Interview: Pedro Palomino

Art, Interviews, New artists

The Goldsmiths Undergraduate Degree Show opens to the public today. I chewed the fat with one of the exhibiting artists, Pedro Palomino. He once camped out in his garden for a whole year. My nine-year-old self was in awe. 

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Pedro on his travels: Photograph courtesy of the artist

Hi Pedro. Can you tell me a bit about the type of work you do? Your flava, if you will…

“I’m interested in alternative forms of living. It’s taken me five years to complete my degree, because my inspiration for the work comes from long periods of living nomadically in Latin America, Europe, North Africa and Asia. I’ve driven from London to Eastern Turkey, London to Omsk and Sao Paulo to Arcata – taking breaks in between to return to London and study.

“I’m really interested in sustainability, and making work that is organic. I think the concept of a fixed studio is outdated; my studio is everywhere.

“I’m not going to be at my exhibition tonight as I am in Japan. Art speaks for itself, in this case, literally.”

Sounds cryptic. How does it speak? Is it some kind of Hammer Horror style spooky voiceover?

“One of my pieces is a painting, made from natural materials like mud and earth, on which I have etched my phone number. This means that a channel to the artist is sometimes open directly from this code in the canvas. I say sometimes, because I tend to lose my phone often. But I try to keep the same number.”

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‘07547749917’ (2012): Photograph courtesy of the artist

So your work is made in a very natural way, but also makes use of modern man-made technology?

“My art is about presence, virtually and physically. In a way I want to fossilize the telephone: things like facebook and Skype mean that it’s dying.”

What other work will you be showing?

“One of my other pieces is inspired by the year I spent living in my garden in Camden; just camping out. The work is a canvas which I kept outside with me and left to rot – I wanted it to absorb the elements like I did. In a sense, nature and the elements are the materials I use to make art.

“The canvas has a kind of life in it; it’s like it has decomposed.”

Work in progress: Photograph courtesy of the artist

Sounds delicious. So what’s next for you now you’ve graduated?

“The UK university system is so much better than the one in Brazil, where I’m from, so coming here has been a great opportunity for me. But now, the biggest thing for me is to create my own ideas. I don’t really see myself as a commercial artist: I want to apply the principles of sustainability I use in my work to my whole life.”

” In my hometown, Sao Paulo, things are becoming as expensive as London. However, it’s still very cheap to buy property in certain regions of Brazil at the moment, so I hope to invest in some land on the coast, turn it into a sustainable camp and use it to run art workshops.

“I have enjoyed living in London, but I don’t think I need to be in a huge city, with the huge rent and travel costs. With the internet you can be a virtual person: you don’t need to be anywhere in particular. If you’re young, you have the energy to move around and be flexible”

‘Nomadic Life’ (2012): Digital photo print

You can see Pedro’s exhibition catalogue here: http://old.gold.ac.uk/art/exhibitions/baap2012/pages/pg/01.html

The Goldsmiths undergraduate degree show is open Friday 15 June – Monday 18 June 10am – 7pm (except Sunday 17 June; 10am-4pm) at the Ben Pimlott building, St James, New Cross, London SE14 6NW. Nearest tube: New Cross Gate. 

If you are an artist or designer and would like to be interviewed for this blog, please contact me at helenlcrane@gmail.com. 

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