C - Cathy
CM - Cildo
VA - Various
CM - So, how should we start?
C - This is already recording. Oh my God, I have to ask questions.
VA - Oh my God. Let's print OMG. We have to think about the other generations.
C - And the other religions. Maybe we could start at Kanaal, no? Where you both met and where Cildo was working on Atraves. True?
CM - I wasn’t working. I remember I brought the plan for the show.
VA - Yeah, a tiny drawing.
CM - A small piece.
C - I wanted to produce that small piece. And I was like, ‘Wow’.
CM - And then you came to me and you said: ‘Cildo, you see, in Belgium it’s very complicated to have someone working in a formal job, because … But there’s a younger artist. We were young at the time.
C - Yes, we were all very young.
CM - But he agreed to help me. And this was a kind of euphemism, because I was doing nothing. In fact it was Trudo that was going to do all the hard work, by hand.
VA - Drilling, etc. But I remember that at the time (1989) the system was like this: we were unemployed and of course most artists wanted to stay unemployed to have lots of time to develop their stuff. You didn’t want to work or teach because that was a trap, having a full-time job and then doing your artistic work at the weekend. So the deal was that we stayed unemployed as long as possible. But to benefit from this system you had to collect your stamp on a pink card every single workday.
C - Yes, absolutely.
VA - It was in fact rather inhumane – in retrospect.
C - Yes, every day, and you had to queue. You had to queue for an hour.
CM - Slavery, no?
VA - They didn't use a fixed schedule. You only got to know tomorrow's session at the moment you got your stamp. This card still exists, in blue, but you no longer need to queue every day. At the end of the month you can send it by post. Anyway, at the time, as an artist, we could be exempted from this daily stamping routine by doing voluntary work.
C - Yes, I was also doing voluntary work.
VA - With an arts organization or a social organization. And that was the deal, so Cathy would write me a letter for a six-month period and in exchange I’d work for a month or so at Kanaal.
CM - But I remember she came to me saying, ‘Look, I found someone, a young artist, very good.’ I think you had just done a show before, right?
C - Yes, in Souvenirs van het hart. (1986)
CM - Okay, so you invite us for dinner in this wonderful house to introduce us. And the curious thing was that he was born on the same day, the same month. He is fourteen years younger. So I came to the dinner, and I wasn’t very social in a way. Because you know … So we didn’t talk too much. But then he offered a ride back to the hotel.
VA - With my limousine.
CM - And yeah, he had this limousine indeed. A pocket limo.
VA - Renault 4F6.
C - A compact limo.
CM - But anyway, on the way to the hotel, we decided to have a last drink. Have I told you this story?
C - No, no.
CM - And then we stopped in a bar somewhere. And we started talking and saying, ‘Trudo, about your work, what do you do?’ And then he started with rhetoric, ‘I’m doing kind of shelves, but they’re shaped like that.’ And I said, ‘What’s the name of the piece?’ He described a little bit. He said, ‘This is Jeanette, this is Marie, each one has a different woman’s name.’ At one point I told Trudo I was trying to drive him the wrong way, ‘But Trudo, honestly, now what’s your main …’
C - Cildo was a serious conceptual artist.
CM – ‘What are you involved in? What’s your main interest right now?’ And he said, ‘Cildo, can I be sincere with your?’ ‘Please.’ We knew each other two hours or something. And then he said, ‘There are two things that interest me most these days: mathematics and women.’
C - It hasn’t changed, no?
CM - And I asked him, ‘Why?’
C - The first one’s gone, but the second one is left.
CM – ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Mathematics because every day I know a little bit more. And women, because every day I know a little bit less.’ This is the guy.
VA - And because of this, we have mathematics as one of the themes for the show. Because we have four themes: water, shit, mathematics and value.
CM - Yeah, it’s true.
C - Because the first work I saw of Cildo was Eureka Blind Hotland.
C - Chris Dercon invited me to go to New York to see. And I was actually going to meet American artists. Because you know, I’m a post-war child, so I thought America. And I met all the crazy Brazilians instead.
VA - You thought that America was North America?
C – Yeah, it was still America, that’s true. So I just asked. I said, ‘Why don’t I ask?’ And I asked you at the dinner. And Cildo said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ And you didn’t know what Kanaal was, you didn’t know Kortrijk, you didn’t know anything. So that was …
VA - Was it your first show at Kanaal?
C - It was my first show at Kanaal.
VA - What was your budget like?
C- My budget?
VA - Compared to now?
C - My yearly budget was 10,000 Belgian francs (250 euro).
VA - OMG.
CM - OMG.
C - 10,000 Belgian francs!
CM- I remember one day Jan Hoet told me that one day he was with Marcel Broodthaers in Ghent. It was summertime, they were walking. And people used to leave the doors of their houses open to go and have a beer or ice-cream. And they were going down a street, and they decided to break into a house and steal all the Belgian cents that they could find in the pockets. No one never knew this story of this money.
VA - I remember that you were investing your own to feed us. There probably wasn’t a budget for food.
C - There was no budget for food, no budget for the hotel. There was nothing. So they slept here. And we didn’t even have money for materials. Nothing. So I had to go to all the industrialists in the area of Kanaal and ask. And so you went with me, and Trudo you too. We went on a kind of shopping spree.
VA - And what we couldn’t buy we just took from the motorway.
CM - The grids.
VA - The grids here and there.
C - I never knew that.
CM - The lamp in the factory next door.
VA - And anyway, Hans (Sonneveld) was good for that, you know. Hans was easy-going: ‘Let’s borrow things.’
CM - I remember at the end when I was with Hans. One day, it was like two in the afternoon on a Sunday, and Hans was there, I think you weren’t there. And we decided to go out and have lunch. So we started walking – walking, walking, walking. Leaving Kanaal, we started to go to the city, to take a ride, because there was a coffee place on the corner.
C – Yeah, to Zwevegem.
CM - But it was closed. So until like 4:30 in the afternoon we walked. And then we found a very bad Italian restaurant.
VA - I remember, I dropped you both off and I said, ‘Walk in that direction.’
When we came back the day after you were angry with me because of something. I forgot, but maybe it was what I said, ‘Walk in that direction.’ Probably that's where you got your aversion for walking.
CM - It’s like Johnny Walker.
C - Oh, speaking of Johnny Walker. At 4 in the morning, Cildo said, ‘Oh, I’m very tired, I can’t do any work, except if you find me some Johnny Walker.’
VA - I remember those bottles.
C - Finding whiskey at four in the morning in Kortrijk isn’t easy. But we found it.
CM - Yeah?
C - We found it.
VA - The thing that was also very striking was that Cildo was always there. He never left us behind – only for an interview or something. But he was always there handing us the screws when we were up on a ladder.
C - Yeah?
CM - In the end I was most exhausted.
C - But it was such an extraordinary piece. And then it travelled the whole world. But it took how many years for people to …
CM - 1998. It took us 9 years to do it the second time.
C - Nine years.
CM - Each space that I went to, I was, like, measuring, to see if it would fit.
VA - Yeah, it’s 15 by 15. It’s enormous. You need a large space.
C - But in the glass house (Palacio de Cristal, Madrid) it was amazing.
CM - Yeah, it was a different version. But, have you been to Inhotim, near Belo Horizonte?
C - No, no.
VA - It stands there permanently.
C - Permanently? That’s fantastic. With the fish?
CM - Yeah.
C - No? Those poor fish. They were dying all the time. They were being cut by the broken pieces of glass.
VA - But we enhanced it. Every piece of glass is now treated. We’re not so cruel anymore.
C - Yeah, because those poor fish. But Cildo came from a cruel environment. How long did the dictatorship in Brazil last?
CM - Twenty years? 1964-1984.
C - We worked in 1989? So you did a lot of work. Of course, very political work.
CM – Yeah, it was considered political those days. Most of the work was not so direct.
C – No, never.
CM - Some pieces were. Even truth can be redeemed.
C – No, of course.
CM - Originally, when it started, of course it was a comment. With my mother in Brasilia. Because when we moved in 1958, when we would go outside the first person during the day when we woke up would open the door, put some bronze piece to prevent the door from closing. And that was how things were opened. After a time, she started closing the door. And then locking the door. And then the window. And then the gate. And then finally, a gate near the sidewalk. And Brasilian architecture became a little bit like this. Every building there is the original project, plus the gate.
VA - This was already happening in the 1980s? Was that because of the dictatorship? Or after?
CM - No, because of what happened after the dictatorship. There was already an inflation process going on. And this became horrible, you know? In the sense that every new worker at the time would get his salary and would immediately go to change it into dollars. And then you kept selling throughout the month. Because if you sold everything in the week, the money would be finished before the end of the month. So people would have to go two, three times to the exchange place. It was horrible.
C - Yeah, I think the work you made was deeply informed by all that. But at the same time, what’s also interesting is that you have this whole tradition of Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology. It’s very strong in Brazil – much more than in other countries.
CM - Yeah, true. I don’t know who brought this. If it was Mario Pedrosa or …
C - It came with the Biennale in São Paulo.
C - I think it came at the same moment, yeah.
CM - Early 1950s. Because I heard of him after Frederic Morais. Do you know him? He was the first to mention Merleau-Ponty. Bachelard, Gaston Bachelard. And New Concretism too.
C - Yeah, but it all came through the biennale.
CM - A few years ago I was in France for the opening of Pompidou in Metz with this constellation show with a lot of artists. But anyway, I found a book in a second-hand bookstore and it was very interesting. It was about this mathematician from Russia that in 2002 put on the Internet the solution to a problem that crossed the twentieth century without answer. A lot of brilliant mathematicians. Poincaré! The Poincaré Conjecture. But this guy he won the two most important mathematical prizes in the world. One point five million euros. He didn’t go there to get the money. He’s still living with his mother in this small city. A small town in Ukraine or something. Teaching in secondary school. He avoids the press, avoids everything.
C - What does the Poincaré mean?
CM - Poincaré is a French mathematician who was involved in topology, and one of the main names. But the guy who wrote this book about this Russian mathematician, he’s American, and he does an introduction about the history of topology in five lessons. And it’s very good. Because you get a very good notion of it.
C - So where does your interest come from?
VA - I was more into human mathematics. It’s a different branch, if it’s a branch at all? We try not to pursue abstraction via mathematical formulas because of the way they are too predictive. By adding human input into the process without being too explicit we manage to create complex abstractions. The underlying data is coded into the work. We could always retrace it if we had the key to do so. But for us what counts is to remove all recognizable links with the input. For example, over the years we used a lot of data we harvested from the Tour de France, not because we like watching the races. The numbers generated by such an event, involving 200 cyclists, the human efforts, constantly changing technology, and the use of doping is massive and is an immense source of data to work with.
C - And Barney was already informed by all of that?
VA - In a sense it was, I think … Was Barney before Carmella? Barney was half of an installation, it was Barney Left. We never made Barney Right. We wanted to, but you remember that the opening of the show was three hours late. We had to close the door, barricade the door, because it was still not finished. And people were sitting in the bar waiting, waiting, waiting. The twenty people that came for the show. Because of this unknown place along the canal.
C - But we were happy. At that time we were very happy with 20 people.
CM - And this was Kanaal?
C - It was very big. It was very intensive. It was huge.
VA - I was trying to put human body forms, silhouettes into numbers, and translate it into these tables leaning over according to these numbers. This movement of falling is what the other Various Artists are now joking about when they insert this leaning into recent shows, referring to it as the Late Trudo Engels touch.
C – Trudo, you always want to be different people.
VA - At the academy in Ghent, I read this story about Alma Rosé, a niece of Gustave Mahler who was deported to Auschwitz. She conducted an orchestra with musicians she could gather in the camp. The orchestra, diverse and fragmented, provided them with a means to survive the concentration camp. She was the first character I used as a different input, because her thing was musical, and mine visual, so we did it like a duet. I did the performance, and the music came from her. Now that I think of it, her orchestra, which was so diverse and fragmented given the circumstances, must have influenced Various Artists as they don't necessarily fit well together.
C - But you’re still Various Artists?
VA - At the time?
C - No, now.
VA - I act more like a chemist, a perfumer or a cook. There are these 24 different flavours or colours to work with, and what happens when mixing them? What happens if I put two, three or four of them together? Is this a group show? You could say that our main playground/studio is a spreadsheet where we keep an overview of who to combine and when to call in some Various Others to spice up the recipe. We started this process a few years ago during ‘Le Château’ in São Paulo.
CM - How would you describe the show briefly? What was this show about?
VA - I remember that we (Cildo and VA) were sitting in a restaurant three years before the show. And I was pitching an idea.
CM - This was 2011?
VA - The final show at Luisa Strina was in 2012, but I think this meeting was in Barcelona or in Mexico three years before. I said, ‘Look, Cildo, imagine if I rent an empty apartment somewhere while on hunger strike. We keep buying all kinds of food to build us an installation, we go out, come back with bags all day. And from the moment I almost die of hunger, I call the emergencies.’ Wouldn’t you like to see their faces when they enter? You see like this guy dying of hunger surrounded by all that food.
C - But in a way you both share a desire for big installations, no? Cildo is happiest when he can make large, complicated installations.
VA - It’s a desire to immerse somebody else in your world, or in your ideas.
CM - But this was an installation done through a performance.
VA - Yes, with unstable results. First, it’s hard to make sound decisions while physical weakness is growing every day and second, Luisa was threatening to throw me out, because her lawyer said, ‘If he dies in your gallery, you will be responsible and will go to jail.’ And for a certain moment I had to direct from the outside window.
C - But Luisa would do anything for Cildo, you know.
CM - He brought her to the limit. Because first we wanted a doctor to follow the whole process. The first two we contacted refused to be responsible. The third one started by doing a check-up with Trudo. Of course he was already a little bit damaged by the years, but he was in good shape when he started.
VA - He came by every three days or so.
CM - And then the second time he went there, already during the process of the construction of the show, Trudo was even better. And then finally the doctor came to a point that he got scared as well.
VA - I was getting healthier.
CM - That’s the thing no one could understand.
VA - But a problem with these doctors was that they billed as much as an average month’s wages – just to say, ‘Hello, how do you feel?’
C - And you couldn’t stand that, of course? So you stopped with not eating.
VA - After three weeks. It's not as hard as it looks to fast for such a period but when you're getting stressed it becomes unbearable.
CM - On Fridays there was a feijoada in the restaurant where the people who work at the gallery used to go, and Trudo would come with us, everybody eating feijoada, and Trudo sitting there drinking water. This I think was the best part. And – no, no, the best part for me was, one day – it was January, and in São Paulo, it’s warm, it’s hot, very hot, there’s no sea, no wind coming – so, at the end of the installation there was a wall made of Pepsi cans stacked up to the ceiling.
C - I saw that.
VA - They were full. They were –
CM - And exactly when Luisa was leaving the gallery the first can exploded, and then all of them.
VA - The whole thing came down.
CM - There was a waterfall of Pepsi.
VA - There was a cloud of Pepsi in the gallery.
CM - Seven thousand … I don’t know how many.
C - Do you mean the Pepsi exploded because of the heat?
VA - I think because of the pressure.
C - What pressure?
VA - There were four metres of Pepsi.
CM - If one starts …
VA - And later I discovered that the metal of a Coca Cola can is twice as thick as that of Pepsi. I know this because Valereson is making these Pepsi bombs. They explode. It’s beautiful. But that at the time I didn’t know that Pepsi uses a lot less aluminium.
C - It’s more ecological.
VA - I wanted this blueish Pepsi hue, and not the Coca Cola red.
C - The horrible corporations. You have something, you (Cildo) with Coca Cola, and Trudo with Pepsi.
CM - That’s a good idea for a next show.
C - Yes, because I remember very well the piece you did with Coca Cola. It was recycling the …
CM - You weren’t born yet.
C - How did it work exactly, the work?
CM - The insertions?
C - Yes.
CM - Well, it’s very simple. It’s to use something that circulates naturally.
C - Yes, but at the time it was not at all something people spoke about. Recycling. Nobody spoke about that.
CM - And of course the military was stupid enough to not understand. Even people that came from the art world. If I explain very didactically, most of them took a little time to understand.
C - But that was a wonderful piece. Finally somebody criticizing the big corporations.
VA - Is it true that Coca Cola tried to recuperate it for a show years later?
CM - Yeah, once, I don’t know when exactly. It was the early 1990s. Coca Cola was doing a big promotional show in Rio de Janeiro. And someone contacted me, because they wanted to have the piece in the show.
C - But this is very typical, no? They always recuperate. I mean, it’s incredible how art is being voided of its content, especially its political content of course, and its social content. Totally recuperated.
VA - Of its critical content.
C - Yeah, of its critical content, and being recuperated. And without shame, and then it is posed again. But because it’s done by these big companies it has no meaning. It’s like – it’s incredible – it’s like the purpose now of corporations is to do that. They even give you money.
VA - It’s called neutralizing critical art. Just by incorporating it in your own, putting a stamp on it.
C - Why do you do that?
VA - In the case of Le Château, Pepsi wasn’t important, it was just a colour. We were questioning corporations that are pushing junk food. In poorer regions it’s cheaper to feed yourself on industrial processed trash. As a result people get in trouble with their health. It's a vicious circle, cheap and easy to get unhealthy, and then you have to pay a lot for a doctor. There were two strands of spectators coming to see the show, the ones that say: ‘Mmm, I’m gonna party here tonight.’ The others said: ‘Oof.’ They had a different approach, a more educated one, I think. But we didn't intend to create a horror show. It was more like, ‘These are cheap basic materials to build an installation, a bit cynical maybe.’
C - And this is what’s happening all over the world. So in fact these are criminal undertakings. It kills people.
CM - Yeah, I’m afraid of what’s going to happen with this ‘go organic’ movement.
VA - It’s gonna be industrialized to death. For example, you go into one of these shops, they brag about having biodegradable bags. First, we say, ‘Oh great.’ Then you dig deeper into it – take Monsanto. Because those plastics are made from corn grown by big corporations through genetic engineering, you can spray whatever on it. It’s just for plastic, it’s for bio oil, it’s not for consumption. And this is the bad thing about bio-organic.
C - They always find a way to be criminal.
VA - Organic chickens, for example, they also raise them by the thousands. They can’t be stressed. They can't be medicated. So producers go in dressed like chickens to feed them. You know those animals are not much happier than the others, they just get organic food, they are treated with the greatest possible silence, because if they get stressed or get the flue they have to be killed, all of them. Behind the curtains of industrial organic farming there are a lot of unknowns.
C - So do you often have discussions when you work on a piece?
VA - Yes. For example, for the piece on water.
C - But do you discuss the works that you conceive for upcoming exhibitions?
VA - I think we tell each other a lot of stories and then it’s like cross-communicating.
C - How do you communicate?
CM - Sometimes it’s about art.
VA - I think we’re more into storytelling than developing theories. For example, you say, ‘Every artist should make a shitpiece.’ Or is it maybe a shitty piece? So because he made this piece ‘KuKka KaKka’, I accepted the challenge, and we made our shitpiece. Of course our hero is Piero Manzoni. For me Cildo is also too good an artist to be around. It’s very difficult to match him.
C - At the time I always thought that if all the artists were like Cildo, the first artist I worked with, then I would work my whole life with artists.
VA - Maybe one of the reasons why we created Various Artists was to create critical mass to reach a similar level.
CM - But the fact is that we’re now going to do a duo show.
VA - A double solo show, ‘Q & A’, for question and answer, but preferably qwerty and azerty.
CM - What’s qwerty-azerty?
C - Different keyboards.
VA - North and South.
C - I work with a qwerty. But most people here work with azerty.
VA - Yes, me to, I work with qwerty, only because I communicate in English with a computer, never French or Dutch. You need extra fingers to type numbers on azerty. I like the idea of North versus South. Maybe not as opposites. They live together and share one keyboard.
CM - Because you know, versus is a very strong word.
C - But will you each make your own work, or will you collaborate?
VA - In 2008 Cildo asked me, when we were only 22 Various Artists, if he could become one. I said: ‘Why not?’ And then we were joking about what we would call him. Of course we named him Cildo Meireles. We created another one with three L’s, instead of one or two. It was very hard to imagine something that he would do. And when I talked to Catherine, she said, ‘You can’t use his name for a second artist. It's not done and very confusing.’ She was right, so we used an anagram to get to Morice de Lisle. Morice de Lisle is Cildo Meireles. He influences the group by saying, ‘No, no, no, not that.’ So he restricts the others. That’s his main function. And it helps a lot, because it became a much more poetic ensemble.
CM - More harmonic.
VA - Yeah, we needed this.
C - Because of the one who enters this, who prohibits. Or is it more like the thing you put on the pyjama?
VA - No, it’s not that. It’s really like, ‘Okay, you want to do a piece, you want to make an installation, well you can, but you cannot do X’ – X being not eating (Le Château), no electricity or heating (Lettres d'Ixelles), or no sleeping, etc.
C - Yeah, Cildo is very strict. Very demanding on himself, and on others. And you wouldn’t tell.
VA - You wouldn’t tell.
CM - I think I’m gonna leave. Come on, Orson, come on, Gonzalo.
VA - We can cut it out of the text.
CM - He was the Uruguayan Kalenberg. He was the oldest. It was the last chance, because when we knew that this was happening, we started …
C - A strike. It was like a revolution.
CM - Yeah, so we didn’t do this show. It made no sense, and of course no one wanted this. And then. Kalenberg was the director, and we went to talk with the director, and he said, ‘I’ve come to try to solve this.’
C - Horrible director.
CM - The royal museum bla bla bla. So the director said, ‘No, definitely no.’ And then Kalenberg said, ‘And I wonder how interested the press will feel when they see that you have a lot of plants in your office …’ It was full of … And so she immediately changed. Because everything is a convention, right?
C - Yeah, of course
CM - No, she got a little scared.
C - But it was like a little revolution. I lost 10 kilos, in like one month.
CM - But you worked a lot because it was a huge show.
C - Oh my God, it was huge.
CM - But is this lady still there?
C - No!
CM - She’s in heaven.
C – Who’s that? It’s your son. Okay so we take a pause.
VA - Smoke pause.
C - Oops, it’s recording.
VA - No, we’ll cut it out. You get to see the text first.
C - No, of course, we all have to correct what we say.
CM - It’s not the case for Trudo, but in my case I don’t know how to work with this computer.
C - Ah, I can do yours.
VA - We'll fax it to you. You still have the fax?
C - Yeah, he bought me a fax.
CM – Finally, yeah. It does help, because each time I need to fax something for Rubens I ask someone instead. ‘Excuse me, do you know where I can find a fax?’ ‘A fax? Probably in the museum.’
VA - You remember that with Atraves. Because there was a low budget, but there was also no budget to break it down, so it stayed there for a year or something. It stayed there a long time.
C - Really? Not a year.
VA - It was there in the winter. It stayed there long.
C - Ah, the work? I thought you.
VA - No, the installation.
C - Because you used up the whole annual budget of 10,000 Belgian francs.
VA - Was it the Kawamata show when Jan Hoet was here? You told him about Atraves, and he wanted to see it. It was a very cold night, dark, misty, foggy.
C - No light.
VA - And we went to Kanaal with him. We didn’t have a key. But Stefaan was there in his studio. And we opened the door with bolt cutters. And we saw the piece with a flashlight, because there was no electricity. He saw Atraves like that. He said, ‘Wonderful, wonderful.’
C - And you were invited to Documenta, no?
CM - In 1992.
C - But in fact, a lot came out of the Kanaal piece, no? Because it was at the same time as ‘Magicien de la terre’. You remember you had two projects, Paris and Kortrijk.
CM - But you know, Joao Fernandes asked for a piece for an event in the Algarve. And the material that they imported from Brazil never went back to Brazil. So one of these days I’m gonna have a problem. Because now in Brazil there is this bureaucracy. The documentation to leave the country but then you have ...
VA - You have a negative balance.
C - Oh no, how terrible. So it’s in Portugal?
CM - Probably it’s still in Portugal - but since ten years.
C - You know what you have to do, Cildo? Because Waltercio did this. You know, I have Waltercio pieces here, Victor Grippo work here. So when he has a show, when you have another show somewhere you say, ‘I want this piece in the show.’ And then they have to take care of it.
CM - They? Who?
C - The institution.
VA - A way to get your work back.
C - Because they have all these specialized guys who know the tricks. When Waltercio had lots of work here, you know the balls? Well, one day, twenty years later, he writes to me, ‘Can I pick them up?’ I said, ‘Sure, they’re yours.’ And so he had a show in Portugal. They came, and they picked it up. And they showed it there.
CM - No, but inside Europe it’s easy.
C - I think you should just do it this way. Because they’re specialized in these things.
CM - Are you gonna cut this? Okay. You know Marietta Friberg (was fat miet Maaretta Jaukkuri?)?
C - Yeah, from Kiasma.
CM - She was the chief curator of Kiasma. She had invited me in 1991 to be in a project she has for Norway – Art escape. The idea was to have in total 36 artists from different countries, but each one work in a very isolated site. Nothing around you. In the middle of nothing. But there was always someone living nearby. And then the artist would come and be hosted by this guy, sleep there, eat there, while doing the piece. And I couldn’t go, because it was exactly when Orson was being born. So, then finally I did in 2006, 2007. But she told me a story that Waltercio was invited. He did a piece – one of those things that was very precise, with inox, steel. And then six metres, because he didn’t want the joints to be seen. And a stone here. It was like two metres eight centimetres, and then six metres, and then two and eight. Like a football goal. But perfect. So, okay. And Marietta said, because she used to open three pieces at the same time. And then there came, like, journalists, critics, curators, directors on a plane, and they visited this and then this, and then this. And the artist was supposed to arrive two days before to see if everything was okay. So Waltercio did a piece, went back to Brazil, six months later he came back for the opening. And he arrived at the place and of course the season had changed. He went there in summer, and now it was winter in the North Pole. So Waltercio arrives, and like two days after a group of people arrives. And there was like snow everywhere, and then there was 30 cm outside. And Waltercio was like there with a broken arm. When she told me this story, because she was very discrete, I said, ‘Don’t worry about it, because I’m gonna talk about it with Waltercio’. The first time I met Waltercio, I said, ‘Waltercio, this happened in fact? It’s true that at the opening of your piece something happened with the season?
C - But it’s so beautiful when it’s in the snow.
CM - But the only reaction before I started spreading this to confirm the story, ‘This happened in fact?’ He reacted, ‘Hmm hmm.’
C - Well, ask her to take the piece from Portugal to Finland. And then you can bring it back to Brazil.
CM - Ask who?
C - Maaretta.
CM - No, she’s not there.
VA - This piece wouldn’t work very well there, no?
CM - It’s now a permanent thing. I like it because that thing moves when you’re standing. So, shall we finish?
C - Cildo wants to finish.
CM - No, don’t worry. As I said to you, if you need something … San Gimignano, you have the contact there?
C - No. It’s the most beautiful place in Italy, no?
CM - You’d like it there.
C - So when’s the show?
VA - On 25 September.
C - Now?
C - No! My God, so short.
VA - We've only been sleeping four hours a day for three months. There are two teams. Giulia calls it the Cildo team, and the Various team. Normally when I say ‘we’ I mean Various Artists.
C - Yeah, but most of them don’t exist. So how do we know if they exist or don’t exist.
VA - You shouldn’t know. I don’t think existing is a very necessary aspect of life. It isn’t. I mean, life transgresses between the real thing, literature, poetry, and fiction. Everything could be seen as one world.
C - That’s what he said to his wives.
VA - But I’m still on good terms with all of them.
C - Me too. I just didn’t have kids with them.
VA - That’s clever.
C - I was smart.
VA - But that’s easier for a woman than for a man. Not having kids.
C - But I also had three.
VA - Yes, you had three.
C - No, I had three men. Cut this please.
VA - No, we're not publishing this – no bragging about men and wives.