Interview: Manu Romeiro
Luca Curci talks with Manu Romeiro during FUTURE LANDSCAPES, third appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2002, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space and at Palazzo Albrizzi-Capello.
Manu Romeiro is a Brazilian visual artist born in São Paulo, who develops her work in drawing, writing, painting, engraving, music, intervention, video and installation. She holds a master’s degree in painting at Lisbon University, graduated in Fine Arts from the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), Brazil, and studied Scenography and Costume Design in the technical course at Theater’s SP School. In Brazil, she was an engraving researcher, she was a resident artist at the collective space Condomínio Cultural, from 2013 to 2017, worked with Scenography and Costume Design for theater, dance and cinema and taught art classes in schools and art studios. Currently living in Portugal, she is a member of Cultural Association We Are Thinking and the Araponga Collective. She
participates in exhibitions and artistic residencies in Brazil, Portugal, Italia, Cambodia and South Korea since 2005 and performs the intervention Retrato Falado in festivals, libraries and other public spaces in several regions of Portugal.
Luca Curci – What are you currently working on?
Manu Romero – My artistic practice began through consistent production of notebooks, and drawing became an important tool for my relation and dialogue with people, city, and nature in daily life. However, as a repetitive and continuous process, drawing came to be an instrument of sensitizing gaze and invariably for the unmasking of myself and the world. In this manner, drawing was the booster and foundation of my work’s development throughout diverse artistic languages such as painting, writing, engraving, music, and photography. Finally, I find myself in a very new moment of my creative process, although long desired: one of making interventions, installations, and performances as a way of gathering these varied languages in a single engaging means of creation. By the end of 2020, I have just finished the installation-exhibition “Nor Distance, Nor Frontier”. This project seeks to create a unique and expressive environment through dialogue between the various pieces and languages present in my work. By coincidence, this project speaks directly to the theme of the festival. In the current year, among so many changes fueled by the new reality we live facing this pandemic, creating and residing amidst nature have been pleasant and challenging at the same time.
LC – What is art for you?
MR – For me, art is a way of being in the world in constant dialogue with being itself, individually and universally. It is movement, transformation, and a deep connection to life in a free, unique, and collective form that has no purpose but the expression and linkage of beings with what is most ancient to us and consequentially most futuristic, and so, why not present?!
LC – What is your creative process like?
MR – I love observing. Gestures, positions, ways of being, but not only. Each one’s gaze, how each object-being expresses itself, how it stands out in nature. Observing through drawing gained immense meaning over time, up to the point of gazing becoming a profound manner of existing in connection with other beings. For this reason, the notebook is still a fundamental tool in my creative process: a simple and versatile platform that allows the practice of gazing, thinking, and expressing in complete harmony with everyday life. It is from such practice of encountering the other, of regarding as experiencing the world and reflecting upon such experiences, that my work unfolds across diverse artistic languages without rules or pre-definitions.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
MR – “We are all artists”, as Joseph Beuys and so many others used to say. The creative act lies within the transformation of the world through each gesture and peculiar expression of nature. However, it is precisely dangerous when we assume this role as an artist in society. I think that being an assumed artist calls for continually listening and then expressing with freedom, with sincerity towards oneself and the other along the whole creative process. We must daily fight our fears, ego, social standards, and especially impositions of the political and economic system while finding ways of subsisting with such craft in this deceptive political and economic system that seeks to control society with a false speech of freedom. Artists must cultivate in themselves that which is smothered and undermined every day, seeking not to be deceived by false precepts of freedom used to control. And then I once more beg the question: How to be an artist nowadays?
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
MR – I am interested in the nature of all things. In that which is immaterial and expresses itself through matter (or not). In the secret that reveals itself without quit being a secret. In seeing how nature expresses itself in the city, in society, in several cultures throughout human relations and inventions. That is what I am interested in the most. Coexisting, finding, and within human diversity, relating to this nature of all things is what drives me to artistic practice.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
MR – I believe that the previous answers to the questions already demonstrate the loud consonance between my artistic practice and the theme of the festival. I agree with the reflection about the absence or breaking of frontiers, however not ignoring, as the festival’s theme does not either, the presence of these frontiers instituted by ego (power, greed) and especially by the old Western idea of separation between man and nature. There is not much of an alternate for future landscapes if not the recovery of the planet alongside reparation of severe social, cultural, environmental, and spiritual damages caused by never in fact eradicated colonization.
LC – We were attracted by your last artistic production, has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?
MR – “Lightning rods for rare storms” is an installation made by me throughout an artistic residency in the countryside, in the parish of São Miguel do Acha, council of Idanha-A-Nova, region of Portugal’s Beira Baixa, in 2020. As of this almost pictorial intervention in the landscape, I accompanied its transformations between June and October, making videos, taking photographs, and doing performances. That was how the video installation “Lightning rods for rare storms” came about, first presented at the Future Landscapes exhibition.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
MR – Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the opening event, but all of the communication, reception of the artwork and material, release, and the opportunity for the artists to present through the Itsliquid Group’s Platform were thoughtfully realized.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
MR – Yes, absolutely. It was a lovely opportunity to exhibit my work internationally. Thank you.