Interview by Amanda Quinn Olivar, West Coast Editor
Amanda Maciel Antunes is an LA-based multidisciplinary artist working in painting, costuming, performance, writing, and installation art. She was born and raised in the countryside of the state of São Paulo, Brazil.
What was the aha moment that led you to art... and did Los Angeles play a part in your career decision?
In my experience as an artist, I think of people who have significantly affected me across different fields and different time periods throughout my life. Where I grew up, in rural Brazil, art was never a major thing and never considered as a career choice. It was just part of our day-to-day; making and crafting was always in my life. I learned how to sew, draw and make furniture with bamboo when I was a child, so for me it was always something I had to do. I had no real knowledge about art as career until I stepped into an art gallery for the first time at 21 in the US, and had my first Theatre experience that led to my first artistic job painting sets and designing costumes for stage. So for me there was not one 'aha' moment but significant moments, from watching my grandfather paint a mural in his kitchen in homage to Tarsila do Amaral when I was six, to moving to the USA and finding the grounds of communication through a new language amongst strangers. I was always trying to figure out how to engage in a different way than I had already observed, and that migratory status combined with interdisciplinary practices is how I got to do what I do now.
How has living in LA informed your approach and aesthetic?
Since moving to LA four years ago, very quickly I found that this is a place that demands an obligation to realize the self. Partly for its geography and its integration with daily life, if you consider it from a social angle I think it’s very isolating, and that reflected on my time in the studio a lot. But from an aesthetic angle and as for my spiritual approach to the work, there is a very rich exchange and sophistication here. It felt totally experimental and free to do whatever work I wanted here. I had already began a performance art practice when I lived in Boston for a few years, but it wasn’t until I moved to LA that I felt that there was room to manipulate spaces between the cracks of institutionalized places, and my interpretations of identity within the work shifted.
When and how did you first feel embraced by our LA art community?
It's always based on the balance of two poles, the onlooker and the maker. I think if you consider the audience, it was when I performed a site-specific piece titled Autopsicografia in a WWII shelter in east LA, in 2017. Strangers came by and stayed... one friend took a nap in the space, all while this endurance piece lasted, for 10 long hours. I would never in a million years expect anyone to sit and watch a performance for that long, and I was truly moved by it.
The exhibition speaks about the vitality of our art community. Which pioneering LA artist influenced you the most? And whose work do you find intriguing right now?
Some of the creatives who have influenced me often happen to be filmmakers or writers who at some point in their lives lived or continue to live in LA: to name a few of my favorites, Agnes Varda, Anais Nin, David Lynch, Werner Herzog, Maggie Nelson and Joan Didion. But also since moving here I’ve been introduced [to] and fascinated by the works of Betye Saar, Carmen Argote, Jo Ann Callis and Uta Barth. Truly inspiring, like a beautiful myth.
What is your favorite art accident?
There was no accident. To live is to invent, for those who want to.
Photo of Amanda Maciel Antunes courtesy of Artist
How They Ran
Over The Influence
August 12 - September 5, 2018