Banks of images, archives, reproduction of codes and the multiple layers in a reality understood under a variety of possibilities. João Laia interviews the artist Diogo Evangelista. Evangelista presented work at Pedro Cera‘s booth at ARCOmadrid2014.
Bodily visions, double images and archetypes. Interview with Diogo Evangelista
João Laia: Throughout your practice you have been privileging the use of common, everyday images, sometimes almost visual clichés. Could you comment and explain your interest in this universe?
Diogo Evangelista: I believe the most inexplicable mysteries to be found in the more ordinary and sometimes most obvious places. My objective is always to simplify. I start with what’s more easily accessible, magazines and especially the web: youtube, wikipedia and google among others.
In a way the travel is always interior. I am interested in examining where these neglected images can take us, in exploring what they hold inside and what they can trigger in us.
JL: You hold a large archive of images. Do you produce different archives according to the specific project you are developing? Or more of a continuous resource that you keep feeding into and from? How does your selection process work? Are you interested in the concept of the archive in itself or is it simply a working tool?
DE: I use the archive as a straightforward working tool. My understanding and use of the archive is very distant from a documental, historicist, narrative and/or linear approach. Each series of work emerges out of a specific research but my investigations are porous and so their origins sometimes get lost: I build the selection from a constellation of ideas present in each element, from the possibilities each object offers which sometimes interact with previous analysis and so the different archives in a way are a a single entity.
JL: You rarely produce new images, what is the reason for your systematic use of collected footage? Also are you interested in examining issues related to authorship in terms of your use of pre-existing material?
DE: I am interested in different and yet concomitant perspectives, in giving new interpretations about what is supposedly the real, in attaching new contexts to the several objects I work with, in recontextualizing situations. I correlate the idea of appropriation to the christian myth of transubstantiation (the transformation of one substance into another in a virtual and actual way). My work develops alongside those lines: a shift in meaning where the believer becomes richer and builds a new reality.
Authorship and ego intersect each other but my practice doesn’t really relate to that kind of issues, I try to dilute my authorship in relation to the work, to make it less loaded and visible regarding whatever I decide to display.
JL: The references to inner visions through trance, hypnotic, psychedelic or drug-like states are recurrent in your practice. And yet, somewhat paradoxically, these perceptual experiences which are commonly understood as modes of evasion are employed as tools of lucidity, opening up alternative possibilities of signification. Would you agree with this?
DE: It’s all related with different levels of consciousness and observation / attention.
JL: Your practice blends craft and industrial techniques underlining the material features of the objects and has been targeting the body, especially the sense of touch, as a main tool to question dominant regimes of representation based on visual perception. Your more recent works such as the video you are presenting in ARCOmadrid – Isle (2013) (Pedro Cera)- hints at a new stage in your practice where the potential of imaginative engagement is a central feature. In this way it seems you’re moving away from the exploration of materiality and the body towards more immaterial procedures in which it is not so much the physical characteristics of your works but rather their immaterial haptic dimensions that stimulate the audience.
DE: This video emerges out of a web of ideas. I appropriated two sounds that were produced specifically to stimulate bodily sensations. One of them is an online hypnotic session structured around autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), meaning the production of sounds that provoke pleasurable sensations in the brain. The second sound element is a track of binaural beats used to stimulate lucid dreams.
And yes, I’ve always departed from a pictorial stand point; painting being, fundamentally, a mental exercise.
JL: Do you believe in the actual existence of parallel worlds?
DE: I always like to overlap micro and macro points of view and this positioning makes me believe that there always are several simultaneous realities in the same space.
JL: Where do you position the visitor in your work?
DE: From the moment the work is activated. In my practice mirroring has become a regular tool where the spectator is reflected in different ways.
JL: I was reminded of the work of António Palolo as well as Alexandre Estrela while considering your work. Are you familiar with their practices? Were they important for your artistic development? Could you point out other artists or bodies of work which are relevant to your practice?
DE: I know the practice of the artists you mention but I don’t see any influence of their practice in my work. Mondrian would be one of my references for example.