Since a few years ago I have worked together with friend photographer Marcelo Greco, an engaged artist and teacher. He discovered my work in Holland and invited me to start cooperating with him in São Paulo, after my participation in a photofestival in Paraty, organized by him. Marcelo is teacher at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo and he also has his own workgroups. In the workshops he asked me to give, I try to work along the same line, to give a strong impulse to the work of students, to help them to show their face and character in the work they create. The workshops are concentrated and personal and the connections also started from there, being productive and open. The participating students are photographers, architects, artists, designers. Exactly this mix, with different backgrounds and disciplines, are an advantage to the creative process. The workshops result in presentations, in exhibitions or small publications.
The Piano Etudes started their development in September 2013, on my return home to Amsterdam from Brazil, in particular because of the conversations with three women from these groups who where involved from the beginning of my work in São Paulo: Helena Rios, Daniele Queiroz and Flavia Tojal. Because of their initiative to translate my texts of Piano Etudes into Portuguese, they started calling themselves the ‘pianitas’.
drawing Flavia Tojal
Flavia is a photographer, specializing in portraits of children, from prenatal onwards, strong moody images, precise, poetic and storytelling. Daniele originally an architect, is active in different fields, as producer, photographer and designer. Her work jumps from one thing to another. It’s investigative, playful, touching. Helena, who also studied architecture, makes pictures and also drawings and collages, she is a many-sided artist. Her work is very personal and poetic, each time becoming stronger and stronger. Helena is also involved in the workshops, both as a translator and assistant, helping in the organization and reflections in between.
These three exceptional women became friends. A picture from a piano, made by Daniele, is the origin of this extended project. I was touched by this image of hers and proposed to exchange it for one of mine. I talked about this exchange with Daniele’s friend Rafael Godoy, during the opening of Internal Affairs, in which Marcelo Greco and I exhibited for the first time together in the fantastic Espaço Ophicina from Lucrecia Couso. During our conversation we mentioned having a piano at home, but never or hardly ever playing on it. We bravely agreed to practise during the coming year and back in São Paulo to give a mini-concert before a small audience. In fact this happened in metro station Stade de Luce in São Paulo in September 2014, on a piano in the station hall for anybody who wants to play.
From home I sent some ‘etudes’ to Dani and we invited Flavia and Helena to also become involved and to begin translating the texts to Portuguese, based on my English translation. A rhythm grew each week by sending a short text and they came together to form a common translation, based on their personal preparations. This worked quite well. The pianitas developed –as they had they told me, special nights about life, language and the piano. This constant rhythm stimulated me to keep producing and to keep the highest quality to develop the hidden layers still hidden in the project. After some five texts, the idea was born to invite artists from the workshop to react to a text. We made a list of twenty Brazilians, for me to finally make twenty texts. Later on I also asked twenty European artists the same question. The common element was that I had once taught them all. I proposed they should draw ‘blind’ a piano, from memory. This drawing should be the entrance-ticket to take part in the project. The Pianitas organized the contacts and logistics on the Brazilian side, I did the same for the Europeans. All reactions were positive and in a short time all forty works were ready, coming from all directions.
In September 2014 the Pianitas programmed in cooperation with Benjamim Taubkin van Casa do Nucleo, a fantastic small music centre in São Paulo, the first improvised evening around the etudes. This evening in Casa do Nucleo was heart warming. Benjamim Taubkin, the director and his colleague were great hosts and participants, just as were some actresses who did some choreographic sound improvisations. Just a short time ago we received the news that Casa do Nucleo have to close its doors, what an incredible loss for São Paulo at first, but far away also, until Europe.
Discussing the creative process, it is clear how this exists out of all sorts of links, coincidences, encounters, sources and experiences, shared enthusiasms and impartiality, with an openness for the unknown adventure, being full of confidence and energy. Also the playfulness, the necessity to think bigger, the adventure and friendship.
Etude 20, the ultimate piano-picture is a homage to the Pianitas, their endless energy and belief in this project. Also in the potency of an image, to be at the birth of something that finally became so big.