Ivan Padovani, visual artist: “São Paulo is a challenge for anyone living here. It may be fascinating, offer opportunities, on the other hand, it curbs you. Each one deals with these hindrances their one way. You can ignore, tolerate, become numb or position yourself to have an active role building the city. To live in a contemporary urban space comes with looking into its problems and the process of juggling the experience of day-by-day survival in the metropolis. My work deals with this process through photography and installations.
My main influence is urban architecture but I am also into vernacular architecture and owner-built experiences. For example, in the Trauma series (2018), the support for my images are panels made with a cement and cellulose compound, a material used mainly as cladding for industrial building façades. I have been employing it in different works for some time, as well as other building materials such as aluminum and steel. With them I try to simulate or reproduce a certain tactile, spatial and visual experience found in architecture. In the case of the Trauma series the photo is printed with mineral pigment on cotton paper and then glued on an aluminum panel then mounted on three layers of cement cladding.
Another work, “Campo Cego” (Blind Field, 2014), which deals with the faceless sprawl in architecture, is a series of thirty-five photos printed on cement and cellulose compound depicting the blind windowless side façades of high-rises in São Paulo. It was shown at the 15th Venice Biennale of Architecture, in 2016. “Campo Cego” until then the series had only being showed within the context of contemporary art so it was very interesting to witness it in an architectural context.
When one looks at the panorama of the São Paulo metropolis there is so much visual pollution. I try to discover a different point of view in this hectic camouflaged scenery. It is only natural for the human brain to defend itself from the harsh daily urban experiences in an overpowering city like ours, with all sorts of brash sound and visual impacts. This natural protection strongly influences the way we deal with the urban environment and can even generate numbness. When I photograph my focus is to enhance an otherwise banal, faceless, visual dimension of the city that goes unnoticed by most of its dwellers. Banal and empty spaces attract me I see them as areas full of potential that can be subjected to different interpretations.
If my work is able to influence people to relate to São Paulo’s special intensity in a different way the experience has been successful.”