FR: Your work consists of Performances, Videos, Installations and often involves a strong body involvement. Was there a crucial moment that triggered you to become a performative artist?
MI: Yes, when I started building up my artistic view, I was always intrigued by how art can affect both the viewer and the artist and how art objects can act between those two extremities. At that time I was very disappointed about art. I was thinking that my thoughts will never reach the viewer properly through my artwork and the viewer will never be able to respond to me properly through an object. I started thinking that the best way to do that is to be there with the public. I got to know Chris Burden, Marina Abramovic, all those big performance artists from the 60 & 70s and I decided to do that myself. (...)
I think body is language. Just like you can push language to poetry or to its limits, you can push body language to that extreme. By this I don't mean challenging my own body to an extreme but to show the artist as someone who is not empowered. To break this power play between the artist and the public and expose myself in this limited situation just to break these hierarchies. Its like humanizing the artist through an extreme situation.
FR: How do you visualize and conceive your work?
MI: I see my work as a book, and each work is a bit like a chapter. I'm interested in the relationship between the artist and the public through language. Besides that, I want to question language itself, be it artistic language, verbal language, or body language. I want to see how this socially functions in an artistic context.
"Zona Morta / Dead Zone" 2007
FR: The work “Zona Morta“ or your latest performance “Not no“ that you presented at „Arti et Amiticiae“ in Amsterdam can be described as actions that last a certain amount of time. How do physical and mental limits influence the way you approach, conceive and interact with your work.
MI: (…) When I think of a work or a performance, I never think it would be impossible for me to handle it. I just dive into it. I never rehearse for example. It's just like: lets go! It's like a break in my daily life. I want to experience something new, just like the public. So when the public gets inside a room, sees a performance or an artwork, its an experience and I want to have this fresh feeling for me too. I do not get prepared for a performance through concentration or meditation, but it does affect me mentally.
FR: And in what way does it affect you mentally?
MI: My performances are always a life experience. Actually one performance changed my life personally. It was during the Sao Paulo Biennial in 2008 where I stayed 15 days in the biennial building, living there in silence. I got in there totally naked. I didn't have any possession, anything to eat. I only depended on public donations. Being naked in the biennial building was very extreme for me to start with. (...)The public was very receptive to that performance but at the same time they were very demanding. (...) One of the laws of the performance was: Don't judge! I had to consume everything. So I had to wear all the clothes, eat all the food, etc. It was very extreme. It was not only physically but mentally and emotionally demanding. I basically had to forget myself. I was a mirror of the public, I was them being totally absorbed. For almost a year I was traumatized by the exposure in the exhibition, the availability and these negotiations with the public. I do think it was a life-changing experience.
"Untitled (the kindness of strangers)", 2008. Image by Amílcar Packer.
FR: You perform alone or in collaboration, but never instruct others to accomplish a performance for you. Which roll plays your own body/presence in your work?
MI: In my performance works, I generally question the relationship and communication between the artist and the public. So it has to be me, otherwise it would be fake. I'm not trying to say that it has to be authentic, because it never is. It's always mediated and within a context. But, since I'm posing a question and looking for an answer, I think it has to be me. (...)
How do you relate to things that exist but can not be put into words? They're purely abstract entities that can not be touched. They are real; they are between relationships; they are within us, and I kind of want to expose them. I want to deal with them.
FR: Formal aspects of Language and Communication seem to play an important roll in your installations. Which exploration interests you there?
MI: As I said before, there is that philosophical questioning of language that interest me. I'm very fond of how Derrida, Wittgenstein and Heidegger approach philosophy or a philosophical text. They try to explore and deconstruct a single word and see where each part comes from. They try to rethink the world through the meaning of a specific word. (...)
But then it gets to a point where language becomes all abstract to someone who is not into philosophy. It becomes useless and touches that unspeakable part of language which is very important. So I like to think about that. I think a lot about poetry, especially about modern or contemporary poetry. Stéphane Mallarmé or the Brazilian Concretists for instance, thought visually about poetry and exposed the words in the pages almost like a drawing (…) I'm interested in the physical and emotional aspects of language. I like to remove the words from the book, think about them spatially and dissociate them from there source object. (…)
"Salvo o Nome", soloshow, 2010
Image by Edouard Fraipont
Image by Edouard Fraipont
FR: Are there any artists that play an example role in your work and remain important for you?
MI: Yeah, definitely, even though I don't see them so clearly in my work. I do think that Bas Jan Ader remained important to me since art school. What I like about his work is this simplicity and extreme conceptualism with a very emotional input.(...)
Joseph Beuys' way of thinking was always a huge influence and then of course Marina Abramovic, Chris Burden and Marcel Broodthaers. They made me think of performance.
FR: Performances are always bound to a specific situation and thus have an ephemeral character. How do you deal with its documentation and in which way do you integrate it into your installation based work?
MI: That's a very good question because I'm thinking a lot about that. In my next show I'm going to show some performance documents for the first time. I usually don't see these documents as an artwork itself. I don't think a photograph or a text that you read during the performance should go to an exhibition. But I did two performances in 2010, and 2011, that left very interesting documents. (...)
A t-shirt and a book were leftovers of the performance “The writing“. They made me think about how the documentation can be important or have autonomy from the performance. (...)