"I create in my head... in my head there are no classifications, presidents... not even my mother is allowed in."
Always existing somewhere between the realm of performance & protest, there is a distinctly irreverent tone to all of Nastio Mosquito's visual work, which incorporates video, graphic design, music, dance, & poetry. This past month IKON GALLERY closed out Mosquito's first solo show, entitled 'Daily Lovemaking', & from their Birmingham home, IKON brings the Angolan-born mystic & his uniquely metaphysical, digital hyper-reality to the 56th Biennale di Venezia (May – August 2015) at the Oratorio di San Ludovico, S. Basilio., in collaboration with Nuova Icona. We corresponded sporadically with Nastio from New York, his own whereabouts mysterious & unclear. We can't imagine Mr. Mosquito, whose work is to be experienced in order to be approached, would have preferred it any other way.
stills from Nástio Mosquito (in collaboration with Vic Pereiró)
Fuck Africa Remix, ©2015, video. Courtesy Nástio Mosquito.
EVAN LOUISON: It’s a pleasure to meet you in this context. I hope we can learn more about your work & each other through this conversation.
NASTIO MOSQUITO: My Pleasure.
EL: In “Freedom in the World” (Freedom House, 2015), Angola is classified as “not free.” On the sub-Saharan axis, it ranked 39 out of 52 on two of the three qualifying parameters on the 2013 Ibrahim Index for Governance. I wonder if you could speak on the experience of creating art in an authoritarian society, where the President controls the other bodies of the government.
NM: I create in my head... in my head there are no classifications, presidents... not even my mother is allowed in.
EL: Regardless of your mental state, there must be some effect that living under a regime such as Angola’s must have on your work, be it inspirational or repressive. If you could talk more about where your work comes from in this regard, we’d love to hear it.
NM: Surely there are effects from living under any given regime. I am a whore with an enormous conditioning filter right between what I eat and what I vomit... I have an obsession with providing points of view. My work is not about my opinion, and even though all of my work is contaminated by my limited perception of possibilities, it is always about a commitment to a perspective... If I have the fabricated mission of not making my work about my opinion, I am not available to make this interview about it either... know what I mean? Where the work comes from is mine and to provide possible destinations, our privilege...
EL: In one piece you say, ”Fear Death. You must fear Death, but remember that more important than Death is to die.” Speak more about this if you would. Is Death or the will to be at peace with its presence a sort of Freedom?
NM: There must be tangibility between the concept of death, and the awareness that you can, may and will die. When we you speak about something because it is interesting, good. When you speak about something because you must engage an action, independent of will, in relation to that same thing, good and inevitable consequence. It’s about urgency... I guess.
EL: In an interview from three years ago, you spoke about “supremacy driven preservation behavior” & called it “irrational & blind.” Angola's motto Virtus Unita Fortior —- virtue is stronger when united —- is a holdover from decades of war. How has the culture of supremacy pervaded the colonized in Angola & in turn independent Angola just as it has been a method of rule by authorities for so long in the peoples’ cultural history?
NM: I do not know... unfortunately, reality is not my expertise.
MAIS - by Vic Pereiró.
from the album "S.E.F.A. Fast Food" by Nástio Mosquito.
A Dzzzz Artwok Production ©2013
EL: When you say that, especially in regards to the colonial remnants & mentality still present in Angolan culture, are you being dismissive of a certain reality you must face in order to create? There are artists in other cultures (similar to yours) who may be served beneficially in terms of encouragement from hearing more from you on how the culture is still held back by the shackles of the past, & how you move past it.
NM: Dismissive? That’s a way to look at it... I’ll tell you this... I have no mission, I do not want to change the world, and I do not give a fuck about shackles of the past. I am purpose driven, I believe that there is no dream that cannot be achieved, and my heart shrinks every time I interact with a defeated spirit... allow this opportunity, that you so generously provide me with, to be about the exposure of the work itself, and not about the articulation of the interpretation of my framework... maybe it’s my dream to treated like a pop star that makes songs just to make sure people dance, while they think on how to make their lives better... help.
EL: So much of your work is interactive performance, responding to the elements within the frame by making them set-pieces (3 Continents) or by exposing the frailty of their structures (the identity of the music video protagonist in Demo Da Cracia). Speak about how this methodology has manifest itself in your work, & the development of your process to play within & outside your frame.
NM: There’s no outside of the frame, only what one cares about and what one does not care about... I love people, and that connected to my lack of desire to be useless makes me embrace a selfish sense of productivity... I find unserviceable indulging the action when the joy is in the consequence. No?
stills from Nastivicious, Acts, 2012, video, 1217’,© Nastivicious, courtesy the artist
EL: I’m particularly interested in the 3 Continents piece & it’s background. There’s something captivating about the quiet & overwhelming feeling of foreboding in your words, as comical at times as they may seem. It’s a beautiful piece, & I wonder if you might take this opportunity to speak at length about its beginnings, its writing, & its provocative intentions.
NM: No...[but] I am very, very pleased it moves you though; it’s important to me.
Daily Lovemaking teaser courtesy IKON GALLERY
EL: Your work speaks to an issue of being Free, & often takes the tone of an educational speaker or some kind of public voice. Of all your characters & identities, there a sense of being a “town crier” of sorts, a soapbox speaker, or a carnival barker. All engage the audience, & challenge them. How does dividing the voices in the work come about, & do the pieces originate in a certain voice from their onset? I wondered in researching your work whether or not your cast of characters exist in you as a sort of Theatre Company of players, who you assign roles & parts to as the words come to you.
NM: That is a great image, the one of a Theatre Company of players... I had never thought about it like that. If I start saying it is so, make sure you confirm it was my idea! It will be a lie with some abstract functional communication possibility. Deal? I’ll tell you this... freedom explained is freedom limited by its most feared enemy... Help me “be” free.
EL: What are some other places wherein you find inspiration save for inside your own head & the spiritual world, & what kind of link between your upbringing, your education, your root culture & your work, exists? What’s next for you? Global domination? Continue to exist on the fringe? We are interested to know what kind of grand schemes you may be in the process of cooking up, if only to have more of your output on the horizon/our radar.
NM: I want you to make me the most free pop star in the universe... my grand plan is to convince you to help me build an empire of purple people that has as a sole objective the clarification of the differences between dreams and illusions, possibilities and opportunities, identity and motivation, coherence and integrity, death and to die, etc. ... and not by engaging with what we think, believe, or say... we’ll do it while celebrating being limited resources, we’ll build... things. What do you say, are the contradictions too much to be productive?
Nástio Mosquito is at Oratorio di San Ludovico, Dorsoduro, Venezia, 3 May – 26 July 2015. Organised by Ikon Gallery and Nuova Icona.
cover image Nástio Mosquito, 3 Continents, 2010, video, 745’, © Nástio Mosquito, courtesy of the artist