What are we and what do we do? It’s one of many questions that Felipe Antunes asks himself and brings that questions into his artworks – or through music or photography. Between personal trips, tours with his band Vitrola Sintética or taking with him a solo disc, Felipe multiplies himself in other functions like the love he has for analog photography. Each portrait is a memory and a story to tell. Felipe agreed to speak about his artistic journey to all Lomography community and show some of his images.
In a brief way, who’s Felipe Antunes?
This question always helps to broaden my perceptions. There’s so many people with the same name – one simple search will lead you to a lot of them; on the other hand, I know that there’s one here, but from that “one” I take just one word: possibility. Possibility of something. I could tell you that I’m a guy who wants this or that, who thinks this or that. This has to do with the real necessity. One illusion of necessity that takes us “to want”, and that “want” to “being something”. I don’t know if I want so much, but I try to understand the flow of life with nature.
You’re a full time musician: composer and lyricist. How did it came up in your life?
In a certain way this answer evolves from the first one. It came naturally. I say that because I never chose this and I never noticed a moment of understanding for this. I want to say that, like any other activity, I see composing has beautiful traits realized in days. I believe that there’s a combination of spirituality, sensitivity and rationality. Even if I recognize the risks of reason (like the master compositor Roberto Mendes would say), I believe that I have a strength inside me that impulses metrics. Perhaps, then, the emergence comes from there, from the "possibility" of uniting characteristics, music brings me that.
Vitrola Sintética and solo career. To which one do you dedicate the most?
It depends on the season. In periods of launches and shows with Vitrola, I dedicate more there; when the solo career requires more, I focus more on that and I broad for other spheres of interest, that maybe doesn’t matter so much to Vitrola. I also dedicate, in part, to other artistic projects, like directing a musical theater piece – like I’ve been doing now, for example. And everything is great! One thing keeps the other alive – everything makes me miss the other part.
Is it easier to compose alone or in partnership with the others?
I compose alone. But I really like the experience of partnership. Most of my partnership experiences, actually, are at distance, each one of the members thinking in their homes. I have a concern, a joy in truth – and it’s getting bigger and bigger! – of carefully playing with words, while with time. And I think it's worth having this time. After some time I like to look at the phrases with distance and remember the intents searched for that season. But I also like to look for others reflections, like what I do with Otavio Carvalho, for example, from Vitrola; or with Enzon Banzo, friend composer and poet, to whom I trust my word inspiration.
Being named twice for the Latin Grammy awards is a kind of consecration. Tell us a little about it.
I think that, if we consider a certain sacredness that the term consecrate brings, I can say that internally I already felt like that. For the beauty and mystic that the sacrum has. I like that! I think what Grammy brought was, maybe, a certain release, a relief for the medium-long term, something that makes possible a career, and that says free art can re-live with the public (at least in my case). Sometimes it's almost a message from a part of the market to the market itself. That, at least, is my optimistic view of the fact.
In 2015 and 2016 you made a tour through Europe and you’ve been in Portugal (some of the photos presented have been taken in Portugal). Did you meet any national artists?
Actually, very little. And just by name, unfortunately I didn’t have the pleasure to meet personally. In the first year that I went with in a partnership with the guys from Ponto Zurca, I went to their studio in Almada, and loved it, they are incredible people and introduced me some artists they’ve been working with. I really liked the work called “The Soaked Lamb”, and Afonso Cruz, as a writer – that’s in the band. And of course I like many incredible classics like Sérgio Godinho, António Variações, Jorge Palma, etc. But I missed it and have the will to know and relate more.
How does your taste for photo shoot happen?
I see photography as the practice of freezing the time through interaction with light. Photos are printed memories that lead us through a cosmic tunnel. How the cosmos actually works! Many stars are just memory in light form travelling through time; they don’t exist anymore. They are pictures, also. That’s why I understand photography, just as I tell you that I seek to understand life, as a sacred moment. Moment to practice attention: that’s why I choose analog. You need to be focused, there’s no way to see, delete and try another shot. That cosmic print of time will live or die there, on the click. The whole film could fail, also; and that’s amazing!
Which camera did you begin with and which one do you use now?
I began with a Canon AE-1, with a 50mm lens and 1.4 opening, that has been given to me Deborah Engelender, visual artist and mother of my sister-in-law, but it was stolen from me; but I adapted and I really liked that one, so I got one similar, and even more mechanic, one Canon FTb, that also has been stolen from me. Anyway, overlapping this fact I insisted, and now I have the Canon FT, almost equal to FTb, changes very little, and I have some other lenses, but I really like 50mm.
Do you prefer photographing with monochromatic film? What do you like the most in a black and white photo?
In general yes. Actually, I’ve been testing color and black and white. I also really like the color film, but, mostly after having the pleasure of meeting Spanish photographer Chema Madoz, and having the luck/honor of having one of his photos in the background of my solo book-album (Lâmina), I was even more enchanted by this language, and almost I have followed only by it.
Tell us about this selection of images.
This selection, in a certain way, passes by moments, places and important people with whom I’ve been with (and are with) in the past years. In it I have, for example, my dear friend and plastic artist Antonio Herrera DeLa Muela, painting in his former atelier in Madrid (today he lives in Guadalajara, Mexico); The same Chema Madoz, the day I met him giving an interview to Wladimir Vaz, my great friend (also photographer) and partner of Editora Urutau (for which I released my album-book Lâmina); My brother, Renato (psychiatrist, who lives in Brasilia), and my youngest niece, Helena; My dear friends: the singer Barbara Eugenia and the producer Ana Paula César, when we were together in Coimbra; And the friends from theater who I worked with, for the play "Cabaré Garcia" - I was one of the people responsible for the soundtrack.
Do you have a photographer that you have as a reference?
Besides the Chema Madoz, Hans Breder, Man Ray, Vivian Maier, Francesca Woodman, my friend, the Brazilian Wladimir Vaz, as well as Brazilian - contemporary (and incredible) - Pedro Spagnol.
Are you curious and want to know more about Felipe's work? Visit his Instagram, check out his album Lâmina and Vitrola Sintética. All photos are taken by Felipe Antunes and are shared with your permission.