Daniel Beerstecher is the third guest of this new Institute and PIPA Prize project, “Closer to PIPA: the artist speaks in the Institute collection”. Every fifteen days we select an art piece that was acquired by the Institute and ask the artist to talk a little bit about the work: be it the creative process; the ideia behind the piece; how it connects with the artist’s production; or any other aspect the person would like to share. The goal is to bring the audience closer to the artist’s universe and to the “Displacement” collection by PIPA Institute, which was established in 2010 to support, help document and promote the development of Brazilian Contemporary Art, and which has the Prize as one of its initiatives.
Beerstecher’s work, whether in video, photographic, installation, or object form, has as its starting point collage. He associates environments with objects displaced from their original, predictable contexts, and thus builds new layers of meaning by exploring the absurd. Beerstecher lived several years in Brazil; when he developed projects that combined his interest in nature with insights from experiences in metropolises such as Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
The work we chose for “Closer to PIPA” is “Liberation 4.0”, 2018, video 8′. Two drones dance in the skies above Rio de Janeiro. Each has a birdcage (with a living bird inside) attached to it. They circle around and fly side by side, taunt each other, bump into each other and find each other once again. But don’t be fooled by the tropical dream this strange pas-de-deux seems to suggest: the cages are there to remind us that, for the birds forced to follow the dance steps, actual freedom is not a possibility. The project deals with the problem of the technical evolution in the era of advanced digital interconnectedness (also known as Industry 4.0), and the matters of individual freedom and self-determination are at the center of the work.
Some questions raised by the artist for the project were: “Who actually makes decisions in a world where machines communicate with each other? On what basis and in whose terms? How ‘smart’ is Big Data? What is the role of empathy in the context of technical developments and autonomous communication? Where in this world of automation and algorithms does the human being ultimately have its place?”.
PIPA Institute contributed with an initial funding, besides acquiring a series of collages, in this way helping with production costs. This commissioning by PIPA Institute was the beginning of its partnership with PIPA Prize nominees to help original art projects come to life. Since the project was complex in its making, involving a number of technical and artistic professionals to be produced, besides the established partnership with PIPA Institute, the artist also called on the audience via Kickstarter – a crowdfunding website – to raise the rest of the artwork budget (check out here the project’s complete presentation on the platform). Thanks to the public’s help, the estimated amount to finance the project was not only achieved, but also exceeded, and the supporters received rewards ranging from postcards featuring stills from the video to the very drones used in the production.
At the time of the project’s development, in 2017, PIPA Institute’s curator, Luiz Camillo Osorio, commented on the artwork’s concept:
“Daniel Beerstecher’s work is always challenging social conventions and dealing with the uncanny. In a very subtle and serene way, his performances and poetical proposals are changing the parameters in which we approach reality. Liberation 4.0 is about a city and a paradox: beauty and horror; liberty and imprisonment; technology, power and destruction. Once again the uncanny: enjoy and take care”.
Check out bellow the reflection the artist sent us about the work and a video still:
“My work is connected to traveling, to my journeys around the world and to the question: where does freedom live? I’ve visited many cities and countries and I can say without fear of being wrong that Rio de Janeiro is one of the most impressive, beautiful, but also contradictory cities that I’ve seen.
In Liberation 4.0, two drones fly like birds in love and do their courtship up in the air. They choreograph a romantic dance. The sky, the music and the breathtaking view of the marvelous city are enchanting. The landscape provides to the viewer a feeling of calm, freedom, vacation and entertainment.
The images prove to be, however, romanticized, ambivalent. The drones carry caged birds. Is freedom just an apparently tangible ideal?”
Visualize, clicking on the images to expand, the collages acquired by PIPA Institute:
To know more about the PIPA Institute collection, visit the Institute’s website here.
In every edition of the Prize, the participating artists are invited to record exclusive video interviews, an opportunity for artists to voice their ideas, talk about their creative processes and careers. Watch here an interview with Daniel Beerstecher in 2016.
Check out bellow, as well, drafts for the making of the video: