John Klima — “Favela Real”

António Cerveira Pinto — Hey John, what a great reengineering! The second one, I believe. Shall we exchange questions and answers on your creative retirement and nordic teaching experience too? I want to write a small piece for my blog. If you agree, I will send you a few hints tomorrow morning. And then we would go from there…
Btw I’m living in Brussels since February of last year.

Chat on November 17, 2022

John Klima — Sorry was ignoring electronics for a few days. I heard you were in Brussels. Be glad to talk to you!

ACP — Yesterday listened to your talk at ICLI. And I was astonished by your new Merzbau! An Arcadia one this time 😉 You gave this new work in progress the name of a Brazilian shanty town…

JK — Yeah, that was a good one. And a great place to start. Yup, Favela Real, is a royal shanty town.

ACP — So its name is Favela Real, right?

JK — Hell, after the terra mota, the king lived in a tent. Yes, Favela Real.

ACP — you offered your great urban Merzbau to a friend, right? Can you tell me more about it? I mean the Lisbon studio (ScratchBuilt).

JK — Yup, I didn’t know where to store my junk. I gave Andre Sier a giant subwoofer on loan and lots of little things to Ulpiano Capalbo, who l gifted the studio management.

Adriana is now talking to ZDB about loaning more stuff to them, with the idea that I can play around in exchange for a place to play around. No money exchange, just back-scratching.

She is also getting Universidade Lusófona involved in creating a collaboration between them, with my tools and techniques as the bargaining chip.

2020 we put up a gate, poured a little concrete, and said it was ours. August 2019 was the first time I slept there under a plastic sheet.

ACP — I saw that post 😉

JK — I have a video!!!

ACP — What do you mean by video?

JK — Lots of videos from the Favela, un-posted.

ACP — Do you still have your apartment at Calçada da Bica in Lisbon?

JK — Yup! We are there right now.

ACP — So you both won the Bica’s war?

JK — Yup

ACP — Still giving classes in Norway?

JK — Yup going back January 16 for 6 weeks.

ACP — What do you teach there precisely?

JK — Gameplay programming, ai, and shaders for “beginners”.

ACP — The name of the place…

JK — Noroff University college of media and technology.

ACP — AI seems very much on nowadays (again). How do you see it in art games or at large? Most (not everyone) techno art still looks all the same…screen stuff…no feelings…how do you foresee the future? Have you a crystal ball?

JK — Hmm, great question. Let me give it a think while I compose a reply.

ACP — There’s a live techno art scene here in Belgian… Visual arts and sound arts… It would be interesting to look for a spot to have a show of you here… I’ll do some inside research on this possibility and let you know in one or two months.

JK — A show would be great, and I would want to ‘duo’ it with Adriana. Our output is so thoroughly intertwined.

ACP — How many videos from Favela Real do you have right now?

JK – Maybe 100? Unedited…

ACP — That’s a lot 😉

JK — Yup, I make photos and videos almost every morning I wake up. Mostly they go to a hard drive and sit there.

ACP — Great!

JK — Give me a few days to pull the material together, and I’ll make a YouTube playlist, especially for this, with the theme of “before and after”, showing a timeline of where we started and are now. I have been meaning to do this for quite some time.

ACP — That would be great! Can you also make a map of Favela Real for me? I’d like to know trivial things like water, pumping, electricity, communications, cooking, security and local social connections?

JK — Oh definitely, the wife needs that for herself to know how to pump the water.

ACP — How far is Favela Real from Lisbon? Where stays the nearest aldeia, vila, cidade?

JK — FR is 45 minutes from Campo Grande, assuming good traffic. It’s Vimeiro. I will send you GPS shortly.

ACP — Vimeiro?

JK — Yup, a tiny town called Toledo.

ACP — May I take pictures from your FB account for my first short post on your and Adriana’s new adventures in the open field (or at least almost open field)?

JK — Of course, that is public information!

ACP — Right. The second post (the longer one) would be published later, after I go through the videos, and so on. Before December 15, I would like to have done all this preparatory work and contact some people here in Brussels.

JK — You should be able to find my YouTube channel easily, but I’ll send you those links too.

ACP — Yes. Don’t bother. I’ll do it myself…

How much self-awareness is embedded in Favela Real? It might have some connections to Buckminster Fuller and many American artists since the Hippy movement. You have lived through at least two techno crashes and one great epidemic, which reminds me of post-utopian scenes.

JK — Yeah, true, but regardless of the situation, it’s about making it comfortable and functional regardless of the current environmental crisis. The weather changed; we had a crap winter, no rain, and the summer was brutal, so we lacked water. So I scrambled solutions on a small scale to keep water on the tomatoes. It was a bad growing season for every farmer, and we all came up with solutions specific to our situation. We all share ideas and strategies at the cafe in the morning. This is what I love about Portugal.

ACP — How big is Favela Real property?

JK — Oh, just 7000 square meters; I don’t know what that translates into a hectare.

ACP – .7 Ha

Have you been in NYC lately?

JK — Not in 15 years, and I don’t miss it. Well, I miss the street pizza.


How is the tech art scene in Lisbon right now? More people joining the wagon? Or is it in slow motion, as usual?

JK — That’s a funny question. I go to ZDB and see the same types of people, except they are all younger kids, the same people but different faces. The assistant is now the director, and all is right in the world. It’s a nice ego stroke when some kids recognise Adriana and me and give us special attention. They want to know what we know, and we are happy to pass this on to the new people who will be filling our former roles.

ACP — Have you and Adriana been performing together since the end of the pandemic?

JK — Adriana performs more than me; she enjoys that more than me. But they still drag me out every now and then to lay down a bass lick. I like that just fine.

ACP — What are your plantations at Favela Real related to? Food, I can Imagine. Shadow-making, I can imagine too. More functionalities?

JK — At Favela, Adriana grooms flowers, and I groom food. I manage bee hives, but I need her flowers to keep those girls happy. Also, it is the season to plant peas, so I carpet-bomb peas under various conditions to see what they produce with minimal effort, never using chemicals.

ACP — Who cooks those vegetables?

JK — We share that task, but I must say I like my cooking better; she puts too much ginger into everything.


You’re the kind of angry man that made peace with the world 😉

JK — Yes, I’m an angry man that made peace with the world

ACP — Let’s go on with this conversation in a few days. It’s more than stimulating as it is… for now 😉

JK — I agree; these are good questions I greatly enjoy answering.

ACP — I once read a great book by Miles Orvell that taught me the inner core of a genuine American: the passion and drive to what he named the ‘real thing’. So you really are an American artist in Portugal!

JK — Totally, and I own a gun.


So long, my friend!

JK — We shall.a

Know more @ City Arts, John Klima’s website

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