Andrea Galvani © 2005-2006, Deconstruction of a mountain #2
C-print on aluminum dibond, wood white frame, 108 x 130 cm // 42.5 x 51.2 inches, framed
Courtesy of the artist

Deconstruction of a mountain

Marta Casati interviews Andrea Galvani, February 2005  (Espoarte, no. 33, pp. 22–24, Savona, Italy)

 

M.C. One notes in your work, from both the conceptual and formal points of view, a sort of instinctive affinity with the system of analysis typical of the exact sciences. I’m thinking of the sequence of one of your first videos — Hunting Bears – La Deviazione [1] — in which two mysterious and detached characters, wearing close-fitting tracksuits, appear to physically simulate an exercise in symmetry that, however, seems to imply failure and dissonance. It’s as if they were two points, x and y, on a straight line — or two atoms of the same substance destined never to meet, or even two planets with the same speed of revolution located light years apart. Moreover, the phenomenon of time appears to be lacking in a sense of sequence: a before and an after. In all your work it seems that the concept of time is, in a way, subordinated to that of geometry.

A.G. What you say is interesting. In Hunting Bears – La deviazione I tell the story of a failure that continues over a period of time that is longer than the story and its events. After all, geometry is one of our greatest challenges — a desire for the absolute, divine perfection and immortality: this is what lies at the base of the structure of the pyramids. At the same time, in the age of communication, geometry in a firm can mean thousands of biscuits of the same size, weight and colour. Since I was a child, I have been attracted by the apparent symmetry of things and our excessive need to simulate this. In the video sequence, the two characters imitate the four postures of the heroes in classical sculpture and seem at times to construct and deconstruct the shape of a triangle.

M.C. In recent years, drawing has taken on a significant role in your artistic output. However, in your work, the graphic element seems to have become purely conceptual in nature. So, is it correct to talk about conceptual graphics? What do you think graphics is in the real world today?

A.G. Everything out there is handled by graphs: consumption, percentages of death, of population growth, increases in oil prices or currency devaluation. Each individual is a walking graph.
The basic aim of graphics is to sum things up. I’m particularly interested in the process of analysis that is needed when you sum up. At the same time, I’m fascinated by the instinctive approach we all have to graphics. From the first hieroglyphics to writing, the world of signs was developed to sum up concepts. In this sense, all graphics is conceptual.

Andrea Galvani © 2004, Deconstruction of a mountain, Drawing #1
White ink on black paper, 30X40 cm // 11.8 x 15.7 inches, unframed
Courtesy of the artist

M.C. What’s your relationship with hard work? Have you ever got everything wrong?

A.G. I have a titanic relationship with physical exertion and that’s why I devote a lot of time to preliminary studies before developing them in concrete form. But there’s nothing unusual about this: I think it’s simply part of the process of realizing a project, whatever it may be and whatever profession you belong to. If what you’re looking for is a new form or if what you’re trying to do is to convey the power of a dazzling yet clear intuition, the fact that you have to work for weeks, months or years in order to complete it is certainly a gauge of its intensity and power, but it can also thwart it, making everything seem to be useless. Failures are an essential part of these preliminary studies: they put you with your back to the wall and make you change direction. In this respect, there’s an interesting statement by Gilles Deleuze. Allow me to quote it for you: "Creation takes place in choked passages. Even in some particular language, even in French for example, a new syntax is a foreign language within the language. A creator who isn’t grabbed around the throat by a set of impossibilities is no creator. A creator’s someone who creates their own impossibilities, and thereby creates possibilities."

(Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations 1972–1990, Columbia University Press, New York, Eng. trans. Martin Joughin, 1995, p. 133.)

Andrea Galvani © 2005, Deconstruction of a mountain #3 (Right detail)
C-print on aluminum dibond, wood white frame, 190 x 70 cm // 74.8 x 27.6 inches, unframed
Courtesy of the artist, Meulensteen Gallery, New York and Artericambi, Italy

M.C. Your works are dominated by a sense of the beyond that I always find convincing because it’s able to overcome the limits and take you elsewhere. There is, at times, a romantic mood in which melancholy pervades the great rationality with which you work.
As in a text by T.S. Eliot, the cerebral element seems to predominate, based as it is on a complex preparatory process, but the final result is warm and vibrant. How do you manage to allow two apparently very different elements to coexist?
A.G. Essentially I believe that everybody’s life involves this sort of dualism. Rationality and poetry are just as much part of our daily lives as liquid crystal watches and sunsets.
M.C. It seems that, for you, producing an action has a different meaning and intensity from photographing it. During a recent interview you stated that photography is just one of the many (failed) attempts to document an open process. It’s as if recording the complexity of a process in two dimensions were not the final act. So, are your images the beginning of something else?
A.G. The images are always at the centre of a process that changes and escapes us. They are like nodes, representations of something that has happened and continues elsewhere.
M.C. Let’s talk about Deconstruction of a Mountain, your most recent video project, which you’re still working on. I find it quite intriguing and I’m curious to know what the title refers to.
A.G. Deconstruction of a Mountain is a complex project that started out as a video, but for which, for the time being, I’m presenting a series of stills. I don’t like to talk about projects that haven’t yet been finished. I can say that, at the same time, I’m working on Il muro del suono (The Sound Barrier): its title refers to the physical phenomenon due to which an object (most frequently a plane) that exceeds the speed of propagation of sound (1,200 kph) probably enters a sort of capsule of silence. Both projects are related to the time of history and that of individuals, the image and its representation, and also the geography of an area and the invisible geometries sustaining it.

 

[1] As if it were a story by Frederic Brown, the video was made in the wild rocky area on the north-west coast of Corsica known as the Désert des Agriates in 2004.

Andrea Galvani © 2005, Deconstruction of a mountain #1
C-print on aluminum dibond, wood white frame, 185 x 70 cm // 70.9 x 27.6 inches, unframed
Courtesy of the artist, Meulensteen Gallery, New York and Artericambi, Italy