What was your first approach to photography?
Did you start out purely for personal interest, or did it arise from the simple need to photograph your works?
I started to be interested in photography during the Graphic Design studies at the Triennium of the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo, because among the different subjects of that course, it seemed to me that materialized the pure and free artistic expression I was looking for.
My first real approach to this new means of expression was the anatomical study, fascinated by the works of Robert Mapplethorpe. The human body was my favorite subject even in my first pictorial experiments.
Later, I discovered some contemporary artists whose language led me to break any link with traditional artistic representation and figuration.
Artists such as Nick Cave, Matthew Barney, Erik Ravelo, Akatre and others, have helped to delineate in me a new vision of art, introducing spontaneously in my aesthetic research, a charge of irony, playfulness and color. Later I started to “portray” the artists through the photographic lens, the series Profili d’Artista, 2013, which became the thesis project of the Triennium. The bodies were treated as part of a (living) installation, with the aim of translating into a visual form, the fusion between the personality and the artistic expression of each of the subjects portrayed.
The “Environments” are an example of how you introduced photography as a backbone of your work. Where you turn simple environments into a colorful network in which spaces and objects become unusable, could you tell us a bit about this “tangle”?
Moreover, all this has had an implication also in your performance of 2015, entitled “Crisadelic Initiation”. How did you develop the idea?
I used photography in the “Ambienti” series because it was the only tool that allowed me to preserve a testimony, a vivid trace of an ephemeral artistic gesture.
The complex scenography I create patiently and meticulously (between research of the location and exhibition) is destined each time to perish (to succumb) to the natural temporal degradation, immobility and silence that usually hovers in these spaces, main protagonists of my project.
The photography then becomes the celebratory artifact of timeless places which, through that intervention, are reborn again and do so in a very flashy way!
The use of color, in fact, plays a fundamental role because it is deliberately opposed to the dismal and dull colors of these dark and dusty environments. Forgotten, but at the same time witnesses of a past that still has something to say. This sort of (dormant) vital energy that permeates within them, has a strong attraction for me that pushes me to want to get in touch with it. And in order to do so, I immerse myself totally in the unknown, touching one by one every element present in space, so to speak, to establish an intimate relationship with it, visible from the trace that those wool threads mark with my path. What is born at a certain point from this “confidence” is a new architecture that goes to fit on the pre-existing one, without ever altering it.
This whole operation is probably a way of taking care of the darkest and most uninhabited primigenial part that is in me, but also a form of denunciation towards a time when everything is so fast that it does not allow us to notice the true value inherent in what surrounds, in which the “new one” sweeps away with little consideration the “old one” and there is no cure of memory.
“Avviamento Crisadelico” was born as a preparation for “Catarsi Crisadelica”, certainly my most intimate and felt work, which perhaps finds a very explicit form of communicating the visible difficulty of man to adapt to a world too distant from his nature and the consequent camouflage that he must do to hide it and protect it.
One aspect that fascinated me particularly is the use of light wood in some of your works which alter the appearance and the ability to perceive the object itself.
What was the first work in which you used light wood and why?
The first work in which I experimented with this particular type of light was “Visione Olometaboli”, an interactive installation, which allowed the user to relate to the same scene through two different “filters”. Through the view offered by the warm light, one could observe a work realized according to an informal research purely based on material experimentation (in this case a tangle of colored wool threads). The passage to light wood, obtained thanks to a movement sensor that perceived the arrival of the visitor to the central scene of the installation, allowed instead to notice on the surface of the work, a hidden entity at first, the silhouette of a butterfly belonging to the holometaboli .
The evolutionary cycle of these insects consists of their detachment from the chrysalis to be reborn in their definitive form, a process that is for me the symbol of the metamorphic evolution of life.
Moreover, at a time when, in art, a certain aesthetic research has too often received the sentence from the “intellectuals of art” to be reduced to futile decorativism, in constant defense of the hyper-conceptual trend so much today, I felt the need not to betray the formal vision I have of artistic expression (that is, the one that includes the pure visual satisfaction outlined by languages such as those coming from the world of graffiti) and offer a double reading of the same image, only possible if pushed by the curiosity. Curiosity is for me an essential value of existence, it is a value without which, even in art, any object observed (conceptual or not) would end up being “incomprehensible” at first glance.
Consequently, only by placing one’s gaze closer to the surface of things, and in parallel with human relationships, one can discover the infinite possibilities offered by analysis. The light wood therefore, in this project, acts as a magnifying glass to observe better, and acts also as an alarm clock in order not to make our eyes fall asleep and our curiosity, essential instinct of existence.
Contemporary art is a vast world and the user often declares that he does not understand it. Recently you have made a happening titled “Now it’s up to you”, could you tell us the idea and especially the reactions of your audience?
On that occasion the guests had been offered chewingum, without telling them that they would be served later to each, to leave a personal trace on a tablet hanging on the wall, as had been done by me earlier in a similar post next door .
The invitation, clearly provocative, was driven by my desire to make any kind of user participate and to feel part of the artistic operation, which was too recent for the selected public of connoisseurs.
Visitors were exhorted not only to interact by modeling this simple material, but also to work out how to conceive the form that represented them, at the same time confronting the disgust that that operation could present.
The incident scandalized and amused the participants, who felt displaced … I think more about the disability by feeling like nothing more than simple detached observers, because of the fact of having to interact with something “insipid”.
I believe there is a sort of satisfaction in me in seeing people facing their modesty and a certain sarcasm in dealing with art and the relationship that one has with it, too.
Would we have the opportunity to look at your work in some exhibition or personal?
I’m starting to work on a performance that will be held at the “Macro” of Rome in the 2018-2019 programming within the Macro Asylum project, which abolishes the idea of the “exhibition” to finally arrive to a social experiment in which it is only the artist self-exposing himself, without intermediaries, thus questioning the role of curators and critics. Only the user will decide what he likes or not and it will be up to the artist to find the way to communicate his message without filters and without external conditioning, as normally happens inside the museum circuit. The project I proposed will be called “Do not accept candy from strangers” and the candy will be the protagonists during the entire duration of the performance!
Article and interview by Loriana Pitarra
Article translation by Emanuel Ciuro