* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
Giovanni Donadini (Treviso, 1979) studied at istituto Psico-Socio Pedagogico (Treviso), Scuola Internazionale di Grafica (Venice), a class of non verbal languages (Treviso). His work was featured at Live Arts Week (Bologna); Galleria Patricia Armocida, Istituto Svizzero, Le Dictateur, Marsèlleria, Plusdesign Gallery and Viafarini (Milan); Orto Botanico and Von Holden Studio (Palermo).
How and when did you start drawing?
I don’t recall an exact date, but rather blurry memories. I think it was a necessity connected to perpetuating the sense of play or to mere expressions of imagination. I understand drawing as a practice of plastic thought, not exclusively linked to paper and pencil.
Then you approached screen printing: posters, t-shirts, records covers. How did this step evolve from the sign to the layering?
I would like there to be constructive curiosity and emotional involvement in everything I do. The evolution of content, techniques or contexts is related to the need to grow and it’s the result of the interchange between a constant inner fermentation of desires and the stark possibility of realization negotiated by the desire of maintaining a personal ethics.
You have always been close to music, and until now you have different active projects: Ottaven, your solo project; Arbre Du Ténéré, in collaboration with Maurizio Abate; Fantamatres with Sissy Biasin, Primorje with Matteo Castro. What are you working on now?
As Ottaven I’m finishing up Sequenze per raffigurazioni mentali, a series of 6 sound compositions. The project was born in Sicily with the idea of making the sound visual. With Arbre Du Ténéré we have a tape ready titled Quando gli uomini adoravano la luna that will be due for Yerevan Tapes. The one with Maurizio is a great format for me and I am very happy of the balance that has been found even live with the inclusion of the visual. There are themes to improvise on and it’s possible to pass harmoniously between comfortable and freer situations. Stefano Biasin is for me a true poet. Everything with him is fragile but caustic, dramatic and intense, paradoxical and sharing. I’m sorry it’s an intermittent and long distance relationship. Matteo Castro is a long-time friend and we tried to optimize; the result is a very dry sound relationship: we only use two mixers, two multitrack cassettes and various loop tapes. In the spring an LP will come out for his label Second Sleep.
In addition to music, your main means of experimentation is clothing. You started screen printing your graphics on t-shirts, but now you realise entirely your clothes, following the selection of fabrics and design patterns, which have now also been released from the design. Can it be said that this route gradually tends to subtraction?
Perhaps more to the sum? I remember how in the moment when I decided to exhibit some clothes I began to reflect on spaces and from there to build furniture and then having to add tools or techniques. It subtracts in the way that it takes time and one tries to sharpen thinking and movement to realize with less. This is not always nice but it’s also mirror of the times.
You moved to Milan in 2011, what brought you here?
I think it was late 2011. I came here for the need of growth and confrontation. Along with Mirko Rizzi of Marsèlleria we had thought of a small, cozy space, a kind of shop where to launch clothes, furniture, music and whatever else we liked. From that experience later other working relationships developed quickly.
For years you work with Marsèll, and when you moved to Milan you opened Gabbianacci in collaboration with Mirko Rizzi. What was Gabbianacci, and how did that collaboration go?
Well, it was a great experience during which to experiment and reflect on spaces. In about a year of activity we have drastically revolutionized the space at least 7 times. Every day I came in and saw items that I could transform. I discovered and could practice on wood. With often poor materials I think I saw and rejoiced with personal sense of beauty or functionality. Maybe economically it was a bit of a suicide but I’m sure it was for everyone a great breeding ground for exchange.
You share the studio with Legno, and together with Stefano Rossi you organize concerts under the name Piattaforma Fantastica, sometimes right inside your studio. How was this synergy born?
Friendship is very important to me and I am aware of how the balance is delicate and magical. With Stefano I share a passion for sound and music but there is also a strong need to socialize. With Piattaforma Fantastica we seek the correspondence between musician and environment. Every concert to be alive and transmit warmth would need a specific space. It’s not a job, money is useful but we don’t want to tie it too much to music. We do what we can and I find it very healthy and wise to know when to give up.
Your work is very hybrid and winds through multiple media, which are shared and used in many different contexts. In Milan you had the opportunity to confront yourself with the environment of art, fashion, design and independent music: what perception do you have of local cultural scene?
Milan is very functional. There is so much hunger for activities, proposals, ideas. More than often people want to participate – with all the easy and somewhat reprehensible dynamics – but if someone moves fast and untied there are excellent possibilities. I like it, it’s challenging, there is always the need to run and you can get answers. I do not want groundless criticism. I think it’s so nice to be able to live from the results of your own thoughts and here I am doing it.