I met Frederico few years ago thorough a social website and I found out that we had many interests in common. I went to visit him in Brixton at his studio where he lives with few more interesting guys. Three large photographs were waiting for me in the living room of a neutral and newly decorated and very big house. To me the three images had the power to put things in another perspective. There were three different environments but the message was kind of similar: There is always another angle we can look at things and it always adds value to our life.
There was a zoo cage with no animals, and two museum storages. The zoo cage and the storage room was the subject of the observation. Frederico told me he took the pictures travelling in China.
The artworks in the museum storage didn’t seem to represents the value of artwork as it would in a museum display. There was little meaning in those artworks piled in the storage. It made me think about the meaning of very expensive artworks when not exhibited in a museum or in the main room of a house. It has little meaning other than an idea: a promise of a show. The image brings you into another dimension, it was for me a reflection on reality.
FC: “Zoo cages and Museums storage are spaces that are outside classification, these are spaces that are a collection of different background aspects that the French philosopher Michael Foucault called Heterotopia: spaces that collects objects and living beings coming from elsewhere; - for example, museums and libraries have become heterotopias in which time never stops building up and topping its own summit, whereas in the seventeenth century, even at the end of the century, museums and libraries were the expression of an individual choice. By contrast, the idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project of organizing in this way a sort of perpetual and indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place, this whole idea belongs to our modernity. The museum and the library are heterotopias that are proper to western culture of the nineteenth century.”
WAM: is there more than one heterotopias in you zoo cages then?
FC: “Zoo cages and zoo they have more than one aspects of heterotopias, it has a garden aspect, it is a collection of different part - plants - of the world that normally do not live together, it is also a prison; the zoo project aggregate this, all kind of heterotopias. It is an ambiguous concept: you need the zoo to protect the animals but at the same time it’s a prison.
WAM: and museums storages? I would be thrilled to be in one and get lost among expensive artworks.
FC: Artworks outside their exhibition spaces have different meanings, they change their function and they don’t send the same message. It depends from the environment they are placed. Artworks that are not in an exhibition do not exist, in a way. In storage they assume other meanings. Photographs have the power to transport places into other location and give it a different perspective. The zoo is somewhere in the outskirt of a town but you will look at the picture in your studio or in your dining room, not in the zoo. When you see a zoo cages in a zoo you are looking for animals not at the cages. The viewers need the image to see the cages rather than the animals. The viewer needs an intermediate to be able to see what’s there.
These images bring out awareness. In this sense, whatever project I am working, the theme is how people see things and I make it see it differently. Antonioni’s “Blow up” has a strong reference to this work. It changes the way you see at situations and makes you find out another reality, a hidden truth that lies behind. This is the fascinating work of documenting and discovering with a photograph.
WAM: Frederico’s green tea and apricot cake with ice cream was a delicious heterotopias I didn’t photographed but enjoyed with my mouth thoroughly.
Ningen is a Japanese word that means human beings and in Japanese sounds like nobody (ninguem) in Portuguese.
One hundred years ago, the Japanese government started a campaign to send immigrants to live and work in Brazil searching for a better life. Now, in the last thirty years the descendants of those first immigrants are going back to Japan to work in its industry and in its university. However despite their Japanese physical appearance, they are culturally Brazilian.
NINGEN (2006 – 2007) is a video installation made of the life stories of 50 of those Brazilian immigrants who live now in Japan, and 50 of the Japanese immigrants who still live in Brazil, told by themselves. This collection of video portraits presents us with the paradigm that is to have a Japanese appearance but a completely different culture. At the same time it directs us to a worldwide trend of racial and cultural mixture that is happening through contemporary waves of migration, a trend that creates pressure for a change in how we human beings define our territories and identities in today’s society.
This work can be views in many ways. As an installation with video and sound, the viewer initially cannot make up the nationalities of the people talking in Portuguese and Japanese at the same time. Through the headphones, this same viewer has access to the story of each person, isolated from the confusing noise of the voices mixed in the space of the installation of the gallery.
Frederico Câmara - 1971 (Governador Valadares, Brazil) graduated in Printmaking from Escola de Belas Artes, UFMG, Belo Horizonte, and has a MA in Fine Art from Chelsea College of Art, London, lives and works in London
2010 Gallery 32, Brazilian Embassy – London, United Kingdom In an Ideal World. Pavilion Commissions – Leeds, United Kingdom
2006 The Henry Moore Institute – Leeds, United Kingdom International Research Center for the Arts, Kyoto University of Art and Design – Kyoto, Japan La Chambre Blanche – Quebec City, Canada Unesco Aschberg and Lademoen Kunstnerverksteder – Trondheim, Norway
2005 Landscapes, Galeria Noua – Bucharest, Romania 2001 Trip, The Banff Centre for the Arts – Banff, Canada
2010 Territories of the (In)Human, Kunstverein Stuttgart – Stuttgart, Germany New Photography: Pavilion Commissions, Djanogly Art Gallery – Nottingham, United Kingdom 50 Years of Brazilian Art, Museum of Modern Art – Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
2009 V.O.S.T. Version Originale sous–titrée – Brussels, Belgium 6 Degrees, Praxis Space – Singapore Sculpture from the Scrapyard, Leeds Art Gallery – Leeds, United Kingdom
2007 Leeds Art Gallery – Leeds, United Kingdom 2006 The Living's Easy, Flowers East Gallery – London, United Kingdom
Cityscapes, ARCO'06 Feira Internacional de Arte Contemporaneo – Madrid, Spain 2005 Orden y Correspondencia, Sala Gasco de Arte Contemporaneo – Santiago, Chile 2004 Phantasmen, Akademie Schloss Solitude – Stuttgart, Germany 2003 10 Salao da Bahia – Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia – Salvador, Brazil
Video Brasil – Festival Internacional de Arte Eletronica – São Paulo, Brazil
Moving Territories, Akademie Schloss Solitude and Merz Akademie – Stuttgart, Germany 2002 Rumos Visuais, Instituto Itaú Cultural – São Paulo, BrazilImages are courtesy of the artist - 2011