“The photographer should exercise his voyeurism in everything, everywhere”: A Preview of SP-Arte/Foto and Interview with Photographer Cassio Vasconcellos
After having lived in New York and Paris, fifty-one year old fine-art photographer Cassio Vasconcellos discovered his penchant for aerial photography in the late 1980s while working as a photojournalist for newspaper Folha de S. Paulo to the point he got himself a helicopter pilot license. Not the gabbying kind, this passionate native of Brazil’s largest metropolis, with five books to his name, is a cherished professional in the milieu and is enticed by the contemporary art scene, even when not seemingly related to the specific matter of his lens. He boasts over 190 exhibitions in twenty countries and his noted series “Noturnos São Paulo” in Polaroid format is published at “The World Atlas of Street Photography”(Thames & Hudson / Yale University Press).
Beginning September 1st, his photos will be at the Phoenix Art Museum at the comprehensive collective show “Past / Future / Present: Contemporary Brazilian Art from the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo / MASP”, curated by Vanessa Davidson and Cauê Alves, and on the 9th at “Natureza Concreta”, a group exhibition at Caixa Cultural Rio de Janeiro.
Currently, Vasconcellos’ works are being showed at SP-Arte/Foto at the stands of Fotospot and Galeria Mario Cohen, as well as in three simultaneous prestigious events about town. These are “Poder e Sufocamento”, Museu da Imagem e do Som (MIS), curated by Isabel Amado; “Modos de Ver o Brasil: Itaú Cultural 30 Anos”, OCA-Parque do Ibirapuera; and “São Paulo não é uma cidade, invenções do centro”, at the newly-opened SESC 24 de Maio, both with curatorship signed by respected intellectual of the arts, Paulo Herkenhoff.
Cassio, how did the passion for photography get hold of you?
It all began when I was fifteen in a weekend family trip with my parents. Since then I never stopped shooting images.
You are also a helicopter pilot. How did that come about?
As a kid I have always loved helicopters and in 1996 I finally got my license. Since then I have been shooting aerial photos commercially and for my personal work. Before you ask me, no, I’ve never shot pictures and piloted at the same time. It is utterly impossible! In truth, when I’m working I always fly as a passenger/ photographer. Knowing about flying helps my conversation with the pilot since we communicate in the same jargons, I understand the helicopter’s possibilities and limits, plus I read the flight-control panel and follow the communication from the control tower.
Other than São Paulo, what are some of the places you have shot aerial photos?
Oh, so many in the past twenty years! I have flown over all the regions of Brazil and over practically all the lengthy seaside of our country. An international flight took me from the US to São Paulo, a twelve-day long helicopter ride over several countries. Another time, I participated in a one-of-a-kind helicopter flight from São Paulo to the Atacama Desert in Chile that originated my “Fly to Mars” series. As a photographer, I accumulate next to a thousand flight-hours in different types of aircrafts.
What type of camera or cameras do you usually take with you?
Since 2005, I have been shooting both aerial and terrestrial photos with a digital 35 mm camera.
Who do you look up to in photography?
When I started, I was very much inspired by Henri Cartier-Bresson, André Kertész, Man Ray, Robert Frank, Joan Fonctuberta, José Oiticica Filho and Geraldo de Barros. Nowadays, I’m into the works of Edward Burtinsky (Canada), Michael Wolf (Germany), Hong Hao (China) and Cédric Delsaux (France). In Brazil, l admire Claudia Jaguaribe, Lucas Lenci, Cristiano Mascaro, Júlio Bittencourt, Betina Samaia, Claudio Edinger and others.
How do you see the Brazilian market for fine-art photography?
It is plain to see that fine-art photography is a growing market in Brazil. We witness the rise of photography in important private and public collections. Every edition of SP-Arte/Foto has more galleries as well as visitors. What is bothering all of us is the country’s present economic crisis.
What do you have to say for beginners?
Photography is not only about the eye and taking pictures, one has to nurture heart and mind in the other artistic manifestations: cinema, music, arts, architecture, etc.. The photographer should exercise his voyeurism in everything, everywhere. I also believe one should do a lot of walking around the city on foot. Only by strolling around do you get to know a place.
(Cynthia Garcia. Source: New City Brazil)