The art of Fernando Carpaneda
I recently recieved this interview with the attached note. Though I know nothing about Fernando Carpaneda, I decided to put it online along with some of the less explicit images. Hope you'll learn something from it too!
I'm a fan of the underground gay artist Fernando Carpaneda. I attached an interview with him below (Scroll Down). It critiques Fernando's artshow at CB`s Gallery, CBGB in New York City. Fernando's work was displayed with famous artists: Billy Name, Roberta Bayley, Mick Rock and Walter Steding. Now Fernando Carpaneda's sculptures are displayed in the permanent collection of the Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation in NYC.
|A.D - Your work seems to be much inspired by the "loser"
figure. What fascinates you about this attitude?
F.C - I dont consider prostitutes, drags, junkies, punks or homeless people as losers. On the contrary, they are honest with their attitude and have to courage to show their real face. They do what they like. They, the same way as me, do not belong to the mediocre kind of people who only want to see our negative side. We admit publicly our conditions and points of view, and this displeases many people.
A.D - Many of your sculptures depict rockstars like Iggy Pop, Dee Dee Ramone etc. Has your artistic background been influenced by some particular music scene?
F.C - Punk
A.D - In your biography your often refer to the XVII century, which makes us curious about your artistic formation. Are you an autodidact or do you come from some Arts school?
F.C - I am autodidact, I always liked to study and research about art, its history and tendencies. I also have many friends from the academic scene in Brazil, the US and UK. I do have a natural talent for the arts, and did not bother to get into academy to learn art techniques and history, the same way I have no difficulty in learning to write and speak new languages.
A.D - Has the fact that you lived the same experience and lifestyle of the people you depict helped you giving your sculptures more "sense of reality"?
F.C - To better understand a certain reality nothing better than making part of it.
A.D - When did you find out you were gay, and how did you face it?
F.C - That was never an option, I was born gay. For me this is genetic, just like having blue or brown eyes. I could be born a hetero but I was born gay, its as simple as that. And I Iove it. And I am proud of it. I never had problem dealing with that.
A.D - Is there a queer scene in Brazil (bands, places, fanzines, distributors etc)?
F.C - Yes, there is a queer scene in Brazil, especially in the large urban centres like Sao Paulo, Brazils largest city. There are gay clubs like "A Loca". Theres also zines like Grindzine. There are also publications like "G Magazine" and "Mix Brasil". The musical scene is a bit weak. There is not a specialized segment. There are, on the other hand, a lot of pop singers that are assumedly gay, both man and woman, and they enjoy a lot of of success in Brazil.
A.D - Going through the list of your exhibitions, we realized that since 2001 all of them have been in the States: have you moved there?
F.C - I dont live in any specific country. I have a house in Brazil and share and apartments both in NY and London with friends. As I am always traveling I cant have a fixed place to settle. And I also have to spend a lot of my time in the streets with together with the people I depict.
A.D - We know you also work with video. Can you please tell us about it?
F.C - I have a bunch of works in video from the time when I was part of a performance group in Brasilia. We presented on the streets, on art gallery windows and other places. We filmed and presented these videos on a couple of events.
A.D - Your works mainly show borderline people, life on the fringe of society, with all the troubles and possible negative aspects that it involves. Have you ever wondered if your art, but also art in general, can be a conductor of positive messages too?
F.C - When you depict the "negative" sides of life you are acting positively because you make people question their own lives and ask themselves if their own actions are not taken sensibly in such a depressing world as ours is.
A.D - Have you ever had censorship problems with galleries for your sexually explicit sculptures?
F.C - Most Brazilian gallery owners and curators are homophobic and are declaredly afraid of gay people. The public institutions, on the other hand, have been much more tolerant, even supporting some of my events. On the US and UK I never had problems with that.
A.D - What kind of people buy your artworks?
F.C - All kinds of people. Government workers like policeman and politics are normal in a capital city like Brasilia as well as go-go boys or friends with whom I exchange my work. There is not a clear public, it is very diverse.
A.D - Is it true that you often use for your sculptures personal objects belonging to the people you depict or to you? Why this choice?
F.C - Yes. I always used personal objects from the people I pictured. Like when Joey Ramone died I was presenting in the CBs Gallery - CBGBs and collected some of the objects his fans left on the sidewalk in front of the club, like a kind of altar or mausoleum. I used these objects as base for his sculptures and gave then to Arturo Vega. Another example was during the Bowery Electric Festival where I collected beer cans used by Jerry Only and Dez Cadena. Now I am using these objects as a base for sculpture I am making of the guys. I think it is important to use objects that made part of the figured persons reality. When I used sperm of my boyfriend Matt I was preserving a moment of love. It was a nude of him made of clay. Mythically mankind came from clay as man comes from semen. I also made an image of Yolanda, a drag queen and vocalist of Yolanda and the plastic family using objects I collected during their presentation at the Homocorps festival at the CBGBs. I am giving these specific examples also as an answer to your first question about "losers" I picture.
More info at:
Fernando Carpaneda: http://www.corpos.org/fernandocarpaneda
Andy Warhol Stars: http://www.warholstars.org/news/march052.html
The Leslie Lohman Gay Art Foundation: http://www.leslielohman.org/newsletter/No17/recentacquisitions.htm
JOSH WERTHEIMER WEB SITE: http://www.joshwertheimer.com/main/Back_to_the_Bowery_.html
Talk about this interview on the R*E*P*E*A*T message board here
Lucy: 'Taxidermy' and 'Drink Me' are quite drastically different in their
styles, so what kind of sound can we expect from the 3rd album?
KJG: We don't know yet. We're playing a lot of new material tonight so you'll be able to judge that for yourself. When I'm this close up to it, it's really difficult to tell. I'm on a bit of a negative slant today, but usually with our music I can only hear the bits that have gone wrong rather
than anything that went right. When you reflect back on something it's very difficult to give an objective opinion, and I don't believe in objectivity anyway, I think everything's subjective. I just throw a deck of cards and
wherever they land, that's where she finds herself. I'm not really the one to explain my part in it, you must do that as the observer really, and of course that will reflect your part in the grand scheme of things.
Lucy: Do you enjoy playing live more than the creative process in the studio?
KJG: (Laughs) I don't enjoy any of it. It comes and it goes, ok? There's nothing like when you're writing and you manage to catch something by its
tail; when you're looking for those things underground that are skittering out of sight just when you're about to catch them. And when you catch them it is worth it, but it's a momentary pleasure. I've got so much noise upstairs, and I can hear things in my head that to me are absolutely devastatingly beautiful. I'm always trying to download them and get them
here, but they never get here in the right state, they're always very disabled and they don't even begin to imitate what I can hear in my head.
It's a frustrating process in the main.
Lucy: Your lyrics are simultaneously emotionally expressive and cryptic. Are you looking to be understood by your audience?
KJG: I'm always trying to understand myself, but it's like there's a point in the centre of the room, and there's a hundred windows to look at the same point from. All I can do is give you different angles on the same thing. God, you know, if I could find one conclusive thing in anything I would probably have something to put an anchor down on. But I cant, and I haven't met anyone that can. You can pick out anything you like in my lyrics, I don't seek to be cryptic. I love words for the sake of words, for me they're kind of free standing, and they don't really need to be explained. I think every word has its own character and colour and picture and the result you get with lyrics just depends how you put them together. You could just do it in a William Burroughs esque way, or throw the deck of cards, and you'd probably still find something that our tiny little minds would latch on to in order to gain some kind of emotional understanding. I don't think there's a constant, the only constant that there is for me is that there is no constant. I use myself as my canvas, I gut myself and fillet myself the whole fucking time, I'm always hooking myself out of the water, I'm always cutting my own head off and disembowelling myself, and as you can probably tell I'm quite angry about it at the moment. I'm very tired of it all, of my
process and how I find life, because it always seems to be about living and dying all in one breath. I'm getting pretty fucking tired of that.
Lucy: Do you think drugs stimulate or hinder creativity?
KJG: Well that depends on the drug, because I think most things arrive in the form of a drug really. I know in myself that if anything I am, much to my greater expense, an adrenalin junkie. My synapses don't work well enough to put pills in my mouth, I can't do that, despite popular opinion. I don't need any help breaking down, put it that way. There's not much holding it
together. If there was a drug that could put aline between two polar opposites and make them in to one thing I'm sure I would have it
intravenous, but I haven't found it. I think drugscan be a bit of a lazy way for creativity anyway, you're better off in the cold light of day in the mirror.
Lucy: As a band, you are distinguished by the extreme physicality of your
live performances. Do you consciously make an effort to put on a show or do
your performances just naturally come to you, and whatever happens, happens?
KJG: It's a bit of both, because you see, I think taking the stage is one of the most unnatural things anyone can do. In a way, just walking on stage actually creates an altered state - its not right, no one's meant to do that, unless you're a priest or a magician, or something like that. To put somebody who's very incapable in many ways in to that position creates a combustion reaction inside me. I know that, and I take the stage knowing that. Obviously there's all the usual things that affect my performance; if I'm on my 45th day of a tour I'm probably gonna be pretty fucking tired, so I'll be dictated by that. If I'm doing new material like tonight I don't
know what's going to happen, because we haven't built the train tracks yet. The beauty of playing live is when my drummer goes in to 5th gear or in to 10th gear, and for some reason there's something that hits me in the base of the spine and I'm gone, and that's Halleluiah for me. During the last few months a lot of strange things have been happening onstage, I think the process is changing. I don't know what's going to happen tonight, I've been having quite a tough time on stage, I feel like something's pulling me under, as if something's got me.
Lucy: So does the crowd influence your performances on stage?
KJG: Yes they do. I'm unkind enough to be pretty impersonal about how I do it, so I use them for me to kick against in effect, or to surf on, (I don't
mean physically surf). If you're in an empty roomand there's a couple of people at the back, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a bad show -
they might get the show of their lives. And then again when something's really heaving and going off, I get quite a distorted view of it, because I
can feel quite overwhelmed lose my sense of place in the situation. I lose control of myself. I don't know, I probably wasn't meant to do this, I
wasn't built for this. It wasn't a career option, I didn't start there and go there, I didn't pick up the things on the way. I've sort of gone round
Lucy: As the lead singer of the band, most media interest is focused on you.
Do you feel pressurised by your position or do you enjoy being the centre
KJG: I've been here on this wheel long enough,(and I say this with a little bit of trepidation because I think you have to be really careful with this kind of thing, because the motivation to do it in itself I think is usually pretty corrupt) I'm not doing it for anyone else, I need a cheque through the door like anybody else does, you have to keep eating, you have to keep living. I'm looking for some sense of going home on my own terms, and people's critique of me is not relevant, whether it's positive of negative.
I do need a cheque through the door though, otherwise I'll have to go and be a butcher or something.
Lucy: What is the religious meaning behind the song "For I am the way"?
KJG: If you use the word religion in its truest sense, all it means is communion, it hasn't got any of the attachments to any written word. My
understanding of the word communion is loss of the sense. Another way of looking at it is you've got to get in to get out, and the only thing that I
know to be true is me, is this tiny little dot in the centre of the universe. It's the only thing that I know feels pain; I can see other people's pain and I can feel it in an emotional way, but not in a physical way. I find myself in the unfortunate position of feeling like I am the
centre of the universe and that everything is a projection, made by me - i.e. you two don't exist, you're something that I created. I don't wish that
sense upon anybody because it's not a good one. Through 'For I am the way' I'm saying that you've got to get in, because the only thing one knows to be true is oneself. And on a good day, if you stand on top of a mountain or go to the desert or stand in the ocean, and become completely inconsequential, linear time stops and you become everything and nothing. That for me is
communion, that's how I define religion. I thinkthere's a line in there which goes "Today the only bridge I have I burn" which sums it up really, because it is about cutting all lines of communication in order to really truly commune.
Lucy: Do you think that in the future your creativity will move from the sphere of music in to literature for example?
KJG: It's real hard to say. In a way, that sounds like a much easier life. But for all I know I'm deluding myself. I'm looking for someone to help me frame something at the moment, and someone is actually, someone's being really good to me. I would love to write, but I don't know if I'm good
enough to do it.