Artists Art Issues Exhibitions About Us Search

featured artist

interview transcript

Date of Interview: May 22, 2008
Location: USA
Topic: Interview with Bulbo
Interviewer: Bill Kelley Jr.

LatinArt:  Let's talk a bit about the history of your collective relationship, both as Bulbo the art-making collective and Galatea the commercial side of your work. You guys have intimate relationships with each other and it shows in the way you work.

Bulbo:  Omar Foglio: You could say the first bond was friendship and the bond we have with ourselves. We're a group of twelve and we had about five years of just talking about what we wanted to do together. We wanted to work creatively together because individually we were doing creative work. So we decided on a production company, anything that had to do with video and graphic design.

Cristina Velasco: We were all friends since high school so we would all do things together. After we created Galatea as our production company and were working for clients we got to the point where we realized we had enough technology and ideas to do more things than just client-based projects. Bulbo started out because we wanted to intervene in the media somehow and tell the stories of Tijuana that we knew were true and part of our daily lives. We wanted to stay away from violence, drug trafficking and prostitution. Bulbo started out as a television show that first aired locally in Tijuana. No one financed the show so we had to continue to work as Galatea to pay for our production costs and air time. We started getting a good response. We thought our target audience was 13-35, but we saw that we were getting phone calls from 60 year- olds and other unexpected reactions and we got very excited about it. We got invitations to do FM radio under the same format and with similar ideals. From there we developed our magazine, and our record label.

OF: It just grew out of proportion. After having some level of success, Bulbo as a media project went nationwide in Mexico. It's all been independently run, we do our own PR, it's very grassroots. We started doing our own community interventions on the streets through Bulbo. So, essentially we're a group of artists running a business. Working as a collective is a challenge because the relationships get very intense, and we work very horizontally so even brainstorming is quite a challenge. In our offices in Tijuana we have a large kitchen so we cook our own food and eat together and our responsibilities shift depending on the project.

CV: It's great to have a formal side which is Galatea, our production company and Bulbo that is developed by Galatea which is artsy and all that stuff. But the skills we use as producers for Galatea we use for Bulbo as well. The art projects benefit from our Galatea skills we learned from working with clients. The same goes for Bulbo. We use both sides, and sometimes one works better than the other, but it's always us. There is no such thing as Galatea and Bulbo, it's us, we are both. We try not to be dualistic about it.

OF: We've had client-based projects where we sympathize a lot with the client to the point where you feel like you have the same mission, or you want to contribute to their mission and you embrace it as yours. There are times where we work with politicians and as artists we see things that are happening in our environment and we want to change things, so if something comes around that can do and you grab it and put your best effort to it there is a high possibility that you can say things through that medium. Of course we choose our projects because we want to do well and we want projects that will try to change things.

LatinArt:  You guys are working on the Allan Kaprow events here in LA. I guess this question about Bulbo and Galatea mix is something of the art and life division that is challenging for critics to reconcile sometimes. Some artists refer to this distinction as poetics vs. politics.

Bulbo:  CV: I love the idea of working as a producer and I love the idea of working as an artist. The other day we were invited to a dinner with other fellow artists and one of them approaches Lorena (Lorena Fuentes, another member of Bulbo) and asks "so what do you guys do?" and Lorena answered "I'm a salesperson" because that night she felt like a salesperson instead of an artist. [Omar begins to chuckle in anticipation of the story] She is both, but the girl was like... [Cristina makes indescribable sounds implying someone unable to speak. Omar laughs. Lorena, who is filming, is also laughing.] She was done! I mean she was done! So if my friend had said "oh I'm an artist" [now in a voice impersonating the other person] "Oh, so you're an artist! So what do you do? Blah blah blah..." [Cristina now gets serious] Ok, so do I get less validation if I don't formally describe myself as an artist? Do managers, salespersons or assistants to whatever have a lesser view of reality? So it really made me think, who gets to be more flexible? This really is a question for everything we do. As artists or producers we should really open up to new ways of working. And that's what fascinates me.

LatinArt:  Do you guys follow the art world at all? By that I mean, the theoretical arguments around collaborative art practices; is that something that concerns you? You all kind of grew up together so in some way this seems like a very autobiographical project. Another way to phrase this question might be to ask what your relationship is to the art community.

Bulbo:  Lorena Fuentes Aymes: [She steps out from behind the video camera to answer the question] For me the Tijuana art scene is very segregated. There is no community. There are a lot of artists but I don't feel a community there. In any case our place as artists is sometimes seen as a bit illegitimate given that we don't come from art schools.

OF: Well, what is a community? None of us ever studied art. We never sought out the art community; it was the other way around. As Christina said, we really were thinking of ourselves as producers. The very nature of Bulbo is to collaborate with really creative people. Most of the time those people are not legitimized by the art world; graffiti artists or people who build their own crazy motorbikes, or who make music but who don't have that art-world credential.

LatinArt:  I guess I ask that question because I was interested in how you guys relate to the social spaces and communities you work in. But now I understand you have other communities in mind. Maybe you could speak a bit about any methodologies you might have on working with others?

Bulbo:  OF: Something that we believe really strongly is that no matter who you're collaborating with, you always have to see yourself in the other person. So whatever problem that person might be going through will then resemble problems that you also have to deal with. Especially when you live in the same city, share a lifestyle or culture. The more you share, the more you might feel that bond. So we try to focus on constructive ways of dealing with those challenges. When you're dealing with a certain community you're trying to change it for the better. That makes you, as the artist or producer, responsible for what happens. Most of the time, after the project is done, the responsibility is still there and goes beyond, until who knows when, because that relation might live on. We've developed a network, first in Tijuana and now it's growing.

LatinArt:  Which work is more satisfying, the Bulbo work or the Galatea work?

Bulbo:  OF: To be honest, for me it's the same thing. If you're passionate you'll do the things you love but even the things you don't love will be ok because it's for a bigger cause. I do bookkeeping but I'm not an accountant. For me it's like learning Chinese. But I do it because you're part of this inertia. And there are things that need to be done.

CV: One isn't better than the other.

LatinArt:  What are the most essential characteristics of any project that you guys might take on as either Bulbo or Galatea? In other words, what has to be there for you guys to sign on with either a client or a community-based project?

Bulbo:  OF: For me it would be the feeling that you're doing and learning something new and growing as part of that collective experience. No matter what we get involved with, it always pushes you beyond your limits and you realize that you never knew that you could do this. [Omar turns to Cristina] Did you ever think you would be involved with a television show that would be screened nationwide all over Mexico?

CV: [Pensive at first] No, probably not.

OF: That's why I say that the way we've grown has been really organic. Of course we're working on doing different projects and looking forward to doing a feature-length film and stuff like that. But what I appreciate most is that feeling of being on the edge. Feeling challenged and pulling through.

CV: That's my worst fear. Getting stuck in a formula. I don't even like being called an artist because what if in two years I want to become a nun or a mother or a lap dancer? That's why we don't get stuck on the dualism of Galatea and Bulbo. Because ultimately we're going to produce it and give it shape so we can do whatever we want. I personally will prefer to edit or direct a Bulbo video rather than a client's because with ours you can really think about every word we use and with a client's you don't get to think about it that much.

OF: You just get involved with whatever you're doing at the moment, you work collectively, and it feels like the best thing you've ever done.

back to artists