Your work is about the deconstruction of pre-established norms.
Exactly! But how am I supposed to criticize something if I don’t contextualize? How am I supposed to tell you something about body discipline if I come from a privileged, white, middle-class, Brazilian family? Who am I to talk about the body that suffers? I can share stories about being bullied for my physical appearance. But I didn’t live on the street, I don’t come from the favelas. The struggle I have with my body is very personal. And if I want to debate it on a theoretical or artistic level, I think I don’t have the authority to do so, unless I contextualize it.
I can also address the migrant body, but do so in terms of space. I’ll talk about being a migrant living in Vienna and all the other struggles that we have to go through. But if I compare myself to every other human being coming here to seek for asylum, I consider myself to be very privileged. Do I have the right to talk about migration? Who has the authority to talk in the name of other people anyways? For me it was important to go through a process of understanding and debating these things but at the end of the day, I obviously confronted myself with my own body.
In ‘Queer Way’, you didn’t use any of these tools. Did people react differently to this performance compared to the one in 2008?
When I stopped with body modification, people were confused. They didn’t associate my newer works with what I used to do. I like to play with these expectations and especially with their withdrawal. People come to a performance expecting something and are therefore exposing their desires. At first noone wants to see blood but at the end of the day, if there’s no blood, everyone is disappointed. This pleasure they got from me getting hurt made me realize that I don’t even need to visualize the pain - it’s already there.
But exposing your body is really intense, too. I was cut open and I literally felt I was exposing myself too much. It’s less about the pain in terms of exhaustion because as long there is a body, there’s going to be pain. In ‘Queer Way’ I used architecture instead of my body but it’s the same concept. First I stage discipline and then I set it free with the feminist gesture.
You have a strong connection to the Philippines, can you tell us about your project over there?
Yes, I’m offering an artist residence on Siargao Island. It’s called Tracing New Ways and we’re giving people a space to make art. It’s about others, not myself. That was also a topic in my dissertation. Artists talk so much about social space and architecture, but building a real house for someone else is just an amazing experience.
What we need is someone who is enthusiastic. We need help.
How do you select the most eligible candidate for the program?
I’m not doing it myself. It’s a jury of three experts and they will be choosing the person. First of all, it’s important that the candidate can afford the ticket. I’m offering the house, my experience and everything else.
I gave up my own apartment to do this – that’s why I’m really passionate about it. I’m hoping that there is someone out there who believes in my project and can afford a ticket to go there. That’s the first prerequisite.
The second would be that the person has a minimum of two years experience in the field. We can’t have thousands of people applying.
And above all, my biggest wish would be that the person wants to contribute something to the community - whatever it is. We have over 4000 square meters of space so they can leave a sculpture, photograph or any kind of artwork. It’s so cheap to produce art there and the community can really profit from it.
Besides this project, do you often work with other artists?
Yes, but I call it collaborating instead of working. Especially in the art scene, people often say that somebody executes something for them. They see it as a service. Let’s take photographers for example. Sometimes you take pictures for an artist and it’s just a job. For me it’s a collaboration. I could not do this without them. And I know that they couldn’t to it without me either - I think that’s beautiful.