HV In your current work and life, what remains of your experience as a professional roller-skater?
MA I still carry inside the irreverence that the street and rollerblading gave me. But the greatest learning moments were the many times I fell and then had to get back up in front of the crowd, especially in competitions. This sort of learning is priceless, and helps me, today, to navigate in the art world, with all the pressures, rumors, greed, glares, misunderstandings and speculations.
HV You spent a lot of time outside, skating, painting, or doing public performances. Why is the street still a source of energy for you, today?
MA I think it’s curious that artists are always in their studios making art like a sort of souvenir, without putting the work to the test in the world, in real life. This studio production goes to the museums and galleries, which are institutions that embrace the code of the artworks, but are also institutions with their own codes. Who has access to these codes – both those of the artworks and those of the art institutions? Why does artistic practice have to be restricted? Isn’t art supposed to be democratic? Isn’t it meant to save the world as the art circuit itself preaches? It seems to me that being in the streets is the most obvious way to help to break down these barriers.
” It would have been a foolish error on my part not to have held an exhibition during the period of uncertainty and global health crisis. The show marks this period in my biography. It is an institutional diagnosis of my era as a professional artist. “
HV You have just invited your community to participate in a new hair bleaching performance. In your paintings, most subjects also have pale yellow hair, as do you and your team.
MA I have been bleaching my hair since 2013. I had wanted to bleach it since I was a child, as it is very much in style in the favela, but my mother never allowed it. Many drug dealers bleached their hair, so this look was associated with the criminal lifestyle. This changed a lot when celebrities like Chris Brown, Kanye West, Pharrell, Jaden Smith and, in Brazil, Belo and even Neymar adopted this style. After they took on that look, fashion quickly absorbed it.
For me, the Global Bleaching art action was also a commentary on freedom, on being able to be what we want to be. It was an affirmation of rebellion and empowerment in the face of any discreet and indiscreet structure of imprisonment of the black body. A great reference of mine since I was a child, and something that helps to confirm this look, is the famous anime Dragon Ball Z, which marked my generation; the characters had black hair but it turned blond when they reached higher levels and became Super Saiyans, increasing their superpowers.
Read the full interview on Muse February Issue 59.