Interview between María Inés Rodríguez and Vasco Araújo




María Inés Rodríguez
In Eco, the work you're presenting at this exhibition, we find several of your recurring themes, such as literature, the voice, your thoughts about the human condition... How did this work originate?

Vasco Araújo
It arose out of a psychological analysis of human beings, our existence, and what we should do. The text was also inspired by Pavese's Dialogues with Leucò, and by a psychological analysis of the Self and the Other; me and my mother; me and my father... That's why there are six characters in the video, five men and one woman. Each one represents a different part of the Self, like heteronymous characters who ultimately all add up to just one. The voice you can hear is mine; it's the voice of a single individual who then divides up into these six different characters. That's what the work's about: the way the Self splits up, its existence, and its destiny as an individual.

MIR
Pavese was inspired by Greek mythology in his Dialogues with Leucò. The fallen gods talk about their lives, their expectations...

VA
Dialogues with Leucò doesn't deal only with the fall of the gods, it discusses ordinary people too, and it's precisely this mixture that I find interesting. The relationship between reality and fiction, between Man and God, a sort of large-scale projection of the Self onto a superior being, or rather a being that's greater than the Self, that lies outside it, a being made to its image and likeness, but idealized by the Self, so that it can project onto it the things it can't manage to do itself, the sort of perfect being which humans aspire to be. In this work my characters are ideal characters, they're complete, and almost intangible, and they talk about things that humans find difficult, but in the end they embody the human being, their own alter ego, or even themselves.

MIR
There are six different characters, but they have the same voice. Who do they represent?

VA
As I said before, the characters represent a single being, a human being divided up. They don't represent specific characters, either gods or men; they're the voices we carry inside us, the voices, in other words, of human beings who are partly me.

MIR
The voice, whether in the form of song or speech, has always been an important feature of your work. Here we have a single voice through which the characters express themselves…

VA
Yes, in fact the voice itself may well be the leading thread of my work. The human voice is our psyche, thanks to it we can have several incarnations without getting lost. The voice can express joy, rage, sadness, melancholy, apathy, and so on; it's the human being's true personality, its identity. And this identity expresses itself and communicates its feelings, it gives us our true dimension, so to speak, gives us a history, and defines us. That's why I've always used the voice. But it's also because I understand the voice and work on it: being an opera singer and having received voice training enabled me to realize very early on how powerful the voice is as a political and social tool and a psychological one as well. In a great many of my works, the voice emerges through the characters who sing or recite texts in a foreign language. For instance it's of vital importance in Duettino (2001), Recital (2002), Sabine/Brunilde (2003), Jardim (2005), and About Being Different (2007). The voice is a tool that enables me to tell stories about social, political and psychological problems. And it's through the voice that the spectator is revealed as well, in the sense that he or she identifies it and perceives it as a universal idiom with the ability to move or annoy, so that it sets off a reaction in anyone who sees it. And I do mean "sees it", because that, precisely, is the difference: in my work you can see a voice and not just hear it.

In Eco exactly the same thing happens: we can see the voice and listen to it, it's malleable, it's made of flesh and blood, it is the human being.


Translated into English by Jacqueline Hall