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Artist and Secret-Keeper Maria P. Vila, Ahead of Her Shanghai Show

By Jul 26, 2018 Arts


Secrets, secrets are so fun! That's how it goes right? Tomorrow night brings the opening of Secreto an exhibition from Chilean visual and installation artist Maria P. Vila which houses handwritten secrets collected from around the world. The opening party is from 6-9pm Friday at Urbancross, and the exhibit will stay through the weekend. We caught up with Maria before the opening to see what the project is all about.


SmSh: For those who didn’t catch your last show, can you tell us a bit about your project Secreto? Can you recall when you were first inspired by secrets?

Maria: I started this project about two years ago, but actually when my father passed away almost 10 years ago, I realized he had a secret which not even my mom knew. And I just thought why? Why did my father keep this secret—which was really no big secret—for so long. And I’m completely sure keeping it negatively impacted his life. This was on my mind for almost 10 years, I wanted to work with secrets but I wasn’t sure how to develop a project like that. I decided to keep it super easy, I’ll invite people to write and read secrets, and in this way I’ll give the possibility for people to express themselves freely. That's how it all started.

"What people think of as a secret in Korea is totally different from what people understand by secrets in New York. People hide different things, it all depends on that society."


SmSh: Secreto is currently on world tour, where have you been and where are you going after Shanghai?

Maria: So it started in Barcelona, and from there I realized it is a universal topic—I really wanted to do a tour in Europe. So I arranged everything for that and now this year I got support from DIRAC to Asia and Europe again and then Latin America. I have taken it to many countries, so far: Chile, America, Italy, Germany, England, Spain, Korea, Vietnam; now China then Russia, Albania, Austria, then Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela.

And I think this is the last tour—maybe! I want to stop now and figure out a way to make this into a book so I think I will spend the whole 2019 doing that.


SmSh: So you get to know a lot of secrets, do you still get surprised by some? Can you think of one in particular that stood out?

Maria: Many of them, I mean at the beginning I read all of the secrets, but I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore because I got completely overwhelmed. I mean most people hide dark things. So there is one in particular which was about abuse; a guy confessed he was abusing a child, and I wanted to find out who he was and file a police report—but there is no name attached to the notes. And this is not my role, I want people to express themselves but I can’t bring I don’t really read them, and anyways now I’m in Korea, in China—I would need translation.

SmSh: Do you have any secrets of you’re own in there?

Maria: Yeah one, but I didn’t dare to write my secret so I drew my secret. Because in the beginning I thought, you know, all my friends are going to read this and know my handwriting, so know my secret—so I said ok, I am just going to draw it. It’s still in this show.


SmSh: What can people expect at the opening Friday and why should people come and share their secrets?

Maria: When you get there, in order to read one of the secrets you are seeing, you have to write one; so I’ll give you an envelope. What’s there is envelopes, but all these envelopes are people at the same time. Why share?... I think the act of writing down your secret allows you to take away that history of your life and see it, and make yourself aware of why you’re hiding it. So it’s like a release for people, and it’s entertaining at the same time—there are funny secrets, horrible secrets, super deep things.

It’s 1,500 different small memories.


Daily until Jul 29 2018

Secreto (Secret)

Urban Cross - 37 Donghu Lu, near Xinle Lu

Secreto will open on Friday evening in partnership with Al Alworks Shanghai (also thanks to DIRAC); Maria will be in the house at the opening from 6-9pm. Don't miss out on the opportunity to read a secret and leave your own. Be a part of something global. The installation will be open to the public until July 29, open Sat-Sun from 10am-6pm. Free entry.



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