Influencer Renzo de Pablo: opinionated, intense and honest

Interview September 2021

Embodying Truth ’20 Photo by Annelene Schulze 

Could you share with us some information about your family life?
I was born and raised in Curaçao. I have a twin brother, a little half-brother and an older half-sister. I was raised by my parents to choose and be who I want to be. Like I was not pressed to become a doctor or so. Nothing was taboo basically. We could discuss anything. The greatest privilege I had was to have the freedom to, no matter how difficult the subject matter was, I was allowed to ask questions, and having them as my parents was also a privilege. My parents themselves are not as conservative nor religious resulting that they raised us very critically and very differently than the typical “Yu di Kòrsou”. So definitely they have played a big role in the person I am right now.

Could you share something about your educational background and your experience?
I have a bachelor’s degree but that doesn’t define me as a person. There are different other things in life more important than for example building my own house. I am more of a person of experience. I grow in discomfort and I challenge myself because with this discomfort there is growth. Discomfort is the best teacher. I live in Germany in the woods and if I want to heat my room, this is mostly in the winter I need to put up a fire.

My family raised me free of dogmas. Growing up in Curaçao is difficult. I am anti-authoritarian, so I had a lot of challenges at the school I went to. I was always asking critical questions regarding religion, so when we had a religious class, I wasn’t welcome. It was not allowed so I moved towards the arts (Being not able to express myself and critical questions in other studies and classes I decided to pursue arts) and even there I had confrontations with the authority at (IBB), Instituto Buena Bista which is a preparatory course for the Academy of Arts. As I was raised to feel free to ask any question, people who were raised to be religious and believed in God felt offended when I was questioning the existence of GOD. It feels awkward not to have the space to ask these questions as I don’t know the answer and I am always looking for the limits of what is happening in our society.

We know you to be an artist, could you expand a little bit on this? How would you describe your artwork?
I understand the confusion as you think I am an artist. I have been to the Design Arts Academy and a preparatory art school. I love cooking and I use the arts as a medium to criticize the mainstream culture and traditions. I speak my truth sharing the experiences that I have. And human beings are complex and one label does not exclude others.

A still from “Is bad faith unavoidable? – ’17

I am politically active in Germany as I live a decolonized life. In most western perspectives and cultures, you are required to live a 9 to 5 life. You can excel in it and doing that defining yourself by your job, paying the rent for a house, and where almost half of the money of what you earn is needed to pay the rent. I live in the forest and the use of electricity is minimal due to other things having more of a priority. Water I have to organize this myself and it requires a different way of work as we are used to this construct, this is why we have a well. This western way of living, we want to reconstruct it is based on exploitation. For example, if you eat chocolate it is based on the exploitation of children etc…

Where I live now we make most of the things ourselves, we plant our vegetables, build our own living spaces, and by living like this we are reducing the exploitation of the earth’s natural resources and of people. A decolonized life for me is a luxurious life, as I have no worries about paying the rent and it offers me the freedom to explore and experience new things. As an example, if in the past an income of 1000 Euro, 600 Euro was needed to pay the rent. And now with the same 1000 Euro, only 20 euro is spent on the bureaucratic things that have to do with living in the forest.

I wake up hearing the birds singing and the squirrels. Living a self-sufficient life in the woods with an almost zero ecological footprint, as chopping wood, doesn’t include a lot of suffering, where if I would have a TV I would use raw materials from the African continent, exploiting the land and the people of the minerals and themselves. It is a radical switch to the root of our existence and being close to the root for me is truly living and I enjoy it. I live with a group of 4 political activists from different political cultures with two children. The way we live has allowed us to have a break from capitalism and the Big City, but we are not hippies. It is our way to step out of the rat race and show that there are other ways to live.

“Becoming aware is easier. Thinking of solutions is difficult. I try to live a solution-based life.”

– Renzo de Pablo

Is there always something, some message that you want to express in your work?
Think about the constructs that exist. Don’t take things as they are. In every segment of life, there is this sneaky little being that we call colonialism. Society is based on maximizing and this maximizing doesn’t allow you to think clearly of every step you make. Resulting in almost nobody having the time and space to think about everything you do. The life I chose allows that. we can take a break from it. We are not there yet to be fully autonomous, but we have already made this choice to live out of the grid as much as possible.  

Am I politically active, no not in the traditional sense! No, I want to start at ground level. I want to gain as many experiences that I can so that when I come back to Curaçao we can bring about changes. I want to reconstruct Curaçao as the way it is right now, it doesn’t work and people should become aware of this. 

What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be who you are right now?
I don’t think I have: “I don’t like how the world is and I am trying to do something about it”. And I am not going to suffer because I don’t have a proper job, the things that people call “stability”. I don’t want to be part of that circus. It is very hard living, but now I can do what I want better. It is still a challenge of course in the wintertime, I have to go to a friend’s house to shower because the pipes are frozen. I became homeless 1,5 years ago during the lockdown related to Corona. I lost my registration and a place where I could go. Luckily I had a friend that introduced me to the forest. The extremity of losing everything.

Being, in society | ’19 Photo by Julie Riemersma 

What are your plans for the coming years and when do you consider that you have been successful in your personal and business/professional life, let us say 5 years from now?
Getting more experiences and giving back. It is always a mutual exchange, like growing a tree eating fruit with the people and giving them the seed but also exchanging other fruits and seeds, etc…that kind of thing and also the exchange you have, it is a different fruit to eat and grow. That is what I want to do 5 years from now. 

I try to live an intentional life

What are the challenges that you are dealing with? And how are you dealing with these different challenges you confront?
I don’t have examples of people from Curaçao doing this. The way I live now, I need to find out a lot of things. The people I look up to, are dead or killed, but it is the life I choose for. Now living in the city life is easier, but it is not what I want and I am not going to settle for it. I am figuring it out on my own. In its fundaments, it is still a lonely path. And I have to keep looking and I am not the first nor will I be the last one, choosing this path. The most difficult challenge of this life is, that I try to live not as survival but live an intentional life. I am for now staying on this course and looking for people that are out there also trying to live this type of life. Like Ruben, but he is not so extreme as I am, but more people are coming and living this life.

Do you use your inner voice to evaluate when dilemmas show up? How does that work for you?
Depends on what mood I am in. I can fight and now I am more in the listening mode, taking the time and just sit. Having that space allows me to choose the choices and what those choices bring, but sometimes I lose it. I will fight and this is a continuous process. With the fight, I mean metaphorically speaking.

Venice International Performance Art Week
Co-Creation Live Factory “Dissenting Bodies – Marking Time” | January 2020
European Cultural Centre – Palazzo Mora, Venice (IT)
Photo by Fenia Kotsopoulou

I look for silence. I meditate each morning. But I don’t mind failing, as I can also learn from that. And there are no good nor bad answers. It is what it is and I just have to deal with the consequences, learn and get it over with or go back maybe to where I started.

How are you trying also to keep up with your knowledge and skills levels?
I like learning through experience. I am a Book worm. I can read 4 books a month in the winter. I just bought an analog camera and it is on the way. I also write and document what I do. I talk to others that know certain things better than I do. The people and things around me, the resources that I have available, I use wisely.

What are your strengths?
My strength is also my weakness. I am very confrontational which is also bad, as not everybody is receptive to this approach. I am very vocal, a man of action very critical of myself and also towards others.
Not everything is 50 % 50 % as I am figuring out what has more worth. Learning what I can be the wrong one. I can be more open to change my mind, to be proven wrong, and knowing that not only one thing is the right thing.
It is a balance type of thing.

Do you have hobbies or interests that you are also passionate about?
A camera of late is a new thing that I want to explore. Problem-solving in real-life experience. As I live in the forest in Germany, the forests demand you to learn new things. I love reading books.

If you as Renzo would meet a stranger on the bus (let say in Berlin or New York) and they would ask you to introduce yourself, what would you answer?
I am Renzo And I am very “confrontationally, critical and honest”. This honesty can make you uncomfortable honest. Our world is most dishonest and illusionary. That is why it is hard to be at peace with confrontation and the removal of the illusion. But I don’t want to lie to you, you can make your choice.

How would you describe Renzo in one word or one sentence?

Who are the persons that have inspired you the most in your life?
Most people living in the outskirts of society. Some homeless people have made choices like all of us in society but some were just not ideal for them and the others around them. This doesn’t mean they have to be shunned out of society. For example, someone I loved in Curaçao was called “Palabrua”. A smart guy that knew what he was talking about, he had made mistakes in his life, but he was smart. Those living a life that is unlike the lives of the majority of people. I loved to talk to the chollers and inviting them to tell me about their life. Also, people at Capriles Clinic, when you talk to these people you get perspectives that are different, usually most of the time people are not aware of their experience or do not even care. It taught me how people are treated if they are different.

What is a trait that is still a work in progress?
I could be more open to the other life, I have my prejudices. I want to be less prejudiced towards people because I am so critical it sometimes gets cloudy.

What was a defining moment in your life?
The biggest one was when I became homeless in a country that is not mine in the middle of a global pandemic. But it also opened the option to be where I am right now as I decided to take this route and pursue it.

Where do you want to be 10 years from now?
I want to be on the island of Curaçao.

What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends, and others to say about you let’s say 20 years from now?
Nothing, really nothing.

“To start again, burn the weed, go to the roots of things, remove those and grow new plants.”

– Renzo de Pablo

What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao as we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, recession, and in the middle of growing environmental challenges because of the global warming consequences?
I am not optimistic at all. There is high unemployment now in Curaçao and this only shows me that a lot of things are not working properly. We are very dependent on tourists from mainly the Netherlands and other Western countries, we are very dependent on food from outside of the country. I think maybe we should burn things to the ground, as it gives us the opportunity for a radical change. To start again, burn the weed, go to the roots of things, remove those and grow the new plants. We can redefine the island and work to improve people’s life. Where it matters.

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
No, I am very thrilled that I was able to have this interview presenting an opposing view and perspective. Maybe we can spark each other for the change we want to see.

One of the 250 Influencers of Curaçao

Renzo de Pablo is an opinionated, curious, courageous young man, that has deliberately chosen to “live off the grid” in the forest in Germany. Renzo’s trajectory has always been one, where he was always looking for the limits of what is happening in our society and also with regards to people.Being raised to be:

“Free to be who he wants to be; where no issue was taboo”, made him discuss any construct that he would become aware of since he grew up in Curaçao. Choosing for a path that is least traveled, has not come easy and when during the lockdown in 2020 a chance opened up to “live off the grid”, Renzo chooses for that. It offers him firsthand the opportunity to learn to live a self-sufficient life in the woods with an almost zero ecological footprint, where he aims to prevent a lot of suffering of others, which includes animals and nature. This radical switch to the root of our existence teaches him a lot.

For his courage to “live off the grid”, his confrontational style to question constructs, his deep respect for mother Earth, Flora, and Fauna, and the lessons he is learning off the grid, intending to, later on, share this in Curaçao, we deeply love and respect him and consider him one of the 250 influencers of the islands representing the sustainable development sector. Look at the list of the Influencers we have interviewed or reported on, up to now.

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