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Mobile Photography & Art – ‘Intimate Interview’ with M Cecilia São Thiago from São Paulo, Brazil

We have decided to launch a new intimate style of interview into TheAppWhisperer – the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website. We feel it is important that our community feel close to each other, as it is this support that helps us to nurture one another, gain confidence and continue to grow.

This is our sixteenth interview, to read the others, please go here. Today, we are publishing this beautifully profound, comprehensive cultural interview with talented mobile artist M. Cecilia São Thiago who along with virtue of her inspirational imagery, attempts to reconcile time, as understood in science, with time as we live it, in every day life. Stephen Hawking famously argued questions, thus “what is the nature of reality? How can we understand the world in which we find ourselves?” traditional questions for philosophy. In Thiago’s imagery and text, I sense an overriding willingness to sacrifice physics and mathematics  to uphold an intuitively satisfying understanding of the phenomena of life itself. Let her art guide you, as a companion for life.

All images ©M. Cecilia São Thiago

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?

From a very young age, still in first school I always had a passion for the arts. At the age of nine I won my first camera – a Kodak Rio 400 – which I keep to this day with great affection, to remember my lovely grandmother who has been an incentive of my art since I was a child. When everyone looked at my drawings as “a child’s thing” my grandmother would say, “One day you’ll still be exhibiting at BIENAL DE SÃO PAULO – and that, as much as my grandmother’s affection might seem, filled me with confidence and self-love.

mobile photography

First Recognition

Leaving my grandmother’s affection aside, the earliest recognitions were undoubtedly the art professors at the beginning of my school life. It was they who always looked at what I did with a special look that made me feel extremely happy with myself. They are Yeda Geribello Coutinho , Maria Victoria Granero and Carminha Leonardos 

First job?

I never got a formal job, because I got married, I moved to Germany where I was not allowed to work, and when I came back from there, with my first child, I preferred to dedicate myself to motherhood.

After I divorced, I thought going out every day from work to home would not be good for my three daughters who were already facing the changes at home. So I set out to learn how to build websites, and I spent a lot of time doing it.

Only with the big girls did I really dive into what I liked and I went to a goldsmith’s class

Also dedicating myself more and more to photography.

Private or state school?

I studied at a school of Belgian nuns. A very traditional school in São Paulo, where my mother had already studied.

It comes from there and having had a French great-grandmother my love for the language and the French culture, which took me to Paris in 1977 to take the course of French Civilization in the Sorbonne.

University or Work?

After school, I spent three years studying in the “iadê” an incredible place where I could dedicate myself exclusively to the study of art, design, and everything related to it.

It was only at this time that I discovered in me a “good student” because I did not had to spend my energy on physics or mathematics – my biggest nightmares to this day.

I’m not joking, no. I still have horrible nightmares that I will have a proof of math the next day, and I have no idea what is going to be asked.

After these three years of preparation to enter the University, I went to study at FAAP – a traditional art college in São Paulo, and since then I felt completely fulfilled.

Who was or still is your mentor?

I had several teachers who marked my life a lot, but I would not say that they were my mentors in the sense of the general word, not even in the sense of directing my work. They did stimulate my curiosity, gave me the courage to dare, and without doubt directed my learning, but the impulse of creativity and the search for contacts and activity groups similar to mine were always isolated activities.

One teacher who marked me a lot was Herbert Duschenes

About Herbert Duschenes – unfortunately the videos are only in Portuguese

The Artist Nelson Lerner was another professor and artist who still make me think. 

Assim É, se Lhe Parece” – Nelson Leirner – Iconoclássicos

And the photographer Derli Barroso started in me the processes of self portraits. 

Facebook link

Vilém Flusser -Vilém Flusser was a professor of my university, but I did not know him personally.

I strongly recommend that you listen to what he said. The last time I saw a video of him, it was at Beaubourg in Paris.

Vilém Flusser: Für eine Philosophie der Fotographie

Vilém Flusser – Sobre Imagens Técnicas, Acaso, Consciência e o Indivíduo – in English


Flusser talks photography

How physically fit are you?

I am no longer very good with physical exercises.

I explained in 1984 when I was living in Germany, I went to ski holidays in Garmisch-Partenkirschen with my brother who had gone to visit me, and I had a very serious accident, in which I broke the femur in an exposed fracture.

Because of a poorly done surgery, my femur was stuck with 30 degrees of difference which over the years led to a severe pain in the joint, and for that reason it has been exactly 1 year, I had to do a total knee atroscopy, which left me less inclined to exercise.

Yeah, I’ve definitely never been much attached to physical exercises that did not have a purpose. I always enjoyed swimming, which I did daily in my youth, and I also liked modern ballet, but nowadays, the last physical activity, were the interminable sections of post-surgical physiotherapy.

Ambition or Talent: What matters more to success?

I think the two things go together. Ambition I have to show my work to the world. Especially when I see how many people there are who have never seen anything like what we do and produce on iPhoneography.

As for talent or gift, I do not believe them much. I think a good deal of persistence makes anyone discover their path and their identity in the arts.

How politically committed are you?

I confess that I have become more attentive to politics lately, mainly having to oppose the communist options of most Brazilian artists and the previous left-wing government, which has led my country to bankruptcy. Unfortunately the current political engagement generates fights and dissolutions of friendship. I do not agree with that, and I think mutual respect must be above all else.

For me what counts are attitudes, not words.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

I spent part of my life running behind this or that music album I did not had.

And in other times, discovering the name of the music that had been heard on the radio or at a party was as complicated as buying the vinyl record of the respective album. Nowadays, downloading a song from Youtube and “giving” a Shazam to find out what music is playing, have greatly facilitated my life.

Today there was only one song that I did not have, one I heard it in a hotel years ago and I do not know who composed it, nor even his name. Everything I know is that it was a wonderful “New Age” track. When I discover this song, the only thing that’s going to be missing is Sarah Jarrett’s picture that I’m still going to get in England.

Ah … well, another thing I do not have, is a photograph taken by me on Elton John’s wall. I need to put it into practice. 😉

What’s your biggest extravagance?

Is Having 3 iPads, 4 iPhones, a Samsung and a Huawei in the drawer of my bedside table.  I would still say that more than extravagance is an addiction.

In what place are you happiest?

Brazil is a beautiful country and swimming in the high seas, in the region of Paraty and Angra dos Reis is for me always source of total joy. The waters are translucent and the sound of the animals in the water propagate like music. Unfortunately I have not been there in years.

But where I am most happy, it is in my house and in the full condominium and fruit trees where I live.

What ambitions do you still have?

I think I mentioned the walls of Elton John’s house, full of photography, did not I? So… 

Well the Arles and Huston photography festivals are also on the wish list to be held.

What drives you on?

Learning new things and coming up with creative ideas to improve my pictures, or make something new. 

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

As I have had 3 daughters, I have already built my house, planted many trees, the most recent and possible plan to be made, are the photobook projects I am working on.

What do you find most irritating in other people?

I can’t stand people chewing anything, with your mouth open. Especially I can not stand hearing such noise on a phone conversation…

I can’t stand people getting drunk, not drinking, but actually becoming drunk. I find it actually repulsive to speak to someone who is drunk, even people I like or respect.

I lost my father after he was hit by a drunk driving a car at high speed, But I do not think that’s the main reason I do not tolerate drunk people.

Those who act like this way have my contempt because they feel they are different from the rest of mortals in a mixture of lack of empathy, social embarrassment, arrogance and total ignorance, often coming because they really think they stand above others. Period.

I even created a series of photos for this theme called AAA – and it is at TAW (here)

If your 20 year old self could see you now, what would she think?

I was absolutely sure that you would be that person .

You have always been a person who aggregates and this became clear with the life you lived. 

Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?

I lost two years ago a gold bracelet that I liked a lot. I already thought of making another one, since I am also a goldsmith, but there are so many creations that I want to make that what it is for me I always leave for later.


What is the greatest challenge of our time?

Despite global warming, I believe that the greatest challenge of our time is still to respect the other.

There is no point in being religious and committing a sin at every corner. There is no point in doing charity 

with the goodwill of others and not look with compassion on those close in need of love. There is no point in praying for those who have a serious illness and wanting death for the corrupt politician.

There is still much to learn.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

I am a skeptical person, but first of all I try to understand what was not taught in school, what was not in the books, but what is hidden and that did not take place in the traditional teachings.

I think this is part of my intellect, and a student of astrology, I know that it is part of my astral map, The sun in the eighth House at the moment of my birth makes my individuality tend, in one way or another, to the deeper aspects of life.

My innermost self is drawn to unusual themes. The Scorpio tonality gives me an aura of mystery and a great interest in the unknown, as well as for what is unconscious, metaphysical, occult and for questions related to death and its mysteries.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

There is an answer that I will not know how to give.

If 10 would be the ultimate happiness, I would never give myself that note!

On the other hand, if 10 means a life well lived, with many ups and downs that make us learn to live and learn to be a better individual, then I am fulfilled.

Thank you so much Joanne

I’m so honoured to be part of TheAppWhisperer series of interviews. I want you to know how much I value your support, Joanne Carter <3 actions really speak louder than words. Bless your heart and soul always .

Contact Details for M. Cecilia São Thiago

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Joanne Carter, creator of the world’s most popular mobile photography and art website—— TheAppWhisperer platform has been a pivotal cyberspace for mobile artists of all abilities to learn about, to explore, to celebrate and to share mobile artworks. Joanne’s compassion, inclusivity, and humility are hallmarks in all that she does, and is particularly evident in the platform she has built. In her words, “We all have the potential to remove ourselves from the centre of any circle and to expand a sphere of compassion outward; to include everyone interested in mobile art, ensuring every artist is within reach”, she has said. Promotion of mobile artists and the art form as a primary medium in today’s art world, has become her life’s focus. She has presented lectures bolstering mobile artists and their art from as far away as the Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea to closer to her home in the UK at Focus on Imaging. Her experience as a jurist for mobile art competitions includes: Portugal, Canada, US, S Korea, UK and Italy. And her travels pioneering the breadth of mobile art includes key events in: Frankfurt, Naples, Amalfi Coast, Paris, Brazil, London. Pioneering the world’s first mobile art online gallery - has extended her reach even further, shipping from London, UK to clients in the US, Europe and The Far East to a global group of collectors looking for exclusive art to hang in their homes and offices. The online gallery specialises in prints for discerning collectors of unique, previously unseen signed limited edition art. Her journey towards becoming The App Whisperer, includes (but is not limited to) working for a paparazzi photo agency for several years and as a deputy editor for a photo print magazine. Her own freelance photographic journalistic work is also widely acclaimed. She has been published extensively both within the UK and the US in national and international titles. These include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, Popular Photography & Imaging, dpreview, NikonPro, Which? and more recently with the BBC as a Contributor, Columnist at Vogue Italia and Contributing Editor at LensCulture. Her professional photography has also been widely exhibited throughout Europe, including Italy, Portugal and the UK. She is currently writing several books, all related to mobile art and is always open to requests for new commissions for either writing or photography projects or a combination of both. Please contact her at: [email protected]