God’s Only Mistake: interview with punk artist Wasted Rita

AUTHOR:  
Published:  May 13, 2015
Aidan Connolly

I first came across Wasted Rita’s work a few years ago. It was reblogged by someone-or-other, and read: “The more I know humans, the more I love snakes.” I clicked through, and found a world that was as charming as it was profane. Suddenly, cute stylisations of swear words seemed totally flaccid — Rita’s work has the weight of honesty, mixing anger with love with humour. In honour of her wrapping up her first solo show in her native Portugal, desktop sent her a few emails about being yourself, leaving home and trusting your gut.

 

You’ve expressed often that you’re most comfortable when you’re heading somewhere new — Zagreb, Berlin, New York. How does it feel, that your first solo show is happening so close to home?

I’ve been doing many solo show in the past two years, it was the first one in Portugal. I am happy and relieved that it finally happened. I’ve never hidden the feelings of resentment I had towards the lack of recognition my work had in Portugal. I’m happy for finally letting of those feeling and for being represented in Portuguese territory by Underdogs10, a 330sqm gallery curated by Pauline Foessel and Alexandre Farto (aka Vhils). I can not imagine a better place this ‘close to home’, to start off. And I’m not even bootlicking, I’m just teary-eyed proud.

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From 2015 exhibition, Human Beings — God’s Only Mistake.

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From 2015 exhibition, Human Beings — God’s Only Mistake.

Most of your work is pretty simple in terms of materials used, but for this show you’ve expanded onto leather, neon, gold. What was your thinking for these decisions?

My work is, from its beginning, deeply connected with the internet and social media. It all started with a blog where I’d upload the unsaid thoughts my mind is full of, in the form of statements or drawings. So its formula has always been extremely simple. I barely care about the visual outcome, I definitely don’t care about perfection and my only intention is to relieve my troubled mind with some honest simplicity.

Solo shows are a good opportunity make it more real. More unapproachable and less virtual. Less sharable or repostable (even though it obviously still is, since to share and repost is as essential as waking up and getting dressed nowadays).

In this exhibition I wanted to make new pieces that were more than words on paper, connecting the message with objects. Having a budget helped me broaden out and expand my possibilities. This is something I want to explore much more in future exhibitions.

You were actually featured as part of Desktop’s blog a few years back as an illustrator, but your new exhibition is principally typographic. Do you see much of a difference between your instinct to draw and your instinct to write?

In the past two years I slowly started realising that illustration a shallow, empty, too-easy activity, so I naturally started losing interest in it. I also progressively started doing more personal work, which gives any artist freedom to do what they do as they want to. I am not focused in doing cool or beautiful looking art. Neither having an incredible technique or getting perfectly looking results. This is therapy to me and that’s the challenging difficult part: understanding my brain. Words are used to organise confusing contradictory thoughts inside my head. I don’t draw when it is not to help make the message more clear. Since 90% of what I write is pretty direct and witty, I don’t find illustration relevant.

Note: This doesn’t mean that in two years my pieces won’t be mainly drawings. I don’t dictate rules, I am just follow this obscure heart of mine.

Honesty is a key part of your work, but has it ever come back to bite you?

Yes, but I love to be bitten for good reasons.

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From 2013 exhibition, Human Beings — God’s Only Mistake.

 

Sometimes your work makes me think about what John Berger said, that  “to be naked is to be oneself. To be nude is to be seen naked by others and yet not recognized for oneself.” How would you describe yourself in this context?

I hate this question. First I don’t know how to describe myself in any context, except for being a wise walking mess, second I don’t even know if your context is my context in this case. I obviously started having problems meeting people that know me through my ‘nude’ work a long time ago. That’s why meeting strangers somewhere in the streets, supermarkets, or anywhere else equally ordinary, is my favourite way to meet people. I share my most intimate honest self through art and words, and everyone interprets it with their own brains, ideas and emotions. I mean; everyone distorts it, and turns it into their own intimate story. In fact, this is a perpetual existential crisis of mine; acknowledging that no one understands what you say the way you mean it, having to accept that human interactions are mostly unconsciously deceiving and realising how hard it is to find someone that will understand or be truly interested in trying to demystify what you are saying and not what they are hearing (or reading).

This awareness of our inability to completely know a human being is to me basic life understanding, but the truth is no one seems to be aware of how little they know about my true-self through my work.

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From Says Wasted Rita, 2011-present.

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From Says Wasted Rita, 2011-present.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

The only way I know how to accomplish goals is to not talk about them until it is 100% confirmed that they’re happening, so I am just going to throw some keywords out there: street art, solo show, Europe, apparel, live drawing, rooftops, summer, mojitos, solo show, New York, new beginnings.

Who will you be when you’re no longer wasted?

I am not wasted. Wasted Rita is about not being wasted at all: sarcasm 101. If I ever get tired of being (not) Wasted Rita I’ll do something else, probably much easier, somewhere with loads of sun, next to the beach where I can use summer dresses 12 months per year and continue being rude, desolate and annoying.

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Be The Beyonce You Wish To See In This World (after Gandhi), 2013

wastedrita.com

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