ALUMNI PROFILE: To the extreme limits of the WestProfile
by Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, AADipl 2015
30 March 2019
This Spring, the AA Gallery will host an exhibition by Amnesty International to showcase their investigation into the impact of conflict on civilians in Raqqa, Syria – the most destroyed city in the world. Related to the theme of this exhibition, AA Conversations is publishing a series of interviews with alumni who have challenged or dealt with the topics of urgency and conflict through their student work or in their current practice.
Álvaro F. Pulpeiro is a filmmaker and writer currently based in Bogotá, Colombia. He graduated from the AA in 2015, when he was also part of the collective of young artists curated by Hans Ulrich-Obrist, 89+. During that time he researched and filmed what became his first feature film, Nocturno: Ghosts of the Sea in Port (2017). His work investigates a type of cinema that thrives in the extreme limits of the West, traveling, researching and documenting political and economic dynamics. His most recent exhibition entitled: En la Arena Se Ha Bañado La Sombra (In The Sand The Shadow Has Bathed) was exhibited at the AA Gallery this Winter, showcasing a collection of ongoing research for a feature film that is being shot in and around Venezuela to investigate two central themes: petrol smuggling and border economies.
[caption id="attachment_7952" align="alignnone" width="360"] Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, En La Arena Se Ha Bañado La Sombra, 2018[/caption]
How do you think studying at the AA has influenced your work/career?
In a sense, the AA has no form, no clear method, but a spirit, a way of looking at complexities. In the work I do, improvisation and cunning are far more important than the technical ability to produce without thinking. The AA is all about understanding every aspect of a concept, including the peripheral, not about memorising and producing just for the sake of it. That has helped me a lot, because looking with no desire to instantaneously produce has given me a discerning eye, which is deeper and more precise.
[caption id="attachment_7886" align="alignnone" width="360"] Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, Introduction To Civil War[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_7887" align="alignnone" width="360"] Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, Introduction To Civil War[/caption]
What role does urgency/conflict play in shaping your practice?
The most essential and terrifying one. And it’s a role that battles against the fact that you need a lot of funding to make a film. Urgency is sometimes very unwanted, but when something is literally exploding in front of your very eyes, you have to capture that inner fire. Conflict also manifests itself as a metaphysical element in my work, as the dance between what I can get and what I have imagined; what I have planned and written, and what takes place in front of the camera. I like the undomesticated, those that do not act, but lives far beyond my reach. But I also need to control the gaze and with it the ideas being portrayed. So it’s a dangerous and frustrating conflict.
[caption id="attachment_7892" align="alignnone" width="360"] Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, La Jovencita No Envejece Se Descompone[/caption]
What role does the architect play in solving urgent problems?
None. This is an idea, again in vogue, that I am particularly terrified about. And let’s not describe this through the architect, but rather as the individual, who comes from a comfortable position of judgement and who wants to solve a problem with tools that most of the time create more problems. But regardless of this fact, I despise the attitude of solving and resolving what a very specific and removed point-of-view judges as broken and unproductive. The architect does not solve: creating only transforms, not always for the good and that’s OK.
[caption id="attachment_7953" align="alignnone" width="360"] Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, Nocturno research images, 2017[/caption]
What topics do you consider to be of vital importance and urgency in contemporary architectural practice?
First of all, architecture is not the built environment, or the lines and renders that resemble a physical building. For me, following a Baroque understanding of what architecture can be, it is an act where one discloses a subjective spatiality; how the architect chooses to make it visible, build it, film it, write it, say it– it is their choice. For me, contemporary architecture has to break through the barriers and confinements set during the Enlightenment and the Beaux Arts period, where disciplines became separate and exclusive from one another. This cannot last, however it is a dangerous thought that most won't like.
[caption id="attachment_7889" align="alignnone" width="360"] Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, Nocturno: Ghosts Of The Sea In Port, 2017[/caption]
What advice would you give to current students?
I would say: be conscious, don't be afraid and do not let intellectual or practical intimidations control your sense of future. Yes, there is the real world, but there are many real worlds, and the only way to tame it is through a big sacrifice. This is only if you want to seek what the AA stands for. It is also very respectable to get a paid job and prosper financially. But the world is in need of pilgrims that bring us visions of what it means to be alive in the margins, beyond the objectifying reach of consumption, endless profit and cannibal art markets.
[caption id="attachment_7954" align="alignnone" width="360"] Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, Nocturno research images, 2017[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_7891" align="alignnone" width="360"] Álvaro F. Pulpeiro, En La Arena Se Ha Bañado La Sombra, 2018 [/caption]
For more information:
En la Arena Se Ha Banado La Sombra (In The Sand The Shadow Has Bathed)
Read more about Alvaro on 89+
Watch the trailer for Nocturno
Read the full set of profiles by visiting our Alumni Portfolio