We reached Vermibus for a chat about his art and his unique technique.Vermibus’ art begins and ends in the street, which plays an essential role. By using the advertising space, Vermibus is removing the masks that we wear and is criticizing advertisement which takes away a person’s identity to replace it by the one of the brand.
Hello Vermibus, first of all, tell me something about your next projects, what are you working on these days?
We are currently finishing the video of what the NO-AD Day was and on the other hand I’m preparing the next Project, which I can’t talk yet about.
Photo by Thomas von Wittich
I’ve recently seen your action at the Mario Testino exhibition, during the fashion week in Berlin. Why did you choose this location and how did you prepare the action?
I’ve been working on Mario Testino’s pictures for quite a long time. The fact he was coming to present his exhibition during the Berlin Fashion Week, worth an intervention, of course not against the photographer as a person but against what he represents. I worked on a Mario Testino’s picture and I framed it to place it in the museum with the rest of the exhibition. The goal was creating an alternative point of view and using that context as a critic to the fashion world and fashion photography in particular.
I’m not so good in latin but I’m curious about your name’s choice… What’s the idea behind worms?
It’s commonly said the word “Cadaver” comes from “Caro Data VERmibus” which means “flesh given to worms”. I chose Vermibus as a moniker because to my eyes, advertisement models stop being individuals and become scraps of meat after all the transformation process they are suppressed, make up, lights, photographic retouch which makes their identities being replaced by the brand.
Photo by Mark Rigney
I’m in love with the “Unmasking Kate” series. I never thought she’s a real beauty, I always considered her as perfect vehicle for our hidden needs. And your interventions on her face reveal a simple truth. Could you tell me some about the idea behind this project?
I have special affection to that series of Works and the exhibition where I presented them. The series “Unmasking Kate” came up in a moment when I just had changed of atelier and was a very liberating moment for me, because I switched from working in a basement to the studio I am right now. The teaser of that exhibition is a very short video in which you can see the basement I was working in, same one I duplicated afterwards in Moniker Art Fair, where I presented “Unmasking Kate” with Open Walls Gallery. It was a place full of humidity without ventilation and no light more than a lightbulb. I could only go down at night because I didn’t own it and no one knew I had my atelier there. It wasn’t pleasant at all to work in there but I needed a place and could not afford a studio or similar. Therefore it was a purification moment when I finally could move to my current place. In that moment I started the series. The concept and reason are self-explanatory.
Photo by Thomas von Wittich
A famous quote says: “a wall is a very big weapon”.
Do you find the same nowadays, while we’re surrounded by millions of billboards? I mean, don’t you find even thinner the line between art and ads?
From my point of view, when Toulouse Lautrec and his contemporaries made advertisement, the division line was way thinner than nowadays because there weren’t researches of how advertisement affects. Nowadays communication is studied almost mathematically, without place for art.
Much has been written about your technique, and I have always found it very charming.
Is there something that you’ll change in the future, or it will always be your trademark?
Despite the fact I feel very comfortable with the technique I use, I really believe I still have a lot to discover.
Let’s go back to the origin of your artworks, how hard was to establish yourself on the scene and what do you think were the most important steps on the run?
The most important has been self-confidence on my project and making my team believe in the same way.
I’m following your evolution and I think you have now arrived to a great balance between the adv subject and the power your intervention express. Tell me some about your research and the choice of subjects.
The process is more complex than it looks like. What I do is choosing the posters which are more appealing to me to intervene. Once in my atelier I edit them with solvent after having edited the message of the ad and the brand and then I re-place them from town to town always leaving some time until I place them back. I called this process “physical and temporary relocation” and it’s what I tried to explain in my last video “Dissolving Europe”. Before all this process, I must do a complex on-field work to find the way to open the ad spaces, create the keys, etc.
Photo by Peter Grünheim
How do you think the illegal thing affects what you do? Is this just an extra adrenaline rush or is a key?
I believe in civil disobedience as a necessary part in society. Therefore I don’t see illegal as something I can’t do, but if it is ethical doing it or not.
Photo by Thomas von Wittich
I recently spoke with several artists, and the thing that struck me most was this sentence repeated by many: “you must have the urge to say something to go out at night in the cold to paint a wall in secret.” What’s your urgency?
My work answers to this question better than I can express with words.
Photo by Andreu Doz
Tell me three artists you admire at the moment, who do you think is doing remarkably well?
Jaume Plensa for his way and vision of working the public space, Sebastián Errazuriz for the versatility of his works and the lately passed away René Lavand for his courage to pursuing his dreams and his elegance on his work. R.I.P
What’s in your near future, do you have shows or projects planned?
I’m happy to announce I will be exhibiting on “Urbanart Biennale” in Völklingen Ironworks from the 29th March to the 1st November.