Lido Pimienta | WORK IN PROCESS



L.C. Why do you make the work that you do, what compels you to make it as personal as it is? Is there anything that would stop you from making work in this manner?

L.P. Without my work, I would be nothing but an empty vessel. The work I make draws from my own experiences, mistakes and milestones alike, thus making it personal. I enjoy creating illustrations and writing from reality, and I consider it my role to listen to the stories of others and share them in an artistic way. The reality of the world, of a neighborhood, a group of friends or even the small art scene we belong to is a source of inspiration to share, discuss and draw from. In all of these I believe there is a collective vision, and a collective pain that I am able to tap into and be inspired by.

I am also fully aware of the power of not just my music and art-work, but the mere pursuance of art as someone who represents many minorities or disenfranchised peoples. My ability to create work is a personal statement and testimony on the power of being genuine. We need to relate to one another in order to listen and be in tune with our surroundings; Even if no one were watching, I doubt I would stop making work.



Could you describe the process of transforming vulnerable experiences into music or a piece of visual art?

The process happens mainly in my mind. The work gets developed first in my head and the steps or “labour” begin conceptually. By the time I sit at my desk in my studio (art or music) the song has already been figured out and the artwork already has a form because of my obsession with it. If I were to illustrate or make a picture of my brain it would look like a big cabinet with a hundred drawers and each drawer has a key and a lock with a neat label attached to it. Now that I have a baby most of the music gets edited in my mind as I sing the songs for her at bedtime. The work should not only happen in the studio. The work should happen always. My work is not vulnerable, despite it being personal, I do not feel I put myself in a vulnerable role by sharing my pain, joy or moments where I have been a victim, for example. I have experienced real pain, most of which I have not even touched the surface of, and I would never share the true darkness of my heart. What I put out is therapy, both for me and for the listener/viewer.
 



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In that case, how much and which parts of yourself do you put into your work? How do you set boundaries between your personal experiences and what you choose to share with the public in your work?

I always put myself in the work, unless I see or feel that something needs to be shared from someone else’s perspective or aesthetic – and even then, I would consider that a collaboration. Making art “for fun” is not something I have ever entertained, nor would I. As artists we are our work, and the objects, images or writing we create are often a continuation of our physical bodies, so separating myself from my work is not something I think is possible. It is all out there because I do feel like my life is a movie, I have lived many lives and still have many others to complete. My point of view is particular and unique yet so familiar; but because my story is one that is usually shared as a “sad narrative of the poor-young-single mother-immigrant,” I know it is important for me to share my life, my work and everything in between simply to normalize people like me. I refuse to be a victim of the system made to ensure I fail.

If you could have complete control over what stories get shared about you, what would your current story be, in place of the “sad narrative”?

Now that I actually have to think about this, control over my content and what gets written about me does not sound so fun after all. In an ideal world, all that is shared about me would be my art and music alone, but because of who I am and the kind of artist that I am, it would not be consistent with the work I put out. I want to be an enigma… a mystery, but what is fun about living in a lighthouse or a castle in the sky?

It is not my fault that there are lazy and unprofessional reporters and journalists who need to create clickbait to attract an audience – I understand this all too well after my various run-ins with racist vitriol. As long as I am creating and releasing excellent work, I am good. Controlling my work is all I worry about.
 
 
 


How has your life changed since you started making personal work and sharing it with the public?

I had my first professional show when I was 10 years old, and I cannot think of a time when I was not either showing at a gallery or performing in front of an audience since then. Over time my shows and artwork have evolved. These days I am more careful to protect my ideas from others, I am more cautious of the people I allow in my studio, I do more research and put more effort into releasing better quality material. Other than that, sharing my work has always been a part of me.



What does the process of being “cautious” look like? I wonder if you’ve ever created something and wanted to share it, but had to make a decision otherwise because of the politics involved, or because you could not ensure that the audience would be the audience you truly wanted?

After the “brown girls to the front” moment that became viral, for many months I became a target of hate, and in those months I experienced fear and anger, and I even considered quitting. One year has passed since then, and I notice I am way more careful with what I say, mainly because I am a mother and I would not want my children to be affected by my public opinions. People can be cruel, so now my approach is to still say what I want, but when it matters. I am still figuring it out, but when one is on the receiving end of hate, one becomes more self-aware and scared. I am in the process of allowing myself to be free and not worry about trolls, but the thought of violence against me or my loved ones is something real to consider.



L.C. Why do you make the work that you do, what compels you to make it as personal as it is? Is there anything that would stop you from making work in this manner?

L.P. Without my work, I would be nothing but an empty vessel. The work I make draws from my own experiences, mistakes and milestones alike, thus making it personal. I enjoy creating illustrations and writing from reality, and I consider it my role to listen to the stories of others and share them in an artistic way. The reality of the world, of a neighborhood, a group of friends or even the small art scene we belong to is a source of inspiration to share, discuss and draw from. In all of these I believe there is a collective vision, and a collective pain that I am able to tap into and be inspired by.

I am also fully aware of the power of not just my music and art-work, but the mere pursuance of art as someone who represents many minorities or disenfranchised peoples. My ability to create work is a personal statement and testimony on the power of being genuine. We need to relate to one another in order to listen and be in tune with our surroundings; Even if no one were watching, I doubt I would stop making work.

What does the process of transforming vulnerable experiences into music or a piece of visual art look like?

The process happens mainly in my mind. The work gets developed first in my head and the steps or “labour” begin conceptually. By the time I sit at my desk in my studio (art or music) the song has already been figured out and the artwork already has a form because of my obsession with it. If I were to illustrate or make a picture of my brain it would look like a big cabinet with a hundred drawers and each drawer has a key and a lock with a neat label attached to it. Now that I have a baby most of the music gets edited in my mind as I sing the songs for her at bedtime. The work should not only happen in the studio. The work should happen always. My work is not vulnerable, despite it being personal, I do not feel I put myself in a vulnerable role by sharing my pain, joy or moments where I have been a victim, for example. I have experienced real pain, most of which I have not even touched the surface of, and I would never share the true darkness of my heart. What I put out is therapy, both for me and for the listener/viewer.
Image
In that case, how much and which parts of yourself do you put into your work? How do you set boundaries between your personal experiences and what you choose to share with the public in your work?

I always put myself in the work, unless I see or feel that something needs to be shared from someone else’s perspective or aesthetic – and even then, I would consider that a collaboration. Making art “for fun” is not something I have ever entertained, nor would I. As artists we are our work, and the objects, images or writing we create are often a continuation of our physical bodies, so separating myself from my work is not something I think is possible. It is all out there because I do feel like my life is a movie, I have lived many lives and still have many others to complete. My point of view is particular and unique yet so familiar; but because my story is one that is usually shared as a “sad narrative of the poor-young-single mother-immigrant,” I know it is important for me to share my life, my work and everything in between simply to normalize people like me. I refuse to be a victim of the system made to ensure I fail.

If you could have complete control over what stories get shared about you, what would your current story be, in place of the “sad narrative.”?

Now that I actually have to think about this, control over my content and what gets written about me does not sound so fun after all. In an ideal world, all that is shared about me would be my art and music alone, but because of who I am and the kind of artist that I am, it would not be consistent with the work I put out. I want to be an enigma… a mystery, but what is fun about living in a lighthouse or a castle in the sky?

It is not my fault that there are lazy and unprofessional reporters and journalists who need to create clickbait to attract an audience – I understand this all too well after my various run-ins with racist vitriol. As long as I am creating and releasing excellent work, I am good. Controlling my work is all I worry about.

How has your life changed since you started making personal work and sharing it with the public?

I had my first professional show when I was 10 years old, and I cannot think of a time when I was not either showing at a gallery or performing in front of an audience since then. Over time my shows and artwork have evolved. These days I am more careful to protect my ideas from others, I am more cautious of the people I allow in my studio, I do more research and put more effort into releasing better quality material. Other than that, sharing my work has always been a part of me.

What does the process of being “cautious” look like? I wonder if you’ve ever created something and wanted to share it, but had to make a decision otherwise because of the politics involved, or because you could not ensure that the audience would be the audience you truly wanted?

After the “brown girls to the front” moment that became viral, for many months I became a target of hate, and in those months I experienced fear and anger, and I even considered quitting. One year has passed since then, and I notice I am way more careful with what I say, mainly because I am a mother and I would not want my children to be affected by my public opinions. People can be cruel, so now my approach is to still say what I want, but when it matters. I am still figuring it out, but when one is on the receiving end of hate, one becomes more self-aware and scared. I am in the process of allowing myself to be free and not worry about trolls, but the thought of violence against me or my loved ones is something real to consider.




LIDO PIMIENTA | Pimienta is a Toronto-based, Colombian-born interdisciplinary musician and artist-curator. She has performed, exhibited and curated around the world since 2002, exploring the politics of gender, race, motherhood, identity and the construct of the Canadian landscape in the Latin American diaspora and vernacular. Her most recent album La Papessa was self-released, and the winner of the 2017 Polaris Music Prize. Currently, Pimienta is working on a new album titled Miss Colombia and wrapping up the international tour of La Papessa, while exhibiting her artwork and raising her three kids. | lidopimienta.bandcamp.com

ILLUSTRATIONS | Wenting Li
LIDO PIMIENTA | Pimienta is a Toronto-based, Colombian-born interdisciplinary musician and artist-curator. She has performed, exhibited and curated around the world since 2002, exploring the politics of gender, race, motherhood, identity and the construct of the Canadian landscape in the Latin American diaspora and vernacular. Her most recent album La Papessa was self-released, and the winner of the 2017 Polaris Music Prize. Currently, Pimienta is working on a new album titled Miss Colombia and wrapping up the international tour of La Papessa, while exhibiting her artwork and raising her three kids. | lidopimienta.bandcamp.com

ILLUSTRATIONS | Wenting Li
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