FR: When did you know that you want to become an artist. Was there a specific entry point?
MC: My friends from school were going to the beach on the vacation. My family never went to the beach and I started hanging out on the streets of SP with my skateboard. Between my house and downtown I perceived a lot of social disruption. Problems that I didn't perceive in my private school. After the experiment with the skateboard in the 90s, I became very interested in graffiti. I started to go to trainlines, to paint trains, metro, etc.
I can say that this interest in graffiti was my first interest in art. Later in the artschool I was introduced to art from the 70s, performance art, urban actions, and interventions in the city. I became interested in the actions of Cildo Meireles and Helio Oiticica. I started to perceive that my actions in the street were very political and I was wondering how my actions could be political without using the aesthetics of graffiti.(…)
FR: You currently have a show at Galeria Vermelho. Can you tell me something about your displayed works, your ideas and about the title „Quase Nada (almost nothing)“.
MC: Just like in all my previous exhibitions the title „Quase nada (almost nothing)“ results out of a process that starts in the streets. (…) In my last exhibition at Vermelho, the title „Avant-Gard is not dead“ was related to the idea of avant garde and punk. With the title of the current show, I relate indirect to a work by Helio Oiticica called „Almost cinema“. It's a series of films where he contructs a movie by projecting stills in a fast sequence.
The reference to brasilian modernism is much more conceptual. It relates to a certain attitude. If you take out all the formal aspects of their works, you can perceive a very social motivation to lead life in a different way. This aspect is often forgotten. (…) I try to be subversive while relating to brasilian modernism with almost no forms / works in this exhibition.
...e agora, José? [...And now, José?] (2012) Acrílica e madeira/ acrilic on wood 350 x 500 x 200 cm
Last year I found a book with fotos of the construction of Brasilia. The first page showed a bilboard, that seemed very bizar to me. I was intruiged by it, since it showed Marshal Henrique Teixeira Lott’s campaign for the Brazilian presidency, in 1960. It was the first democratic campaign after the dictatorship. Nevertheless, the panel presents the candidate wearing his military uniform beside Juscelino Kubitschek dressed as Borba Gato.
I wanted to paint it and used the B&W photography as a reference. I wanted to emphasize that this is something from the past so I rearranged the panels like a puzzle on the backside of the billboard. In Brasil it's quite common to reuse panels of old billboards in that way for new propaganda.
The title „...e agora, José“ is a reference to the the title of a poetry book by Carlos Drummond de Andrade, who was part of the modernist literature movement. (...)
Adição por subtração [Addition by Subtraction] (2012) Vidro/glass/150x 300x20cm
The work „Addition by substraction“ relates to the work „Intra murus“ that I showed in the SP Biennale in 2006. I was interested in the idea of displacement between the private and the public space. In my newest work I wanted to pursue this idea by determining an area with glass fragments in a white cube situation. By protecting this area, I create a kind of value concept although the inside and the outside are equal.
Besides that I start a dialog with the idea of architecture. (...) It refers not only to a frame, but also to a window. Here the windowglass fragments are comming out of the wall and do not evoke the feeling of protection but of aggresion. This confrontation interested me.
FR: The spikes on top of the black gallerywall recalled your work „Addition by substraction„ while I was leaving the gallery. Is there an intentional relation between the architecture of the gallery and this work?
MC: No, not only the gallery has spikes; you can find them all around SP. They are meant to protect people in their houses, but in fact it only increases the violence problems in posh neighbourhoods.
So when I show them inside the gallery, I create a confrontation with people that live behind spike surrounded walls. People who come to the gallery expect to see something beautiful. But exactly the opposite happens. They are confronted with a memory of their own surrounding. (…) My idea of bringing the SP problems inside the gallery is to remind the people who buy art that art can be a problem. And for me art becomes interesting when it creates a problem.
FR: You generate works between art and society, between public space and studio practice. How would you frame the formal vocabulary of your work? Do you use both the aesthetics of the streets and the artcontext?
MC: For me the aesthetic results out of the conceptual preoccupation.
I think much more about concepts and how I can realise this concept. The aesthetic question comes after that. All the time. (...)
FR: In the beginning of the interview you told me that you like brasilian modernism and that you often relate to their formal aspects by appropriating certain forms.
MC: Yes, off course I have my tastes, but I don't want to be misunderstood when I talk about forms. Because I think modernism is often misunderstood. People tend to forget about the concepts of the so called avant garde and only focus on the formal aspects. I think it is important to find a balance between concept and form. Because if there is no form, you're gonna talk about philosophy. Not about art.
FR: You do not only gain inspiration and material from public space, but you mostly intervene. What is it exactly that interests you about intervening in public space?
MC: It's part of my daily life. (…) I think the idea of intervention is for me much more related to the use of the city and its public spaces. In SP we don't really have public spaces, like you have in Europe. Europeans use the public space in a fantastic way, because they don't have enough space. Here we have a lot of space but we are not using it in a good way.
The idea of intervention is a way of reclaiming the streets. I started with this while I was hanging around in the streets. There were a lot of problems and I wanted to change it a little bit. I tried to do something through intervention.
FR: How important is the city SP for you since you are a real Paulista? Is your work very city related or could you make the same work if you were living for instance in Manaus.
MC: I live in a metropolis and some problems that I perceive here, are almost the same as in London, New York or Paris. Off course I can deal with some „Paulista“ questions, but when I'm abroad I see that these problems are not necessarily bound to SP, but are a result of metropolises.
And for sure, when I would have grown up in Manaus or Bahia, I would perceive the world around me in a different way. I think to understand the artist today, it is very important to consider his or her environment.
FR: While questioning the social system and its political structures, do you feel a kind of responsability towards society as an artist? Especially in a city like SP where the difference between poor and rich is so obvious.
MC: I think my preoccupation is much more to be a good citizin and to have ethics. In this country, ethics is a very good value. We had a lot of corruption during the past and due to that I think its important to have a good and honest behaviour.
While being ethical and respectfull in my daily life, I think my work is also gonna be ok. If I would be a shitty guy, then my work would probably be the same.