Interview with Bia Monteiro: “bite the bullet” MFA Solo Show

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bite the bullet” is a work about interruptions in life that lead to physical and emotional displacements through photographs, videos and a site-specific installation. The house and its materials are protagonists in this series, whether ruined or rebuilt. It is after destroying or restructuring a house that ones’ identity becomes more distinct.

The house is depicted in structural materials, in existent relationships and their evidences through different approaches to form, arrangement and skin.

As a woman, a mother, a wife and an emigrant, building and supporting a house is about resilience. The house became the prime structure of my identity and it is where limits are confronted by different relationships I have to people who share it with me and those who come and go.

Bia Monteiro (b.1976 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) holds a B.A. in Advertising/Film from Emerson Colllege, Boston, MA. Bia is a visual artist working mostly with photography, video and installations. She had a solo show at Cranio Galeria de Arte in Rio de Janeiro and several group exhibitions in Brazil, Berlin and New York. She was part of the Picture Berlin Photo Residency in 2012. Bia also makes artist books and is currently doing the

As a result of the many ongoing conversations centered on our creative practice, I was curious to learn about how Bia Monteiro prepared for her MFA solo show. Presented here are edited selections from two different conversations.

February 2016

Sasha Bush: Can you describe what the two split screens are of the Migration video that you brought into Crit. a few weeks ago?

Bia Monteiro: One third of a screen is a crate with sea turtles; baby sea turtles placed near a hotel in Mexico, by the ocean. And all the tourists would come and, would get one and put them in the water, to go to the ocean. And the other two thirds of the screen is about these Syrian refugees trying to cross the Greek border, through barbed wires and police hitting people.

I started with self-portraits and then I expanded a little bit more to the relationships inside my house, and then the step after that was about social behaviors.  And now I guess I’m broadening out to more global aspects of society.

SB: When you have a Crit. it’s a similar process; you open up the floor and that gives you a broad range of suggestions and possibilities.  What comments stuck with you?

BM: I’ve been working with layers and during the process the layers become more complex.  It is good to revisit previous layers to understand where I’m going to, where I am at, at the moment.

And critique it works the same.  I think it’s the same process. I listen to people. I sit with that for a while and then I revisit the work and read the comments.  Often I do adjustments or perhaps I put it back in the drawer and don’t touch the work for a while.

SB: Are you thinking of using the Migration video in your solo show or is it more a sketch for thinking about expanding the ideas on social relations?

BM: I might use it for my solo show but I’m not sure.

March 2016

Sasha Bush: You have a clearer picture, almost to the last piece, of what your show is going to be like and of the sequencing.  Can you describe the process of how you got to the images I’m looking at right now?

Bia Monteiro: We have one class where we are aiming towards a portfolio and we were supposed to have only twelve photographs for a portfolio reading and that’s how the process actually started.  So I had twelve photographs that I had been working with for almost a year and kept thinking about my show. But then, to read through a portfolio is different than to have pictures hanging on a wall.  So I brought my selection to the studio and I started to play with them.  I was happy with them for two weeks and between writing and editing the images it all became clear to me.

Because I’m having a site-specific installation I didn’t want to have too many photographs on the wall. So I wanted to be able to tell what I wanted to tell, or say what I wanted to say in this group of nine photographs.

The last time that we met I was talking about my research on migration and displacement and I was thinking of describing it in a global way.  But after sitting with my images, elaborating on my site-specific installation and writing it all came clear to me that I was actually telling a story based on my own experience as a mother, woman, emigrant and artist at the same time.

SB: Before you decided to put these images up on the wall, these nine images that we’re looking at, did you play around with them on your computer?

BM: I’m not a computer person. So usually I start out working alone and I have a process and I don’t show anybody until I feel confident enough.  Usually the first person I show is my husband who is very critical, and has known my work for a while now, because we’ve been together for twelve years.  And then I come to my peers.

I like to have my photographs up on the wall.  That’s the only way that I see them. I have to live with them.  I have to look at them for a while.

I have to digest them so I have to look at them daily. And then I share with people for sure.  But then I get to the point that I know what I want, also.

Join 2016 ICP-Bard student Bia Monteiro at the International Center of Photography MFA Studios for her solo exhibition, bite the bullet.

Opening Reception
April 14 | Thursday | 6 – 9 PM

On View
April 15 – 16 | Friday – Saturday | 1 – 6 PM

24-20 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, NY
E and M trains to 23rd Street/Ely Avenue; G and 7 trains or the B61 bus to 45th Road/Court House Square.

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