* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
Dario Bitto (Messina, 1989) studied at Accademia di Brera (Milan). His work has been exhibited at TILE Project Space and Fabbrica del Vapore (Milan).
“Instruct yourself because we’ll need all your intelligence”: a quote of Gramsci that opens your portfolio. Why is it important for your work?
It’s the black and white image of a text on a billboard. It’s not his social connotation, although later it is projected in my work, which brings it to be the frontispiece of my practice; but the power of the text form. The photo shows an internal short circuit which for me was revelatory; since it characterizes the fight between text and image, behind which lurks a battle of historical consciousness against magic; precisely because the texts do not present the world: but represent the images. Here the instruction is considered as an indispensable form of presence, but does not deal with the methodology with which it is injected. This, instead, is the area in which my devices are built. The formulas of influence which the instruction undergoes are not considered; but they are what link the methodologies, and if there were ten-year mappings, you might understand what we do now and because of whom. Gramsci also stresses a paradox already viral in social structures and a legacy of a period that was placed before and contrary to him. The intelligence that is mentioned in the phrase is here as an organic element to an extreme remedy of a learning process. He doesn’t say “Instruct yourself because we’ll need your culture”, haughty concept in Western societies, but of your intelligence. Pointing out how through educational processes you can build a culture of understanding, not as a tool of identity but for restitution. The intelligence honours the critical keys because they can’t be taught.
How does the dialectic disappearance-affirmation of the ego emerge, thematically and methodologically, in your research?
My work is structured on analogies and recurrences of the sources, so recognizing their nature is indispensable. This dichotomy then becomes my judging parameter. Constituting, without premeditation of choice, in two different pathways that accepts them as strategic – the vanishing acts – or tautological – the impositions of the presence. In the first case they refer to authorial parameters behind which lurk the autonomous processes of power and collision with others already announced. In order for the trace of the author to stay only in the singularity of his absence. The second case shows the assertion that any presence is such only because recognizable.
In which collaborative projects did this interest take shape?
In 2015 I started a project that expects a long duration called Genizah. It will be a film in thirteen chapters, each of them written in relation to the confrontation (or during) with other artists. The subject of the film is the analysis of the hybris in the affirmation of personal ego, in speculation and artistic presence. Tautological elements are taken into account – by assertion – that certain artists have deflected on their work and on themselves, narrating the resulting. On the other hand, I chose to talk with artists that are the counterpart regarding vanishing strategies triggered by themselves about themselves. Although it must be said that this discussion, it really dilutes throughout my practice, resulting in a form of open writing of the devices.
Can you trace an origin of this interest towards the methodological possibilities of approach to artistic work? Does it have something to do with your past as an assistant for artists?
The interest began from the fascination with the cinema and its bases. The languages and methods that this incurs in relation to technologies, but above all the looks. And this is precisely the case to consider them as such. Especially the phases of assembly and its writing have accelerated the course of my considerations. The symmetry, however, in my work is commendably random. Working with several artists both in studio and in gallery, I was able to commensurate some aspects that have now settled in personal working phases. Even if studying them and watching them working was, at least initially, an exercise of tough survival in social and natural hierarchies during this path.
Writing as an element that guides your work, without necessarily emerging as textual output, but as vector, is also present in another cycle, Percorsi e Intenti: Marra (2015) this time as ‘pretext’ for an iconographic investigation. Tell me about it.
Even more than the writing it’s the practice of the script that directs the expedients in my work, which is held in close connection with the subject of the projects; changing from time to time. In the case of Percorsi e Intenti: Marra (2015) this process took precise cues to screenplays for a movie series. The text lives, as well, a strong influence dictated by anniversaries and recurring events, typical of the project, and also making use of the update of the narrations as if it was ready to expose itself. This cadence sometimes leads me to storage data held together by the script itself; in order to arrive at a prototype film (in the textual exploration), it will never be filmed, but with already prepared props. The latter enable the identity value of the project.