Permeable Borders: an interview with Vera Hamburguer



I2: You graduated in Architecture. How did you transition to art direction and set design?

Yes, I graduated it in architecture by FAU USP. But the most time I ever worked as an architect, or apprentice, was in an internship at Marcio Amaral’s Office. I already wanted to work with Art History and got in the architecture school.

When I was still a student, I was called to do the set design and costumes in a series of dramatic readings directed by José Celso Martinez Correa, when he had just arrived from exile.

He had not yet recovered the building of Oficina Theatre. A great friend and actress, who was helping Jose on his return, thought about me and Fabio Itapura (my then boyfriend) to do these readings. They were held at Teatro Sergio Cardoso. It was amazing! Working with Ze Celso and a list of amazing actors: Célia Helena, Elke Maravilha, Paulo Villaça … A godsend! After that I never stopped and found the architecture that interested me: the ephemeral architecture, fiction.



I2: You’ve worked in theatre, film and television. Permeable Borders seems to be almost a consequence of your own multidisciplinary practice. Do you believe that these areas are moving towards greater integration as a whole? Are there differences for you to work on each one?

In fact I work with theatre, dance, opera, exhibitions, cinema and TV. I am also dedicated to research and teaching the art direction and set design. For me it is always very good to take turns in these areas. ​In fact the focus is always the same: the design of the space! But in every work I exercise a different form of language. So I avoid the particular vices to a professional circle or another, and stay in touch with the different artistic areas and the innovations that come from each area. There are many differences in working with one area or another, and it is a pleasure to restructure the project thought to act each time.

Maybe you are right: Permeable Borders is a consequence of this action in multiple areas. In fact, this is where I free myself from the project’s position; free myself from the narrative and hierarchical market production work. So I can really devote myself to the study of the elements of space and the act of creation. That’s what has interested me more now.

I2: The project is intended not only to set designers and art directors but also to solo artists. What is the expectation of results you see in this process for an artist / performer?

Yes, the project aims to provide the experience to anyone interested in the arts of space and body. I like to think we are not the experts the world wants us to believe we are. People with ability and curiosities confined to this or that activity. Human curiosity and ability to create are much more open than we usually work! I love to see how in these exercises people let go of these limits and discover things they “would not be seeing in their areas”. I think that’s where it interest artists in general … To loose the restricted point of view of their “specialty” and improve its perception and creation of global capacity.

I2:How was the choice of the team that accompanies you?

Cibele Forjaz, Manoela Cardoso and Ana Laura Leardini were collaborating on the experience at USP. I wanted to call them again in this edition as if to seal this partnership and give them more space. Dudu Tsuda I met in a performance of Edith Derdik and found his work very interesting.

I2: How was the work of reception in Prague? The project has changed since then?

 It was wonderful! Participants were from 20 different areas and from all around the world: England, Japan, Slovenia, Mexico, USA, Greece, etc. There were choreographers, architects, designers… All participants were highly involved in every step of the experiment. From there to here a lot has changed, new games were created, the old was reviewed and modified…

I2: Why choosing Vila Itororó as the location for the second Module?

 I have a particular emotional connection to that place. Other than that, which is strictly personal, I see it as an opportunity to discuss the iconic space of a monument, which has not yet found a way to survive after being appropriated by the state. It is a place that not only has a rich social and political history of but it can also raise issues such as what to do with a spring of water in the current city.

Photo: Nelson Kon
Photo: Nelson Kon

I2: Finally: can an image change the world?

If an image can change the world? I think several pictures marked the change in the world: Christ on the Cross, Che Guevara and his starry beret, the Vietnamese child running from the bomb, the September 11 attacks …