Interview #64

Davide Savorani

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

Davide Savorani (Faenza, 1977) studied at Istituto d’Arte per la Ceramica (Faenza), Accademia di Belle Arti (Ravenna) and the Mountain School of Art (Los Angeles). His work was featured at Overgaden and Betty Nansen Teatret (Kobenhavn); CAMH (Houston); ICA and FormContent (London); Artopia, Brown Project Space, CareOf, Tile Project Space and Marsèlleria (Milan); Santarcangelo Festival (Santarcangelo); Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin); Padiglione Spagna – 54° Biennale di Venezia (Venice); Kunstraum (Vienna).

Your training begins in Faenza, your hometown. What did you bring along of those early experiences?

It begins in Faenza in 1991, at the Art Institute for Ceramics. What I brought along from that experience? The teaching methods were overly focused on techniques and left little room for creativity and experimentation. The hours spent on reproducing “the Persian palmette” have also made me realize that I don’t possess the necessary patience for this kind of activity. That kind of timeframe does not excite me.

Your work is full of fairytale and folkloristic references, often linked to the medieval imagery.

I grew up in Isola, a village made up of a handful of inhabitants. Until the fourth grade class I had two classmates. I grew up in the countryside of Romagna, an interesting folk melting pot. My big children ears swallowed everything from war stories experienced by the grandparents to the legends of the village, from fairy tales to daily events, experienced in unison by the entire village.

While attending the Academy of Ravenna, you started to get closer to the theatre. How has this shift affected your way of approaching the exhibition space??

I approached the so-called theatre of research thanks to some students who attended the last year of academy. Among them was a girl who worked with Socìetas and she was the one who took me to one of the last performances of Hamlet. On stage I realized that it was possible to dialogue with the space, that my presence, every presence, triggered a dynamic. The theatre experience brought forth many questions, particularly on the relation between content and container, about the alleged passivity of the latter. Questions which then questioned my relationship with the exposure situations to which I began to relate.

You also said that you don’t consider bodies and objects as installed works, but always as performers.

Yes, they are, and maybe there’s not a lot to explain. They are the actants, they have a role and a story, they contain an intrinsic dynamic, a potential action, like an apple already includes the force of the bite, the pressure of the hands, the hit of the fall. Their presence adduces a temperature whenever they enter or leave a context, a set, a space.

You say yourself the theatre taught you to have ‘flexibility in the role’: in what does this result in your current work?

I try to listen. As far as I am concerned, in the theatre you cannot wall up and reject, but on the contrary, you must be willing to receive, to be permeated and to release. In my work everything translated in an effort to listen and to respond to the situations in which I find myself to act, not to anchor an idea, to be open to the unexpected and not to know exactly what the outcome will be.

Drawing still remains your first channel, right?

It was probably the polyphony of stories of which we spoke earlier on to have furthered my strong imagination. Drawing permitted me to open the valve and release the pressure exerted by the stories that I developed in my head. For me it was a game, and I spent a lot of time on the exercise books where I crystallized the topical moments of those stories, without following a precise logic. Towards the end of my academic studies, I then reconsidered that approach and I started to produce many drawings in sequence, incomplete storyboards, full of gaps between one episode and another.

The first time I saw your work was during Stressed Environment, a solo show at the Marsèlleria in 2016, curated by Caterina Riva. Based on what did you develop this series of works?

I started by turning my attention to a state of mind, to what appeared to be an embarrassing statement that I was making in the first place to myself: “I am bored”. It was a ‘special’ moment of great inner solitude, great desert, great demand by those who gravitated around me, great clouds. I started from the most complex point, from myself. And to observe this myself, I felt the need to listen to others, to unknown others, far away others and other ones who were bored. I needed the virtual darkness, of a density and a volume that you cannot find anywhere else. I started from a state which seemed empty to me, but which instead was full.

What do you think of the independent cultural offers in Milan?

I think Milan is going through an interesting although conflictive time. There is the smell of hope and the odour, albeit distant, of change. The desire to open new spaces, not to be satisfied with what is offered us, and not to wait, complaining about the absence, but to fill that void, that demand. Sometimes I have the impression that one sticks out too far to the appearance: the packaging is beautiful, but the content is poor, not even silly. Maybe we forget that we are gifted with a voice and this is why I am increasingly dealing with this medium, especially through songs. In Italy, and not only in Milan, I find that the relationship between the actors of this system (artists, curators, etc.) is very complicated. What seems to prevail is a tendency to keep to yourself what you have “earned” and to share only what is strictly necessary. Instead, we should learn to fling open the doors, to make room, to unite this heterogeneous chorus of voices and energies in order to shake up more vigorously a system with a strong tendency towards inertia.