Basel - Interviews

Davidoff Art Residency Program: an Interview with Rodell Warner

1 day ago

On the occasion of the first edition of the Basel Meeting Point, organized by Davidoff in collaboration with My Art Guides, we interviewed the Trinidadian multi-media artist Rodell Warner (b. 1986 Trinidad & Tobago), selected artist of the Third Davidoff Limited Art Edition, an initiative which aims to promote and support Caribbean artists.

Rodell is a photographer, multi media artist and graphic designer whose works assume various forms in a process of exploration and rediscovery. He harnesses facets of new media, digital media and photography, creating unique patterns and projections that have become key characteristics in some aspects of his artistic production. Through his digital creations, Warner participates within a global framework of discourse about the nature of digital possibilities. How we see, think, and interact are brought into question as Warner seeks to reveal what is already there.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Could you tell us something about your experience and involvement into the Davidoff Art Initiative program?

Rodell Warner: To begin the process of creating the Limited Edition we thought about the meaning of “Time well spent” and explored different directions with the images, which became a way to generate a conversation about exactly how to communicate this with the artwork. I experimented with photography and drawing and digital collage, really assessing a wide range of possibilities to share with the group. As our discussion and analysis developed we realised that with both Davidoff’s work and mine, the focus was on exquisiteness in the craftsmanship of the things we make so that the experience of enjoying them is extraordinarily pleasurable, and we found that to be the true link between the product and the artwork, and time well spent. Taking cues from the elements that go into Davidoff’s products, I crafted images full of texture and colour that would be a joy to look at, a delight to experience

C.I: Which is the vision or concept you have about the Caribbean art? Do you think there is a common denominator or defining characteristic?

R.W.: There’s incredible diversity among the artists and art practices that I’m aware of in the Caribbean. I also know that my knowledge of all that’s happening in the region is nowhere near complete. The scope of Caribbean art seems so wide and free, so varied and uncentered, that I have to classify it as undefined and unknown.

C.I: The project you’re presenting is titled “Nature Reimagined”, a series of photographs and a further maturation from your earlier series “First Light” and “Negatives”. Could you tell us about the creative process behind this artwork?

R.W.: “Nature Reimagined” is six digital images I created for DAI’s Limited Art Edition which relate visually to the elements and processes that go into the crafting of Davidoff’s products. The Collectors’ Edition is a photo series of self-portraits I made by projecting these images onto myself. At Art Basel, visitors to our installation can choose to also be photographed this way.

C.I: Talking about your art you state “I enjoy the universality of this exploration, as the viewer is not asked to be familiar with any specific cultural references in order to access the work.” Could you tell us something more about this concept and your practice in general?

R.W.: My idea was that the image of the unclothed human form transcends all cultural signifiers, making it universally relatable as all viewers of art have bodies, although I feel now that the suggestion of universal relatability is not correct as even distorted images of unclothed bodies carry in them information that could be seen as identifiers of one group or another, and might not be seen as universal symbols.
What I’m interested in is the familiarity of the image of the human form, and distorting the image to inspire new imagination about it. I’m looking for surprising ways we can picture ourselves. I have the constant sense that I’ve already seen the body in every possible way, and yet I’m surprised all the time by exciting variations that I find and share.

C.I: In your work, you explore the nature of digital possibilities, trying to reveal unseen aspects of nature. How do you translate this urgency into your artwork?

R.W.: The use of technology in image-making creates possibilities for the generation of extremely unfamiliar scenes. Projection onto human figures offers a way to combine these unfamiliar scenes with what is perhaps the most familiar thing to us – the human form. The interaction of these two in my work creates instances of new ways to see the familiar, and new ways to imagine the complexity of nature which often or in many ways exists invisible to us.

C.I.: Any upcoming projects we could look forward to seeing?

R.W.: New projects are in the works. I’m making a new body of work – exploring a style of photography and video that I’m currently obsessed with and developing. I make a new show by experimenting and creating new things then collecting the most fascinating results and finessing those into an exhibition. While working on this new set of images I’m posting bits of it on my instragram, sharing breakthrough moments and feeling out what resonates the most.

C.I: It’s your first time in Basel, could you tell us about your expectations and what you are most looking forward to?

R.W.: I know the city is going to be buzzing with activity during Art Basel. I’m being very careful to make as few plans as possible so I can float around and take it in. I just want to be there and see what happens.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Rodell Warner Rodell Warner
  • Rodell Warner, First Light, 2013 Rodell Warner, First Light, 2013
  • Rodell Warner, Nature Reimagined, Hyper Flower, 2017. Courtesy of the artist Rodell Warner, Nature Reimagined, Hyper Flower, 2017. Courtesy of the artist
  • Rodell Warner, Nature Reimagined, Aerial view, 2017. Courtesy of the artist Rodell Warner, Nature Reimagined, Aerial view, 2017. Courtesy of the artist
  • Rodell Warner, Nature Reimagined, Collectors edition, 2017. Courtesy of the artist Rodell Warner, Nature Reimagined, Collectors edition, 2017. Courtesy of the artist
Basel - Interviews

Basel Through an Architect’s Perspective: One Day in Basel with Andreas Ruby

1 day ago

As well as being the world’s most famous fair, Basel is also known for its amazing display of architectural marvels, so for this edition we decided to give our readers a special architecture itinerary courtesy of the director of the SAM Museum, Andreas Ruby, designed to help you enjoy the great local architecture on offer.

Basically, you could start anywhere in the city, because you are bound to run into great buildings no matter which neighbourhood you are in. But if you are in Basel during the summer, you should start with the Rhine. Get a Wickelfisch (I recommend at Tarzan store, Spalenberg 39), go to the Tinguely Museum and, ideally, after some instruction by a local, dip into the most incredible urban experience you can get of Basel. Feel the city as you float in between its two very different sides. To the left you will see the rocky cliffs of Grossbasel, to the right (????) the wonderfully crowded urban embankments of Keinbasel – and you should keep to the left, since that’s where you have to get ashore before Dreirosenbrücke. Once you have done that you will experience the architecture of the city no longer just visually, but viscerally.
An ideal way to start the day is taking a morning bicycle tour to my personal favourite kind of cathedral, a most incredible infrastructural building – the power station Birsfelden (Hans Hofmann, 1951-54). The architect originally wanted people to be able to walk through it, using it as an indoor bridge to go across the river. That did not happen, but you see it well from outside too. It’s a James Bond location par excellence, and indeed I always think Roger Moore might show up any second behind one of the giant blue turbines.
Have you ever eaten inside a church? In Basel you can do this at Café Elisabethen which is situated in the base of the bell tower of Offene Kirche Elisabethen. They serve wonderful soups, and if the small service area is full, you can sit at additional tables in the nave of the church. I go there almost daily and often bring architects, so you might well spot some of them there.
Go and see the incredible concrete St. Anton’s Church by Karl Moser (1925-27). Then head on to the Universitätsbibliothek at Schönbeinstrasse 18-20 and check out the interactive sculpture “Polyvolumes” by the stunning Brazilian artist Mary Vieira (who lived and worked in Basel for 30 years). There is another one of her sculptures in the nearby Pathology Building at Schönbeinstrasse 40. Dive into the amazing campus of Universitätsspital with its luscious greenery, outdoor art collection and discover one of the most remarkable hospital buildings I know of, the Klinikum 1 of Universitätsspital Basel by Hermann Baur and others, built between 1937-45. You can go up to its epic rooftop terrace that offers my favourite view over Basel.
The Rhine harbour Birsfelden is such an underexposed but incredibly powerful place. Just bike to Powerstation Birsfelden again and continue in the direction of Rheinfelden. This bike path actually leads through the harbour area which is unique since most other cities on the Rhine make their harbours off-limits to the public. But here someone really took infinite care to make sure that the embankment of the Rhine, even though used for loading and unloading ships with construction material, goods, and oil, remains entirely accessible to the public. All it takes is a sign saying that you can use the space at your own risk.
I love “Il giardino urbano” at Bahnhof St. Johann. It’s an outdoor restaurant placed right next to the train tracks. I recommend their pizza accompanied by Gleis 1, their self-brewed brand of beer. Or, if you’re looking for something indoor and closer to the centre, check out “Acqua”, a restaurant created inside a former water works facility with an enticing make-shift atmosphere. Their daily menu with complimentary red wine is tasty and affordable, a rare and precious treat in Basel.
Make your way to Kaserne Basel and grab a drink in Parterre One, designed by young Basel architects Focketyn Del Rio Studio. There’s always something interesting going on at the Kaserne, from theatre to concerts to events in the courtyard. Jazz lovers will find their treats at Jazz Campus Basel or Bird’s eye, which both feature excellent concerts.
The Basler Münster is an exceptional place; the view from the Pfalz over the Rhine is sublime, and the cross-coat of the monastery with its double hortus conclusus is an architectural jewel not to be missed.

Andreas Ruby studied art history at the University of Cologne and spent time in Paris and New York as a researcher. He has worked as an editor and resident correspondent for the architecture journals Daidalos and Werk, Bauen + Wohnen. In 2001, he and Ilka Ruby founded Textbild, an agency for architectural communication, realising numerous international discursive architecture projects. He curated architecture exhibitions for museums, exhibition centres and galleries (the German Architecture Museum in Frankfurt, the German Architecture Centre (DAZ), the gallery Aedes in Berlin and the House of Architecture (HDA) in Graz). He and Ilka founded the architectural publishing company RUBY PRESS in 2008, realising 30 book projects as editor and publisher. In addition, Andreas has taught architectural theory as a guest professor at institutions such as Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, the University of Technology in Graz and ENSAPM in Paris. He has been the director of S AM Swiss Architecture Museum since May 2016.

My Art Guides Editorial Team

  • Andreas Ruby © Patricia Parinejad Andreas Ruby © Patricia Parinejad
  • S AM Swiss Architecture Museum Basel S AM Swiss Architecture Museum Basel
Venice - Interviews

Giardini Colourfall at the Venice Biennale: An Interview with Ian Davenport

6 days ago

On the occasion of the opening of the 57th Venice Biennale, Ian Davenport presented the project “Giardini Colourfall”, a monumental new painting for the Swatch pavilion.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start with the monumental painting you’ve been commissioned by the Swatch pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The piece is made of 200 litres of paint and incorporates 1,000 different colours. Could you tell us about the creative process of this artwork? How long did it take to complete it?

Ian Davenport: I had been in tentative discussions with Swatch about doing a project last year and then finally I went to Venice and met the creative director of Swatch, Carlo Giordanetti in the middle of December. I wanted to see the Giardini space and get a sense of what may work in the Biennale park environment, especially to understand the scale and light. I returned to London and ordered the materials straight away as I knew that the deadlines were very tight.
From then onwards we drew up a schedule for virtually every day until the collection date in early April. The painting needed to be prepared with a special primer in an industrial spraying process to protect the metal and then ground coats of paint were applied in my studio. The work is nearly 4 metres high and 14 metres long so even installing it in my studio was quite a project and we needed to re-weld and adjust the trusses in the roof to accommodate the painting.
Giardini Colourfall‘ is composed of lines of colour that have been carefully dripped down the painting surface. These then flow out onto to the floor and pool in thick seductive puddles. To ensure that there is no obvious break in the flow of the paint, I had to work every day for four weeks and up to 10 hours a day. It was pretty exhausting and challenging.

C.I.: The opening days of the Biennale are finally ended. What about your involvement in the exhibition and your collaboration with Swatch Faces 2017? Have you seen something that particularly attracted your attention in the Biennale and in town?

I.D.: The opening of the Biennale was very busy and crowded. It was a great event and exciting to be involved in such a high visibility project – the Biennale continues through to November 2017. To celebrate the collaboration with Swatch, I also had the opportunity to design a watch for them. This was great fun and obviously asks very different questions to do with scale and the relationship one has to a wearable object. I approached it as though I was making a painting albeit one of a very different shape, taking into special consideration the watch face.
From the National Pavilions, I liked the Phyllida Barlow installation. There were also many other wonderful shows on in Venice during the Biennale. One that I particularly liked was an exhibition of Philip Guston’s paintings at the Academia gallery – he is one of my favourite painters. He was famous as an abstract painter and then in the last years of his life changed direction and began to work figuratively. This was a very courageous decision that shocked many of his contemporaries and some life-long supporters of his career.

C.I.: Your practice is based on abstract and colourful painting. Where do you take inspiration from? In which way has your art evolved since you started to work as a painter?

I.D.: Recent inspiration for the colour in my work comes from looking at paintings from other artists. I am interested in how other painters use colour in their artworks and I try to use this as a starting point. It helps me to make more complex chromatic arrangements than I could otherwise imagine. The colour sequence for Venice was very carefully worked out and repeated twice to give a visual sense of balance and symmetry.
My early work was often monochromatic but it has gradually developed and become more focused on colour through sense and intuition rather than on a scientific basis. In the beginning, I found using colour difficult to come to terms with but as I became more familiar with it, I realised that I needed to embrace the unexpected and not to predetermine what might happen.

C.I.In terms of your art concepts and practice, who are your mentors? I see a certain connection with modern abstract painters as Piet Mondrian, for the shapes, or Vasily Kandinsky for the colours…

I.D.: There are so many artists I like that it is hard to select a list. The two most influential artists of the last 50 years for me are probably Jackson Pollock, who completely exploded how painting could be made and what its subject may be and Andy Warhol. Warhol is known for painting celebrities but I am more interested in how he explored repetition. He was a fantastic colourist.

C.I.: How is your typical day as an artist? Do you have an open studio?

I.D.: I get to the studio and have a cup of tea and a meeting with my team – most of whom are also artists and help with the preparation of the paints and materials. We figure out the jobs for that day and then get started. Following a strict routine, we work until one, then stop for lunch, start again at two, have a tea break at four then finish at six. I like to stay on after everyone leaves and have some time to myself either to carry on working or to play guitar or just think about what we have been doing and process the day.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Ian Davenport, Giardini Colourfall, 2017. All rights reserved Swatch Ian Davenport, Giardini Colourfall, 2017. All rights reserved Swatch
  • Ian Davenport, Giardini Colourfall, 2017. All rights reserved Swatch Ian Davenport, Giardini Colourfall, 2017. All rights reserved Swatch
  • Ian Davenport, Giardini Colourfall, 2017. All rights reserved Swatch Ian Davenport, Giardini Colourfall, 2017. All rights reserved Swatch
  • Ian Davenport. All rights reserved Swatch Ian Davenport. All rights reserved Swatch
Mexico City - Interviews

Food, Time Consumption and Transformation: an Interview with Raul Ortega Ayala

4 weeks ago

During our visit to Zona Maco 2016 in Mexico City, we interviewed artist Raul Ortega Ayala who is presenting the results of his anthropological studies with a solo show at Proyectos Monclova, titled “Food for Thought” running at the gallery from May 4 to June 10, 2017.

Mara Sartore: Can you tell me about the origin of Babel Fat Tower?

Raul Ortega Ayala: A few years ago I conducted research focused on what food is beyond bodily sustenance. The focus was on its political content, on the effects it has on individual and collective identity, its religious connotations, on the added values that are given to it by the food industry and on its cycles and patterns of consumption. At some point during this investigation I found a strange pamphlet by Otto F. Fleiss titled “Art Made of Fat”, in which he narrates how butchers made sculptures with fat to decorate their shop display windows. He even talks about competitions they had for this ‘art’ during that period. I decided to try then this technique to make a work for this series and that’s how “Babel Fat Tower” came to be. One aspect of this piece that I am very interested in is that it has no definitive moment, much less a conclusion. It’s as valid when it’s built, as when it collapses. It oscillates between optimism and pessimism, with neither of the two moments being more important than the other, its reason for being is in constant flux.

MS: When did you begin to work on this project?

ROA: The food project began in 2009. Normally I do research for long periods of time within a particular world and theme and based on my experience in this immersion I develop each project. The period of investigation for the series about food is already over, and almost all of the works have been produced although a few remain unrealized for lack of funds or time to produce them. Right now I am working on another project focusing on the concept of Social Amnesia and the detritus of history.

MS: I know that you were taking cooking classes…can you tell me a bit more about that experience?

ROA: Part of the strategy that I use to involve myself further into the context that I’m researching is to look for ways to physically involve myself within that world. In this case I used the anthropological methods of “participant observation” and what is called “embodiment of knowledge”. In this instance that translated to working within the restaurant industry, and to taking cooking and butchering classes.

MS: Have you been left with anything from this experience? Have you become an incredible chef? Do you still have this passion?

ROA: Yes, for me an effective immersion is the one in which I leave different than how I entered. In the case of the food [project] I obtained different abilities that I still use and developed interests and passions that I continue to cultivate even though the development of the series is now concluded.

MS: Do you have any other pieces that have anything to do with food?

ROA: Yes, in total there are about 30 to 40 elements in the series that include work and field notes that I accumulate during the research process. For example, I made a piece that is a two-screen video installation. On one side there is a projection of a video that documents La Tomatina in Spain, in which thousands of people throw 5 tons of tomatoes at one another for one hour, and on the other side of the screen there is a video that shows a competitive eater ingesting 40 hotdogs in 10 minutes. This piece tries to literally put on the table a food that for many has a strong symbolism that goes beyond its mere function.

MS: Your interest in cooking was not so much gastronomic as political, a way of exploring society.

ROA:  Yes, I think that there are sufficient extraordinary chefs in the world that explore this part of food and I’m not interested in competing with or exploring that side of food. I was more interested in what happens around food, its aura, if you want to call it that, and there are a few pieces in the series that work with this aggregated value. For example, I made a piece that every time I make it the title changes because it is titled after a woman who gives me some of her breast milk to make cheese which I then serve during the opening of the exhibition. This piece tries to literally put on the table a food that for many has a strongly symbolism that goes beyond its mere function. Another example is a piece that is titled “Melting Pots that examines the cycle that some of the residue of the structure of the Twin Towers was subject to after the September 11 attack. This material was discretely sold to companies in various parts of the world; some of them used this material to make utensils for cooking. I serve a buffet on trays and with utensils made in the area where the companies that purchased the material [from Ground Zero] were. This meal is based on a found image of a buffet served in the iconic restaurant Windows on the World, which was on the top floor of the Twin Towers.

MS:  Do you cook any specific dishes?

ROA: Every time that this work is realized I work with a local chef to make the menu for the buffet based on the image that I found. Every chef has the liberty to interpret the dishes based on what they see in the image and/or investigate what was served at the restaurant and from that they propose what to serve on each tray.

MS:  Where has this happening/installation been enacted?

ROA: This piece has been presented in three places: in Holland twice and in London once, but this is the fist time that this work has been presented in Mexico and in this continent.

MS: This is my first time in Mexico and I am fascinated by Mexican food and also the relationship between the people and the food in this country. I would like to know how you have been involved in the cooking process as well as your relationship with Mexican cooking – if you do have a specific relationship with Mexican cooking – and if this was part of your reflection or not?

ROA: You can learn a lot about a culture through its stomach and food in my personal life and in Mexican culture is very important, but this in a way is tangential to the project. What I was interested in was in looking at food from another point of view, and to not focus on taste or sustenance, but rather to examine what could be called its “transubstantiation” which is a term used by the Catholic church to explain how bread can be transformed into the body of Christ and the wine into his blood. In a similar way, food suffers every day some sort of transubstantiation into something sacred, into culture, into some sort of identity, or into a utopia even.

Mara Sartore

  • Portrait of Raúl Ortega Ayala, Gloucester, United Kingdom, 2015, photo Roberto Rubalcava Portrait of Raúl Ortega Ayala, Gloucester, United Kingdom, 2015, photo Roberto Rubalcava
  • Raúl Ortega Ayala, Tomatina-Tim, From the series Food for Thought 2010 - 2013, 2016, Film still Raúl Ortega Ayala, Tomatina-Tim, From the series Food for Thought 2010 - 2013, 2016, Film still
  • Raúl Ortega Ayala, Tomatina-Tim, From the series Food for Thought 2010 - 2013, 2016, Film still Raúl Ortega Ayala, Tomatina-Tim, From the series Food for Thought 2010 - 2013, 2016, Film still
  • Raúl Ortega Ayala, Babel Fat Tower, From the series Food for Thought, 2010 – 2013 2010, Photo: Roberto Rubalcava Raúl Ortega Ayala, Babel Fat Tower, From the series Food for Thought, 2010 – 2013 2010, Photo: Roberto Rubalcava
Venice - Interviews

Giorgio Andreotta Calò: Venice through an Artist’s Perspective

4 weeks ago

Mara and Teresa Sartore: The title of the Italian Pavilion “The Magic World” is inspired by the anthropological work of Ernesto de Martino. Can you tell us how it came about? Which came first, the title or the selection of the artists?

Giorgio Andreotta Calò: I think that Cecilia Alemani recognised, in the practice of a few artists, a reference to a way of investigating reality inspired by the dimension of magic. Here, “magic” has a deeper and more complex anthropological reference with respect to what we have grown used to in everyday language. Magic is a way of recognising the world that surrounds us, or at the very least, it is a way to rationalise it where the tools of scientific investigation can’t give us an explanation.

MTS: After finding out that you were selected to represent Italy at the Biennale, how did the idea of the work that you will present come about?

GAC: The work began with a trip in September 2016 to l’Aquila because I was interested in studying scaffolding…

MTS: Why were you interested in studying scaffolding?

GAC: I needed to see some architectural structures like scaffolding. From l’Aquila we then went to Amatrice, where the earthquake had hit a week earlier and the road to get there was completely empty; there were only Civil Defence supply vehicles that were on their way out, there was a very strong sense of anguish. When we got there I didn’t recognise my town: it seemed like a war was going on, there had just been a catastrophe, houses had completely collapsed. It was a very hard sight to see, very distressing. In front of such a strong image I wondered: “what can we do to exorcize it?” The seed of my work is contained in this question. Inside of us we need to resort to something stronger than an explanation, at times the tools that we have are not enough to face something like this, for that we need to move in another dimension, otherwise we succumb.

MTS: It’s a way to survive reality…

GAC: It is magic that manages to take us back to the rational dimension via other routes. De Martino’s work is interesting in this sense because it delivers a rational “historical” explanation to what would otherwise have been relegated to a folkloristic fact or mere “belief.” The studies that he carried out in Lucania gave a voice to populations that otherwise would have lived in complete oblivion and isolation from history because they would not have been understood.
Magic is the manner by which even whole communities are founded and on which political life is also structured; it is the way in which a single individual succeeds in finding their own physical and spiritual integrity, whereas in a moment of crisis this is less so. De Martino was involved by believing that the aspect of magic should be investigated on a sociological and political level, finding it within the practices of several artists. Personally, I find that in a moment of crisis such as this, the call to magic isn’t intended as a way out or a way to escape the reality that surrounds us, but on the contrary, it’s a different way of investigating it and to be able to give back a rational vision of what is happening, since this rational vision is, by now, lost and gropes around in the dark.

MTS: On your journey, what has been your relationship with magic, if there has been one?

GAC: There hasn’t been one directly, but I have realised that through some works this aspect has indeed been investigated, even if only unintentionally. The inspiration and form of a work are something that you can’t always completely control. Only when the work is finished can you look at it and to try to understand its genesis. In the moment in which it is in progress some mechanisms are almost unconscious, of course you start with an idea and you want to make it happen, but in the middle there is that creative journey of constructing the work that can end with different results. When it is finished you can think about it, look at it, revisit it. At this stage you can also find some answers or ask yourself some new questions.

MTS: So, to face this theme in a “conscious” way was also an opportunity to look at your work in a different way?

GAC: Absolutely, in some works it is very obvious that there is a call to the magic dimension, however, let me repeat, always understood in its deeper, anthropological meaning. I have studied different works by De Martino and “La fine del mondo” (The end of the world) particularly, I found very interesting. All of his work has given me ideas to work with.

MTS: A year ago you returned to Venice with your family to begin this work. In the past you have described this city as a mother’s womb, an amniotic fluid that envelops… What has it been like to come back here to live? Will you remain here or will you leave? Have you found it changed, does it still manage to surprise you?

GAC: What I have felt most strongly in Venice this year is the climbing movement of the tide, which has followed me with both great fullness and great emptiness. Also, the form that my work takes is connected to the possible sceneries of this city, where, I feel there are strong warning signs and signals that must be heeded and that also tell us how to treat this place, how it must be preserved, and that speak of its biorhythms and of the dynamics that govern it, and that we are climbing over with both feet, that recount its identity and all that has made it possible.

MTS: Indeed, this has been a very peculiar year for the tide. It has been very small, reaching some historic lows. There were some days when there was almost no water in the canals…

GAC: This too is worrisome… I believe that to feel this city means to become part of its organic life, of its operation. This year I really felt it a lot: I have perhaps been too in sync with Venice, I have become Venice. I think this can be dangerous because it means that you also absorb all the tragic and unhealthy aspects of an overloaded and exploited city that is so neglected. Here there is a continuous passage, as the tide enters also flows and masses of people enter, like the oysters attached to the canals that swarm everywhere like the plague. This type of tourism is so damaging. I came back in April 2016 and the massive waves caused by the cruise ships immediately began. I found the streets completely changed, the area where my parents live has changed, new economies have sprung up, a use of spaces that is also surely connected to money laundering.
There are also some positive aspects: Venice is a place where you can still measure modernity, even if, paradoxically, it seems stuck in this past from which it doesn’t look like it can escape.

MTS: For us, Venice is the city of the future…

GAC: Venice condenses the present, it can be seen in all its worse aspects, but also in its best ones.

MTS: What are the best aspects of Venice for you?

GAC: The best aspects I find where only a few manage to go. The night is a moment in which Venice / cadaver is left to the cockroaches. I remember an image: one night I was walking Arturo, my dachshund, next to Piazza San Marco and from the stairway of a church I saw loads of cockroaches, the whole staircase was black and moving, but suddenly they disappeared, returning to the cracks from which they came. The masses of people that invade Venice are like those cockroaches, it is as if they make their way to a carcass to eat it then all of a sudden they disappear into the folds of the city; like the water that fills up and then empties. At night, until dawn, Venice is calm, emptied, silent, you can still see it: the city stratified by time and shapes loses itself behind a mask.

MS: When they told you that you had been selected as one of the artists for the Italian Pavilion, did you already have an idea of what you would have brought with you before moving here? If yes, how has that changed thanks to the tide and the influence of Venice?

GAC: I had thought a little about what I would have done if they had called me one day. I wondered how I could approach the physical space that, for a few years now, has been fixed at the Arsenale, but for a long time was at the Gardens and then was also empty. They are difficult spaces because they are oversized. For me, it was interesting to make a strong, simple and symbolic gesture because even when I had taken part in the International Show in Carlo Scarpa’s Garden of Sculptures, I was interested in finding a simple dimension that had a layered reading, but at the same time, also one that everyone could understand.

MTS: Have you given a title to the work that you will present?

GAC: No, it doesn’t have a title. In reality, I have one but I don’t know yet if it will be the one I use because I must see the finished work. It’s like when a daughter is born, you have a thousand names in your head but you must see her first before you decide.

MTS: I imagine it’s difficult right now to think about what happens after, but when the work is there and you will step back from it, do you think that you will stay in Venice?

GAC: Definitely, when the Biennale ends I won’t stay in Venice and I don’t know if I will go back to Amsterdam. I would have liked to stay, also because I made a big effort to return here and to get used to it again, to find my own space here again. You can live in Venice, but not as a Venetian. Venetians don’t exist anymore.

MTS: I would like to ask you if there is something that you feel you could wholeheartedly recommend to the people who will come to Venice for the Biennale?

GAC: If it were possible, I would say to stay for fifteen days, one month, more time, not the usual two days… To try to live the city. It’s a suggestion that I would give in general, but here it becomes a necessity. An image of Venice has been created to easily sell to the herds that come here to graze, a business that facilitates the commodification of this image. This isn’t the true Venice, it is something else, but in order to see it you have to look for it, it is not found quickly, it isn’t easily caught, luckily.

MS: Is there a place in particular that you love? Is there a place where you find yourself most at home?

GAC: In the lagoon there are different places, when it’s hotter I like to be in the shallows. They are submerged places that emerge at certain times and you can walk there, like in the rice paddies, to collect clams. They are places that, luckily, can only be reached if you have a boat and if you know where to go. I think that the most beautiful places are the less accessible ones and with less accessible I mean everything that is within reach but that you don’t see because it has been disguised, like Venice.

Learn more about the Italian Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Mara Sartore

  • Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Photo credits: Nuvola Ravera Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Photo credits: Nuvola Ravera
  • Untitled (Laguna Sud), Giorgio Andreotta Calò, 2007, Laguna Sud, Venice, Italy Untitled (Laguna Sud), Giorgio Andreotta Calò, 2007, Laguna Sud, Venice, Italy
  • Monument to the fallen, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, 2010, Comune di Bologna, Italy Monument to the fallen, Giorgio Andreotta Calò, 2010, Comune di Bologna, Italy
  • Giorgio Andreotta Calò, 22nd july 1911 -22nd july 2011, Teatro Margherita, Bari, Italy Giorgio Andreotta Calò, 22nd july 1911 -22nd july 2011, Teatro Margherita, Bari, Italy
  • From Sunset to Sunrise ,Giorgio Andreotta Calò, 2006, intervento luminoso, Torre del Parlamento,17° piano, 13/11/2005, Sarajevo, Bosnia ed Erzegovina From Sunset to Sunrise ,Giorgio Andreotta Calò, 2006, intervento luminoso, Torre del Parlamento,17° piano, 13/11/2005, Sarajevo, Bosnia ed Erzegovina
Cologne - Interviews

Art Cologne 2017: an Interview with Fair Director Daniel Hug

1 month ago

On the occasion of the opening of the 51st edition of Art Cologne, we interviewed fair director Daniel Hug to share with us the news of this year edition and to tell us about the German art scene and market. This year 200 globally renowned galleries will show works by around 2,000 artists.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start from the origins. How did everything begin? How was the art scene in the city by that time and how did it evolve from there?

Daniel Hug: Art Cologne was started by two galleries – Hein Stünke from Galerie Der Spiegel and Rudolf Zwirner from his namesake gallery. Stünke and Zwirner took their Inspiration from the 1966 Dokumenta, and figured why shouldn’t they organize a huge exhibition on this scale, but with the purpose of selling Art. And so the first Kunstmarkt Köln as it was called then opened in 1967 in the Guerzenich Festival Hall. From this moment on the whole art market changed as we know it. Today there are hundreds of art fairs worldwide.

C.I.: What about your role as fair director? The event is under your direction since 2008. How do you manage the overall organization?

D.H.: I have a great team like Birgitt Schnitzius and Claudia Wendel who are in charge of gallery relations, also Bettina Vonderreck and Claudia Born who are in charge of our visitors program.‎ Most importantly Benjamin Agert, our fair manager, who basically ensures that the fair comes together smoothly, gets built on time, and many others I cannot all list here.

C.I: Which are the moments that marked the fair’s more recent history?

D.H.: When my predecessor introduced the sector “Open Space” and in 2007 when he recreated the famous Kounellis Installation “12 Horses”, with twelve live Horses inside the fair.‎ In 2010, the solo show of the Belgian artist Panamarenko, our collaboration with New York’s New Art Dealers Alliance which began in 2010 and lasted until 2015, the ” Bookmarks” exhibition of Hungarian Avant Garde to post-conceptual Art from 1967 to Today in 2015, the coming cooperation and founding of the new Art Berlin fair this coming September.

C.I:. This year Art Cologne is enriched by a a young contemporary art section “Neumarkt”. Could you tell us about the new concept of this edition?

D.H.: Until last year, we have had a sector for young galleries called New Contemporaries, and a sector for curated and joint gallery projects called Collaborations, and we wanted to offer a third option to young galleries to present a solo artist presentation in slightly smaller booths, to create a new name for this new sector would have made everything much more confusing, so we decided to rebrand the entire third floor of the fair, and have all these various sectors in one hall under this new name “Neumarkt”.‎ Neumarkt will offer every possible options, combinations and configurations of booths for young galleries, it will make it possible for galleries to really customize their booths, taylor the booths to their specific needs.

C.I: This year, the fair is taking place in concomitance to the Gallery Weekend Berlin. Berlin is also inaugurating the new Art Berlin fair this September and the city has a strong influence in the art scene. Do you think that this may affect the fair’s audience attendance or damage the market in some way?

D.H.: That Art Cologne and Gallery Weekend Berlin overlap two days has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, it has attracted a lot more visitors from abroad to Germany to see the two most important events concerning the German art market. The new Art Berlin is being organized by us, Art Cologne, and the organizers of the Gallery Weekend and will improve the preexisting abc fair, into a more substantial art fair in fall for Germany. This will only strengthen both Cologne and Berlin’s roles as Germany’s most important art centers.

C.I: Opening its 51st edition, Art Cologne is the oldest international art fair and has a strong background. How does the fair changed during the years and how differs from the other fairs? What are your hopes and expectations after this edition?

D.H.: Nine years ago, when I started in Cologne, the Art Cologne was an undefined white elephant, important galleries were missing, and it was spread out over four halls, everything was mixed together, it was hard to navigate. As inspiration, I looked at what Art Cologne was like in the decade from 1985 to 1995, the highpoint of Art Cologne when it was the most important fair for contemporary art world wide. The fair you see today, is very much like it was in this important time: A dynamic mix of established and young galleries, International and German covering art of the 20th and 21st century. All other art fairs are based on this model established in Cologne in 1967, so my job was really just to refine the quality, reduce the size, move into a more suitable hall reminiscent to the old halls from that time. Art Cologne is really the classic and original model Art Fair. We do not need to reinvent this, but continue in this tradition.

Daniel Hug is the leading director of Art Cologne since 2008. Born in 1968, has Swiss-American dual citizenship and has lived most recently in Los Angeles. Notably, he is the grandson of the famous Hungarian constructivist and Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy. Having studied art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he curated a number of exhibitions between 1998 and 2001 in project rooms and art venues. During this period, he took part as a gallery director in events including Liste Basel, Art Forum Berlin and Art Chicago.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Time Drifts Cologne © Philipp Geist / VG Bildkunst 2016 Time Drifts Cologne © Philipp Geist / VG Bildkunst 2016
  • Daniel Hug, Art Cologne Fair Director Daniel Hug, Art Cologne Fair Director
Mexico City - Interviews

“Life in the Folds”: Carlos Amorales Unveils his Project for the Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

2 months ago

On the occasion of our trip to Mexico City to attend Zona Maco 2017, we interviewed Mexican artist Carlos Amorales to give us a preview of the project he will present for the Mexican Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale.

Carlos Amorales was born in Mexico City in 1970 and in 1992 moved to Amsterdam to attend the Gerrit, then at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (1996–97). Amorales’s practice encompasses animation, drawing, installation, video, and performance; he also collaborates with professional animators, composers, designers, musicians—and even wrestlers. Having matured under the influence of both Mexican and European cultures, Amorales frequently explores the commonalities and disparities of the two milieus by juxtaposing their distinctive vocabularies. His work is also deeply personal—reflective of emotional introversion and at times obscure, it journeys into a dark world of fantasy, blurring the line between the real and the imagined.

Mara Sartore: Obviously, we would love you to talk to us about what you are preparing for the Venice Biennale, but before we get to that, let’s take a moment to talk about your artistic journey, how you began, and what your relationship with your parents was like, in this respect…

Carlos Amorales: My name is a stage name, it is the joining of the “A” of Aguirre, my father’s name, with “Morales”, my mother’s last name. This is because, otherwise, I would have had exactly the same name as my father, Carlos Aguirre. And so, being the “second” forced me to look for another name. It took some time to achieve, it was a long process of searching for an identity, then one day I thought if I put an “A” in front of Morales… And so we have Amorales… During this time of “separation” from my father I also left Mexico. At the beginning of the nineties I went to Holland to study at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie and then at the Rijksakademie where I finished up in 1998. I have always had a great interest in pictures, graphics, performance and music, but what gave me the push at the beginning was to create this character called Amorales, a character through which I have been able to find my uniqueness, my distinctness. From this starting point I have begun working on different themes…
One of the central themes of my work has always been the mask. Not so much as an object in itself, but more as an object that hides and reveals at the same time. A membrane between public and private. I know that art happens in the public space, but what is behind it and what pushes its creation are almost always private matters. The masks I initially dealt with were very simple, snapshots of my daily life, of my relationships with people, then slowly I started creating other types of worlds, more artistic and imaginative ones.
When my first child was born, the pregnancy was a very intense moment for me. I took photos of his mother and these images become characters that then reappeared in my animation. I slowly started to become more interested in both the written word and in music. It was almost as if they were signs or tools that allowed me to interact with the real world.
The images became representations not so much of a fantastic or realistic world, as much as scores that had to be interpreted musically or performatively in relationship to new situations.

M.S.: What happens to the life of an artist when he discovers he has been selected to represent his country at the Venice Biennale?

C.A.: Life becomes very chaotic… hahaha… In reality, it is the second time that I have been involved in the Biennale exhibition in a national pavilion. The first time was in 2003 in the Netherlands Pavilion, as part of a collective…

M.S.: Yes, but the Netherlands is not your country…

C.A.: It’s true, this time it is very different. I am alone and in the Mexican Pavilion. I knew about the contest to participate in the selection two weeks before it closed. I had to present a project, I worked on the texts and on the prototypes to present to the commission and then I waited for a week to find out the result. As soon as I found out that I was selected, we left for Venice and started working.

M.S.:  I heard that they gave you the opportunity to choose Pablo León de la Barra as curator. Is that true?

C.A.: Yes, this time that’s how it turned out. It’s usually the curator who chooses the artists. However, there was a lot of discussion in Mexico about the fact that it had to be a curatorial or artistic project that was chosen and so, this year, that’s how it worked out. And this has given me a lot more possibilities as an artist, more liberty on how I could present my work. In Venice I will present a formal piece that I am working on, starting with paper clippings, which in the past I have developed a lot of things with: the first was a series of abstract images, an alphabet, a font, this is what I have worked on in the past few years, it was the next step after “l’archivio liquido” (the liquid archive), that was very figurative. I wanted to work on something more abstract and more typographic. Each form represents a letter. Last year I suggested this to a Mexican institution called Casa del Lago (Lake House) so that they would use it for three months, they replaced the font that they normally used, in all their programmes, with this new illegible font…

M.S.: For some time you have focused on the theme of censorship… is inventing a new language a way to take this reflection to the extreme?

C.A.: It is a way to codify content in order to be able to preserve it… a way that allows you to look after content, to preserve it and to maintain this type of freedom of expression, despite it being transformed, like when I was speaking to you about the mask: it’s as if, at times, there’s a censorship of the truth, but truth must be maintained, it must be spoken, it must be preserved, because it is important – and so ways can be found to disguise it, to preserve it… Right now, in Mexico, we are going through a difficult time, societally, and it is very hard to find a way to talk about this moment because every time you speak about it, you ignore, you accept, you don’t assume your responsibility to speak about it… Today we are experiencing a moment in time in which representations of reality are in crisis, our entire language has evolved into “over” informatin and what I am reflecting on is exactly how to find new forms to say things and to preserve them. What I want to show, in the pavilion, is actually how, through these forms, it’s possible to say something about what I feel is happening. It has been like a process of transformation of language, these elements are like the tools that are needed to make music, to depict poetry or a text. It is as an exercise of abstraction through which I have created a world, that is a figurative world of characters, trees and houses in which I tell a story…

M.S.: Will you also record a video of it? An animation?

C.A.: Yes, it is halfway between animation and film, a theatre of puppets in which I’m very interested in how the puppeteer and the musicians are shown and I like the idea; it is a story that is told by real people who bring it alive and make it work. It is not a stop-motion animation, that exists by itself, but the objects are made in the same way: if she speaks, she speaks in this language and if he responds, he responds in the same language. It is like a totally encrypted world… I really like how art can change according to where it’s on show and how people respond to it and how the culture of the people seeing it transform it.

M.S.: What is the story you are telling?

C.A.: It’s the story of a lynching – when a whole country encircles someone and lynches him – it is the story of a family of immigrants that arrive in a country and everyone starts speaking badly about them and they lynch them… This is an example of what I believe is happening here: it is a moment in which the State is becoming so weak that institutions are losing their role. This transformation that we are seeing, I don’t think it’s just a Mexican problem, it’s a global problem.

M.S.: In Europe, fear is seen as being embodied in the foreigner. In Mexico it seems to me that it’s different…

C.A.: Here it is very tied up with economic problems, or rather, what has happened here is that when Mexico was liberalised, it went back to being a factory producer that makes car parts. This has completely changed the economy and the country has begun to depopulate, creating a lot of migration of Mexicans towards the United States, the same people Trump is now building a wall to keep out. At the same time, in Mexico, an enormous, illegal industry of drug trafficking began to grow. The legal and the illegal began to mix along with the corrupt and the honest, and I believe this has produced a lot of psychoses, and I have the feeling that it will grow… for example: the price of gasoline has increased by 20%… a self-defence tactic, people create their own military groups and take the law into their own hands and go out and fight – they are not guerrillas, because they are not ideological. In Europe you have other problems but at the end of the day they are all economic and political problems.

M.S.: In Europe, a sort of psychosis is developing, a refusal of the “other”, the incapacity to live together, a loss of, but at the same time, a seeking out of a sense of community… Beginning with the manipulation of news by the media, the importance of reappropriating one’s own expressive means is more important than ever. At the heart of this there is obviously language, the primary connection with one’s own country of origin, creating a new “language” is, first of all, creating a new identity.

C.A.: Yes, what seemed interesting to me in my creative process is how, starting from a formal game, simple clippings of paper, nothing sophisticated, a universe can be created that can somehow tell a coherent story. A reaction to what is happening with the media, there is a lot of confusion: you open Facebook and you don’t understand what is true and what is not, you feel that everything is quite biased, and you see everything but only within the limits of your own political taste and this is a tendency that eliminates critical thinking at the root, that makes you see only what you want to see, because it is already preselected for you, it prevents you from seeing the other side… Therefore, I have wondered if proposing a new simple language could help to clarify…
In the end, these shapes are just forms, it depends on how you feel about them, it’s perhaps more a work about suggestion rather than assertion. I’m telling a story about a family, they could be Mexicans, they could be Africans, they could be Chinese. By using a mythical structure, you can have more universal empathy. I am not hoping that the audience sees the problem of Mexicans but perhaps a representation where everybody can feel more identified. In the discussion we had with Pablo it was clear that we didn’t want to become nationalistic. What scares me about nationalism is this tendency to look at the past, and most of these ideas are modern, they are not truly traditional. In Mexico our identity was created, for the most part, after the revolution.

M.S.: In Mexico there has been a kind of break between the revolution and contemporary Mexico… I don’t know today how much of those ideals remain. I was really struck by a piece I saw – “La Basura Social” by Orozco – a 1923 painting with the swastika already in the garbage 10 years before Hitler even climbed to power… For us Europeans, it is amazing to see that a Mexican was already seeing clearly, when, for many of us, unfortunately, it was clear only 20 years later…

C.A.: What I feel is that we must build something new. I read something recently that said that since Mexico has been part of the free trade agreement, and imports a lot of North American food, obesity has skyrocketed here. So much so that we are now the country with the second highest obesity rate in the world, after the United States. So, now that they perhaps want to put restrictions on free trade there will also be some advantages…

M.S.: Yes, I also thought about that! In Europe, we are reflecting a lot on a possible return to community, to the dimension of the polis, we are looking for ways to resolve local problems. Even if the world, by now, has become so small, in reality it is still a place of vast comparison where points of reference are easily lost, where the news of distant places affects our daily life, in which confusion between fiction and reality is growing, everything is present at the same time but generalised, globalised, and, in this context, people increasingly feel the need to return to what they can see with their own eyes, to what they can feel and touch, to concrete issues and actions…

C.A.: Yes, as an artist I also have this feeling. When I studied in Holland I was defined as an International artist and, at that time, I had the feeling that either I was an International artist, and therefore worthy of respect, or I was merely a “local” artist… Therefore, the most important thing was to see the world, to travel… But lately my needs have changed. I don’t feel the need to be considered an International artist anymore, nor to travel. I’m tired. I feel like relating to the reality that surrounds me, to my community. There are big changes happening now, we need to pay more attention, to stop and look at things more closely. For this reason I have called the show in the Pavilion “La vida en los pliegues“, a title that comes from a book of poetry by Henri Michaux. I liked this title because it represents the feeling of change that I feel. We must understand ideologies and reconsider them, call into question our way of life. We can’t stay on the path that we have traced up to now. These days everything is theatre, representation, it is almost impossible to find pragmatism and substance here nowadays…

Carlos Amorales – “Life in the Folds”
Mexican Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale

Venue: Arsenale, Sala d’Armi, Tesa B
Dates: 13 May – 26 November 2017
Opening: Thu 11 May, 11.30am
Performance: from 9 to 13 May 2017, 10am -7pm

Mara Sartore

  • Carlos Amorales in his studio. Photo by: Teresa Sartore Carlos Amorales in his studio. Photo by: Teresa Sartore
  • Mara Sartore interviewing Carlos Amorales in his studio. Photo by: Teresa Sartore Mara Sartore interviewing Carlos Amorales in his studio. Photo by: Teresa Sartore
  • Carlos Amorales in his studio. Photo by: Teresa Sartore Carlos Amorales in his studio. Photo by: Teresa Sartore
  • Carlos Amorales, Works for the Venice Biennale Project, Photo by: Teresa Sartore Carlos Amorales, Works for the Venice Biennale Project, Photo by: Teresa Sartore
  • Carlos Amorales, Works for the Venice Biennale Project, Photo by: Teresa Sartore Carlos Amorales, Works for the Venice Biennale Project, Photo by: Teresa Sartore
  • Carlos Amorales, The Cursed Village, 2017 (still). Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto Carlos Amorales, The Cursed Village, 2017 (still). Courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto
São Paulo - Interviews

Drawing the (Hi)story: an Interview with Pilar Quinteros

2 months ago

On the occasion of our Special Issue on SP-Arte 2017, we interviewed artist Pilar Quinteros to discuss her participation to the art week and the project she’s presenting at Galeria Leme.
Chilean artist, Pilar’s practice is based on drawing as a starting point for developing actions that reconfigure public spaces and landscapes through interventions. The artist turns her attention to abandoned or destroyed places in order to promote restorations, reconstruction, replacement, or to intervene in the architectural elements of public buildings. She also looks to debris and ruins as elements of live content linked to the present.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Could you tell us about the artworks you’re showcasing for the exhibition? Which is the creative process behind this work?

Pilar Quinteros:  The work I’m presenting at Galeria Leme is titled “Amigos del Movimiento Perpetuo” (Friends of Perpetual Movement). It was developed in collaboration with curator Bruno de Almeida, for the project SITU, and produced in São Paulo, during March. It is a volumetric interpretation of the ‘Luz Railway Station’s clock tower, nine meters long, built with foam and a wooden structure and installed horizontally on the gallery’s rooftop, widely visible from the street. The work is an exercise in relating and putting together two different buildings that were, in one way or another, someplace else. Firstly, Luz Station, built at the end of the XIX century in England, was imported to Brazil by ship, supposedly after been chosen for São Paulo from an English catalog of pre-fabricated pieces; and second, Galeria Leme, first constructed two blocks away from its current location and, after being demolished and reconstructed, it is now housed in an identical building from its original one (except for an expansion in its second version).
Since the beginning of the work’s development I was very interested in the shared aspects of the history of both buildings. But at the same time, the longer I spent working on this project the more I got interested in the Station’s clock tower as a symbol. The Luz Station is one of the most emblematic buildings in São Paulo but paradoxically it has an European origin. I believe this metaphorically represents the history of our continent. And this idea becomes even more evident if we consider the clock tower as symbolically implementing a sort of global order in the form of the ‘Standard-time’ and of the time-zones system, also originated in Europe. I’m thinking all this while I’m still producing the piece, so it is a work-in-progress analysis

C.I.: Drawing is your point of departure and one of your favorite tool of exploration. Could you tell us about you practice in general? Where do you take inspiration from?

P.Q.:  As you say, my main working tool is drawing. It is the media through which I think visually, analyze and further understand a lot of things. In my videos you can see some drawings, but that’s only a fraction of my production. There are more personal drawings that represent an unknown part of my practice, but for me they are also very important because they form a sort of personal diary of my mental processes.
About my practice in general, I have recently been working after several invitations to think and see different cities that I don’t know as well as Santiago (Chile), the city I live in. That has been fun, because after a bit of research something always comes up which amazes me. Images appear and I just need to construct them. Only then I discovered what I want to do, something that is impossible to define before I have a feeling of the place. So it is always an exciting process and it ultimately becomes something urgent to do. That’s one of the main reasons why I am fully involved in the making of all my projects, even if that means I will not sleep or eat much. I always count on other people’s help though, right now at Leme with the structural construction of the piece. But generally I don’t like asking for help because I believe that whoever will help me won’t be feeling the same excitement, or the have the same urgency and dedication as myself. In the end, all of my project are very personal and give me powerful life experiences from which I learn a lot.

C.I.:  Your art mainly deals with historical issues, past and memory and you look at narrative as a powerful media through which creating new possibilities. I’m thinking to “Smoke Signals” (2016), the project you presented at the Sao Paulo Biennial. Could you tell us a bit about your concept of art and how you translate it into your work?

P.Q.:  I don’t know if I would call “translation” the exercise of thinking something and produce a work after that. It has to do with the previous question. Art for me is a way of living. It means discovering new things and shape the dimension we live in. I think History is that: an exercise in giving shape. That’s why issues related to History regularly appear in my work. History is constantly moving and changing and that flexibility is very rich. You can interpret and alter it, for better or for worst. It is another material to manipulate. “Smoke Signals” is about that, I think; it is based on a historic fact but it is simultaneously a fictional and documentary movie.

C.I.:  How is your typical day as an artist? Do you have an open studio which can be visited?

P.Q.:  This year it will be difficult to have typical days because I have a lot of travels scheduled. But I try to keep a working routine despite of that. It is hard for me to start the day, I work way better at the afternoon and during the evening, so in the mornings I do ‘mechanical work’, like answering emails, having meetings, going to the bank, stuff like that. When I’m in Santiago and Sebastián is too (my husband, also an artist), we like to cook and have lunch together before spending the afternoon working in our personal projects. We have small studios on opposites sides of our apartment. While Seba is listening to music out loud I generally work in silence, because the noise from the street already is enough distraction. In the evening I go out with Seba or we just eat junk food at home, ahaha. I ride my bike every day.
About studio visit, yes, sometimes people come to our apartment. They have to give me prior notice otherwise they could get me on my pijamas!

C.I.: Having participated to the Sao Paulo Biennial, you might have been engaged to the city art scene. Which is your impression of the contemporary art scene? Do you think it is a stimulating place for an artist to live?

P.Q.:  As far as I have seen, the art scene here is very diverse and active. There are a lot of artists working, as well as a lot of galleries and exhibition spaces. I feel there is a powerful will to invent and produce new projects. It is very stimulating. I hope I can return to São Paulo for a longer period of time.

C.I.: Any new project you’re working on so far?

P.Q.: I have several projects for this year. Next week I will travel to Newport Beach, California to produce a video for the California-Pacific Triennial. Then I will work in two other videos in Chile and on a solo show in Santiago. There is also a trip to Ireland in between.

Pilar Quinteros was born in 1988 in Santiago, Chile. She holds a BA from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (2011), where she has worked over the past few years as a teaching assistant and started exhibiting in 2010. The artist received the 2012 Jean Claude Reynal Scholarship from the Fondation de France and the Fine Arts Museum of Bordeaux. She also participated to the 32nd Sao Paulo Biennial with the project “Smoke Signal”.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Pilar Quinteros, Oopart, 2016. Courtesy of the artist Pilar Quinteros, Oopart, 2016. Courtesy of the artist
  • Pilar Quinteros, Lago Bulo, 2016. Courtesy of the artist Pilar Quinteros, Lago Bulo, 2016. Courtesy of the artist
  • Pilar Quinteros, Smoke Signals, 2016. Courtesy of the artist Pilar Quinteros, Smoke Signals, 2016. Courtesy of the artist
  • Pilar Quinteros, Cathedral of Freedom, 2015. Courtesy of the artist Pilar Quinteros, Cathedral of Freedom, 2015. Courtesy of the artist
  • Pilar Quinteros, Work in Progress, Courtesy of the artist Pilar Quinteros, Work in Progress, Courtesy of the artist
  • Pilar Quinteros, Work in Progress, Courtesy of the artist Pilar Quinteros, Work in Progress, Courtesy of the artist
New York - Interviews

From the Armory Show, New York: An Interview with Fiete Stolte

2 months ago

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start with your participation to the Armory show, for which you are presenting the installation “Eye” (2014–2017) an interactive photo booth from which visitors can take away passport-sized portraits. Could you tell us about the creative process behind this artwork? How did this idea come up?

Fiete Stolte: The artwork that people receive is a self-portrait of their eye with their own silhouette reflected in it. The origin of this concept came from the reflections that I saw in my wife’s eyes. I like the idea of the eye being a mirror that reflects the world. In fact it is a common phenomenon that things reflect in the eye, I just searched for a way to stage this awareness.

C.I.: Your artistic research mainly deals with concepts of temporality and physicality. You chose to live by an eight-day week and changed the North-East-West-South principle to Fiete-East-West-South. Which are the benefits of having a shorter day and a longer week? How do you translate this way of thinking and living in your art? Which are your favorite tools of exploration?

F.S.: I created my own time structure with 8 shorter days, 21 hours each, within the week we all experience and personally navigate. When I lived this particular time structure of the 8-day week, it increasingly shifted from a temporal experience to a physical one. A good morning tea at midnight is a intimate revelation of freedom.
Having another time normally also means to be in another place. My time and the time of my surroundings were reaching into each other, allowing me to be present and absent at once. My interest in opposites originated during this time.

C.I.: This in an incredible year for you: you are having your first solo show in the US with Albertz Benda gallery and have been recently announced as an exhibitor in the 57th Venice Biennale. How do you feel about this? Which is the theme you’re exploring for the Biennale? Could you give us a sneak preview of what we would see at this upcoming event?

F.S.:Indeed, this year is an important one in my career as an artist. After 10 years of workin, it is an important milestone and offers a point of fresh and new opportunities. The work to be shown in Venice (courtesy of albertz benda, NYC) is confidential, of course. But I can tell that it is a sculptural intervention that focuses on traces as physical evidence of a moment. Within this moment, you can extend imaginary both into the past and the future. Look and see!

C.I.: How is your typical day as an artist? Do you have an open studio which can be visited?

F.S.: The good thing about being an artist is the fact that it is not always the same. During some periods, I would focus all my attention on the studio, fixated on my own mental universe, while sometimes it’s more travelling and collecting ideas (which I can do with our son and my wife who works with me) and in other times it is more about organisation of the whole business. The best part is to develop new works and the whole process of experimentation. It absolutely cannot get boring at all.

C.I.:  You were born and grew up as an artist in Berlin, which is one of the main destinations of contemporary art. However, as the “American dream” is a concept that still survives, many artists decide to move in New York. What is your impression of the art scene in New York? For what you’ve being experienced how does the New York art scene differ from the Berlin one?

F.S.: Berlin is a good play ground that you can use to develop your ideas, it is the perfect setup to get things started. There are so many interesting artists around and good venues of all sorts, as well as being affordable to live in. By contrast, New York real estate prices are incredibly high so galleries cannot take big risks. New York seems to be more of a place with a very high standard. In New York art is business, in Berlin art is prestige.
Reflecting on my last experiences from the Armory Show and my solo show with albertz benda, I received a warm welcome to this town and had an open-minded audience. Thank you NYC! I think you have to be ready for New York, it needs a certain artistic identity and self-confidence which I feel ready for now.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Fiete Stolte Fiete Stolte
Athens - Interviews

Athens from an Artist’s Perspective: an Interview with Angelo Plessas

2 months ago

On the occasion of our Special Issue dedicated to documenta14 in Athens, we interviewed artist Angelo Plessas (born in 1974, based in Athens) to share with our readers his perspective on the city’s art scene.

Angelo is one of the participating artists of this edition of documenta and is having two group shows in the city: “Si Sedes Non Is” at The Breeder and “Deste Prize: An Anniversary Exhibition 1999-2015” at the Museum of Cycladic Arts.
A self-taught artist and a college drop out, Angelo’s main body of work consists of websites. He is the founder and curator of The Eternal Internet Brotherhood, a collaborative annual residency/ summit/ project realised in different parts of the world (Anafi, 2012, Xilitla, 2013, Dead Sea, 2014).

The artist is also exhibiting at the 57th Venice Biennale within the HyperPavilion, a large-scale contemporary art exhibition situated on the Northern side of the Arsenale di Venezia in three historical warehouses, amounting to 3000m2.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Let’s start with your participation in documenta 14. Could you tell us a bit about the project you will be presenting on this occasion?

Angelo Plessas: First, I am organising two residency programmes which both happen before the official openings of Athens and Kassel. Then, when documenta 14 opens, I will have post-experiences of these two residencies inside the venues: the Fine Art School of Athens and the Workshop factory in Kassel.
The Athens part of the project is a residency called Experimental Education Protocol  and it has already happened in Delphi with people I invited and shortlisted students from the Athens Fine Art School. This residency is an alternative educational model taking place each time in a different place and is structured around experiential and communal learning. Each time it refers to a specific case study which is combined with a person and a place to generate different educational scenarios. The case study for the Delphi edition was my neighbor and friend Maria Zamanou-Mickelson who recently confided in me she was a World War II spy. Ms. Mickelson was “reading” aircrafts during the German occupation and was giving answers for wars  to the Allied Forces in the same manner that Pythia of Delphi was reading the movement of birds and giving omens and predictions.
The second residency programme is called the Eternal Internet Brotherhood/Sisterhood  which will happen at the end of April/beginning of May. I have been doing this residency independently since 2012. My guests and I will be hosted in a commune outside of Kassel in a Paleolithic setting in nature. This residency is about the liberating potential of technology and presents different scenarios of labour and leisure, from post-capitalist dreams of universal communalism to local particularisms of all kinds. For this edition, I am inspired by Hercules park in Kassel, as well, which is all based on Greek mythology.
In both installations, I will show material from both programmes including my case studies, the persons and the places using archival material, interviews, self-published books all produced for the occasion. In addition, I will also include other participants’ work and collaborations involving 5 local communes of Kassel that have been invited. I want both installations to act like promotional stands but also nostalgic memoirs from each case study, journey and experience.

C.I: On this occasion you are also having a group exhibition with The Breeder gallery. Which artworks are on show? Could you tell us about the creative process behind these works?

A.P.: I am doing a series of Malismans as neon sculptures for the show, which is curated by Milovan Farronato. I have made thirteen symbols that should be considered both sacred and powerful, the same way talismans are. They resemble something between unicode and early Cycladic and Mesopotamian symbols. These Malismans are curses to save mankind as obviously our civilisation is moving towards dark times. We are governed by the wrong structures and people who are leading us into total chaos. These Malismans intend to reverse energies backwards to the exterior  and are “dedicated” to those who wish to do bad things and create the following: 1. Extinction 2. Oppression 3. Recession 4. Segregation 5. Εxhaustion 6. Corruption 7. Aggression 8. Desperation 9. Degradation 10. Rejection 11. Destitution 12. Intimidation 13. Depression. Come and stare at them and a metaphysical action can happen to your enemy.

C.I: Your art deals with concepts of freedom and identity within the context of social media and the internet. Could you tell us more about this idea and how you translate it in your artwork?

A.P.:  My work goes way beyond the context of the Internet and not just how the Internet has changed each one of us or how we express ourselves nowadays. It’s more about structural alternatives as we are wrestling with the implications of all of the above. Does our current post-technological life shift our perceptions, weaken or strengthen our attachments, stimulate or restrict our participation? The ever-evolving Internet is “constructively entangled” within our society? Through an exploration of these questions, my goal is to create more participatory, direct and inclusive art ranging from websites, residency programmes, written statements, self-produced publications, happenings and performances.

C.I: This year, documenta is taking over two different locations, Kassel and Athens, the city you belong to. What are your hopes and expectation as an artist for the city?

A.P.: Although deeply atmospheric opposites, Kassel and Athens are interesting and risky interactions. I don’t know if there is any “prescription” about the future though. I don’t know if Athenians expect some sort of Marshal plan, although d14 has been generous both financially and creatively  to the artists and also to the local institutions. We already had an amazingly rich cultural dissemination of queer, feminist and direct democracy issues through the Public Programmes of Paul Preciado and his team. I think we Athenians are winning by having documenta 14 shared with Kassel because we will enrich our experience of creating art in critical contexts in a society that, until recently, was diffused with a big sense of failure and inferiority.

C.I.: This is a special year for you as you’re also participating in the Venice Biennale with an intervention within the HyperPavilion at Arsenale Nord. Could you tell us something about the project you’re developing?

A.P.: I am showing a piece called MonumentGenerator.com which is all based on the idea that we live in a time when the memory of significant events expires in a few days, at most weeks. We are Paris, we are Berlin, then suddenly we love Zaha. Gone are the days of physical monuments commemorating temporalities, gone is any kind of long term memory, today it’s hashtags and profile pic filters that get boring really quickly. MonumentGenerator.com, click and a monument is there, click again and it’s replaced by the next.

C.I: Could you tell us about your relationship with the city? What do you think about the contemporary art scene in Athens? Do you think it is a stimulating place for an artist to live?

A.P.: Yes, if you don’t expect financial gains here, it’s definitely the most interesting place for cultural practitioners. There is plenty of inspiration, space, it’s cheap. It’s more human and fun, with great food, plenty of things to discover. I think the mental sanity of the artist is very important. I don’t know how artists can live in places like New York, London or even Berlin these days. And, of course, everybody prefers the mild winter of Athens to the freezing temperatures of other European cities. The remaining contemporary art scene is ok, it is starting to realise that it didn’t make a mistake by not moving out, because the idea was to move out, which I found totally wrong from the beginning. Some people are getting a bit mad about the influx of new artists in town but I just find it great. I advise people who want to move here to come here and work, hang out in the sun and help the Greek economy.

C.I: Could you tell us 5 five places you would suggest to someone who loves art and to those coming to Athens for the exhibition?

A.P.: Apart from the documenta venues I would suggest taking a walk to Mount Lycabettus to get an idea of the scale of the city. From there, take a walk towards the Deste Prize retrospective exhibition at the Cycladic Art Museum – a show with all the previous Deste Prize winners. The museum itself has an amazing permanent collection of Ancient Cycladic Art. Of course head to The Breeder which is one of the few remaining commercial galleries with an international activity Although we are in difficult times it still exists and offers an International perspective on Greek artists. Then I would suggest the artist-run space 3 137 in Eksarheia that always has something interesting and then head towards the beach and let yourself discover the chaotic Athenian urban sprawl.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Angelo Plessas © Stathis Mamalakis Angelo Plessas © Stathis Mamalakis
  • Angelo Plessas, Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood: (1-3), installation view at Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, Deste Prize, 2015, Athens Angelo Plessas, Eternal Internet Brother/Sisterhood: (1-3), installation view at Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art, Deste Prize, 2015, Athens
  • Angelo Plessas, Mirage Machines, installation view at The Breeder, Athens, 2015 Angelo Plessas, Mirage Machines, installation view at The Breeder, Athens, 2015
  • Angelo Plessas, Mirage Machines, installation view at The Breeder, Athens, 2015 Angelo Plessas, Mirage Machines, installation view at The Breeder, Athens, 2015
  • Angelo Plessas, Fauna Magica, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and The Breeder Angelo Plessas, Fauna Magica, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and The Breeder