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Mauricio Dias and Walter Riedweg first showed this artwork, Funk Staden, at the politically charged Documenta mega-show in Kassel, Germany in 2007. It hung in a European palace in the hometown of the German who first depicted Brazilian cannibals in the 16th century—and now it has come, in expanded form, to Seattle.

Dias is Brazilian and Riedweg is Swiss German, but they live in both places and speak several languages. They're culturally interstitial people who make interstitial art; wherever they are they find and become attached to communities of Others—people who don't usually appear in art, except maybe as vague subjects: janitors, prisoners, sex workers, or in this case, the impoverished residents of the favelas in Dias's hometown of Rio de Janeiro, where paranoid and otherwise secretive drug dealers throw elaborate private funk balls.

Funk Staden is an enactment of a mini-funk ball organized by the artists. What you see above is a shot of the whole installation of video screens and mirrors at the Frye; below is a still from one video.


In this extended interview, the artists talk about how they made this work and why, about what the election of Barack Obama means to them, and about their 14-year relationship to each other, to various cultures, and to artistic practices from formalism to documentary filmmaking.