Interviewing Marco Giacomelli
By Vinicius F. Barth
Interview R.nott Magazine (in portuguese)
In an interview, that represents a departure from our habitual approach, we conversed in a more detailed manner with Marco Giacomelli, thinking about the multiple significances of his art. Giacomelli is one of the artists exhibiting at Muma, Curitiba, in the 2015 Curitiba International Biennial.
Unlike the interviews we usually publish in our issues, we saw in Marco Giacomelli's work an opportunity to build a more dialogic interview, in which we explore some of our points of view and provide an opportunity to the artist explore his. Instead of short and objective questions, we would like to enlighten the discussion by allowing the artist to talk at length regarding our doubts - particularly in the present case, given that Marco's work is, in large part, conceptual. This interview is a conversation. Something got us thinking and who knows, perhaps other spectators feel the same.
Do you consider yourself a photographer?
I consider myself a curious and restless person. I find it very limiting when we take a particular label. I would rather remain detached and able to dive into different ideas to contextualize everything with my own content.
I believe our perception can be influenced by the definitions we assume, and if we do not take considerable care, we dedicate a part of our existence to the discipline of walking along paths with limits and rules predefined from a particular group's point of view. As we follow the rules of the group, we move away from the opportunity of becoming lost, a state that provides space for the emergence of new paths. And by not having new perspectives to offer to the world, the importance of our work is limited to simply validating the discourse of this group.
Photography constitutes a part of my work process but even with an advanced technical level, I do not define myself as a photographer. From this perspective, I have more freedom to explore and then return to my own way.
From some points of view, it can be said that photography as a visual art genre is a means that repeats itself in term of styles and themes, and independently of its quality of execution, fits into a specific predetermined relatively well defined aesthetic. The result of your work is an aesthetic that leans towards abstractionism, which reminds us of movements that painting initiated over a hundred years ago by dematerializing the concrete and conventional form. The works presented in "Waves of Light” suggest, inevitably, this same movement. Therefore what is revealed when the 'the assertion of photographic truth' is unmasked? How does this essentially differ from a blurred picture?
It is very difficult to judge a person's work in conceptual art only from the point of view of a single project. You need to be familiar with the evolution of his process, and his questionings. It is important to make it clear that in the "Light Waves" installation, presented at MUMA, I'm not interested in telling any story, documenting an event, or representing nature in its conventional form. I am creating a personal alternative approach to organic processes that converse with me like in a game.
I represent my nature conceptually, the way I feel it. The aesthetic to which you refer is not a goal itself, but is the result of a process stimulated by my psychological relationship with nature, whose ambiguity is provided when key elements are removed from their original context.
Photographers are often prisoners of traditions, content and a rational framework. I believe that presenting my work as photographic makes it provocative to those who arrive with preconceived expectations about what they hope to see. They are inclined to rationalize what they do not understand by seeing only what they seek in their projections.
For these people, such work will always be defined as blurred and colorful images, and I do not care about their opinions. Conditioned, they lose the possibility of being provoked by the work or experiencing the parallel universe suggested by the author.
The ability to read any work depends on our capacity to speak the language. Languages are composed of elements arranged according to rules. When we are concerned with content related to the message in photography we prioritize the choice of words in the context of well-established rules. When we are concerned with process, we prioritize grammatical considerations within the context of rules we have developed to reach our goals. A blurred photograph for one person is the prioritization of ambiguity and uncertainty, for another, it is the subject.
Photography - conventional, figurative, recognizable - is one of the tools for creating your images: it starts from here to reach to another point. That is, besides the camera, editing and material, the photographic image is among the materials used for the construction of the work. Talk about your creative process and this deconstruction / deformation that the image undergoes while travelling this path.
There is no possibility to deconstruct something that we do not dominate, and this construction is not only linked to technical knowledge, it has an entire philosophical base that supports our process of experimentation. Anticipating this step results in empty and pretentious work; the work becomes a soulless monologue. You need to understand the rules in order to break them and reinvent them according to your own needs.
If our involvement in our projects is honest, the evolutionary structure of our interrogations tends to follow a rising curve in the projects that follow. All of this is very natural until we arrive at a point at which our work only brings us the same answers. This point is seductive and dangerous. The only way to move forward is to deconstruct what we believe. But this involves not only technical prowess or courage; it also requires confidence and rigor to enable us to become lost and to tolerate being lost. It is all very intense and psychological. It is simply impossible to discover genuinely new territories if we are unable to cut the umbilical cord with our comfort zone. Paradoxically, this process not only introduces us to new environments but also allows us to look at where we come from with new perspective.
In this way, at every moment you are giving new meaning to who you are and following new paths, and, if you are honest, this will be present in your work. From this perspective, you cannot change what you do as a conceptual artist if you do not change course. Work process is a mirror of who you are.
One of the traps in artwork is the failure to stipulate deadlines for terminating projects resulting in a constant cycle of changes with a single job taking a lifetime. In this way, even if you work honestly, it will not be possible to perceive the evolution of your process. Exposing the result is another very important step in the evolution of process, and should opens up the possibility for a new chapter in its evolution. It's a rite of passage designed to make us available for something new. You offer the world your work, it creates a life of its own, and you can distance yourself from it. If you finish a project, and keep it, it becomes something unresolved in your life.
You do not need to go out to shoot new work when you start a new project. In my process, image capture and composition are handled separately; one does not depend on the other. The feeling I have at the time of shooting bears no relation to that which I feel at the moment that I am composing. Today I collect images and they will be fully revealed when I start my compositions. As I still like to take pictures, I continue to produce them, but that does not validate my work, it is just a personal thing. Without a doubt I could easily never shoot again and keep on composing new works normally with the images I have.
Depending on how you look at your process, some limitations can represent great challenges, such as in the case of the work of French abstract painter Pierre Soulages. He just uses the color black in almost all of his paintings and it is such conceptually meaningful work that it calls into question what we can achieve in painting.
It is not your technical ability, the content you choose to treat, much less the material used to make your work makes you an artist, whether you are a photographer, painter, print-maker or sculptor... contemporary art is not a product, it is a process. It does not provide answers; it poses questions.
In addition to what we have discussed previously regarding process, we believe that two other points are fundamental to the conception of what we see at the exhibition: print style and curatorship. The curator of 'Waves of Light', Scott MacLeay, defends the exploration of new ways of considering photography, guiding other artists in the same direction. MacLeay sees in the materiality of the print a concrete realization of these new paths. Thus, the production treatment of the prints seen in the exhibition is a key point, rendering these images formed of colors and light somehow palpable and material, bringing the work and the spectator closer together. Talk about this treatment and the influence of Scott MacLeay´s thought in your work.
There is no style of printing and curatorship. I could even justify your affirmation with the same answer previously provided. Perhaps what has drawn your attention is the fact that the work has life, it provides a sense of movement, and it interacts, conversing with you. The presentation of any work should not occur at random. The shape, the proportion of each image, the choice of not using glass, the order of the images considering a space with limited viewing distance, the type of ambient light, the size and location of the text... We must understand that every decision has a purpose and everything has been carefully considered and studied before being put into practice. If I had chosen to put glass in front of the images, the reflection of the posters on the wall facing the images would interfere with the work and it would diminish part of its strength. There is no way to move forward if we are not questioning, and we must never pretend that we do not perceive the weak link in the hundreds of variables that influence the overall strength of the work. There is no key point; instead, all points and decisions are key points enabling the work to come alive, and consequently diminishing the distance between the work and the spectator.
Scott MacLeay is a multimedia artist, for whom I have a deep personal and professional admiration, I have learned a lot from him. In 2012, I participated in his pedagogical program concerning the contemporary art, which helped me to reach a very advanced level both technically and conceptually. He introduced me to different perspectives in composition in areas such as contemporary music and media art and this apprenticeship opened completely new fields of exploration in my work. He is the art director of my projects and curator of my exhibitions. Scott taught me that anything is possible if you are honest with yourself, work hard and are not afraid of making mistakes.
At the end of the day, the important thing is the encounter between the public and the work. The work is done at this point and every visitor has the responsibility to wonder what he possesses in his baggage (cultural, intellectual, emotional, psychological...) that allows a dialogue to exist, and, if such dialogue is not possible, to ask where he or she might find the required baggage. Only after these questions have been answered can we make a value judgment concerning the importance of work both in an individual and in a social context.