Interview by Revista O Martelo - Brazil and sent in by e-mail, read an earlier one here
Fernando Carpaneda is one of the most famous Brazilian sculptor's in the New York underground scene. Born in Taguatinga, a small city in the capital of Brazil, Fernando participated in the genesis of this countries punk movement. During this time, he was arrested several times for minor disturbances and it was then when he discovered his passion for sculpting. In the next few years, his work was recognized abroad, but not in Brazil, and because of this, our hero caught a plane heading north to embrace his success. O Martelo, in synchrony with the contemporaneous facts, brings to you this exclusive interview that will show you, the reader, the sincerity of a growing talent.
O MARTELO - When did you travel abroad for the first time and what influenced your decision to leave Brazil?
CARPANEDA - I traveled for the first time in 1995, to participate in an exhibition in New York City. After the show I have made so many contacts, and people were so interested in my work that I decided to move to the U.S.
O MARTELO - In one of your past interview you talk about the Punk Movement as your biggest reference. Today the expression Punk is only a cliché; don't you think that the word punk has become a generic term like Blues?
CARPANEDA - Yes and no, of course the term has its wear and tear and a lot of people don't have the slightest idea of the meaning of the punk movement in relation to the music and culture as a whole. The punk movement still brings a concept that is not entirely dead, that is not a simple cliché and is still influencing the young generation of artists around the world. The punk posture is not a cliché. In the beginning Malcolm Mclaren (Sex Pistols and New York Doll manager), used to think of punk as fashion and marketing. In other words, the different lines of view are not always malefic, they can be nice too.
O MARTELO - Do you consider your art Punk?
CARPANEDA - Not at all, my art is original! Even in the dialogue with another artist with different propositions, my art is original. The element punk is present in my work as a theme, never as form. Like every worthy artist, I follow my own path.
O MARTELO - The original punk philosophy destroys the icons. What is your point in using artists personal objects in your work?
CARPANEDA - I always like to collect left over things. When I was poorer than I am now, I begged for money in front a club in my hometown Brasilia, so I could get in, and have fun like everybody else. One day a queer handed me some change and said: Take these crumbs, I don't need them, I'm rich. I was happy to take the money and be able to go into the club and enjoy myself. In conclusion, the discarded objects have a special meaning to me.
O MARTELO - Wouldn't this attitude be anti- punk, a cult to the personality?
CARPANEDA - Funny you said that, isn't there a cult to Sid Vicious? Patty Smith? And aren't they totally personal? To utilize personal references intelligently, giving them new affective and artistic sense doesn't reinforce the personality cult. Be ironic. Like many artists, I play with the pop industry, for example: I make portraits of some Punks that have become personalities and of some personalities that have become punks, like Boy George. I made one portrait of him and the next day he was sweeping the New York streets. I show both sides in my work. I am currently working on a sculpture of Daniela Cicarelli. She passed from celebrity to a whore here in the U.S. and in Brazil as well, therefore I included her portrait in my collection of punk personalities. You can interpret this as you wish.
O MARTELO - Now that you live between U.S., U. K. and Brazil, what is your point of view of the first world countries?
CARPANEDA - The biggest difference that I see is the respect for the laws, here in the U. S. the laws are followed and they work faster. People think twice before doing any shit.
O MARTELO - Nowadays when you bump into a famous character that you used to know only in books and magazines, what do think?
CARPANEDA - I have destroyed many of my adolescence myths and this is very positive (laugh). Famous people have many common points with everybody else. Being famous is not a synonym for talent. Many of those famous people hide behind their fame and their only objective is to make money.
O MARTELO - Did you watch the Brazilian movie City of God? I asked this because nothing bothers me more than this posture that denounces the social abysm in Brazil when the solo objective is to be gain applause in foreigner countries. Is your art in the same path?
CARPANEDA - Most of the portraits that I create are my boyfriends. The homeless people and drug dealers that I depict are my friends and the majority of my sculptures show the American disfavored people that I've met here. Disaccording with your affirmation, I depict the other side of the first world that many people don't see. I depict the American poverty instead of the American beauty. I don't do social denounce, I do art. But, I will not depict only themes that are pretty to make the nationalist people happy or vice-versa. I represent what I live and what stimulates my sense. Anyway's, City of God is a great movie.
O MARTELO - People used to say that what a photographer specialized in women nudes really want is to get laid. When you create a masculine sculpture, are you able to separate art from sexuality?
CARPANEDA - The best way to create a masculine nude sculpture is by knowing the body of the model in details.
O MARTELO - Particularly I think that you deify rock icons. Why don't you reconstruct them like you did with the sculpture of the two skinheads neo-Nazis performing oral sex?
CARPANEDA - In that sculpture, the skinheads are performing oral sex on me. I don't see myself obliged to reconstruct or construct anything. I will not pay tributes to anybody if I don't want to. The only criterion in my life is my sensibility. I could depict Jim Morrison sucking my dick and I wouldn't be reconstructing his image. I would be reinforcing a cliché of the transgressor rock star. To depict rock icons is to me, retribution of pleasure that was given to me in life. I leave the reconstruction to the academics and art critics. Babe, I'm an artist!
O MARTELO - Plaster Caster, a famous American groupie of the 60's used to make plaster molds of celebrities penises. In her biography, she wrote that an erection was necessary to accomplish her work and preparation was mandatory. I've read in your biography that you utilize semen in your sculptures, why do you do that?
CARPANEDA - Semen has an excellent texture to work as a basis for creation in paper and paintings. I utilized semen from three different models and each of them had different texture, color and flavor. After dried the semen presents a special color for the piece, a shade of yellow that is impossible to reproduce with dyes. These three works of art were masculine nudes. There is a symbolism between semen and clay, both are elements of creation. The man was created from clay, and semen is the beginning of life. I am working on a new sculpture utilizing these two elements; I will photograph them and post the whole process online.
O MARTELO - Do you consider yourself a gay activist?
CARPANEDA - No, do you think I should? (Laugh)
O MARTELO - Brazil has developed in some things; one of them is the role of the homosexuals in society. The same sex marriage is a subject of discussion as well the rights of homosexual couples. Popular TV shows are presenting transsexuals, daily. Do you believe that the Brazilian society has digested and accepted the differences?
CARPANEDA - Not at all, the term gay in Brazil is still a joke. There are some victories, but the gay world cannot be resumed to drag queens, travesties and transsexuals.