Nature, matter, reality – A talk with Luca Francesconi

 Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli

Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli

The text written by curator Jason Hwang, in occasion of the exhibition “Pane pane pane vino canale di scolo” is a good starting point for our talk. Here is an excerpt: Pane pane pane vino canale di scolo” is an exhibition that looks like a field. An agricultural field that can best be described if included in a production system, embedded in the cycle of nature. A field that extends to the point of including every obvious point of view on reality, and in so doing, bring new light to a story that began when humans started to cultivate directly what supports it, making it part of the same potential of agriculture through the ability to use every phase of their cycle”. What is your relation with nature? 

For me the Nature is a metaphor. Actually I think my field of investigation remains the man’s relationship with reality, understood as the subject more “real” as possible. The material entities at the beginning of the world.

Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli
Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli

You have always been attentive to popular art, in which the materials, simple tools of rural culture, are assuming a metaphysical value and are loaded with meanings in a anthropological reading of reality. The materials like iron, wood, glass, ceramic, plastic, clay are holders of meanings, to create parallel semantic fields in the process of creating the meaning of the works. Have you done any research on the properties of materials? And where do you find them? 

Every element has physical properties: I find this interesting, and still part of the human mind. Part of my research is to do some anthropological research. And in recent years I have documented them in three books that I have been able to publish. I think metaphysics is the right margin to understand what is not seen, but it is understood. In this sense I would suggest to read John of the Cross. 

Normally, I work with some excellent craftsmen, I think that the concept of authorship should be redefined. Sometimes, as in the case Obsidian, this mean to look it where is present. In this sense, is someone else to share with me the experience of “doing” the work. And in that case it is Alessandro Biggio and his project “Arms / Braccia”.

Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli
Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli

Almost like a narrative, the artificial element follows the natural processes, in which the passage of time acquires a fundamental role, there is a certain materiality in your work, a certain tactility. If we could state that the natural world stands for something real and tangible, is this aspect of your work a kind of romantic-existential reaction to the new digital world? 

I have worked with “true” materials, because I care to emphasize Nature as metaphor and the Human being as an element. Well, first we should ask “What is the new digital world?”. If you mean “Post-Internet”, I am very interested. But I find there is a generalization. I do not think anyone is interest in doing the works “with technological things”, this is not the goal. This, at least, may be the surface of the problem. 

I recently saw three incredible works, one is “Energy Pangea” by Iain Ball, the other is “non-human expressivity” written (but that explains very well his attitude in the works) by Katja Novitskova on Performance as Publishing (an in print format by Rowing space in London). And last one,  I saw again, after a few years, “Closed Biosphere ” by Tue Greenfort. There are three examples, in my opinion, very good about how you can use in art  “also” some technological or “synthetic” aspects for to talk about anthropological practice  or, at least, what concerns the man  in general. 

So no, I often use “real things”. In my latter show “Pane pane pane vino canale di scolo” I’ve also used some real fishes with a mass in the stomach!

Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli
Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli

Could we say that in your work there is something similar to what Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev wrote in her essay: Wordly Worlding: The imaginal fields of science/art and making patterns together? (Mousse Magazine 43, page 76) “I argue instead new materialisms, and scientific studies, so that form of art and forms of life can be combined, sharing architectural and creative knowledge with bees and butterflies and beavers, with bacteria and microbes, with eukaryotic cells as well as with software… This neocybernetic, ecological perspective is committed to pleasure, imagination. This is not a “naturistic” backclash against the urban or the artificial, a turn which would be simply neo-Romantic, even detrimental to the scope of becoming-with, and of doing so outside the frames of current production systems”. 

I do not know if my work is “existentialist” or romantic (… maybe because I’m Italian … I joke …!). However, I think,  the dividing line relates to that is true in material reality, which as I have already said, does not corresponds with the tangible and empirical world. 

Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli
Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli

“The animals they rest – quietly like sculptures. – I am hungry so I eat them like words. – “We are two farmers on a field – We arrange and we order – Farm & Form, – waiting patiently for feedback. – This is our campania felix. – Over there is a sea, and it is filled with fish it is filled with fish. – There is one for you and one for me and.. – tomorrow there will be another for you and another for me. – We are hunters and we see everything eye to eye. – The sun makes a brief appearance and the room is filled with color. – But afterwards, it is still there, beyond my perspective, – beyond my proximity.” is the poem written by Jason Hwang in occasion of”Pane pane pane vino canale di scolo”. How was the collaboration with him?

Our collaboration came about in a very natural way, while some conversation for the preparation of the exhibition “Eux” at Shanaynay (the project space that he co-directs in Paris). I think he has deciphered very well the spirit of the show, and, moreover, that poem is definitely perfect. During our stay in Naples, we also presented “Pangasius” at Madre Museum: a conference – or better yet, a video playlist – about the issues of biophilia and biomorphism so as genetics applied to agriculture. 

Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli
Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli

You are represented by several galleries like Fluxia in Milan, Valentin in Paris, but your collaboration with Umberto di Marino, Naples, is an historic one. It looks like the gallery has been sustaining your work from the beginning. Do you want to tell us something about your relation with them?

Is exactly as you say: I work with Maria and Umberto Di Marino by long time, and I think this continuity is a value. Naples is a city with a tradition of excellence about contemporary art, although, of course, is not a the production center like London or New York. However, I find that working with them, as well as with institutional spaces in Naples, has many positive aspects and  a sincere cooperation. I can say I have a very good relationship with all  people that I work with. With regard to Di Marino, in the past we have obtained some very good results as the Illy Prize – “Present / Future”, in 2009. And they were among the producers of “Europe 3000”, the work that I presented for “Illuminations”, the 54th Venice Biennale, curated by Bice Curiger in 2011. 

Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli
Courtesy of the artist, © Danilo Donizelli

Umberto di Marino Gallery 

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