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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.