Tutanka: Collage, street art, politics and popular culture from Argentina

Please, introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about you.

I’m Martin, graphic designer & professor in the public university of Buenos Aires. I do some street art under the alias Tutanka. The only tango I know is ‘Objection’ by Shakira, that describes myself pretty much.

You work with collage and street art. how these two things interact?

In collage I found myself dialoguing with images in a more personal way, I’m more analytic and experimental, playing with boundries, in the comfort of my home.
In street art I find myself doing the same actions I do when I make a collage, I cut and I paste, but the difference is that it produces a channel of communication, an exposition of my work (like my own little museum) and most important, an interaction with other people. In both cases I use my hands.

What is previous, the need to deliver a certain message or the urge to make something using one of these techniques?

It depends. I almost never have a certain message to deliver, I found it in the making process. I just set my working table with scraps, images, magazines, paper, graphics, and move things around till two separate images ask me to be together. I think of myself kind of a little detective, searching a lot and creating the necessary conditions for that to happen. And in the same level of perception, add the awareness of our reality, personal knowledge, my own experience, my social framework, which plays a very important role in my work.
My working table becomes quite messy, and that’s a good sign for things to happen, even if I end up with a clean and simple collage.

There is a lot of local cultural and political references in your work, how do you think this is read and decoded outside Argentina? does it looses it ́s political strengh and it ́s primal intention?

I like to think we are all site-specific, we are products of our environment. So the references of my surroundings are always there. Some pieces cross local culture with occidental global imaginary so they lend themselves to a more universal read. Especially in my work with street art, I do it thinking of the context of where I paste it, with whom it interacts. However, decoding images are intrinsic to all cultures, so even if you don’t know who is there, you can always decode it, and react in consequence.

You move between pieces with bold political comments and other abstract with no direct meaning or message. where do you feel more comfortable? Where do you think your work will head in the future?

I feel comfortable using my hands, exploring all sorts of limits. Moving between abstract and figurative pieces is part of that personal investigation. I feel very attracted to the relation between collage & street art, so I feel my work is heading in that direction.

What’s your definition of collage?

I have a little story that illustrates what I think of the definition of collage.
Once I have an unglued union of two images on my working table, it was on top of my scanner, right next to me. And it was there hunting me for exactly one entire year. Think that I stare every day of that year watching that collage, feeling uncertain if that union of two images needed to be paste or not. One day, without thinking too much I grab the two pieces and I glue them to other two different images. The result was two bad collages and a personal liberation. That day I understood that if the collage is not glued, is not a collage.

What ́s the future of collage?

I have no idea