Rica is not your typical Berlin expat. It goes without saying he chose Berlin because of its free spirit and limitless possibilities. Besides taking in all the delights the city has to offer, he makes sure the young talent doesn’t get lost and unnoticed – Rica Amaral is one of the creative partners at Artconnect Berlin – a creative hub based in the hert of Neukölln (where else?) that gives young artists access to dissemination tools and audiences they’d otherwise never get (if they don’t wanna sleep with the creative elite at least) Find out how Rica’s day goes in the Artconnect office and what his personal favorites for the upcoming 48 h Neukölln are. Meet Rica Amaral – and read the interview till the end – there is a surprise which took a lot of convincing to get published. 

Hey Rica, where am I finding you now? 

I’m sitting on Artconnect Berlin’s office looking the people enjoying the sun while I’m freezing here.

Which is the most important art event connected to your work in Berlin? Gallery Weekend?

Not at all! As in Berlin there are many great art related events, we always have an overview from what’s going on during the whole year, so we can plan Artconnect Berlin’s activities in the best way. We normally participate actively at the events we like the most such as Transmediale, 48h Neukölln, Pictoplasma, Social Media Week, Month of Performance Art, etc.

What’s Artconnect and what is its role in the Berlin and international art world? 

Artconnect Berlin is a project created to help the creative mass find their way through the city. It started as an online platform where creatives could connect, share, offer and look for opportunities and jobs and it was also developed to be the meeting point for the creative scene in Berlin. Artists and creatives connect online, help each other with new ideas and projects and project these new possibilities into reality.

Since last year, we have also a space in Neukölln where Artconnect Berlin provides a coworking space for creatives in need of some structure. There is a full list of workshops given in our HQ to help our community find their way in the city and develop new skills. We use the space for community events: the Networking Brunch is one of these activities, in addition to several exhibitions, artist talks, book launches and many other things we have done so far…

Besides all of that Artconnect Berlin is also an agency, which works in the background of the platform: we provide services for both companies willing to integrate themselves into and/or reach the creative scene or artists who need a little special push.

The whole motivation of Artconnect Berlin is to be the hub for the creative community in Berlin – to which everyone can turn when help is needed. We don’t want to be one more social network – we want to be part of people’s life, on & offline. That’s the role of Artconnect Berlin: we want to give a helping hand and a voice to all talented people in Berlin and in the world to inspire, to encourage, to provoke, to democratize the creative environment – we want to be a trigger for change!

We are a free tool for creative people in the community to use, to help themselves and others in the process.


What’s your work routine at Artconnect? How does your work day look like?

My routine at Artconnect Berlin is quite relaxed, although tight. We are all friends at Artconnect Berlin, even the new people that start working with us become our personal friends. It’s cheesy and cliché to say that but we are like a family.

Most of the people start working at 10am, but I’m definitely not a morning person, so I normally start later than everyone, but normally I end up staying longer too, but I prefer it this way. My sleep is sacred!

As we have an open door and huge window to the street, we have people coming in and out the whole time at our HQ in Boddinstraße and for me that’s amazing as I have the opportunity to meet so many new interesting people. We don’t have a fixed routine there, what I think for me it’s very good, so it doesn’t get boring.

Does that business pay the bills or do you have another day job?

Artconnect Berlin pays itself and makes money yes, but we are all freelancers too on the side, for example I work in an advertising agency here in Berlin.

Is this what you wanted to do before you came to Berlin? 

Before I came to Berlin, I knew already that I wanted to work with art, I was just not sure yet how or with what. I was an actor/ play writer for some years before I have chosen to follow my advertising career. After 7 years in advertising I realized that I was missing the creative part of myself, that’s when I decided that it was a time for a change and I came to Berlin. The good thing is I came to Berlin very spontaneous… I decided one week before I left Brazil that this was my destination – I didn’t speak any German, I didn’t know anyone here nor I had been here before. So I was quite open-minded about Berlin. Good that it worked!


What did you have in your suitcase when you moved here?

I had what I need from now on. I told my mom: “What I leave behind you can give away, I’m not coming back.” And besides some books that I couldn’t bring all at once, it was exactly what she did. So I had with me only summer clothes (even my “winter clothes” from Brazil I will consider as summer clothes. I guess I don’t need to say why), my toys, some books and the curiosity to know what it would be from now on.

What do you miss from Brazil?

Food, fresh fruits and the sun of course!

Does the Berlin art scene inspire you? Would you change anything in it?   

Yes it does. I really like the underground scene here in Berlin. This one is the most inspiring for me. It has a free spirit with no fear, censorship or rules. It’s where I see the most interesting and mind puzzling pieces, it’s where I have my best experiences for sure.

I think Berlin has a good balance of underground and mainstream art. My only concern is that all the changes the city is going through will smash this fresh and “free” scene and Berlin will become a city like all the others in Europe.


What upcoming art shows for 2013 locally and worldwide are you most excited about? 

Well in Berlin we still have the 48hs Neukölln, Berlin Art Week, the Social Media Week where Artconnect Berlin is responsible for the whole art day, Nacht und Nebel…

Worldwide is difficult to be excited about if I’m not going to see it live… I get frustrated… But I would say the Art Basel in June, Frieze Art Fair in October, the Whitney Biennial in New York in 2014 and the Echigo Tsumari Art Field in Japan in 2015. Ok the last 2 ones are not in 2013, but those happens only every 2 years for the one in New York and only every 3 years for the one in Japan.


What are your must-sees during 48 h Neukölln? 

I’m actually quite excited about our own exhibition that’s part of 48 h Neukölln – “REALITY SWAP: THE ALTERNATIVE STATUS QUO” – featuring artists Sonja TrabandtSadie Weis, Dariuz FronczakLaura Gianetti & Daniele JostRalf Obergfell, Erica Smith. Learn more about it and the opening hours here.

Where are you going after this? 

I will sleep to prepare myself for the weekend.


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