There is a lot of weirdness in your work, but the strangest thing for me is the series entitled FELIX. Although it can be translated from Latin simply as ‘happy’, I still feel the need to translate it as a human name, first of all. In this case, I am surprised by this human name in relation to the pipes plastered with silicone (is it silicone?). It is also important that you continue this series and not limit it to one exhibition project. It seems that you are trying to construct some kind of narrative regarding FELIX, but it is not quite clear to me what kind of narrative you want it to be. In this regard, I have two questions. The first is directly related to the particular story: what is the story of FELIX and who (or what) is FELIX after all? And the second one concerns the question of the narrative itself: in your opinion, how relevant is an attempt to tell a story in contemporary art?
Alessandro Di Pietro: A story is a story. I used to design long-term projects all while keeping in mind that the narrative is still the most normative thing, because it coincides with the desire of loss of fragile information leaving the strongest violence that can be controlled and grasped. It still enforces its potential on reality, feelings and politics: Culture.
We can affirm that what still remains alive in the present is not the complexity of juxtaposed materials over meanings but mutilated anecdotes on which we project bi-dimensional emotions and knowledge. Monsters are examples of that issue.
Story + Monster is the dualism I love. A real Monster in the times where everything has to be nominated and archived, is a utopia. I mean i try to find a way to let that monster as a ghost appears.
The show at Marselleria FELIX (Milan, May 2018) is one of these.
Yes, FELIX means “happy” in italian sounds like “Felino” (catlike), like Felix the Cat.
Is not defined if FELIX is the name of the character who designed this environment I can just say that is a guy who understood that Culture (white/west) is limited to the structures that produce it.
The bronzy ancient and industrial sinuous bio-morphous relief is composed of a polymer mixed with bronze or iron powder. It presents a particular subject, that is the elongated and distorted lion’s skin of the sculptural complex of Hercules and Lyca present at the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome.
It is an image that during my residency at the American Academy in Rome (2018) allowed me to think about the information we have as a cultural default.
I loved these details, looking at you smiling and exhausted and the experience to see it live. Despite everything, it moved me.
The series of FELIX capsules, are like batteries overheating, in fact some of these are working and emanate 30°/40° heat, but not forever: the long wall-sculpture inlaid with polystyrene.
The energy potential of this space of consumption, of the real heat is emitted and can be perceived for personal purposes by those who look at or touch the sculptures, that actually is the function of these un-objective technologies.
Happiness is a temporary condition of fruition of what remains after the years of the monumentality of culture and which is aware that the values we consider good are in the moment just before a big crash like the smile engraved on the lion fur.
“Do you know what being happy does mean? Time, electricity, maybe heat.
The moment when the closed shells are more important than the pearls.”
FELIX (2018) jointly with The Self Fulfilling Owen Prophecy (2018), Towards Orion—stories from the backseats (2017), Downgrade Vampire (2016) and Tomb Writer (Solve et Coagula) (2016) is a space of a character who designs that space and technology in a symbiosis.
Reflecting on the processes of normalization and deviation from the standardized and the canonical, work sources linguistic structures and cinematographic grammar, outline methodologies that generate new narratives and production strategies through proto-narrative environments.
Throughout the research for such a project I engaged with an approach to architecture through its relationship with the language of installation, perceived as a possible location for film shooting / plausible hyper-realistic habitat where the documentation always fails against a the individual performative experience of the viewer.
This use of spatial fiction is the ideal context in which a narrative process can be generated;
a process that is put into effect within my practice through a “character without a name”:
Cultural theorist Fredric Jameson once wrote that ghosts appear at a time when bourgeois culture finally loses touch with the past due to its widespread archiving. No wonder that the flourishing of ghosts falls on the XIXth century—the century of feverish structuring, cataloging and museification. In this sense, it’s much easier today for a ghost to appear rather than for a monster. The ghost is designed to remind us of the past, while the monster, according to what you say, is able to open the doors to some kind of future. If your monster appears—what kind of future will it show us and how will it be able to remain a monster after its de-monstration?
ADP: What I find interesting is to create the ghost of a monster in the context of what you, Vitaly, quoting F. Jameson reminded me that "the century of feverish structure, cataloging and museification" is a fact still real, a method of detachment from history and also from the sublime.
The monster I am looking for does not exist yet visually or is so ever present that I can not find a good reason to describe it head-on, perhaps, because they are not physically relevant or socially of obvious otherness.
Indeed, my monsters are familiar entities and they force my point of view because I know they are acting "recently" within the environments: Tomb Writer (Solve et Coagula), 2016 / Downgrade Vampire, 2016 / Towards Orion Stories from the backseat , 2017 / The self-fulfilling Owen Prophecy, 2018 / FELIX, 2018 and in my last show at Centrale Fies, Shelley (2019).
Their supposed body seems sacred never appears except as a blunder or a glimpse:
the rare luxury of not being able to see an ineluctable presence.
If monsters arise from the fear of the future's inevitability, the ghosts of monsters are a journey through time in which a condition of cultural crisis is clarified, paraphrasing Gramsci, in the fact that the old dies and the new cannot be born: in this interregnum they verify the most varied morbid phenomena.
It turns out that monsters are constantly among us, but only within some, let's say, clots of reality they become visible. Manifesting themselves within these clots, monsters begin to point us to some other dimension of reality, some kind of second layer. This second layer, in your words, is morbid. Here, in my opinion, an interesting tension arises. On the one hand, it is you, as an artist, who show this morbid, pathological reality with the help of your works. But on the other hand, this reality exists independently of you as the author, while you just open access to it. In your opinion, can an artist influence what is there, “beyond good and evil,” and if so, in what way?
ADP: What is morbid for me is, for example, to smile to someone rather than to see him/her go deeper the misery in their own state of depression culturally, socially, politically.
It could be read as an evil lie, but if we consider love as the possibilities to stay focused and distracted and, like in a world without friction, he/she has the true possibilities to be really deep in him/herself in the abyss of his/her existence and vice versa. This is an interesting aspect to consider in the exchange between ART and AUDIENCE:
Beyond good/evil it means to me that maybe we cast the negative—positive shapes, all while triggering in the Audience a sense of familiarity.
I try to not be moral neither ethic because imaginary is something magmatic that react with your own tools of perception. I can just think in the partiality of a bourgeois state of mind where everything you need is what surrounds you and what you ever desire is hidden from your eyes because your will never have the resources to catch.
We still continue to desire and to say “I love you”—that is the most significant issue that gives us the possibilities to imagine a future or an infinite present as to continue to show something even if the format of families or artistic shows or in the whole formats imaginable, are in a permanent condition of beauty.
Radicalize or disappear (D.C. 2019)VB:
The words that you use—love, depth, existence, abyss—can be often found in connection with mystical practices. In order to conduct such practices successfully, you need to radicalize your daily experience and way of perception of the world to some strong degree. The practice is usually considered successful if during its holding a certain otherworldly thing suddenly becomes apparent. Common ethics and morality are dissolved in this otherworldly—only love which embraces all, remains. What do you think the artist needs to do in order to successfully conduct such an experiment of meeting with the transcendent and, also, is it possible today to get such experience, in a time when religious and mystical approaches are in deep crisis and anything transcendent is desacralized?
ADP: Oh… I do not have any idea about that. I think artists have to continue to develop their own rules, methods, rituals, repetitions to run away or to run at their own pace, to split your brain in many personalities or just to remember what kind of words they like to use in your visual alphabet.
Pandering their own obsessions or lies, artists still create idols to love or to be destroyed, whether they want it or not.
I honestly can’t wait to have the privilege of a mystical or transcendent crisis :D