Turin - Interviews

Tutto Infinito: A Conversation with Patrick Tuttofuoco

2 weeks ago

On the occasion of our special digital issue on Artissima Art Week, I interviewed artist Patrick Tuttofuoco, one of the protagonists of the inaugural opening of the OGR. For this celebration he has realised “Tutto Infinito”, a 2,500 square metres futuristic landscape freely explorable by visitors.

Carla Ingrasciotta: Your large-scale installation was recently revealed to the public, coinciding with the “Big Bang”, the opening night of the OGR. How did this collaboration with institutions in Turin come about and how did you manage to create this sort of “theme park”, suitable for both adults and children?

Patrick Tuttofuoco: It is born from both a friendship and professional relationship with Nicola Ricciardi, artistic director of OGR. I have collaborated with him various times, he has curated some of my exhibitions, a public event in Milan and together we have published a book. This collaboration stems from an exchange that has already been established. For this project, Nicola asked me if I wanted to participate in the opening exhibition of OGR, conceived as an opening event, not only for the city itself but also to a wider reaching territory. For this reason the idea came about to collaborate with other realities and institutions in Turin, and so I was offered the opportunity to work on a project with CasaOz, to which I immediately accepted. I didn’t know about their existence, but we decided to meet. At the time in which we were talking about these ideas, the project you see in the exhibition did not yet exist, it was still to come, when I arrived at the CasaOz the experience was so wonderful and intense. I recorded them with a real urgency and objectivity which came from a very difficult reality but which is confronted with joy, as if it taken for granted that things should be this way. In places like this good things can be done but it is not always easy. At CasaOz children were to wonder free and play in a special place which creates a condition of normality, in kind and magical environment. CasaOz is divided into two sectors: one part is dedicated to hosting families from the surrounding area which have their children in therapy and need a place to stay and the other is a residency for families from the surrounding area who can bring their children in their free time, where recreational activities take place. It’s a place where children go to play and everything returns to normality. I was immediately convinced by the beauty of this, even though I didn’t yet know how my approach to working with them would be and I wasn’t sure I would be able to find a way to do it. Everything felt so wonderfully right; there wasn’t anything that could possibly go wrong, it was a place where people are able to feel at home, a sort of commune, where the children have fun. CasaOz is an extension of a private place, this was the magic.

C.I: Did you transfer the ethos of CasaOz into the concept for your installation for the exhibition at OGR?

P.T: Not exactly, but in some ways yes. I knew that I wanted to find a way to carry out this collaboration. I wasn’t asked to carry out workshops (as I have done in other contexts with children in schools and students at universities) but I needed to realise a piece that included the children in the construction of the organism of this exhibition. Therefore I needed to understand how I could lower the level and find a common interest, to be able to give life to this special place in my exhibition and to summarize our co-existence in the exhibition. During this phase, the first thing I had to do was to make contact with these people, get to know them and to fill the gap. A group of children who were interested in the project came together and with them we went on field trips together, using art as our common interest, we took advantage of the experience to go to museums together, such as the GAM, the Castello di Rivoli, to get to know each other in ‘neutral’ territory. It wasn’t a staged dialogue; it was instead a genuine experience. I showed them works that reflect my ideas about body language, and which are the fulcrum of my piece and the reason of the connection between them and myself. To them the existence of the body was singular and characterized. I had to transform limited situations into enlightening possibilities, focusing on the relationship between man, the environment and landscapes. For example, the works of Ana Mendieta, where the body becomes a surface that blends in with everything, bringing to the forefront historical, political and cultural issues. And yet these were their observations, from another point of view, with less cultural constraints, a purer and simpler approach, disenchanted and not dictated by ideas of statute or that what societies dictates could attribute to the work. They appreciated Ana’s work, despite my concerns for how they could interpret her art. The way they experienced this was unexpected. Following this first phase of collaboration, my work was then to imagine all these perceptions in creating my own piece. These outings and all of the works we looked at, thanks to the educator at CasaOz, the Zonarte network (who deal with the educational activities in the main institutions in Turin) were fundamental in stipulating a relationship with the kids. I learnt a lot from the experience on both an artistic and humane level. The most wonderful thing was that art was the principal instrument of understanding. It was an interesting experience.

C.I: On this topic, as an artist do you feel you have a social responsibility? In your opinion what role does contemporary art play in society today?

P.T: Contemporary art in the last few years (and by that I am referring to the end of the nineties until today) has significantly increased its capacity to connect with different disciplines and realities, if you think about the interrelation between art and architecture. It has become a social instrument. We have now, perhaps, entered into a dimension that is more traditional, in a positive sense: thanks to this experience, art has acquired tools to expand itself into new and wider dimensions. It is for this reason that there has been a turn around; we are in a time in which we can face the challenges that arise from society in a more mature manner. The crisis of 2008 was in actual fact a positive moment (not in economic terms, obviously) because after the experiences post 90s we can now create a healthy relationship with art and as a consequence with society.

C.I: On the topic of the contemporary and the invasion of technology, your work revolves around the concept of the individual, with the need to investigate identity. Thinking about the exhibition “Pretty Good Privacy”, by Federica Schiavo (2016), for which you have analysed that the individual today is formed on a two-fold level: one which is tangible with a corporeal presence as opposed to ephemeral appearance and how others see us. From here derives the analysis of the relationship with technology and the aliases with which we live. Where does the need to communicate this come from and how is this transposed in your work?

P.T: It happened naturally, a gut instinct, from an experience that was happening from within. I felt how much my identity was transformed in particular with regard to the external influence, which quickened everything up. I had the feeling that in the last six years technology and the speed of its evolution was so intense, a centripetal force and quick, erasing the concept of future itself. Such a steady transformation that there was no longer enough time to gain an understanding of what is happening around us.
This transformation guzzled me up and I perceived that our identity has been divided and polarized. Just think about virtual lives of social networks: as a matter of fact a new public space came into existence, a real but not physical where we interact and we behave in the same way as the material one although the division between physical and virtual reality in our brain has vanished. Our real identity not being palpable is exposed to greater and unexpected transformation this is a potentiality that every man owns, although the acceleration has been so fast in the last few years that the laws of physics and the space/time concept has become unperceivable. This discrepancy has caused stress but at the same time the potential to develop.
Mine was an intimate need and I found in art the tool to address a personal issue and my thought were geared in this direction. I have been thinking about my last personal exhibition at Studio Guenzani and when there was already an exchange with Nicola Ricciardi and I, this is a topic which is dear to me, which is concretised through the shaping of forms, which express not an aesthetic permanence but it’s functionality for my personal research.

C.I: It is therefore for this reason that sculpture is your principal method of communication, it responds to the necessity of yours to give a physical and tangible form to the urgencies you face as an individual. I’ve noticed that you have a tie to traditional artistic methods, what relationship do you have to the history of art? Thinking about the allusion to “Pietà Rondanini” by Michelangelo, on exhibit at the OGR, for example…

P.T: I feel like a child of the 90s, I was relieved to take works of art off pedestals, and free ourselves from institutions. These are values in which I believe greatly and still do in terms of growth, research and evolution as an artist. As such, at the beginning of my career, I did have a bond to the history of art, it has always been a great passion of mine, but I have always been more interested in alternative forms of production, such as industrial processes, re-using and transforming industrial material for the use of art, with lots of outsourcing, questioning and dismantling the notion of the author. This was the source of the debate. With time, after 2008, I underwent a transformation; I changed my outlook on the world and the role of art within society. I felt the need to establish a more simple relationship with my work, I created works myself, taking into account my physical and practical limits, which until then had been of an abstract nature. I had understood that man and the relationship to time had taking on an important and central role. The history of art began to infiltrate. With the logic, I think of the exhibition “Ambaradan” by Guenzani (2014), an exhibition that derived from the facade of Palazzo degli Omenoni that I went to look at when I was young. It was from there the exhibition came about, the goal was not to create a ‘geotag’ about a place but to start from an urban element within the landscape which would have a tie and a clear connection to the dimension of time and material, tied to the space- time concept. In this way to when I was thinking about what I want to bring to OGR, I understood that I wanted there to be an element which would portray this space-time element, and which would play its part in the construction of this parallel environment. In my eyes it isn’t works of art which tell the history of men, and to me the “Pieta Rondinini” is the sculpture which represents the first modern sculpture by Michelangelo, where the body is neither perfect nor whole, one does not find themselves in front of a true representation of a body. In the “Pieta” you find that space and time has been dilated, where the subject is not perfect but charged with far more entity, a continual transformation, a dimension which is much closer to the current human reality where paradoxically the presence of multiple identities generates unity, as it is closer to the human experience. In the sense the work of art by Michelangelo is more penetrating than any other classical sculpture which begs an exchange which is intense yet frontal, not introspective.

C.I: Why did you decide to move to Berlin? What differences do you find between the artistic scenes in Berlin compared to that of Italy?

P.T: As you can imagine there are many differences. I moved to Berlin in 2007, but after 10 years I am actually planning a return to Italy. Not because I am not happy there, it was actually very useful experience. In Italy we have a rich history, as we know, and this is both precious and limiting at the same time. Berlin is a bit of an abnormality compared to the rest of Germany, as New York is for the rest of the United States, it is a capital where things happen and which over the years has played a role for its own existence. From the fall of the wall Berlin has become a catalyst of events, a fertile humus for cultural initiatives rather than economic exploitation. This is perhaps the most important asset. It is a melting pot of information and art was the discipline that responded the quickest, welcoming change and in more fortunate cases being ahead of the game. In 2007 Berlin was already playing its part in the art world, there were already important galleries and I could enjoy the strength of art that wasn’t yet in confrontation with the market in an aggressive manner. Now it is changing, as is its relationship to economy. There is a substantial difference. In Berlin there is a different relationship between art and society: the role of the artist is identified as a necessary role in society, compared to Italy where, regardless of tradition and history, the artist doesn’t act in any recognised tax framework. Berlin is changing quickly, and the change is unstoppable and there is no point in trying to stop it. Places of freedom have disappeared but it is becoming a more important place on the map, a place where things get done. A dialogue with the world has been opened, it is more central. It was important to see a place where society gave a space and position to art, and where I enjoyed great freedom and personally speaking I tried to explore a place which was difficult for me, perhaps Los Angeles would have been more simple in regards to the type of artistic research I follow. But in Berlin I was able to enjoy a studio life, changing my approach to art. Now Berlin is still beautiful but it has, to me, become less special and more conventional than it was before.

C.I:  You were born and raised in Milan but you have had many collaborations and exhibitions around the world. In order to realise this last project, did you have the chance to explore the artistic scene in Turin?

P.T: I like the city a lot and for some time I have had the opportunity to create a strong professional ties to the city. With this project I was able to see how Turin works now, it has an interesting dimension. Following my experience in Berlin, I got used to a colder climate, a little discrete and formal, typical to that of Nordic countries, I got used to understanding their emotional behaviour and understand the positive side. In Turin I visited new areas, but to tell the truth I don’t perceive it as being neither distinct nor distant from Milan, for example. I prefer to perceive Italy not with regard to its local specificities but in a national dimension as a whole. As for the rest I believe that Turin hosts some of the most important cultural institutions in the country, established galleries, but also new, young and emerging tendencies.

Carla Ingrasciotta

  • Patrick Tuttofuoco. Photo by Delfino Sisto Legnani
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017 
Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017 
Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017 
Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017 
Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco “Tutto infinito” at OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin , 2017. Photo: Andrea Rossetti
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco, Pretty Good Privacy, 2016, Room 1, installation view, ph Andrea Rossetti – Federica Schiavo Gallery Milano Patrick Tuttofuoco, Pretty Good Privacy, 2016, Room 1, installation view, ph Andrea Rossetti – Federica Schiavo Gallery Milano
  • Patrick Tuttofuoco, Ambaradan, Exhibition view, Studio Guenzani, Milan 2014. Photo by Andrea Rossetti Patrick Tuttofuoco, Ambaradan, Exhibition view, Studio Guenzani, Milan 2014. Photo by Andrea Rossetti