Carlos Aires

INTERVIEW

How would you describe your contribution to the Truck Art Project?

My project for Truck Art is a giant emergency sign at a high number of revolutions per minute. I’ve made two Molotov cocktails of images printed on the same reflecting material that covers police cars, vans and trucks, ambulances and fire engines. This red and yellow material is inevitably linked to the idea of an emergency, which is ultimately a situation produced by a disaster. I’ve been working for some time with images of catastrophes as one of the great contemporary mass entertainments, and their loss of significance added to the desensitisation of their spectators. The truck changes totally in the dark, reflecting light projected onto the material on which the collages have been printed and acquiring a very intense gleam. On such a large surface, this creates an effect of phantasmagoria and unreality, almost dreamlike. I think it’s great how extremely different the truck is in the daylight and in artificial light, when it is ‘activated’.

How do the two sides of the truck engage in dialogue?

The two sides of the truck function independently but, like its wheels, they push in the same direction. Printed on both sides is a spew of images found on the internet related to the concept of ‘catastrophe’. On one side they are printed in black on reflective yellow, and on the other in red on yellow. On this second side, the word ‘MORIREMOS’ (‘We shall die’) appears, also in a reflective red that vibrates strongly when reflecting light. At first I thought of putting ‘MORIRÉ’ (‘I shall die’), so that the viewer would read it in the first person, but it seemed to me I wasn’t doing the truck driver much of a favour, so I changed it. We all know we’re going to die, but it makes us very uncomfortable to think about it. On both sides, there are a lot of flies that make reference to Flemish paintings and the memento mori, which means ‘Remember, you must die’, and is related in turn to the word that appears on one side of the truck.

What do you see as the challenges of the project?

The principal challenge of the project is its actual container and the fact that it’s in motion. The viewer and the element of surprise in encountering the work without looking for it or expecting it is also important. I haven’t understood the project as two flat images to be rendered on the sides of the truck. Rather I’ve thought of the truck itself and its use as a whole. It’s not only the truck that’s important but the space where it’s travelling.

How does this project fit into your artistic development and discourse?

I generally work with sculpture and installation, where the place to be intervened is often the starting point for the development of the work. The fact that this space is the road or the street and the support is a lorry is already a challenge in itself. I was delighted that Fer Francés, the curator of the project, invited me to form part of the Truck Art Project because I’m not a painter or street artist like most of the other artists who have taken part in the project, and I hope to have contributed a little diversity to this adventure.

Some artists admit they arrived with a preconceived idea which they then had to modify, or which grew in other directions when they were confronted with a support like this. Was that your case?

I always modify my initial ideas during the process of executing the works. The opposite strikes me as a failure, and rather dull. If the finished work is exactly as imagined, there’s no need to make it because it’s already in your head. I think it’s vital to be open to those changes because it’s during that process that I most enjoy my work. It’s something you get out of it, and it’s what really gives a meaning to this profession.

How have you envisaged the reception of a work like this one, which is found rather than sought out by the spectator, and which doesn’t circulate through the usual artistic channels?

The best things in life come by surprise. Much of the force of this project is its decontextualisation of the artwork, taking it out of the traditional sanctuaries and cemeteries of art.

And the fleetingness of its reception?

Art is currently coming out of the exhibition rooms, galleries and museums, and that makes viewers unsure whether what they are seeing is art or not. It doesn’t really matter, either, because that sensation of doubt or strangeness is a good thing, whether it comes from an artwork, a circus poster or both at the same time. I imagine it must cause a certain uncertainty and wonder to cross paths with a lorry full of images on your way to work, and to read nothing on it except ‘MORIREMOS’. By night, that strangeness is accentuated because the truck gleams, it’s almost like a moving ghost. It doesn’t advertise anything, there’s no brand, there’s no product. It just reminds us of something we already know.

How did you tackle the scale? Were you used to it?

I’ve never been afraid of large formats.

What do you get out of participating in a project like this, and what do you think you contribute to it?

This project has given me the chance to unleash one of my works and let it out of the studio to run through the streets without treading any of the spaces where I usually present my work. And above all, it’s brought me a great deal of pleasure.

What’s the interesting thing about a project like the Truck Art Project?

The Truck Art Project is a fairly well-rounded project because it breaks the barriers of the work of art, the limits of the stretcher, the space where art is seen, the statics of contemplation, the viewer who is conditioned when entering a museum by what it means, knowing that behind your work there isn’t a wall but a palette of bottles of whisky or cans of olives, the appearance of someone like Jaime Colsa who is ready to gamble on an adventure like this, inviting artists to do something they don’t normally do, exchanging the gallerist or exhibition superintendent for a truck driver, making it a travelling exhibition that changes location every minute, the fact that you stumble across the artworks without expecting it… And that all this is set in motion by stepping on an accelerator!

Carlos Aires (Ronda, Málaga, 1974) began his Fine Arts studies at the Alonso Cano Faculty in Granada before continuing them in Tilburg, in southern Netherlands, and in Belgium. His stay in Holland enabled him to immerse himself in the atmosphere of one of the world’s most artistically dynamic regions, taking part in numerous projects and exhibitions. Aires uses the languages of photography, sculpture and installations to construct a ludic oeuvre with a festive touch that nevertheless has a profound social and political critique underlying it. Money, as the chief representation of power, is one of the great motifs that inspire his work. This multidisciplinary artist uses icons from the Spanish tradition like bullfighters and dwarfs, as well as famous historical figures, in combination with musical references and written messages to build up a singular mosaic of popular culture. Beautiful and provocative at the same time, his images often put forward a disturbing and politically incorrect reading of reality. Some of his collections can be seen at places like Artium in Álava, the CAC - Centro de Arte Contemporáneo in Málaga, the CAAC - Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo in Seville and the MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani in Barcelona.