“Bartering is a word that is very present in my work,” declared the artist Desali, born in 1983 in Contagem, an industrial region near the city of Belo Horizonte. The idea of bartering was already familiar when the artist became a member of the Piolho Nababo – an anarchic collective that held art auctions with bidding starting at R$1,99. Starting with graffiti and comics in his adolescence, Desali has been expanding his artistic techniques and research through his formal education in Art. An art education activist, he is concerned with bringing urban occupation to the museum, the art gallery to a neighborhood bar in the periphery, artistic workshops to at-risk areas – always with the direct involvement of the social protagonists originally unconnected to the art world. “There’s an exchange of experiences, an accumulated knowledge that I want to understand,” said the artist in an interview with C& América Latina.
Nacional, a neighborhood in the city of Contagem, is my world; it’s what I understand as real. It’s my roots, which I identify with, and which shaped me as a person. It’s where I get my inspiration, where all of my images come from and the relationship that I create with other worlds. I lived in Belo Horizonte, but now I am back in Contagem. My painting work, for example, is divided into two blocks: one with landscapes of the periphery, of the houses and the colors of the houses; and the other with a human presence. I mix in techniques with the proposals. Technique allows for an amplification of the gaze on this periphery, which is multiple, which has, on the one hand, this pulsating energy, of bodies; and, on the other, this relaxation, this calmness that I feel living there.
Street Market Prices
That’s a long story, which starts with the graffiti I used to make here in the neighborhood as a teenager, with the underground comics, with punk connotations, and with urban intervention. Later, in Belo Horizonte, we created a collective, Piolho Nababo, which was an anarchic space, self-managed, a libertarian gallery, with no curatorship or any of those institutional ties. Whoever wanted to participate brought their things. And we grew and grew until we became truly chaotic, with exhibitions, shows, art auctions starting with 1,99 bids, cheap prices, street market prices. When no bids came, we would destroy the work. This surprised everyone and attracted people from diverse places, from the periphery to affluent areas. We were in various independent spaces and we even got to the gallery at the Palácio das Artes. My background with graffiti and anarchy made this interaction with everyone possible, independent of the consequences – whether it succeeded or not, everything was possible.