Carolina Pimenta was born in the 1980s in Oporto. Surrounded by art, and an interest in the different fields of art are an integral part of her upbringing. Displaying a contagious cheerfulness, she opened up the doors of her Lisbon atelier to us, full of positive energy and with twinkling eyes that hint at many a story. Images are one of the tools in her thinking.
Her academic career began in Oporto, followed by a brief period in Lisbon. Carolina then went to study in England. After finishing her course there, she then set off to New York, where she worked for four years in an artistic production agency.
But being standing still isn’t part of her plans and travel has always been an important part of her agenda, driven by an interest in discovering the world, developing projects and photography. With journeys of discovery that take in South America, Europe and Asia, her trips are extensive and of crucial importance to her spirit. Caroline has been developing a reflective oeuvre on image, through digital collage, graphic manipulation, but also by capturing moments, a well-defined perspective on the way we absorb the quotidian around us. Her work also uses the body as a protagonist and experiments with new media for expression. Last year, her work was exhibited at Maat, in Lisbon and at Lamb Arts, in London. And this is just the beginning; there are still so many projects to be developed.
Veronica de Mello: What was your first contact with art?
Carolina Pimenta: Thanks to my family, I had the privilege of being in contact with art from the time I was born.
What led you to study Visual Communication at the University of Leeds? I wanted to do a course that was more versatile than simply photography. I felt that I would leave with a broader base for exploring other territories.
What is it to communicate visually? For me, it means expressing a feeling, an idea, a message... A reflection through images.
Is the main medium you work with photography? Why? Yes, it is. I like working with photography because it is a tool that can always be with me. From a very young age, I have been fascinated by photography and it is one of the ways in which I manage to beer express myself and communicate. Parallel to this, I have always been afraid of forgeing all the moments I live and observe, and photography is my way of registering daily life.
Are you more interested in staging a moment or capturing spontaneity? Both approaches interest me. I can just as easily create and idealise a series as I can spontaneously capture what is going on around me.
Who or what artists have influenced your work? This
is always the most difficult question to answer. There are lots of artists that have influenced me and I enjoy constantly researching and finding out more about artists I am unfamiliar with. I can say that the staples are Nan Goldin, Wolfgang Tillmans, Helena Almeida, Francesca Woodman, Miguel Rio Branco, Larry Clark and, perhaps less obviously, I am inspired by the ZERO movement, by the artists Hinez Mack, Ottoo Penne, Yves Klein, etc.
What is your first studio like? The dream! My studio is warm, has the perfect lighting and the best possible energies.
What does travel mean to you? Freedom, exploring and therapy for the mind.
What has been your best trip so far? Arizona.
Why the “Mexico” series? Because it was initially a series developed in order to confront stereotypical ideas created around a country. It coincided with my leaving New York and, as the result of a great passion for Mexico, it emerged as the ideal seeing.
Why “Poland”? Because we wanted a greater challenge after the project in Mexico. We wanted something more ‘homelike’, less exotic, as well as to work with differences arising from me being Portuguese and seeing Poland as a distant country, versus my photographer colleague who is German, and therefore a neighbour of this country.
What interests you in artistic collaboration? I like to work with other artists, to discuss themes and different ways of looking at the same subject. I feel that I develop more through collaborations.
If someone is photographed by you, do they become a subject? Does the banal become an artistic work? The banal becomes timeless. This is a register and exploration of our childhood and the concept of life and age as a crossroads in the history of art; and an artistic work emerges from this.
What do you worry about? Contemporary society. The new values and priorities of our world.
What is Lludus? What does it mean? Lludus is my visual diary, my daily life. It means playfulness.
What project are you currently working on? I’m working on a variety of projects. A book called Antília, about love and the island of São Miguel; a performance, One Shot, which will take place at Rua das Gaivotas 6 this year; an artist’s book connected to this same performance and which bears the same name; and an exhibition with an installation on the theme of the perception of the body and image.
What time do you start working? Do you have a routine? I normally start working at 8:30 a.m.
What is your relationship with light? I depend on light. I mainly prefer photographing with daylight during the day and the extreme opposite, with an aggressive flash at night. I don’t like studio or artificial lighting, with the exception of flash. You work with collage, including cuttings and digital collage.
How does this work in contemporary art? For me, the existence of both is essential. I’m a bit of a tech geek; I like exploring as far as I can with digital collage but, at the same time, I have a profound love of paper, books, textures and I need the manual side of things, like a therapy to a certain extent. I couldn’t do one without the other. There is no future without the past, and neither can we chain ourselves to a certain time.
Plans for 2018? I hope to be able to continue working on the series that I have been building up for an exhibition and I’d like to do an artistic residence.