As part of our «RESIDENCY FOCUS», We invited Brazilian artist Cibelle to answer a few questions for us about their residency at Atelier Mondial [CH] at the end of 2020, to tell us a little bit more about their experiences with VR and AR, the role of residencies on an artist’s career and how the digital space can respond to the uncertain times we are in.
Could you tell us about your trajectory, and how do you see the role of residencies in an artist’s career?
I have a trajectory that has navigated across media and into their expanded field, as well as intersections. The ready-made is a huge part of my work, and in my approach to it, I consider digital platforms, social media events and trends, as well as software, as a found object, a ready-made loaded with content, and having the present context as a material as well…
I take the fabric of life, with its socio-politico-economic events and the existence of the status quo, as material and medium to be utilized and subverted as a form of resistance. I have no attachment to any specific way of execution; I will always give what the full context it needs in order to make a piece of work effective and succinct with my eye on social change.
My politics transpire in the way works are executed. I think in non-binary terms, in the neither space. In the same way that I am gender non-conforming, my work is genre non-conformist. It’s neither a painting nor sculpture, and so on. It is largely conceptual, and at base, I use materials, and the way they guide me, in relating to them as a tool for self-enquiry and investigation. I prefer objective consistency to formal consistency. I play with formalisation by denying its imposition upon how my work “formalised” within the context of art and history. With that said, If I had to choose a formal practice to explain my medium, I would say that I am in sculpture, as I deal more with discovery through engaging with materials than trying to image anything in particular.
Residencies, such as COINCIDENCIA Pro Helvetia at Atelier Mondial, are important as they provide the necessary space and focused time to review one’s own practice, or to deepen a specific aspect. This is usually dependent on the length of time. Shorter periods are better for hyper-concentration.
Another important thing is the connection of artists to a wider community, to expand international connection and exchange.
Without investing in funded residencies for artists from across the world to interact with each other, art would lose a lot.
The constructive criticism that can be exchanged in an international residency is priceless. Staying within one community can lead to crystallisation of practice in a bad way. One can stall. These residences facilitate fluidity in a practice by exposing it to modes of thinking that the artist perhaps would not find in their home turf.
In the actual context of social isolation and distancing, how do you see the possibilities of exchange created by digital means? How has it influenced your work?
Isolation and distancing affected my time at the residency a lot. A foggy pandemic influenced mind cannot get much of writing and organizing done. So, I chose to hyper focus on my AR training and exploring more of VR. Luckily, I had plenty of physical space to move around in VR without the need to teleport, so I started experimenting with temporary autonomous zones in VR.
I have been mostly exchanging within a digital community for the past 3 years, and the possibilities are as many as you can imagine and beyond, provided that the technology, that we know is possible in theory, gets realized. It’s extremely interesting times due to the speed of information and tech developments that enable art to be experienced despite long physical distances.
My work has been momentarily kidnapped by the digital sphere, from working with machine learning and generative portraiture, to social media and augmented reality social-sculptures, to AR sound sculptures and VR social experiments.
I am looking forward to using the scanning tools that have been recently made available to bring pieces executed IRL into the digital and back out again.
Could you tell us a Little bit more about the creation of digital spaces using VR technology? How do you see the impact of it on those who interact with your work?
VR social spaces are really attractive to me, although we can’t be out on the street in hordes of people or open an exhibition or performance and have hundreds of attendees, in VR all of that is possible because VR social spaces already have a population. This makes me not mind if the usual people that navigate the art world physically may not know how to access a piece that is hosted in a VR social space, as there will be people there, it takes it to a population that may not be used to going to museums.
So far, in VR, the piece «Are You The Media Player Owner» done in AltspaceVR, is the main one for me as it is in process. I started the process whilst in residency in Basel. As I was studying ways of building worlds in VR, I noticed that I could make a world where I could give permission by default to anyone coming into that space, to be able to build the world with elements found in the library of that social VR space.
It was made as a “free for all”, to observe what happens when people, who have been largely isolated and feeling powerless, are given the tools to build, and to destroy, according to their own will but in a collective context. How do we interact, how do we care?
When I did the first official “performance” of this project, shortly after returning from the residency, it was organized as a conversation, more of a collective excursion with a conversation at the end. We all gathered, and we proceeded in the experience and then we took a moment to talk about how we felt.
Mx. Cibelle Cavalli Bastos (b. 1978, São Paulo, Brazil) Non-binary, They/Them pronouns.Artist, musician, independent researcher and activist.Lives and works between Berlin, São Paulo and London.Graduated in 2015 from Royal College of Art, London. Released four music albums worldwide under “Cibelle” for Crammed Discs and has performed and presented work in Martin Gropius Bau (Berlin-DE), ICA (London-UK), CCBB (São Paulo – BR), MASP (São Paulo-BR) Carnegie Hall (NY-USA), LCCA (Riga-LV), CAC Wifredo Lam (Havana-Cuba), Steirischer Herbst ( Graz-Austria), MdbK Leipzig (DE), Science Gallery London (UK) and collaborations in the 28th /31st São Paulo Biennial (SP-BR).