'Poetry has dynamite: It opens its own path.' An interview with Filipe Lippe
Filipe Lippe, an artist and poet from Brazil, finished his Master's degree at HFBK Hamburg in July 2017 and answered Art Springboard's questions in writing.
Wolfram Schnelle: What were some of your early experiences with art? What led you to become an artist?
Filipe Lippe: I guess I cannot say precisely when and why I began making art or what led me to art. It is common to say that it began in childhood or teenagerhood, that’s what most artists say. I suspect I was probably drawn to art by an unconscious force, a drive, a desire. What I can say is that I make art because I can. Many people don’t have the right or the privilege of making art for several reasons: economic, cultural, racial, gender and so on. I had to fight for my right to make art and I'm still doing it. Independently of the social, cultural and economic reality in which I am inserted – and a supposed legitimation of the art system (that I will maybe never have) – I am making art and will continue doing it because I make art in order to not waste my life. This is my empowerment.
WS: The work Imaginary Museum of (Under)development, which you presented at your degree show at HFBK, is an installation that consists of a multitude of arranged objects and images. Could you describe what you have presented, how you presented it and how it relates to your overall practice?
FL: The museum is an ongoing project that aims to establish a critical look at the history of Western socio-economic development and its civilizing process by using the ruins created by this same development as its starting point. I want to disturb the official historical narrative of the long process of development in Western societies by showing its fallacies, and I want to do it, not only poetically but also collectively, by stimulating the public, scholars, curators and other artists to participate in the work. The museum collection is composed of my own archive material and my works as well as of donations, works by other artists, objects, images, old footage etc. So, if in this work I perform the role of curator or museum director, selecting all kinds of archive materials in order to compose a poetic narrative, I am a curator who thinks and curates collectively and with a different kind of authority. This is not new in my practice. All my works are somehow the result of the convergence of diverse cultural and historical references. Maybe I don’t believe in purity.
WS: You describe yourself as an artist and a poet. Tell me about the importance of words in your work and what role they play.
LM: To a certain extent, we are the language we speak. So I think of how words designate our destinies. If everything is a matter of narration and language shapes reality, it also shapes who we are. The poet's exercise is to transform this language into something else, to go beyond the words printed on our bodies, to go beyond the real. The poet is the one who escapes from destiny and makes their own path beyond the limits of their own body. But this exercise must to be done with ethics, because language is theoretically a common good. Octavio Paz affirmed once that poetry is 'the subversion of the body', while Breton defined poetry as the most fascinating orgy a person can reach. It is always about going beyond the limits. Poetry has dynamite: It opens its own path. Why else do you think poets have been marginalized throughout history?
WS: You say that art can be a fundamental platform for encounter, dialogue and social inclusion, an agent of social, political and cultural transformation. Can you tell me what you hope to achieve with your own work in this respect and how?
LM: Life without art is stupid and precarious. Art has many responsibilities and challenges. I like to imagine that one of the goals of art is to establish dialogue and encounters. I imagine that one day a person leaves his house, misses a train and changes his whole plan for the day and decides to go to an exhibition. There, in the exhibition, this person meets another person by chance, just because he missed a train. In the exhibition these two people exchange experiences and aesthetic ideas, they debate existential, political, social issues. They notice that they have something in common and decide to go to a bar to continue the conversation while they drink a beer and after that they go to a flat and have a night of sex. And it doesn’t matter if afterwards they get married and have children. The works of art exhibited in that exhibition have already changed the history of the lives of those two people and even if the artist then sells the works, the entire exhibition, to a rich collector, the work will belong forever to those two people who met at the exhibition. This is what I want to achieve with art.
WS: Tell me about your experience at HFBK and how it has influenced what you are doing as an artist.
LM: To be honest I have no idea. What I can say is that I met some incredible people, professors, and colleagues, and that was great.
WS: Now that you’ve finished your Master’s degree what’s next?
LM: Well, I want to become a better person to people who really matter in my life, be more active politically in my country, Brazil, which is living a very dark moment, and write a play.
To see all works by Filipe Lippe click here
To read more about the artist click here