Interview with primeira desordem, now on Umbigo’s cover of the month

primeira desordem, Hugo Gomes and João Marques’ project, is Umbigo’s November cover; at a time when the skate-punk-rock band that gave it its momentum (and name) is finally born. In a conversation with Umbigo, the duo showed their fondness for fictionalising reality, a constant willingness to embark on adventures, push the limits and try to transform experiences into ideas or the latter into objects. As a hybrid being between studio and street, who, in the public and shared space, finds chance, error, opportunity and the starting point for the work to happen, primeira desordem navigates against expectations and hierarchies, redefining meanings and representations. After all, the real crime is not to question.

Mafalda Ruão – Let’s start at the beginning, asking the question still unanswered: after all, when will the skate-punk-rock band, the fuel of all this, be born? When will the first record come out?

Primeira Desordem – Initially, we struggled to choose a name to identify our artistic practice. We decided to shift the paradigm and come up with a name for a punk rock band. This exercise was easier and the name primeira desordem emerged. We ended up assuming – fictionalising our identity – that the band could exist. As we answer this interview, the band doesn’t exist yet. But, by the time this is published, the band will probably be a reality.

MR – What motivates you to wake up in the morning and create?

PD – We feel thrilled by the premise of building, creating, bringing to fruition something that doesn’t exist and the adventure of that process. Often, our works and creations are born from a phrase, a pre-title of a piece or a question (for example, in The Kids Are Alright, we came up with the question – can bad drawings lead to good sculptures? And we looked for the answer).

In our approach, ideas often come up with a continuity, a response to a previous idea or a relation with another idea that we already had and that, in another temporal moment, acquires prominence and space to be worked on.

Being a duo makes it easier: when one of us has the question, the other has the answer; when one of us has a suggestion, the other puts it into motion; when one of us has doubts, the other has them too.

MR – I look at your work and ask myself: are you studio or street artists?

PD – We don’t think that this difference is clear in our practice. Our process is a hybrid between both. But the process begins in the street, as a shared public space.

MR – Having in mind projects like The Kids Are Alright (2022), Perfect mud balls (2021) and Escavação (2017) or the happening It’s not unusual suspects (2018); what is the role of “error” and chance in your creation?

PD – Sometimes chance happens so that we can work on it – it is an ally or even a co-worker. For example, in the video Escavação, it was chance that pointed the way. In The Kids Are Alright, the error, the technical flaw (deliberately sought after) are the centre of attention, indicating the formal and conceptual method we must go through.

MR – Speaking of ally or observer-participant that munitions the work, as in the performance NOT A big EVENT (2021); what was your motivation in that?

PDNOT A big EVENT came out of a desire to have a barbecue in our studio with friends. Reducing the scale of the grill, skewers and speaker was intended to change the way we interacted in these situations by adding this extraneous element. The performative side of the action was reflected in the way we laid the charcoal, kept the fire going, turned the skewers over. We had to train these new gestures, adapting to this reduced scale. In this relaxed conviviality, people were conditioned to maintain the role of audience in the performance.

MR – In your relationship with the audience and in the relationship of the latter with your work, have you ever felt misunderstood?

PD – Sometimes there is a generalized self-identification of part of the public with our practice. They suggest us ideas, actions that they think are achievable. This external idealisation of what our work is (or can be) confines us. This expectation of the public in relation to our work and how we develop it sometimes makes us feel misunderstood.

MR – In relation to the future, what is the perfect crime that could happen? What is in your plans?

DP – Perfection is a crime.

Not even to ourselves should we reveal our plans.

Master in Curatorial Studies from the University of Coimbra, and with a degree in Photography from the Portuguese Institute of Photography in Porto, and in Cultural Planning and Management, Mafalda develops her work in the areas of production, communication and activation, within the scope of Photography Festivals and Visual Arts - Encontros da Imagem, in Braga (Portugal) and Fotofestiwal, in Lodz (Poland). She also collaborated with Porto / Post / Doc: Film & Media Festival and Curtas Vila do Conde-Festival Internacional de Cinema. In 2020, and she was one of those responsible for the curatorial project of the exhibition “AEIOU: Os Espacialistas em Pro (ex)cess”, developed at Colégio das Artes, University of Coimbra. As a photographer, she was involved in laboratory projects of analogue photography and educational programs for Silverlab (Porto) and Passos Audiovisuais Associação Cultural (Braga), while dedicating herself to photography in a professional format or, spontaneously, in personal projects.

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