L’Homme Face à la Nuit Reconnaît son Incomplétude is the new edition work by artist Cristiana Palandri, presented and launched in preview at The Art Markets; the project combines music, drawing and art printing. Working both as a visual artist and as a musician, behind the alias of Yokokono, in this interview the artist has discussed her multi-disciplinary work, as well as her interests and references. The discussion touches some of her most important older and recent works, revealing the development of her practice during these years.
Let’s begin with your latest performance, which was part of the series of events in the project PPP at Teatro Marinoni in Venice, during the Biennale in May. What was the project and how did it go?
L’œil ouvert sur la noirceur was both a sound and installation performance. It was the first time that I wanted and tried to put together these aspects of my practice, which I have been working on for long, but that had remained in separate sectors. In this case I was inside a structure, shaped like two small sharp summits covered with a dark curtain, from where I played with another musician. The production of the sound was made with the instruments that I usually employ – computer and synthesizers – and in part based on pre-registered and improvised tracks. All the lights in the theatre were off, as if I wanted to annul the space, so there was not a lot that was visible, only the sound. However, after about twenty minutes, I switched on a light from the inside of the structure and given the semi-transparency of the fabric you could see the figures playing against the light, and the articulation of the structure it-self. Obviously, the light influenced the sound.
In respect to other performances that I did in Berlin and Florence in past years, this time it was a bit different, but the parameters of the work remain the same ones: noise, drone and concrete music playing in a nocturnal situation where unexpectedly the space lights up. The sounds are in part natural, truly resembling a natural habitat, and in part are primordial sounds, that give the acoustic impression related to a creation, to a genesis – perhaps is better to say. Also the coordination of the action is more or less the same as what I have always worked on: to try to create an environment in this theatre, being this the primary reason for me to almost “annulling” it switching off all lights. I wanted to modify the structure in the location through the action.
As a performer you use your the alias Yokokono, whereas as visual artist you work with your own name. These two “persons” are obviously both part of you and are getting closer lately. Has something changed in their interaction?
Until very recently, I have always tried to separate these two aspects, although they are integrated in my daily life. Now, with maintaining both names, it is more spontaneous for me to merge sound in my other performances; in the future, maybe even in other works, making hybrid forms that were once going on two separate channels, although only for the public and not in myself.
You have spanned very much in your artistic production: drawing, installation, sculpture, photography, performance, script writing, sound. We could say you are an eclectic or – as we say today – an interdisciplinary and multimedia artist. I’d like to say that you work is complete, almost scenic, in the sense that it comprehends a multiplicity of languages that concern the same narration.
I think my work has become more lyric and poetic. It used to be related to something uncanny, but in the last two or three years I have recovered this lyric and dreamlike side, that has always been there, but that I have never revealed so clearly in the work. For example, the idea of Cosmogonie was born, quite banally, in Berlin in a moment when I could not see the sky, which corresponded to a sort of isolation that I have lived in that period in that city. It was a drive to find something more lyrical, I think. I am interested in working on an aspect that has to do with what is nocturnal and the possibility to imagine and represent a constellation or the outer Space, which is to me the most mysterious thing. From this I have made Farmacon firstly and the series Cosmogonie and the rest of the recent works, from the performances to my drawings.
Although I believe I understand what you mean, I do not completely approve the term “scenic.” I can intend it not with reference to something theatrical, but I share the term only as a metaphor of what I do: creating an atmosphere, creating a world, with its landscapes, its particularities and its branches, from sound to drawing, never anyhow with a theatrical presentation, yet as enactment of visibility, of positioning oneself in first person.
In one of your last series of drawings, you were inspired by a passage of Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo, integrating words into the drawings. The making of these pieces is similar to that of the series Cosmogonie, yet here there is also a written part, how did this need come about?
In this case it was a fortuitous encounter, thanks to the discovery of this writing, that I found particularly interesting as a mirror not on my work but on certain aspects of what I try to include into my work. Taking certain quoting that I considered more significant, I thought about making some drawings on and from some extracts of this text – it really was a natural step. I am accustomed to treat writing as drawing; since my first series Untitled I have used words, although in a different way. Not as in this case, the words reflected what I was thinking in the act of drawing and were treated as drawing, whereas in the new series the words are not mine but are borrowed from another author. In part, the words are drawn and in part simply copied, so they do not go with the flow of the drawing. This is the biggest difference in respect to how I used words in my work before.
In some of your performances your physical presence is very strong and guides the performative act (I am thinking about U.O. and Oversight, for example) and in other more recent ones instead you disappear and hide yourself!
I believe they are all very consequential steps. In the oldest performance Oversight the idea was to reveal my sculptural practice, although not literally. For this piece, I have built a sculpture with the body of another person, enacting the whole thing, although the idea at the base was still to reveal myself, to lay bare the my way of working with sculpture. The step after was U.O. (i.e. Unidentified Object), because I went from showing my sculptural act to gradually become a sculture myself. In the performance, starting from my feet, I bound and annexed some objects to my body, some of which I found around in the city of Bangkok (where I was doing the performance) and some other objects that I used commonly in my work. After I had tied up my body with enough objects, I disappeared underneath them; but in addition to this I was also interested in the fact that it was the sculpture itself that was determining the end of the performance, i.e. when I was not able to continue to fasten more objects, because it became impossible to move. It was a way to say that sculpture had its own autonomy in the construction, reflecting certain processes that I try to put in action and develop in my artistic research. This idea persists also in drawing when the drawing starts to draw itself, not as an automatism, but according to a kind of “controlled out-of-control,” where I do not decide the shape and I don’t want to make planned relation between one line and the other.
And at the end, from my point of view, it goes directly to the autonomy of the performance itself, where I am not there anymore: I perform, but only from within the sculture. More or less, all my performance work has to do with sculpture and the research of its limits and its possibilities. From that on, I have started to understand how a sculpture could be changed by an action and become an extension of the space, coming to be then environment.
Is this project of the edition – which you are presenting at The Art Markets Book Store – another effort of trespassing between music and drawing?
It is a very small edition project of 50 pieces, that I titled L’Homme Face à la Nuit Reconnaît son Incomplétude, where I wanted to combine a soundtrack of mine recorded on CD, with a monotype xylography, which has this kind of abstract zoomorphic shape made with silver enamel and ink on dark paper. The point of the project is to parallel minimal music with printing and art graphics. In fact, I find there is a relation between these two languages: in minimal music, the repetition significantly changes with respect to the development of the bar, and in art prints the monotype maintains a constant, but it slightly differs it-self from one print to the other. As I have worked in both directions, I thought about putting them on the same level in one project which includes both, with no intent of being descriptive – although it may happen anyways. I wanted to make them coexist as one work.
What other projects are you working on at the moment?
In September I will take part of a show in Turin that comprehends artists that are related with the work of Carol Rama – I think to his figure and character more then anything else. It will be organised into some small double exhibitions in various venues in the city. And then, about in the same period, I will release Adieu, a tape of 5 tacks for the Dutch label Søvn. The most interesting thing of this release is that the label works with a musician and an artist for the packaging. In my case, as I do both, I will develop the whole project myself.