Interview #61

Anna Franceschini

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

Anna Franceschini (Pavia, 1979) studied at IULM (Milan) and Scuola Civica di Cinema (Milan) and is a PHD candidate in Visual e Media Studies at IULM (Milan). Her work has been exhibited at Gamec (Bergamo), Museion (Bolzano), Spike Island (Bristol), Kunstverein Düsseldorf (Düsseldorf), Courtisane (Ghent), BFI and Fiorucci Art Trust (London), Matadero (Madrid), MFF and PAC (Milan), Institut Culturel Italien (Paris), MAXXI and Quadriennale (Rome), IFFR (Rotterdam), Kunsthalle Sao Paulo (San Paolo), Locarno Film Festival, TIFF, GAM and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin), CAC (Vilnius).

Tell me about your education in relation to the choice – or the result of circumstances – to include your work in the discursive area of visual arts rather than in the more specific one of cinema?

In fact, I think it is the result of circumstances, or perhaps it had to go this way, but there have been fruitful digressions, some pleasant detours. To start from the very beginning, I studied at the College of Science and then I joined the Faculty of Engineering at the Politecnico di Milano. After I took and passed only the exam of Chemistry I withdrew to then study Communication Studies. I graduated in History and Criticism of the Italian Cinema with a thesis on iconographic but also ontological relations between the image and its sacredness, in the system of motion pictures. While writing the thesis I attended an evening course on filmmaking at the Scuole Civiche di Milano. My film essay, Polistirene (2007), went very well in the European festival network. This gave me confidence. I had a great desire to leave Milan and Italy, in that period. Due to a friend’s suggestion I applied to the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam, and I was accepted. Since then I started to rethink my work, to interpret it also in relation to the exhibition space, to expand the concept of editing to an entire exposition or to a cycle of works. Contemporary art has accepted my practice, and me as a subject, with sweetness and enthusiasm. I felt good, with ups and downs, of course, and I continued.

At the centre of the stage and of your look, in your film work there are often objects. Are you interested in them as result of a systematic research on a particular aesthetic category, or are you driven by a fascination that goes beyond the rational?

I think I cover both aspects, along with others such as the ontology of the objects and their relationship with humans. I don’t know if I would speak of fascination. It is, more than anything else, the verification of a great power inherent in objects, artefacts. A more or less explicit power. Shamanic societies and with a strong symbolic displayed component, are very aware of the power of objects. Western world may have lost this awareness and runs risks. It’s enough thinking of the relapse of technological determinism, to intelligent machines producing desire. I’m interested in reflecting on this, using images and not words, preferably.

Are you interested in exhausting the subject of your vision, filming or possessing it? Apropos: do you keep a practice of collection?

It’s a very interesting question for me. The term possession, as it is known, has several meanings. Sometimes I worry that objects possess myself, almost. Maybe that’s why I film them, it’s an almost defensive kind of practice, a membrane that I put between myself and things, which gives me a privileged point of view, a space for tactic. I don’t think I can ever exhaust an object, rather it is a head-to-head fight not to be consumed! Yes, I maintain some collections, in fact. But I try not to exceed. And I tend to keep them hidden from sight, so they are less dangerous.

Enacting an animation of inanimate objects and the deprivation of the machines of their vitality (as in The Player May not Change His Position) seems to get you close to the artists and authors who have treated the theme of the disturbing, that has a specific theoretical and aesthetic history. Yet your discourse seems closer to a reflection on the cinematographic device itself…

The cinematographic ‘device’ is disturbing in itself. Just think of the first films of Lumière and their effects on the public. And cinema, let’s say intended as machine, is the re-animating of the inanimate, a perpetual compulsory movement of lifeless bodies. More than removing vitality of machines, I think I try to blow life into them in every way. Sometimes I feel more like a mechanic than an artist. Or a doctor that deals with bio mechanics.

Can you tell me about your recurring collaboration with Federico Chiari and Diego Marcon, and about essential relationships, which you wouldn’t give up, that you have interwoven in this city?

Diego and Federico are two artists and two friends I grew up with, humanly and professionally. We’ve known each other for almost ten years, we were very close, we lost contact for a long time, then we got closer again. We founded a collective, we dissolved it, we exhumed it. We filmed a collective movie, Pattini d’argento, we conceived an audiovisual performance, Videogiochi, we took it on tour, we had so much fun together, we argued a lot of times, we shared anxieties of life, childhood traumas, post adolescence, many movies and a lot of music. Another indispensable relation for me is the one I have established with the independent film network, Filmmaker Festival, with the critics and curators Daniela Persico and Tommaso Isabella, and the Milano Film Festival which I approached thanks to Davide Giannella. And then my first meeting with local contemporary art, ViaFarini, embodied by the first milanese studio visit with Milovan Farronato. I met later the male and female protagonists of contemporary art in Milan, I’m building very close ties with some of them. Furthermore, I have a very strong relationship with the city itself, its habits, its architecture, its social weaving. I have lived in ten different homes, in ten different areas. I moved here to study when I was twenty-two years old. I left Milan many times thinking of not going back anymore. But it’s the only place where loneliness doesn’t affect me.