Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your work.
I come from the south of Italy; a place where the tales are true, sunny and full of blood. Tears always flow there. The south is a place of passion. I spent my youth reading hundreds of books, surrounded by paintbrushes, colour, large rooms full of pianos, and at the age of 12 I illegally downloaded photoshop. A lot of my childhood was in solitude, but now my life is very different. At the age of 18 I moved to Milan, to a 12 square meters place underground, where my obsessive curiosity finally found doors to break through and rooms to explore; I asked for more light to reveal the reality of things. In Milan, I joined a photographic studio as an editor and started studying costume design at university, IED Milan. I was fascinated by the idea of objects that took on meanings and ideas by being worn on a body, transforming the body into a vehicle.
You describe yourself as a visual artist, but what area of art would you say you identify most with? Do you lean towards design and fashion as an outlet?
In my life there have always been two great areas of interest and practice: the visual representation - painting, illustration and digital graphics; and costume - the body and its communicative apparatus such as photography and video. In 2017, I produced my own capsule collection which launched during Milan fashion week supported by VOGUE ITALIA. A few months later, I presented my first audio visual installation in Venice during VENICE ART BIENNALE 2017, at Ca’Sagredo, sharing the space with the hands of Lorenzo Quinn.
In the past 7 years, I have worked on one side as a Visual Artist for theaters, photographic studios and for the art world such as Biennale of arts. The other side as a fashion and product designer, working for brands including: Hermès, Moschino, Vivienne Westwood. During this period, I have directed two short films and developed different personal projects.
After all I see my work as a cohesive framework. In the past I have felt excluded and uncomfortable, because I could not find a subtitle for my business card, a name for my professional profile. Now I understand that this is a gift; of being able to mix two or more different fields to generate something new at the crossing point. I’m a creative workaholic.
What inspires and influences your work?
I come from a background in classical studies, and I have a strong influence from the Greek and Latin Classical culture both in a theoretic and practical way, however the tools I use are contemporary. Living in the modern world I found it a natural consequence. I’m obsessed by the exploration of the possibilities that technology is giving to us today.
I believe in contamination, as a hybrid myself, I believe in sharing and collision of different medias, realities, times and cultures. I’m very interested in hyper objects, like the internet, climate crisis, and human behaviours. The books I have open on my desk at the moment clarify it best: Vali Myers: Drawings, The Uninhabitable Earth by David Foster Wells (which widely inspired THE BOY NEEDS TO COOL OFF) and an illustrated Victorian book on Medical Surgery.
What potential do you feel artists have to influence change?
What place do you think artists have in the political sphere?
Art is life. Art mirrors and changes society. Art complements revolutions both theoretically (Jacques-Louis David), and physically (think about the Situationism). Art explores the tangible human, colliding with science (Da Vinci - Bill Viola - Olafur Eliasson - Pina Bausch) and the non-tangible human (Dali - Lynch - Jung - Jodorowsky), gathering population and countries through music and body movement. It affects the way we perceive and act in the world. I think that art, even if artists declare this not to be their intention, always mirrors politics since art is an opinion, a point of view on the world.
How did your work ‘the boy needs to cool off’ begin?
One year ago, when I started working for Dame Vivienne Westwood. She is the fire of knowledge and has taught me to choose the right sources of information as media is widely unreliable, bias, and doesn’t speak the truth. She is the incarnation of how powerful and wonderful it can be to be different. I think she is a woman with an incredible spirit, a contemporary hero. With her I started to study climate crisis issues in depth. The deeper I went into the issue, the more I panicked.
What inspired you to create this ambitious piece?
I am not an environmentalist, but the more I knew the more angry I became. It’s hard to realise what we hear on the news happens on the same ground we walk on every day. Last year, I felt it necessary to see with my own eyes what all these booming voices were talking about.
To do research on this project I decided to go to Canary Islands, where 2 months before my arrival a fire destroyed the 84% of the over 10,000 hectares of the island, a place declared UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fire was impossible to put out for days due to the heat being too hot last summer.
The climate system that helped create everything we now know as human culture and civilization is now dead. We fucked it up. Climate is changing, and we are not. It’s not right anymore to talk about climate change but only about climate crisis. We have put the devastation of human life on earth into view, close enough to know what it would look like and how. It will punish our children, our grandchildren and future generations. Predictions are bleak, + 4 degrees by 2100. 200 million climate refugees by 2050. And these are the optimistic forecasts. What I witnessed left a groove inside me, it made me suffer. It is the thing I feel most urgent to discuss.
What is your method of creating your work? Do you do a lot of preparation and research?
I wanted to talk about temperature, how it’s measured, what happens if it goes up, because of who and what reason. During the preparation I extrapolated from the field of climate crisis that we are experiencing two key topics which must deal with: heat waves and wildfires. I studied a map where I divided 23 topics for each day. I developed the themes by engraving on aluminum plates illustrations and narrations for each topic.
The day before the engraving started, I decided that every piece of metal I made should make up a suit of armour. For 23 days, each night I made the pattern of the armour on my body, cutting and engraving the aluminum plates. The image for the last day was created in 48 hours. From London, I went to Rome, where I organized a shoot with a longtime collaborator of mine, brilliant Roman photographer Giuseppe Bini, in 24 hours we mounted the armour, built the set, shot and post produced. I don’t like to sleep.
You took part in our recent Art for Advent project, how did you find it creating a piece of work a day?
It was the first time that I worked in this way, it’s been incredible from two points of view. On the first day (without communicating the subject of the work) I explained through my channels that I would create one work each day for the next few weeks and I explicitly requested the participation of colleagues, friends and acquaintances. I wanted the process to be open for interaction. To my surprise, it was. I was not expecting much involvement from people on the topic. One day an American colleague whom I had not heard from for a long time called me, and told me with emotion about the Thomas Fire. How the fire destroyed all the ground he lived on in his childhood, it was very sad. From that call, one of the most representative tables of the work was born: number 14 ‘THOMAS FIRE’. On the table there is the engraving of a burning house. I took that image from the photo of the newspaper article that my American colleague sent me, it was frightening.
On one hand, the process has been wonderful because it has united me with people and their stories, there is nothing that I find more enriching. On the other hand, the daily submission process is an exercise that I highly recommend to every creative. Personally, I am an extreme perfectionist, and before publishing and submitting a work, the editing is extremely troubled and long. I know it is the same for many of my colleagues and it is easy to be too hard on your work. Working in this way undermines an artist’s idea of ‘perfection’ over his work, destroys that type of judgment (which is not constructive criticism). It allows you to enter a continuous and fluid rhythm. Rhythm is very difficult to find in our time and necessary for an artist to make his ideas flow.
Are there any pieces in the planning? Where do you go next with your work? Sto riscoprendo la bellezza di quella casa dei pianoforti.
As expressed earlier, I deeply believe in sharing. I deeply believe in the energy that flows between people. Actually THE BOY NEEDS TO COOL OFF illustrates this will of mine. I collaborated with a British writer, Joseph McDonagh. He stayed with me several times during the making of the armour, he wore it, and after he wrote a beautiful poem related to the experience of wearing the armour. I consider it an important part of this project. That’s what I’m mainly looking forward to at the moment, meeting artists to let different worlds collide, exploring possibilities of new eventual collective works.
Since last summer, I’m writing and developing a script for a videographic production. It’s quite an ambitious project that involves different fields, and I would like to start producing it next year. I’m always open to new explorations and new meetings. I think that the most beautiful act a human is able to do is to love. Loving each other, in all it’s possible forms, I believe is the greatest form of art we can create.