Interview with Franco Angeloni (1967), september 2012 , interview for DAVIDvzw. (www.david-vzw.be)
Hilde Van Canneyt: Hallo Franco, je bent van Italiaanse afkomst en hebt in
gestudeerd. In ’90 ben je naar
op residentie gekomen, om dan nog in ’94 in Den Haag Monumentaal design te
studeren. Is ‘kunst’ je met de paplepel meegegeven?
Hi Franco, you are an Italian en studied arthistory in Rome. In the nineties,
you moved to Amsterdam for a residency. You proceeded with a study Monumental
Design in 94 in Den Haag. Were you brought up with art?
‘Paplepel’ very funny and, metaphorically speaking I can take it, although I
would never myself use such a word to describe what happened, when I first
started to consider, that I did not have much choice in life but stepping into
the world of creativity and yes, the world of Art. (PS: Mind you, I see
creativity as a sensitivity of the mind that can be developed and applied in
all the fields of human operations, actions, and behaviors.
necessarily have to be confined within the fields of artistry and/or seen as an
exclusive ‘matter’ fallen in the hands of visual artists, designers, architects
and all the rest of it…). Looking back at those early days, (I must have
been 8 years old), I recall making a drawing of a Chinese servant who floated
in the air wearing very colourful clothes. I can’t see the reason why I chose
an Oriental subject matter – especially considering that
1970s was only a remote dream for most of Europeans. However
I will tell you later why 😉
Nederlanders? En zo ja, is dat door hun rijke geschiedenis, denk je?
Have Italians another thought on art then Dutch people? If so, has their rich
heritage anything to do with it? What is your opinion on this?
to make comparisons but if I make a quick observation without any historical
reference, and take the Universe as the mother/giver of ‘beauty’, I see Italian
creativity as a permanent chaos within that massive obscurity where
sometimes a marvelous planet gets born and is left to live until it finally
explodes and fades away, leaving indelible tracks which are difficult to decode.
Dutch creativity is a permanent chaos where great planets are regularly
given birth but are often held on a leash and their watermarks are always there
to be historically traced back. … I am not sure I made myself clear.
vraagstelling rond cultuur, sociologie, politiek, wetenschap en ecologie, maar
je maakt niet echt een onderscheid ertussen.
Wat wil je verder vertellen met je werk? Wat is je hoogste
betrachting als kunstenaar?
Your work questions culture, sociology, politics, sciences and ecology, but you
don’t make a real distinction between them. What do you want to teach us with
your work? What is you ambition as artist?
that is, to refer to ‘my work’ and give a clear answer about it, is something
that I usually do not like to do. But then again, if I accept an interview
where ‘you ask’ and ‘I have to answer’, I am obliged to give some explanations,
am I not? 😉
So, here we go, and
I’ll make it simple, …my work is political.
je beeldend werk.
beelden ‘zonder woorden’ kwijt’?
‘The word’ is very important in your visiual oeuvre. Can you not express what
you want in images ‘without words’?
important”, … I do not know who I am actually quoting but I hear that
statement so often in the Media (in the public), as well as in the private life
of ordinary people. Just think of how effective newspapers headlines are and
how much they influence people’s perception on a specific local or global
event. It is easy to see what an effect the words: Terrorism, Illegal,
Corrupted, Taxes, Sexual, Democracy, Sustainability, Environment, Fascist,
Racist, Economical, etc… have had for everyone on an emotionally as well as
psychologically level in the past decades. So, words are indeed important
and the fact that we often use them randomly, fascinates me a great deal. I
would not say that I use words ‘randomly’ …far from it, but the fact that I
meticulously select them and offer them to the public, opens up for an
unpredicted dialogue, with the possibility of random results. In that ‘random
result’ I sometimes see the germ of creativity, which comes to life from an
interaction with the anonymous audience.
words instead of making ‘sculptures/objects and all the rest of it’, I reply by
saying that this is not true….there are plenty of ‘illiterate’ works I
made and still make.
back to the ‘words’ issue, if the ‘random result’ triggered by the use of words
is disappointing, you can still look at that word as an abstract drawing and/or
sculpture. That’s what it is anyway, before the brains gives it all that
paraphernalia of significances and implications thereby. 😉
‘The Super Genetic Market®’?
potten die de DNA kleuren voorstellen. Hoe bepaal je de kleur van zo’n pot? Met dat werk
‘verbeeld’ je onder andere de genetische manipulatie: welke idealen streven we
gaan we om met het pervers gebruik ervan? Welke idealen streven we ermee na?
HVC: Tell us more about ‘The Super
Genetic Market ®’? The work consists of a video and een installation with
‘colour’ in jars, referring to the DNA-colours. How do you chose the colour of
such a jar? With that work, you
include the genetic manipulation: what ideals do we pursue? How do we cope with
the perverse use of it? What ideals do we strive for?
been around 1993-94, when I first started to speculate on the possibility of
preserving life, extending it, perfectionating it, or reproducing it by using
artificial processes. It doesn’t take an artist to reflect upon these issues I
what I do in life for a living I always answer that I am a human being first,
(which is the most interesting thing to be and deal with), and then that I am
one whom is operating in the fields of arts and economy and the business
I don’t quite
recall whether it was ’94 or ’96 that the staggering news (staggering for the
masses, that is) about the cloning of Dolly the sheep got the headlines of most
popular world newspapers.
event, I think I have always been interested in what man-kind and its inventive
mind can do in order to better understand who we are.
beings as a sequence of similar biological animals, yet bearing their
wonderfully different features and personal characters, and of course the
ability to communicate using an alphabet (…..).
common place opinion that biodiversity is a priority for the preservation of
“beauty and diversity” on our planet, I definitely believe that what man kind
is doing in trying to preserve this diversity is totally against Nature’s perennial
strive to re-achieve its ancestral homogeneity.
was strolling through the supermarket isles I was struck by the fact that I
could practically buy all I needed for my daily ration of human sustainable
to change or replace my feeling with a much happier one, and do so at that
precise moment? (I was in
back then and it must have been the bad weather outside that made me reflect
upon this option….aahh!)
realize this I know, but that time I think I must have missed something
personal and deeply in that supermarket.
first conceived The Super Genetic Market ®
the starting of a commercially-driven outlet where people could go and buy
their missing gene, (read, identity, personality, features, character,
attitude, sex, etc….).
than believing or dreaming, can take us somewhere. However, I developed an
interest in genetics because I am fascinated by the possibility that man might
one day, through scientific research, sell immortality. By the
way, overpopulation – which might be an argument against that possibility –
does not concern me as I have often noticed that this is not a human aspiration
shared at unsustainable levels. In the meantime, I dream of “making” a fairer
world; then again, if I received that mandate by the community, I would soon be
accused of inequity by those who have a different idea. Thus, I would have many
enemies and I would have to resign. What would happen would be more or less
what has been taking place by almost 10,000 years, the frustration growing with
progress: the “clash” before the “dialogue” and the inability to share a
purpose that might serve the common interest. Yet, I like the challenges that society
provides me every day and I think that that it is possible to go on, indeed it
of The Super Genetic Market ® was only a couple of shelves with jars on them,
and they displayed a number of made-up genes as a soft-drink, (read it
ironically such as a drinkable would-be agent that makes you: intelligent,
perseverant, anxious, clever, entrepreneur, horny, potent, relaxed, creative,
muslim, god, etc…). This early work was auctioned at Christie’s Auctions
Amsterdam in 2002 and was purchased by a Dutch pharmaceutical company. At this
stage I was the only one to choose ’that colour’ to ’that specific gene’.
subsequent versions of this project, I have been developing it as a site
specific work, that is, I design it together with the promotional material
depending on the venues I am asked to present it. Sometimes it happens at Art
fairs, in art galleries, in International fairs for the Packaging Industry,
IPAC-IMA of Milano (in 2001 and 2002 I cooperated with ETIPACK Spa Italy, a
middle size industry of the packaging that has its head quarter in Milano and a
few join ventures in France and the US.
jars, the labeling the packaging and all the prom material, and we presented it
in Milano and Rimini with success (…..), at other times I may present it at
projects conferences that creatively propose meetings and idea-exchanges among
artists and scientists and biotech industries.
in order to reach a different audience I seek co-operations with the managers
of unusual venues and I design and present this project at night clubs
of-a-kind, (such as was the case recently in
different audience, when I work within entertainment-devoted environments I found
out that looking for sponsors(which have a specific interest in promoting art
projects) can be fun and sometimes profitable. That was indeed the case with
the presentation at BED,
in which we were able to be fully supported by ABSOLUT Vodka, a company
that has a true inclination for and interest in supporting the Arts.
installed this work at the entrance all of a public Hospital in
Do you consciously confront?
However, the beauty of your question is that with or without me and/or my work,
confrontation would still be there for everybody to deal with.
HVC: Wat zijn jouw andere sleutelwerken?
What are your other keyworks?
quite a weird question. I have to resist from saying ‘an aggressive question’,
(poetically speaking), in that, if I were interested in producing masterpieces,
at the end of my life I should look back and point at those ‘works’ which are
the most important and worth to be remembered. But honestly working, living
and producing ‘creative objects with a message’ 😉
masterpieces. I mean, it is the seriousness with which one goes
about ’the matter of living’ that for me counts the most and no so much how
one encloses that seriousness in an object or a concept. But, in order to
please you and stay on earth I can mention a few more works which if not really
to be considered ‘key works’ are the ones I enjoyed the most working on:
“Natura et ars nihil agunt frustra. Ha, ha, ha…! [Nature and science do nothing in vain.
Ha, ha, ha…!]” Franco
Angeloni ©2007, which was produced on a laid out Island in the
and it is now in the permanent collection of the Verbeke
on another far remote island in the
and ‘produce’ a work with that specific idea in the back of my mind.
series of installation/performance works that I started to set up in public
spaces using recycled beer/water/other glass bottles. During the setting up of
such works I am constantly confronted with an audience made of perfect
strangers who passing by, ask the most interesting questions. An example of
these series of installation I can take this:
THE BREATH FOR THE NEXT TEN THOUSAND YEARS”
installation by Franco Angeloni VEDETT® ///// ©2011 All Rights Reserved
Contemporary Art Festival .
project that gave a turn to my artistic life, but which is complex to put into
words is one that I realized during a residency at The Grand Central Art
Center, Fullerton University, Los Angeles (USA). We are talking about 2001
and here it was the time when I told myself that objects and matter was a total
nonsense in the artistic activity, so much so that the work that I set up at
this art space was quite ethereal. It consisted of me driving around Los
Angeles, collecting information based on life-style, dreams, aspirations,
political views, etc…, ‘generously given away’ by interviewing at their homes,
local South Californian people. It all resulted in a final ceremony at the art
center during which I gave away a flight ticket to come and visit
a “Social or
Relational (art)work”. Beautifully reviewed by Kinney Littlefield
in the Los Angeles Times.
a trip to Roma or Amsterdam Contest” by Franco Angeloni.
However, the work which I consider as a break through in recent years and, that
really made me understand in what direction I wanted to go is this
traveling/riding ongoing project which I started when I struck a cooperation
deal with KAWASAKI MOTORS ENTERPRISE
have come to move forward in a perfect and holistic way. Ever since, I/we
travel and set up projects sometimes artistic sometimes commercial
several sponsors and partners. All of it has come together after the name:
///// MOTOTOURS & IMAGINATIVE ENTERPRISES /
Genetic Market® has become an integral part of these recent creative
activities. www.vedett.us _ www.facebook.com/VEDETT.MOTOTOURS
Als ik op je website kijk, zie ik dat je al een rijk palmares van kunstwerken
in verschillende materialen en expo’s achter de kiezen hebt.
begin je aan een kunstwerk en hoe bepaal je met welke materialen je werkt? Denk
je op een abstracte of figuratieve wijze?
through your website, I see a huge record of artworks in different materials
and exhibitions. How do you start an artwork and how do you chose the materials
you work with?
Do you develop the
work on an abstract or figurative level?
happens during the ‘conceiving process’ of a work I don’t think there is a
beginning and an end.
the critics, the art collectors, or whoever wants to see what other people do,
demand that one materializes his/her ideas, but to me any work it is like a
coma in a infinite sentence. So, the result that one sees in a work it is one
of many possible versions. As for the materials I use, I am fascinated by
non-hybridization. What I mean by that is that when I choose materials I
try to minimize them to a minimum, …. so for instance, concrete must be
concrete, steel must be steel, paper must be paper and so on, … and finally, concepts
must stay concepts. There are quite a few and most intriguing works that I
have not realized yet and that reside peacefully and beautifully in remote
areas of my brains. And that’s where they must be. Instead of making them
mutate into dead objects. If we have a chance to meet in person I will then
show you one of the most provocative (to me) and expressive works I ever made.
Even the title is of great joy for me to recall: “The Total
Understanding Of the Puzzling Disappearance Of Dry Matter”, which I
showed at The Art Center of Chulalongkorn University of
Je werken zijn veelal een work in progress…
HVC: Your works are
mainly a work in progress…
word progress whereas I do not believe in progress at all. How can we
possibly call progress all the mess that human kind has produced around us over
the past 10.000 years? This one needs to be discussed on a very serious level
and demands for the right time and the right attitude. And although this
interview is serious but time-limited, I will reserve the opportunity to go
deeply into it on a more appropriate moment 😉
is je loopbaan verlopen? Als een rechte oplopende lijn
of met veel kronkels en blutsen?
HVC: How did you
career pass? As a straight forward line or with a lot of crashes?
straight line that goes upwards, I would contradict myself as to what I said
here above regarding ‘progress’. But I have to be honest again and I can not deny
that today is the best time of my life. So, with such a daring statement I
could not possibly answer that the ‘loopbaan’, as you call it in Dutch was
contorted, difficult and full of
hurdles. In fact it was but it was a pleasure to go through it. Imagine if
it had been easy and ‘successful’* from the
start, who knows where I’d have been now? For sure at a different stage and
most likely at a less satisfactory understanding. Or if you want, I could have
been at a non-spiritual level, floating in total confusion, inwardly as well as
Welk verder discours wil je nog verder afleggen?
HVC: Which other
discourses do you still have in mind?
FA: I have nothing to say and nothing to teach but one thing, that I
think it is at the core of my work, (at least in the work of the past 3-4
years). I will try and summarize here for you: “without conflicts and
feeling of competition, with no struggles and idealizations, with no dreams and
most of all, in the absence of any sort of ambition, anything can happen. And
that ‘anything’, whatever it turns out to be, for sure it is the actualization
of yourself, that is, the realization of God.”
should need more time to understand – even myself – what I actually mean 😉
Wat is de belangrijkste relatie tussen jou, je werk, Astrid en ‘DAVID vzw’?
HVC: What is the
most important relation between you, your work, Astrid and DAVID vzw?
organizations, or even association, corporations or Nations. So, I will answer
you only what my relation is with Astrid David. I first met Astrid in 2002
during an Art event called FRACTALS Beelden Buiten in De Tuin De Brabandere,
I was showing there an interactive neon-installation, using Conium Maculatum
(Hemlock plants, or Socrates potion), a deadly poisonous plant that I uprooted
in a public park in Rome, smuggled through the custom at Brussels airport and
replanted in that ’tuin’ in Tielt. Astrid was working on that project together
with the local Cultural Office. She moved swiftly through the park and the city
and worked (apparently) very hard in order to get all the things done and make each
of the artists satisfied with their presentations. I thought to myself, this
woman rocks! She is driven by exceptional forces. And ever since we have become
friends and have worked together on a couple of art projects. She is looking
for something which I am sure it is neither fame nor success and, this can
easily meet with my work ethic and life views, on the professional as well as the
personal level. I think Astrid has an energy of a kind that it is difficult to
understand. This has obviously and clearly shown when she recently had to go through
the most dramatic experience that one can have in life. Yes, ‘life’ indeed, or
life and non-life. – Astrid seems to be the one of the few who looks
beyond the mere beauty and the colourful irony
that lies at the surface of The Super Genetic
Market®. Or better, she seems to see something that I myself have not yet seen. This is also what makes me want to cooperate
with her on the presentation of this project and the ethical, legal and psycho-social implications/discussions that genetic issues bring along with it.
Wat denk jij van kunst als medicijn? Denk
je dat jouw werk een troost
zijn voor anderen?
HVC: What is your
opinion on the statement art as a medicine? Do you think your work can be a
consolation for others?
myself Art as a medicine, or better, as a mental therapy. Art in general must
have that quality of being a healing force. And it usually shows this
character at best when you look at it and a smile cracks on your face. That’s
the case with works that have wit and irony in them. However, as to my own
work, during conception I never think in terms of healing others when the
work is done and shown. Doing so would put an unnatural and unnecessary
pressure on me and the work itself. But if that force unexpectedly explodes
when someone is looking at it, that work has found its reason to exist.
Is kunst de spiegel van de ziel voor jou?
HVC: Is art a
mirror of the soul?
in many books and heard it spoken out by many people, I do not know what the
soul is. I have never seen it nor have I ever touched or experienced it. So, my
answer is no, Art is not the reflection of one’s soul.
Heb je ooit al een fysische ervaring gehad bij het kijken naar of onderdompelen
in een kunstwerk?
FA: A true physical experience? Yes, I had a few in the past when
visiting galleries or museums and observing some art works produced by fellow
artists. But it often turned out to be short-lasting and would soon be replaced
by strong physical and at times psychological emotions derived by looking at
other works…. in an ongoing fashion for many years.
a poor significance when compared to those which our everyday life would offer
me. So I stopped letting go of this raptures and focused more on the aesthetics
and concepts behind the works.
started riding on 2 wheels, that ‘physical experience’ has become a continuum
throughout my life, …a sane, considerate, fluid and most of all enjoyable
Welke elementen moet een kunstwerk in zich hebben om een geslaagd kunstwerk te
ingredients does an artwork need to be considered as a successful?
qualities anyone could ever list and say: “This is what an art work should
bear within, in order to be called as such”.
dies, it ceases to become interesting. It is a little bit like ‘questions and
answers’. Answers are dead, whereas questions are immortal. Try to understand
why I say so 😉
of achievement or, success*…
And I/we will have plenty of time to swim within that inexistent element, will
I/we not? 😉
Van Canneyt, copyright 2012.