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PRI’s The World | Boston 

Carolyn Beeler interview Néle Azevedo

São Paulo, 11 de fevereiro de 2016


Briefly, could you also tell me what the relationship is between your work and sustainability/ the environment?


The relationship between my work and sustainability/environment grew as the Minimum Monument was intervening in the cities. The work was initially conceived as a critical reading of the monuments in contemporary cities. I inverted the typical features of a monument: instead of the hero chosen by the Government, the common man, faceless and anonymous; in place of the solidity of the stone, the ephemeral process of ice; in place of the grand scale of the monuments, the minimum range of perishable bodies. The monument loses its static condition to gain fluidity in urban displacement and in the melting process. The memory is inscribed on the photographic image and the melting experience is shared by all.


Since 2009, when the intervention took place in Berlin with the support WWF, the Minimum Monument has presented as directly linked to global warming. Its affinity with the theme is clear and I think it can also be read as a "living monument" of contemporary issues, arousing interest beyond the contemporary art circuit.


Today, I believe the Minimum Monument answers to two questions:


1- The global warming that threatens our existence the planet. I always quote the historian Fustel de Colanges in "The Old town". He said that the ancient cities were founded from a rite. I think the Minimum Monument, at the time of its installation in the streets, is a rite. A re-foundation of cities rite. It is a liquid monument for liquid times.


2- It also proposes another way to celebrate the public memory in historical dates, for example, in Birmingham - UK, in 2014, the Minimum Monument paid tribute to the centenary of the First World War, when five thousand ice sculptures occupied the whole Chamberlain Square, reminding the anonymous victims of the war, who gave their lives in sacrifice.


Do you consider your Minimum Monument project one that seeks to raise awareness about climate change?


I think that the artwork is not oriented that way. It is the artist perception of the world, therefore it does not aim to increase awareness of this or that subject. Of course, the work may have an impact on society, and it is good that it has, but it is different from targeted advertising. The art works in the sensitive. An artwork can touch and transform the ones with open pores to receive it ...


And do you have other projects currently focused on climate change or sustainability?

Actually, I do not work focused on these issues. My work is based on my own perception of the world, its history and events, and our human condition in the middle of it all. Maybe for having this consciousness, my work ends up approaching the sustainability issue. 



The “Piracema Urbana (Urban Piracema)” intervention was held in Porto Velho, a city by the banks of the Madeira River in Rondonia, northern Brazil. The construction of a a hydroelectric powerplant in that river destroyed the waterfall where fish once spawned, swimming upstream (Piracema is the name given to the period during which the fish swim upstream to lay their eggs and reproduce.)

So, we did the Piracema with stencils: we drew hundreds of fish on the square floor, and up the stairs towards the state government building.


This intervention is a work in progress and should be held in other cities in Brazil, since we are going through a huge water crisis in São Paulo, Rio de Jane iro and Minas Gerais.


I have yet another work being developed. It's an installation for internal spaces - like museums and art institutions. It consists of dozens longilineal ice sculptures, held by nylon wires, each measuring about 1.10m. They melt suspended by these wires and the sound of melting is amplified, along with the sound of breaking glaciers.


The link with climate change issue is caused by the melting of bodies and the expansion of the sound, but the work also brings out body issues, subjectivity and space.

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