Wooster Collective interview Néle Azevedo
1. Why did you choose the specific placement?
I chose to work with the body and the city. In my investigation I found in the monument the synthesis of my restlessness: the historical celebration far away from the ordinary men. I then subverted the official monument characteristics’ by breaking the monumental scale, honoring the anonymous and melting the body in the city. I’ve started to roam around several major cities, studying its’ history and placing little ice sculptures in their meaningful historical places.
2. What do you think your piece adds/subtracts to the community?
I believe it is a poetical exchange. For a moment people stop, intrigued and then touched somehow by the sight of these tiny figures melting away.
3. What type of reaction did you get from the community?
I can say my work has been sensitively welcomed in the cities that it’d been placed. The reactions are similar, but the intensity varies. In Tokyo, an old lady at Ueno’s food market was very anguished to see the sculptures melting and asked me to take them away, she then placed them on a tray and took them. A police officer, in front of Tokyo city hall asked for permission and put them on an acrylic cone, slightly elevated, creating sort of a pedestal.
In Salvador, Brasil, a kid grabbed one quickly and licked it. Whether in Berlin, Paris, Porto, Firenze or São Paulo, the passers-by have an intense interaction and experience the melting process. The statue becomes a collective body, poetry, it goes beyond the verbal language – the geography is nonexistant.
I need to clarify though there are two moments of my project. Until april 2004, I used to place solitary figures, anonymously, without asking permission. These were made in Tóquio, Kyoto, Havana, México city, Brasília, Salvador, Curitiba, São Paulo e Campinas. During this time I used to roam arounfd the cities to find places where the reduced size of my statues could establish a dialogue with the monument concept. Then I placed one or two and waited for it to melt away from a distance.
Later, the solitary and anonymous actions gave place to a small multitude of ice men, reaching up to 1200 sculptures. Instead of roaming around the town, I started going for its center – political, social, historical. At this point I could no longer do my work without asking for permission because I started performing at big centers, like
Praça da Sé in São Paulo, L’Òpera in Paris, Gendarmenmarkt in Berlim, Praça Dom João I in Porto, Piazza Della Santissima Annunziata in Firenze. All these places are really meaningful and main points of these cities and I could not place this amount of sculptures without any sort of authorization.
4. Why did you choose the subject matter you did?
I believe our choices are very connected to our configurations. The body and the city chose me to develop my own questions – How do my body and I fit in the world?
6. What is inspiring to you now?
The cities and its inconsistencies always amaze and inspire me.