Luiza Baldan in conversation with Luiz Camillo Osorio

In an exclusive interview, Luiz Camillo Osorio, Curator of PIPA Institute, spoke to Luiza Baldan, PIPA 2016 finalist, about the development of her artistic career, the processes by which she inserted herself in the art world and how architecture and nature play exclusive roles in her works.

Read below the exclusive interview here on PIPA’s website:

Luiza Baldan in conversation with Luiz Camillo Osorio

1 – Luiza, I wanted to know a little about your training. Was it in the field of photography? Talk a little bit about the process by which you inserted yourself into the art world – was it through salons, galleries, group exhibitions?

Even though I attended 8 different educational institutions, including secondary school and middle school, my contact with artistic theory or practice was never encouraged, except in literature classes, I would say. When I was 17, I took the entrance exam to study social sciences at the State University of Rio de Janeiro (UERJ) because I wanted to be a visual anthropologist. At the time, I was doing in internship at TV Comunitária and on a newspaper about dance. After a year and a half of being totally unstimulated, at a university I hated, I accepted an invitation from my brother to study in Miami. I took classes in different subjects, initially concentrating on literature, but finally graduating in visual arts (with a focus on photography and time-based media, and specialization in the history of art). In parallel, I worked at a photographic laboratory and a museum. Afterwards I moved to Barcelona and started to work for art galleries as well. The first exhibitions that I took part in or worked on, in addition to my contact with other artists, took place outside Brazil. I returned to Rio in 2005, where I initially worked for an art gallery and as a cultural producer, and I only timidly entered the art circuit as an artist in 2007. I took part in some salons and bidding processes before embarking on a master’s degree at the Fine Arts School of UFRJ (EBA/UFRJ) in 2008, when I began to work full time on my research as an artist and as a teacher. In October, I will share a course on Anthropology and Art with Barbara Copque, at the Casa França Brasil institute, so I can see how paths end up crossing somehow, and that at 17 years old I wasn’t as lost as I thought I was.

2 – Your relationship with architecture is recurrent, especially with Reidy. Sometimes when considering your relationship with architecture, I can see your interest derives from what remains of the process of habitation, from the presence inscribed into a place. At other times, I feel that your interest is in the emptiness, what is left over or escapes architecture or construction. Does this impression make sense? Are they compatible? Where does this interest in architecture come from?

I began to explore these issues in my master’s degree. My dissertation was entitled, “Places that inhabit places”, where I described the spaces/environments/architecture that I had experienced in my childhood as imagetic drivers of my work. In the recent project Perabé (which will form part of the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art – MAM) I begin the text with a phrase inspired by Benjamin and Calvino, “one city helps to read another city”. As I had moved house and from city to city many times in my childhood, the way I familiarized myself with unfamiliar places always happened by association. The same thing happened on returning, as most of the time places remain while people move on. Architecture represents this structure that remains, that houses, that stores time and history, and that provides the setting for digressions, questioning, delirium, conflicts etc. A lot of the work comes from observing the interactions between spaces and things, between sound and ambient light, as they are found. I am not interested in fabricating a scene so that it is interesting as an image. The work is the consequence of my experience at that time in contact with that place.

3 – Nature also plays a role in your work. And my impression is that you have a more ceremonious relationship with it; it enters your work as if asking permission. There is no exuberance; it is contained. Sometimes, as in De murundus e fronteiras it is what is left of the city, it is ruin and imminent catastrophe, at the same time that it carries a certain mystery. Is there a place, a question regarding nature in your work?

Nature makes me question human relationships, including the I and the other. What I said before about architecture also applies to nature. But this ceremony to which you refer, I would say that it comes from a greater, more profound respect. Nature is what persists, despite everything. It is the ancestral, the oracle, the unquestionable, the uncontrollable, the experience of maximum silence, of wonder … My most immersive and long-lasting projects are those that deal directly with crossing landscapes, with the experience of questioning, of remaining silent and listening, of feeling fulfilled and insignificant at the same time. In urban situations, I feel that our human scale, when not standardized, seeks to be [so] insistently, which is exhausting and can be highly predictable.

4 – The modernity that appears in your photographs is a portrait on the wall, which is to say, it is the past. Your attitude to the world is modern; it separates rather than mixes things. What is the future of modernity in Brazil today?

In my view, the work highlights and approximates at the same time. I remember with affection the photographic paper of my project at Pedregulho (2009); the curiosity of the neighbours regarding the act of taking photographs and the joy of receiving the images made both by me and them; the recognition and appreciation of that modern architecture through the medium of photography. A project that requires being and coexistence, can begin in separation but it does not end without becoming mixed up. Photography can maintain a distance in its formal aspects, but it is contaminated by that experience, which becomes clearer in the texts, where narratives and confabulations are mixed together in the first person. The modern plan for living, even as heritage and monument, has also been contaminated and has had to adapt to the habits and needs of its inhabitants over the years. It is a living relationship.

5 – What place does poetry occupy in your work?

Poetry is what allows me to work on solid and all too real foundations. My pretexts for beginning a project are founded on history, geography, architecture and urbanism. Poetry is evasion; it is what allows me to invent stories; it is what escapes and transforms.

6 – If you had to choose an artist or musician to appear with your work in an exhibition, who would it be?
I can think of several… It could be a curator, haha. Thiago Rocha Pitta and Dorival Caymmi; Gisele Camargo and Caetano Veloso; Maria Laet and Juçara Marçal; Marcos Chaves and Tom Zé. The list goes on.

View works by the artist:

Watch videos by the artist:

“Suave”, 2012. Duration: 11’53”

“Petricor”, 2011. Duration: 04’56”

“De murunduns e fronteiras”, 2010. Duration: 04’12”

Access the artist’s page to learn more about her career, view images of works and watch exclusive video interviews. 

About the author

Luiz Camillo Osorio is the Curator of PIPA Institute, PIPA’s founder and Board Member. He is a Professor and current Director of the Philosophy Department at PUC-Rio. Camillo was the Curator of MAM-Rio between 2009 and 2015.

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