popular movements, those marches, those street happenings. I’m not like that. I’m more recluse. So, those things, I didn’t participate. I was just shocked by what happened at MAM. Because infact I had paintings there, and they were lost in the fire.

BERNARDO: There was also something, I think it’s a 60s thing, and it existed here at Parque Lage, also in the 70s, which is a preocupation and a great will to debate. Why, in your opinion – I don’t know if you were really into debating...

ROBERTO: No. Debate, no.

BERNARDO: But could you tell me why did your generation enjoy debating so much?

ROBERTO: Because it was a period of transformation, everything was changing. Even eating habits were changing, there was macrobiotics, vegetarian food, none of that existed, you know? It was a time, the 60s, really, as I said, it was a cultural boom, all around the world. Even food changed, clothing changed, your clothes. The hippie movements began. Everything changed, behaviour... marijuana, right? Because before that it didn’t exist. It came to be in the early 60s. So it changed everyone’s minds. You see, for even food to change, right? Even hippie philosophy. Music, the Beatles. Everything changed.

BERNARDO: You spoke a lot about Gerchman, lots of great things, about him. Now, have you ever witnessed him teaching a workshop here, his workshop, him as a teacher?

ROBERTO: No. I never did. Maybe our schedules didn’t match, times or days, right? But I always saw him here, I was always with him, here. But he was always worried about the structure thing, about the running of things, the implantation of what he wanted here, ther workshops he wanted to create. He always debated and talked to us about it, a lot. But his actual classes I never attended.

BERNARDO: Because someone wrote, or said something, I don’t know – and I won’t remember who, right now –, about this ambivalence, that he was a very generous man, but, at the same time, really demanding.

ROBERTO: Yes, he was demanding. Demanding and commanding. He had authority. That’s why he was able to build this Parque Lage, otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to. Commanding in the good sense, imposing his idea and what he envisioned to build here. So he needed to have authority.

BERNARDO: I know you are talking about memory and all, but why do you think he left here? Why do you think there was no continuity?

ROBERTO: Look, it’s so hard to talk about that, but I also think there is a moment when the person gets tired, right? Maybe it wasn’t his vocation to stay here his whole life managing a school like that. He did what he could, he gave his all, for as long as he could, and, maybe, his time in this implantation of Parque Lage’s structure had come to an end. For him, maybe, right? It may be that, it may not be that. I don’t know why. But that’s how I see it, too. He got tired, maybe. I don’t know. He wanted to do different things, to travel, or keep working on his art, and that occupied his head a lot.

CLARA: Roberto, try to tell me something, we found a few records that you will later start that school in Barra – not in Barrinha, but in the beginning of Barra – and it’s already 1980. So, he leaves here in 79, and there you rethink it – ok, it’s children we’re talking about, it’s a different dimmension, how is that, how did that work?

ROBERTO: I don’t have a detailed recollection from that time. But that’s what I think. He was constantly stressed here, with all the politics over this place, it was really exhausting for him. And he is an artist, he wasn’t going to spend his life administrating and fighting politically. It wasn’t his vocation. Maybe that was it, maybe he’d grown tired of it and wanted to do something else. That thing you’re talking about, or maybe working on his art without having his head occupied by all the stress going on here.

CLARA: I wanted to know a litlle bit about Roberto Maia, if you have anything to say. If you know about his class, great, otherwise, something affectionate.

ROBERTO: I liked Roberto Maia. A lot. We met all the time, here. He was always in a good mood. Really talkative, always in a great mood. But we never really had a close friendship, you know? It was a friendship here, really, spending time together here. I really liked him, of course, he was a great person. But I didn’t have a close friendship, like I did with Rubens.

BERNARDO: Can you remember who were the other people here, among teachers or students that your had a closer relationship with?

ROBERTO: It’s those I remember, Hélio Eichbauer, Santeiro, Roberto Maia and others – I draw a blank, sometimes.

BERNARDO: Celeida...

ROBERTO: Celeida. They were amazing people, it was a really pleasant environment.

CLARA: Can you remember any stories, I don’t know, an episode?

BERNARDO: Anything, you know, a B-side.

ROBERTO: There must have been, but I can’t remember.

M1: A drunken episode, one of those crazy nights, people on the roof...

ROBERTO: No, there were always a couple parties, right? I only remember that movement of people, the mess, but there’s nothing, well, that went out of control. It was all normal.

CLARA: Roberto, what about Mauá? All of a sudden the two of you go to Visconde de Mauá and build your studios. Are you still there?

ROBERTO: I am. So, the first time I saw the place I’m at now, in Mauá, I was with Rubens. We – me and Rubens – we went for a weekend at Oscar Araripe’s house, Oscar is now in Tiradentes. We took Rubens’ car, a Jeep. We stayed there, and Oscar Araripe started taking us to see places we could think about buying there. And Rubens bought a land at Vale da Prata, and I bought, right after him, at Vale das Flores. So, we went together, discovered those places, which are now ours, at the same time, on the same trip.

BERNARDO: So this retreat was a joint effort?

ROBERTO: It was.


ROBERTO: I don’t know why. Because. It was just an adventure. Wow, it’s been thirty years. We wanted a place out of town, a beautiful spot, full of waterfalls, green, cold, trees. There was no intention, just having a nice place, out of Rio. But it was together. We went together, saw the places together.

BERNARDO: And how was your friendship, during the 80s?

ROBERTO: It was always the same. No matter how long we are apart, sometimes, the friendship always remains. I have many friends I haven’t seen for years, but who are my friends. I myself am a person, as I said, really reclusive, I like being in Mauá, I stay there for days and days. I don’t really go places here in Rio anymore, I don’t go out at night. I like staying in. So, I don’t really meet people anymore – that’s rare – but friendships remain. And they’re old friendships. It never goes undone. We just meet and, well, beards are whiter, hair is whiter. But the friendship remains.

PEDRO: Sometimes a tooth is lost, right?

ROBERTO: Yes. A tooth is lost, people go balder..

CLARA: In order for us to get to our place in Mauá, we go by yours, practically, right? So I remember that my dad, we’d be driving, every time we’d look up, “Roberto Magalhães”!!!

ROBERTO: Yes, exactly. Because we were separated by a mountain. On one side, there’s my house, on the other side, Rubens’, get it? And there was a mountain. But in order to get to the other side, you needed to go round, of course, it was a long turn.

CLARA: If there’d been a tunnel...

ROBERTO: If there’d been a tunnel... There’s a horse trail, there.

PEDRO: Do you think that going to Mauá, 30 years ago, that it influenced your work as an artist?

ROBERTO: Well, I don’t think so. Mas it does influence how you see the world. You look at it differently. That, when you stay there for a long period, one moth, two months straight. You look at the city totally differently, the world. It’s a different world. There, it’s a different world.

BERNARDO: You say your workshop was really free, and all, but everyone who talked to us, who was your student, told us it was really important to be your student. You know that?

ROBERTO: Wow, that’s a surprise. I didn’t know.

BERNARDO: They say they’ve learned a lot from you.

ROBERTO: Well, because I taught, as I said, technique, a way for the person to develop their creation, their creativity, develop their potential. I didn’t influence “so, do it like that, follow that path”. It wasn’t like that, I never did that. I let the person free to do what they could do, their inspiration, their creation.

CLARA: Yes, Luiz Ernersto, who was a student of yours, said: “Well, I just waited for Roberto to come and check my work. When he nodded, that’s because everything was ok”.

ROBERTO: Yes, I sometimes left the classroom, stayed by the pool. Because people are concentrated, they were drawing concentrated, right? I wasn’t going to stay around to disturb them. I waited untill something came up so I could come and talk about it, make a suggestion. I wasn’t on them, you know? I let them be. I mean, I didn’t teach a class, right?

CLARA: But my father spoke a lot about not being a student, but being a user, and not being a teacher, but being a guide.

ROBERTO: Yes, that’s it. That is it, a guide. Well, but without guiding the student towards what the teacher believes he should be, the teacher’s truth. The teacher is only a counselor, he won’t say “well, do this or do that”. No, the student chooses it. Doesn’t he? The person knows it. It’s really personal.

BERNARDO: Now, an entirely trivial question. Was it oil painting you did here?

ROBERTO: My classes were drawing classes. There were other teachers who taught oil painting. But I did drawings.

BERNARDO: I read you taught drawing in colors, is it?

ROBERTO: In colors! Any technique. gouache, watercolor, acrylic painting, colored pencils. Anything on paper – either in black and white, or in color, but always on paper. Drawing.

BERNARDO: Now, if you want to tell me if you miss Gerchamn a lot... do you?

ROBERTO: Oh, what should I answer, huh? Yes, well, I do. I do because he was a great comrade. Even when he was in São Paulo, I’d go to São Paulo, we hung out. We were always together, you know? Each with a mind older than before, than youth, with a different world vision. But we were always together, we talked, about every possible subject. So, I miss him, I do.

BERNARDO: I remember when I knew him – it’s been twelve years – he was always particularly fond of you, whenever we mentioned you.


BERNARDO: He had a certain sparkle in his eye when he spoke of your work, and your friendship. That is something I remember.

ROBERTO: Yes, and I felt like he admired what I did, too. By his comments. I felt it. Whenever he talked about my work to other people, I felt it. So I’m also grateful.

CLARA: Esteem.

ROBERTO: Yes, esteem, wow, that’s nice. We were great friends. From 52 years ago, 1962.


CLARA: We were talking about the Institute of Fine Arts, that you were together since then, you, Gerchman, and Anna Maria Maiolino.

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: No, not there. Not there, we were together at the School of Fine Arts.

CLARA: How was that meeting?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: That meeting was more at the engraving room. It was Goeldi’s room... that was the way. Well, then we each followed our own paths, of course. We later reunited at Parque Lage, but I was already there.

CLARA: You were at the IFA, the Institute of Fine Arts?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Yes, yes. Later there was the name change and all. And it was a great push, with young people, who were more participant at the time. There were many artists teaching, you know, and we lived that period, which was great. I even introduced lithography there, and then came the exhibitions, that one you’ve got the poster for, there was another one, and that one I told you, which was “14 For Trips”, and others. Students came too.

CLARA: Always at the School?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Always at the School. And like poetry, that theater thing, what is it called? With the body?

BERNARDO: Performance.

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: No, that was more of Hélio’s thing. Hélio sometimes caused some uproar there. Anyway, but it was a great time. And I think for the students too, for the younger crowd. Some of them became teachers, even headmasters at Parque Lage.

CLARA: You were there until when?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: 80-something. I left, I think, right after Lontra. A long time, I was there for a long time.

CLARA: And how was it, to structure the lithography studio?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: That was during Darcy Bove’s time. I was transfered from the Secretariat of Education, and I introduced lithography. It was from then... when Rubens got there, lithography was already happening.

CLARA: And it followed the same form?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: It followed the same form, with a few changes, more exhibitions, also giving more opportunities to the students. They were students and teachers, I don’t think that was quite defined, no. There were many exhibitions. You could also participate in one or another, you know.

CLARA: We heard a lot that the school fed on itself.

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Yes, there wasn’t a rule for you... “do just this, or do just that”. No, there was a bunch of things you participated in, you know. What else can I do to help you?

PEDRO: Gerchman, his background, ok, he was coming from New York, where he had spent time with people from conceptual art, so he was coming from other influences, but his primary background is in graphics, a graphic artist.

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Exactly, that’s why I told her we had that beginning at the School of Fine Arts. It comes from there. Me, him, like any other, Anna Maria Maiolino was his first wife, it came from there. You know, it was Goeldi’s studio.

PEDRO: And you think that Gerchman, throughout the period when he was school headmaster and that you were heading the studio, do you think that graphic background of his somehow helped the production of what happened in your studio? I mean, those other course subjects, students came from other places?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Yes, because it wasn't restricted, you could visit any studio you wanted, the painting studio, the engraving studio, the ceramics studio with Celeida. You know, there wasn’t a rule, it wasn’t just your classroom, you got in, got out and left. No, it wasn’t that, it was an ensemble. It worked like that.

CLARA: And how do you think that methodology, that pedagogical thought of the school was established?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: I don’t really know how to answer that now, but Rubens must have gotten information from other people, experienced people so he could follow his path too.

CLARA: But I mean, he let, for instance, you run your class freely or did you...

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: No, no, it was free with the lesson, anyway, there was no severity regarding that. Of course he was aware of what was going on and you also had to let him know, or present things, or talk about it. I think that was about it.

BERNARDO: I’d like to go back on that story of how you met Gerchman? How was that Gerchman from the beginning?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Look, we were all the same, there were no distinctions, There was a desire to do something. That always stood out, the will to make something. So we were all equal, no nothing, not more for one, nor more for the other, or less, we were all equal.

BERNARDO: What was that thing you wished to do?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: What things we did there?


ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Engraving. Engraving, we exchanged ideas, that sort of thing. And it’s quite true that Goeldi’s engraving room was more formal, I mean the School of Fine Arts, more formal. But nothing kept you, once you left, to have a conversation, or a different point of view. Or that you left that place and worked on your individual work, no rules, no nothing, it was what you were thinking, and what you were executng. I think that’s it.

BERNARDO: What was the year you met Gerchman, more or less?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: what do I do now?

CLARA: 62?


CLARA: Maybe a little before that?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Around that, around that, yes.

CLARA: 60?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Yes, around that, the 60s, around then. It’s been a long time.

CLARA: One question, back to Parque Lage, do you think that thing happened, that free thing, where people entered your classroom, then they went to Rubens’ classroom, to Inês Paula’s, Celeida’s, did that encounter influenced the production the students were making in your subject?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: I believe so, because they are interactions and ways, I think you really benefit from that dialogue with other people, other artists, doing different things from what you are doing at that moment. And I think you can only benefit from it. That is my point of view.

CLARA: Could you talk a little bit about Celeida?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: I don’t think so. I met Celeida... because we were studio meighbours, her studio was right next to mine.

CLARA: Downstairs?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Downstairs. And Celeida was always in a hurry, so, for us to talk to Celeida outside the school, to have a beer, it was a whole other world, because she always tried to transmit that to her students, she tried to help in the best possible way, she was always with them.

CLARA: And how was the exercise of freedom at such an adverse time, dictatorship days, such a difficult moment?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Look, I think for young students, who are only just beginning, seeing those things and all, I don’t think they think too much about it. And if they do, they will unload that in their work. I think that’s it. I think they’re going to produce something that translates their dissatisfaction.

CLARA: But you live, do you remember any anecdotes, any stories in that space or about resistance or a political situation you witnessed?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: No, I don’t remember that. If that happened, I don’t know. Might’ve happened and I don’t know.

CLARA: And you were there all the time? Because there are many people who say they never left.

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: No, I was there three times a week in the morning and in the afternoon. And then the older students stayed there taking care of the studio, which was a place for the class to develop their work, otherwise there wasn’t time.

BERNARDO: How was the difference from leaving an institute where it was something, a…


BERNARDO: Rigour and older people, and I don’t know what more, I don’t know when that bunch of young people come, full of energy. How did the work change, the result of that work?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: That is slow, those are slow transitions, you leave a rigorous thing and move to a freer environment. I think that thing shapes itself, you get used to it. The dialogue you have with others that i salso entering the picture, and with a different mentality, I think it’s great.

BERNARDO: But can you tell if the character of the works changed? I mean, it did change.

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: It changes, it does. It changes physically, the image changes, everything changes. I think it’s good, that interaction is always good.

CLARA: And your workshop dialogued with the others, did you feel that...

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Here’s why it dialogued, because the exhibitions, for instance, the lithography exhibition with “14 For Trips”, for instance, there was painting teacher, drawing teacher, ceramics teacher, they were all there doing engravings. So the dialogue is really good.

PEDRO: That’s interesting. How do you thing engraving was seen in that hippie territory? Everybody was a hippie.


PEDRO: How did those hippies see engraving, which is such a traditional thing?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: It was more experimental. There was a time when a student said to me: “Grosso, I wanted to do a thing, to draw a piece here on the stone, and then throw gas on it and set it on fire, may I?”. “Yes, but do it in the sink, and if there’s any problem we open the tap. Yes, you can, why not?”. You know? That was it.

CLARA: And the art market? Because there was no market.

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: That is complicated. Very few were the ones who sold. Roberto managed to sell a thing or two, who else? I don’t remember who else could sell engraving. I can’t remember, really, I can’t.

BERNARDO: Who was that Gerchman? What was the difference between the Gerchman from the 60s, starting out, a kid, inheriting all of his father’s baggage and that other, more contemporary Gerchman, after New York, cool? What was the difference between those 2 Gerchmans you with whom you were in touch?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: One had nothing to do with the other, obviously there was nothing to do. The figuration, the picture that is created before and after have nothing to do with each other. I think that even their minds have nothing to do with one another. You get into the School of Fine Arts, you try a lot of things, but then there’s a more professional thing, it follows a different path. The picture changes, and you already try to solve problems there.

CLARA: And you followed one another until which year, do you remember? Which phase?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Look, after Parque Lage our contact was more professional, to print something, for me to print something, things like that. It was more like that, that type of thing. And it’s quite true that he got more into serigraphy than lithography. He was more in touch with that.

CLARA: Can you say you guys were friends?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Yes, we were friends. So many years. He always came to pick you up here at school.

CLARA: Any anecdotes, any moments?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: No. He came over, “I’ll be back tomorrow”, “yes, come back”. That’s it. Maria Maiolino was a little more distant. I didn’t really keep in touch with her afterwards.

PEDRO: Sorry, I interrupted you. Just one question, out of all those students who have been through Parque Lage, did any of them stand out, is there any you still remember?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Who? There’s Luiz Ernesto, who was a lithography student, then he taught drawing, then he was headmaster, there’s Claudia. I don’t know if Claudia does anything related to art.

CLARA: Saldanha?

ANTÔNIO GROSSO: Yes, Claudia Saldanha. Who else? From the top of my head, I can’t remember. There are lots of people, lots of things. And this little head of mine fails at times.


TUNGA: Most things about Rubens Gerchman, and Rubens Gerchman, there are many Rubens Gerchmans, first there are many Rubens Gerchmans in my heart and spirit, because he was a great friend of mine, and there are many Rubens in the world who wrote a plural trajectory, creating transformations in Brazilian art, and in many people’s heads, their point of view, and in a different manner, his way of being, the way he saw things, representing through his work, the painting, his gestures, the performance implicit in existing, and also in a very peculiar way, which was by being the Headmaster of an Art School, something that surprised a lot of people, when that happened, and that was a long time ago, the years?

CLARA: 75, 79.

TUNGA: Past. And Rubens comes along with that project, and surprises everyone, because he occupies a place that was an academic school, kind of dead, a little dusty, you know, which had almost a social function, of harbouring unoccupied people, painting landscapes, other people who had a dilettante reflection. And he brings in an euphoric novelty, and invites everyone around him. And who was everyone? The finest minds who wanted to concentrate, who wanted a transformation, so there were theater people, dance people, there were people who were into drawing, painting, and people who wanted a transformation, and that Rubens is just another one, who got us to talk about him today, because he starts at that experience of Parque Lage. A question.

BERNARDO: I’d like to ask you a question. First I’d like you to tell me, when you were really communist, in your younger career, how is it... who were those people, I mean, who was that generation prior to yours?

TUNGA: This is all really curious. In the beginning of my youth career and now, but anyway, no, it’s really curious, because there is a 15 year difference, and I got interested in arts really soon, by the context of my life, my family context, I went to many galleries, vernissages, and it was Galeria Relevo, the place I went to, but there was a day when there was a film session, at midnight, at Rian, and it was a film called “Ver e Ouvir”(See and Listen), by Antônio Carlos Fontoura, and it was a film about four apocalyptic horsemen, in my 15, 16 year old view, and they were Roberto Magalhães, Carlos Vergara, Antônio Dias and Rubens Gerchman. So it was kind of like The Beatles, they each appeared as an exponent, as a direction, and opening a perception of reality, which for that moment was a completely unexplored field, and which we investigated, that opening I think Rubens offers, and by coincidence I lived in Copacabana, beside a gallery called G4, where there was an exhibition by Rubens, it was a kind of place that moved those people, a bunch of kids went there. So, Rubens’ presence was, for me, a paradigm in my formation, just like the presence of his comrades, it was like a reference, and I think Rubens opened the doors. I was immensely lucky to come and be Rubens’ neighbour, and perpetuate an already existing friendship, an affection, a proximity, and to turn it into a legitimate friendship, and we, as neighbours, had the same restlessness as artists, we ran into each other, we went to each other’s houses, we talked, and they were endless dialogues and things that, you know, don’t get lost, stay alive, and every time I see Rubens’ work here or there, the work comes, and he comes, the conversations come, that restlessness comes, the fighting spirit comes, the transformation spirit, which was always part of him, and I think it remains an important trait for an artist today, I mean, he is really missed, he has an enourmous presence, I miss him deep in my heart. It’s ok.

BERNARDO: Clara is really emotional here, crying by my side. I’d like... no, I’d also like that thing we want to try and deepen a little in our research which is the Malasartes matter, how was it for that moment, what was the importance of Malasartes, and also if you could tell us what was Malasartes?

TUNGA: Look, I wasn’t part of the Malasartes body.

BERNARDO: But did you publish at Malasartes?

TUNGA: I did publish at Malasartes, but I wasn’t part of the editorial body, I don’t know why, because I was kind of part of all that, but I wasn’t actually in Malasartes. And Malasartes was a confluence, almost like a big opening of lines, of people at a certain political moment, who saw the possibility of joining forces, despite their different directions, tendencies or ideologies, and creating a little what would be the wide front that was politically created, culturally. I mean, it’s curious because historically all the viable and possible differences that even the participants of Malasartes saw among them with History, with time, but well, they’re actually really small, are really close bonuses, so it was a really important thingin that first mobilization, a plurality of lines, but towards a ligitimate contemporarity, fighting, that opened the perspective to a different reflexive space, from that which was the official point of view, culturally at that time the official point of view of Brazilian elites was still a little based on figuration, and in a certain figurative modernity, and that had its values, that idenfied with a certain left wing, so the matter of languages wasn’t taken into account. So Malasartes comes almost like a cultural update of the presence of the investigation of languages, the importance of the specificity of diverse languages thought, in the current matters of the country, the country’s culture. I think that... that spirit... as far as I remember witnessing a little bit of the context, I believe Rubens was one of the central characters in that, that ability of his, of congregating and leading people forwards towards some movement, to a manifestation, to making it happen, I believe many of the Malasartes were due to Rubens Gerchman’s initiative.

CLARA: Now you are... I see you’re involved with the Visual Arts School, with the school, you’ve been teaching classes, some...?

TUNGA: No, I have a class, not necessarily the Visual Arts School, I taught a class, I was invited for an inaugural lesson, and I saw the possibility to hear Lisette’s speech, she’s the current Principal, the desire, the will to bring back precisely Rubens’ project, I think the circumstances are different, I don’t feel involved with the institution because I’m really far from the institutional thing, but our first meeting with Lisette, who was someone I only knew, and we became friends, was exactly when those positions that were adopted were evoked, the ones built when Rubens returned and started the school, I mean, I think the heritage he left was so true, so legitimate, that the absence is still felt, or the need for historical circumstances that were made at the time, that there are new circumstances made today, that same position, it still seems like the proper position to adopt, to create a plurality of languages, a plurality of identities, which are characteristics o four country, Brazil, there’s the difference of international circulation. So, certain principles that Rubens saw quite lucidly seem to remain urgente nowadays, and... it seems that at Parque Lage the board has as paradigma that format which was a little, you know, which kind of dissolved in his absence.

BERNARDO: I’d also like to understand, because it’s a another enigma in our research about Gerchman, those 70s, because he goes to New York, and his work leaves the canvas, the figuration, and becomes something really conceptual. In the 70s it is a transforming period, the open art, that is up for anything, there’s that dematerialization of the art objects, how is that scene for you, Tunga, the 70s are unique, I mean, can they be reissued?

TUNGA: it’s a complex question, the 70s, each decade is unique, each period is different from another, if the 70s I think there was an urgency to have a certain reflection, which comes to prepare, you can also look at it that way, the outbreak of an art that in the 80s already shows with a much more wide vocabular, it’s as if it was necessary to take a step back and reflect intensely, and it’s a reflection about the language so later you can go back to exercising full language, that is a possible view. I remember that Rubens’ return after that, it was an exhibition at MAM he had, quite surprising, where pieces from many periods coexisted, he was at the height of his artistic activity, and where there was a massive presence of a reflection closer to conceptual art, of a drier aesthetic presence, more reflexive, and that you seeing the whole picture, it was absolutely coherent, even though there was an appearence of air in time, the 70s air, it was completely inserted and cohesive to their trajectories, I mean, you looking at it historically now you put it like this, so at many times, historical determinations, exterior to their work, it presents itself to the artist, and it ends up being an opportunity to investigate a bias of the work and that sometimes, it’s hidden over others. So I think those tendencies, and what was conceptual art while it was a tendency at that moment, it brought every artist commited to their time, to a certain reflection about the language which was really important, and it was also like that for Rubens.

BERNARDO: It’s because deep down my question was exactly that, the thing I want to investigate, it’s that thing of, if... which is a question I asked, if I’m not mistaken, I think I asked Antônio Dias, is how would Rubens’ work have been if instead of New York, he had gone to France...

TUNGA: ...or Beijing, he went to Beijing. That’s it, each one goes to a place, ando f course that’s going to change things. So, what is different about Brazilian art? It’s a dust you have under your feet, because we are all hominids, we are acident prone, and you know, we live more or less like the rest of the world, and each territory a few habits, and some determinations of what we call culture, it ends up taking us to deepen a certain aspect of those humans more than others, and I think the efervescence of New York was a fascinanting place for the artists, because it seemed to be a capital of the world then. So a lot of people congregated there, and I think for a lot of people it was really important, the elaboration of Parque Lage’s project, for example, I don’t know if for his work it was that important, but for that elaboration which was a video thing, it was certainly determining, because I had a really free school template in New York, which served as a paradigm for him to bring and adjust that format, which would be important, he didn’t bring the format, he used that format as a starting point to think things, the possibility of doing something wider, freer, here, and more appropriate for here. Anyway, what would have happened if he had gone to China? I don’t know, Merzbau, art on the walls, or arts... in France, I don’t know either, it was more of a dialogue thing, of reflections, you know, I think the artist is a kind of a generalist of a general practitioner, so, like general practitioners often makes you see other doctors with their fields of practice, and make you broaden your knowledge about the human being, and so it’s not a local vision, and it’s only one thing, and actually a plural vision, many times, you see in their face, a problem in their leg, for instance.

BERNARDO: I was asking that, because, I mean, it’s something we ask a lot, in this year and a half we’ve been doing this, which is the genesis of the 70s, because we keep asking ourselves, is the world more square?

TUNGA: In the 70s?

BERNARDO: No, is the world more square today? Because that genesis and the change, it seems to be really experimental, and that’s why I got lost in that question, I’m trying to understand that 70s genesis.

TUNGA: Here’s what I think, we’re in the 70s, let’s put it like this, nobody can hold up in the art market anymore, nobodycan take the institutions anymore, generated the way they are, nobody can take a certain art confoguration anymore, they way it is, as part of the capital, the capitalist world, as an instrument of consumption, I think the 21st century arrived, I mean, people who are 20 years old have spent 15 years in the 21st century, with computers, in a different way of circulation of ideas, effective, the eminence of ecological thought, the importance of that, in another way of feeling. So I think now we are living a pretty close situation to the one in the 70s, of young people wanting to experiment art, not seeing art, buying art, getting art, no, wanting to experiment that which will turn into art, I think that is the way we now maybe acknowledge the 70s, which was a restlesness, where art and life seemed like a single thing. I think it’s a really current thing, and I’ve seen it in that current generation.

CLARA: I’d like you to... I remember the meetings, a conversation like, a lunch here, we were here for the whole day, really long and all. I’d like you to talk a little bit about those exchanges, those free times, because it was either two artists or two friends talking, that... you know, how did that happen, or to what extent were those together?

TUNGA: I don’t know if I have any anecdotes, but it was exactly that, when... there’s that thing about being strictly an artist, you don’t really make time and say, well, now I’ll start working, I don’t work like that, I’m always working and I’m never working, I’m having fun, I’m living, and it’s from that life that comes what I do, which is the expression of that way of life, and just as this is true for me, it was for Rubens. So we had a lot of free time, because there was no free time, because we knew when we were wasting time we were actually making time working, I mean, talking, thinking, and there was also a proximity to work, showing what was being done, I mean, many of the things we showed one another or discussed never really materialized as a piece of art, it was the thought that was being build at the time, even the cute, I can tell you I was really moved when you brought that little box, because it was a typical gesture of Rubens’, arriving with a little box, showing me, and saying, it’s something I’m thinking here, and then I knew, he’d go to the third floor and show something which was a fragment, you know? That intimacy of the beginning of the surfacing, of a work, a piece, which is something to be appreciated, and I think that, back to the 70s, I think nowadays I see people who are feeling up, who are starting to do things, and who, however, are not that desperate to find a gallery, an exhibition, but they want to do, and I think that exercise I had with Rubens, and Rubens had with me, because we were friends, because we were neighbours also, and we ran into each other all the time, we were available to waste time, that’s what made that life thing viable, which is a must. No, sometimes there was nothing scheduled, I left here to go there, he was also on his way out, he’d say, what are you up to? Come over, let’s take a look at I don’t know... and hours went by, like this.

CLARA: Eating iambs?

TUNGA: Eating iambs, extremely productive, making art, thinking.

PEDRO: It’s questions like, for instance, because I’m really curious, in your territory, there, the chemist, what I follow of your work, I don’t know, since I was a kid, you know. The first time I was ever shocked by one of your pieces was when, at the Louvre, the one below the pyramid, I mean, I said, I can’t believe it. I was really young, who is that guy? I was shocked, then in Inhotim when I could see it all together, I mean, I think artists have a territory where they report to, for them... and imaginary terrotory like, of what I think that each builds their own, and sediments throughout their careers. I’d like you to go slowly, a little about that, it’s not explaining, I don’t want any explanations, but where does it come from... what is the itch, what motivates you to keep working still, for instance, and where do you report to, when you feel devoid of creativity, where do you turn to?

TUNGA: Look, I want to keep working, and I think each time is the first time, it’s always an experience... we are always starting over, we don’t retire, I mean, while there’s this restlessness, no doubt about it. And I think there are fundamental matters that populate your existence, into which you run frequently, I soon understood there was a matter that was the energy of conjunction, it’s like things, like two things, when put together, they generate a third thing which is neither in the first nor the second one, and how does that magic work? Gathering two things, which is the same magic as joining two words and creating a meaning, which cannot be translated by the first, nor the second, joining two people who don’t know each other, and suddenly they love each other and make a third one, or make a wish, that energy of conjunction I was talking about, the investigation of what is that, that’s what I think moves me, and it’s a little the question of who we are, hominids, what makes us human, what made us 15 thousand years ago, later, of 100 thousand years of animalism, where there were only gestures lost in caves, 15 thousand years ago, us going through that is called Neolithic revolution, which was when you started to instrumentalize through your hand and your thoughts, and dominating things, and creating, and making plantations, agriculture, it didn’t exist, you only harvested, and instead of hunting the animals, you put them together and had them breed, and that gave you food, and noticing that agriculture you made, the grain germinated, but the energy of conjunction was maybe a goddess of the Earth, who made that happen, and that idea of an earth goddess, it has already made us think there was a mithology, that there was an occult energy, or some tribute you could pay to that goddess, so she would make the crops good, and that’s 15 thousand years, it’s nothing, it’s very little time. And I think that trying to understand the energy of conjunction, it’s what keeps me moving, why? Because I’m able to create conjunctions, to surprise myself, all the time, not creating a new, but maybe unraveling things that weren’t... that weren’t accesible to perception, to sensation, to sight, why the new one? Why discovering things? To improve, to be more human, to widen the territory of that which is human, to feel more, to feel more intensely, to be closer to others, or to try to build something that has more harmony in that devil which is existence.

PEDRO: Something I once, in a website I was checking your work, there in Inhotim, dude, it’s exactly that, because time is an abstraction we create, the time between your idea, and those things being in the world, those objects, if you stop and think about it, it’s an abstraction, I mean, there’s the idea, and there are those shapes, and that’s what shocked me, what made me look in a way, it seems like there’s an alchemy to it, which is, you know, materializing ideas, gross ideas in some cases, I found that really interesting, the guy handles it, he can create the energy.

TUNGA: Yes, it’s a nice word. I think when you listen to music, that happens, there are musicians that come up with different tempos, I think artists do that, they are different temporalities, in that pavillon, you’re walking, suddenly you... the future seems to be in the past, the past is in the present, and things move within time, not the same way as we walk down the street, and know that from here to there it will take, I mean, that time is in suspension, that effect, let’s put it like this, it’s the ability to use energies, in a way, with certain harmonies, and they leave things suspended, and I think that’s the music of things, being able to listen to the music of things, being able to put something next to the other, which has nothing to do with it, and all of a sudden it does, and it produces a third thing, for instance, I think you’re right.


"The hippies turned yuppies and went to Wall Street, there broke an anti-capitalist current that was the design of the moment." Jards Macalé