Interview #13

Andrea Magnani

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).

Andrea Magnani (Faenza, 1983) studied at ISIA (Faenza). His work has been exhibited at Swing (Benevento); MAMbo and roBOt (Bologna); Palazzo delle Esposizioni (Faenza); Stanford Housing (London); Triennale, Il Crepaccio, Marsèlleria Permanent Exhibition, Mars and Viafarini (Milan); Marsèlleria Permanent Exhibition (New York); Pad. Regionale, 54° Biennale di Venezia (Reggio Emilia); T293, Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Fondazione Baruchello and Villa Farinacci (Rome); Italienska Kulturinstitutet (Stockholm); Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa (Venice); Giorgio Galotti, PAV and Archivio di Stato (Turin).

Sistema S was your first work as an artist: it is a work exploded into many elements, which intertwines your artistic research with your previous activity as a designer. How did this evolution occur, and how are the two practices still intertwined in your work?

I’ve probably never made a real distinction between the two disciplines but, definitely starting from that work, I found myself to have in hand a production that could no longer be spent in the context of design. Although the whole installation rotates around what in fact is a tool, a real object which can be used to make soap bubbles, for me it was a bit like starting from zero. Whatever people may say, at least in Italy, the world of art and the world of design are still deeply disjointed. I rarely see designers at art exhibitions and vice versa, a real pity. As for my work, today I like to think that there is no discontinuity between the two practices, in a certain sense there is an interpenetration.

You said that for you an artwork is never finished, but that you always consider it open and workable; where does this orientation derive from?

To act differently seems terribly unnatural to me, it scares me a bit. I think that art-works, even those conceived as immutable sculptures, act actively, maintaining their imaginative drive only until others, more adherent ones, start knocking on the door.

The coded language is a recurring element in the formalization of your work; what in this form of communication are you interested in?

What I like about the coded language is its persistence and the imaginative synthesis potential. A mix able to act as a trigger for a right path to create sense. At work, for the text parts, I often use an alphabet that I’ve developed a few years ago. A little runic, a little alien, I love that it revives the feeling you have in front of an artefact found a bit by chance, not positionable. Like facing a new hypothetical Rosetta stone.

The written word is another channel of your activity you recently had the opportunity to experience in various projects.

To put a concept down on a page almost always leaves me with a bittersweet sensation, it seems to me, in a way, to kill it, to limit its potential. The written word, motionless, irreversible, can, however, have an abstract, collapsing formulization. Designed to open up to those moments when, for a second you stop and looking up under your eyelids, as to visualize the concept, you feel how it escapes or bounces in all directions. That’s the very point, the trigger.

In recent years you have started to translate your personal imaginary, tied to symbolism and rituals, into real, everyday contexts; so can one therefore say that your work is a practical linguistic goal?

I do not know if you can define it a linguistic goal but, at some point, I had the need to build a new symbolic cosmology that I felt more present, less abstract than those of traditional derivation. For me, the logos and corporate identities that populate our cities are real language agents capable of passing concepts, influencing practices and thoughts, while some attitudes, the result of a contemporary lifestyle such as the running or the packaging of drinking water, contain all the ingredients that are also detectable in the traditional magic rituality.

In 2014 you created Siliqoon, an art label dedicated to the creation and curatorship of contemporary art, that creates a dialogue between artists and Italian producers. How did this need arise?

Siliqoon arose from the necessity to get in contact with materials or technologies that are generally difficult to access. When studying design, I immediately approached the topic of the translation of the project into its physical, material form. Coming into contact, for my productions, with some small-scale companies, I realized how the other party could play a positive role in terms of conceptualizing at this stage of “translation”. As the project grows, I get really convinced of how huge this unexpressed production potential is which is released at the very moment when the companies are willing to take new paths. A win-win relationship that I would like people to focus on as the keystone to produce better art works.

In general, your activity is divided into generative and introjected actions which have already been translated several times in curatorial projects.

For me, the curatorial activity is a channel. It directs and orders a flow of ideas to a sort of direction / interpretive cage. A practice that is useful and dangerous at the same time. In a vaporous context it can help to distil the ideas fuelling the issue with some topics rather than with others. However, it becomes harmful when the condensation exceeds and produces ponds.