Interview Eduardo de Jesus, 2004

You make use of many media in your work (photography, painting, performance, video). How is the process of creation in relation to the choices of these media?

It is very important what each medium can provide for me to formulate the idea or concept that I want to express through my work. I believe that each one of them has its own characteristics which may be useful in the composition of a work. I have the freedom to make use of many media to try to formulate what I want to say, and the best medium is the one that will allow me to do so in a given case. Sometimes, the opposite happens; in this case the medium attracts my attention, so I explore its possibilities. I can produce significant results when I am playing with a camera. I think that any medium has much to be searched and explored by the artist, generating a process of discoveries.

Your body is used as a medium in many of your works, as in Desenho-corpo [Drawing-Body] (2002), Coluna [Column] (2003) and Madrugada [End of The Night] (2003). Is there a desire to transport the performance to new media and then expand its limits?

I think there is a kind of hybridism in my work; my strongest desire is to gather different types of media. It is not always possible, for one of the media often becomes more prominent than the others. In Verdejar, verde no branco no verde (To Green, Green on White on Green), for instance, I tried to produce a painting that would come out of the screen and invade the wall. Thus, the painting developed so that it became an installation. Even in Desenho-corpo, the drawing came out of the paper to invade another support: the body. Madrugada was elaborated as a performance that needed the photography to be accomplished. 

I became acquainted with your work in the exhibition Experiências do corpo (Body Experiences) at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake (2002). Three videos and the series of photographs Castelo de areia (Sandcastle) were part of the exhibition. What called my attention was the use of photography as a kind of unfolding of video in time. Does photography in your work have this sense of developing itself in time, extending the time and somehow trying to represent it still or split? 

Your observations on this work were pertinent and well put. The series of photographs Castelo de areia is related to the cinematic process and to the process of articulation of the video unfolding itself in time. They are moments that I try to perpetuate through photography. Between them, there are movements, subtle happenings that may be imagined by the viewer. I tried to express the idea of a slow time in which each grain of sand had a meaning, in which each little movement is important. Maybe we may think about the first films, the silent films that increased the value of the image. I tried to develop the idea of the permanent making and unmaking in relation to cinema and video. To make, destroy and make again. I think this is an idea that has much to do with art and the artist's work.

In the performance Rede [Hammock] (2003) there is the book Confessions by St. Augustine, open exactly to the reflection on Time. What is the relation between time and your work? Is there a more adequate media for you to express the temporal relations that are of interest to you? Time appears in a strong way in my work, almost always as a decelerated time in contrast to the stressing daily time. Our mass culture urges us to live quickly and to act without thinking. Paradoxically, it urges us not to waste our time, but it does not give us enough time to live well. St. Augustine talks about the existence of many simultaneous times and the ways to achieve each one of them. I think we should discuss the possibility of creating our own time. I think a lot about nature's time, the time of the rain that comes or of the winds that blow the clouds away. So I try to search for a special time that is not the daily time by creating videos, audios or performances that reduce or prolong time. That is why I am interested in the media that allow me to investigate time.

The City appears in many of your works, covered with concrete as in Horizonte [Horizon] (2002) or as the background to the unexpected appearance of an imaginary being in Madrugada. How does the city influence your work? How do you deal with the city?

I am always living the tension between culture and nature. I am attracted to the city as a constructed landscape, its dynamism that moves history forward, and as the place of the dominion of human beings over nature. I try to establish a way to understand and to face the contradictions of the city through art. In Horizonte, I cover the urban constructions with cement, reinforcing and nullifying the urban landscape. Madrugada was a way I found to invade the city at night, creating a strange character within a urban scenery that eliminated the possibility of the surprising. It is impossible not to be touched by what happens in the big postindustrial metropolises.

Recently, you won a scholarship from FAAP and lived in Paris between August 2003 and February 2004. How has Paris influenced your work?

In Paris, I became acquainted with a city that has another rhythm, another dimension. It is an easygoing city; it allows the artist to move freely to produce and search for art. There, nature is more integrated into the urban landscape, but it is also more controlled by men. These characteristics encouraged me to realize interventions in the city like Um Mundo (A World), a work that required many night walks, and in the morning some places where marked with many celestial spheres. Realizing this civilized nature, I decided to set up the installation Vereda [Swampy Vegetation], trying to produce a connection or a contrast between the European and the Brazilian landscapes.

In Sorriso [Smile] (2001) you display yourself in the shower with a big commercial smile stuck on your face, an image that also appears repeatedly in Fachada brasileira [Brazilian Façade] (2002). The big smiles were taken from the mass media; is it criticism or pure irony? 

I believe irony is a form of criticism. The use of humour can help to make people reflect. I have been realizing that this is another characteristic of my work: to communicate with humour and to criticize with suavity. Sorriso and Fachada Brasileira are works that indicate the importance of appearance in Brazilian society. The smiles are stereotypes of happiness reproduced by the upper class in advertisements and magazines. In these works, I tried to express the artificiality of the smile and to criticize the motto of happiness as a consumer good. In Fachada brasileira I created a choreography of superficialities, an intricate map of the alliances and connections between businessmen, socialites, TV stars and politicians.

Comment biography Eduardo de Jesus, 2004

Lia Chaia (1978, São Paulo, Brazil) graduated in Plastic Arts at FAAP in 2001. She began to work as an artist in her college annual exhibitions, between 1999 and 2001. In 2000, she began to participate in collective exhibitions outside FAAP. The first was an exhibition at Paço das Artes, in São Paulo. In the following year, Lia Chaia participated in the exhibition Bienal Extra in São Paulo, and in the collective exhibition Políticas Pessoais (Personal Politics) at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Americana, also in São Paulo. In 2002, she participated in many collective exhibitions, including Marrom (Brown) at Galeria Vermelho, with the performance Na cama formigando com um tango (Tingling in Bed Listening to Tango) and the audio Gol (Goal). In the performance, Lia lies naked on a bed during three hours, her body covered with little stamps with drawings of ants while a tango song is being played. The tango song was edited in a way that some parts were repeated as if it was a scratched LP. The artist changed her position in bed every time there was a change in the song. Time, body and performance ruled by the rhythm of the repetition. These issues appear again in other performances by Lia, as Rede (Hammock), for instance, presented in 2003 in the Sábado de Performances (Saturday Performances) at Galeria Vermelho. In this one, Lia lies comfortably in a hammock in the open spac e of the gallery during three hours. Before the hammock, the book Confessions of St. Augustine lies open to the long reflection on time. St. Augustine questions: "Then, what is time? If nobody asks me, I know; however, if I try to explain it to somebody who is asking me, then I do not know”. Lia seems to question the same thing, but in the artistic context. How to experience present time? The audio Gol, in other hand, is an exhaustive series of goal screams made by enthusiastic football commentators, a constant ecstasy. This work is disturbing because of the intensity and constancy of what is usually experienced little by little. The constant screams that prolong the ephemeral joy of the moment of the goal also seem to claim new temporalities. Still in 2002, Lia presents the video Corpo-desenho (Body-Drowing) in the collective exhibition Com que corpo eu vou? (What body should I wear?) at UNICID, in São Paulo. In this 51 minute length video, she draws on her own body with a red pen until the ink finishes. It seems to go back to the beginning of video art and body art in the 70's, revealing a preoccupation of the artist with time and with the devices that draw this duration on the body. This same year Lia transforms the façade of the Galeria Vermelho into a Fachada brasileira (Brazilian Façade), a series of smiles cut from magazines connected by subtle yellow and green lines. Also in 2002, Lia Chaia produces Experiências com o corpo (Experiments with The Body), her first solo exhibition (curated by Agnaldo Farias) at the Instituto Cultural Tomie Ohtake. The artist displays the videos Desenho-corpo, Big-BangUm.bigo (Navel), Desorientação (Disorientation) and the series of 103 photographs Castelo de areia (Sandcastle). In 2003, she participates in the exhibition Young Brazilian Artists at the Galeria André Viana, in Porto (Portugal), her first international exhibition. This same year she presents the site specific installation Verdejar: verde no branco no verde (To Green: Green on White on Green) at the Galeria Vermelho, in the collective exhibition 1 lúcia 2 lúcias. Lia covers some parts of the gallery walls with white screens. After, she paints the walls and screens and then takes the painted screens off the walls and put them on blank walls, creating a relation between the empty spaces that were behind the screens, which are now on blank walls. Still in 2003, Lia participates in the collective exhibition Ordenação e vertigem (Ordinance and Ver tigo) at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, in São Paulo, an exhibition curated by Agnelo Farias, which presented the works of contemporary artists in relation to the works of Arthur Bispo do Rosário. Lia displays her video Corpo-desenho. In 2003, she won a scholarship from FAAP to a residency in Paris. Between 2003 and 2004, she lived and worked in Paris, where she produced the public intervention Um Mundo (A World). Little rubber balloons covered with stars were placed on some balustrades in the city. Still in 2003, she produces the solo exhibition A sala da Lia (Lia's Room) at the Ateliê Aberto, in Campinas. In this exhibition she displays the installation Verdejar: verde no branco no verde. In 2004, she shows the installation Vereda (Swampy Vegetation) in a solo exhibition at the Programa Sítio, promoted by Base 7, in São Paulo. This site specific installation shows drawings of leaves made through the concrete on a green wall. The artist draws while the concrete is still hardening, revealing the green wall behind it. The drawings on the wall form a background to a series of totems with photographs of plants cut in geometrical forms. Still in 2004, she participates in the collective exhibition O corpo entre o público e o privado (The Body between The Public and The Private) at the Paço das Artes, in São Paulo, an exhibition curated by Christine Mello and Arlindo Machado. In this exhibition, she presents the video Desenho- corpo. This exhibition also took place in Belém, at the Casa das Onze Janelas.

Bibliographical references Eduardo de Jesus, 2004

Some links

We display in this section some links to websites related to Lia Chaia's work.

Galeria Vermelho - The gallery's website, which represents the artist, bring more texts and information on her work.

Experiências do Corpo (Body Experiments) - The website of the exhibition that took place at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake with a text on Chaia's work.

Sítio - Website of the Sítio project which aims to encourage and spread the new works of young artists and art critics. This project is promoted by Base 7 escritório de projetos culturais (Base 7 cultural projects office). Lia Chaia participated in this project with the installation “Vereda” [Swampy Vegetation] (2004).

Com que corpo eu vou? (What body should I wear?) - Website of the Art department of the University of The City of São Paulo - UNICID. Lia Chaia participated in the exhibition Com que corpo eu vou? with the work Corpo-desenho [Drawing-Body] (2002). The website has a text on the exhibition and photos of the works.

Ordenação e Vertigem (Ordinance and Vertigo) - Website with information on the exhibition curated by Agnaldo Farias, which took place at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, in São Paulo. The exhibition related the works of Arthur Bispo do Rosário to the works of contemporary artists, including Lia Chaia.