Interview #61

Giada Carnevale

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

Giada Carnevale (Vigevano, 1986) studied at Accademia di Brera (Milano). Her work has been exhibited at Fabbrica del Vapore e Flagship store Enel (Milan), SISAD (Turin). With BB5000 she exhibited at Aldea (Bergen), 9th Berlin Biennal (Berlin), Horizont Galéria (Budapest), Bid Projects and Davide Gallo (Milan), Hotel Art Pavilion (New York), Platform Stockholm (Stockholm).

I remember the moment in which I managed to pet my cat for the first time, after months of cohabitation, of mutual distrust, calculation of our own spaces: an animal relationship. I was really happy about this achieved goal, but at the same time I felt like something broke, as if the relationship that we had was over and cannot be retrieved. I know this relationship between man and animal (read in a ‘post-anthropocentric’ tone) shapes your most recent research. Can you tell me about it?

I have been following a vegan lifestyle for almost 7 years, so the animal relationship between man and animal of other species is part of my daily life. A different animal from myself intrigues me for the joy of a limited world, which exists and finishes only with one’s own life and I find fascinating how they are able to withstand doing nothing without creating external incentive to fight the empty moment. It happens to me to go back to Vigevano, sad, and be assaulted with kisses from Tita (an approximately one-and-a-half-year-old poodle). I’ve never undergone by anyone a tenacity to make me happy like that. Who knows if she would give a damn at all if I’m sad or not, but I care even less: my world and hers finished there, and this created a strong, unbreakable alliance. Where her and my need had a common goal (albeit certainly different) and we completed each in their own peculiarity, and perhaps unintelligible to each other.

As the dog-human relationship defines a connection of antagonist self-sufficiency (that ’us vs. the world ‘ that you described), also the adolescence, another recurring theme in your work, maintains that solipsistically positive attitude. What shapes has this interest taken in your practice?

In adolescence I find that moment that feeds on pure emotions, raised to almost unreal strength. Everything takes on a romantic and grotesque aftertaste at the same time, where there is no tomorrow because tomorrow-then-we’ll see: it’s beautiful. This moment has a great aesthetic appeal to me. In my practice it takes different forms, Love at first sight (2015), is a video work that consists of a very short sequence in which a young boy, about 14 years old, smiles while he has a nosebleed and films himself with an iPad. In those 30 seconds happens what I was saying before: there is excitement, irresponsibility, ugliness, tenderness, all filtered by me and thus by a melancholy which is part of my age of post-post-adolescence.

I know you’ve spent time with very specific micro-communities, such as to make The Swimmers: what’s your experience, which relationships did you personally established with these people?

The micro-communities are for me the recurring field investigation linked to the animality in humans and to adolescence. Rugby players, hippies, swimmers of polar bear plunges, people who attend the same party etc. To achieve The Swimmers, I started to take an interest in the polar bear plunges, that in simple terms are swims in cold water; I followed groups that I found on the web and that agreed to go for this swim. I chatted with them and I watched them, until one day in February I attended one, too. I found myself at an amazing party with improbable disguises, free food for everyone and an unconditional desire of unbridled fun. The situation was grotesque and romantic at the same time and so for me, perfect. I got fond of this festive moment, of this complete and voluntary loss of inhibitions that I perceive to be very close to adolescence and to a certain animality in humans. A party sometimes allows you to feel free in a group, to lose yourself a little and then find oneself again and go Home. I find these moments of cheerfulness romantic and thus I fell in love with them, and the people I observed enter in my emotional sphere becoming material which I can approach in a free, spontaneous and perhaps aesthetic way.

Is a collaborative aspect necessary in your practice, or would it be the same, without it?

I think that in my own way I always try to create a collaborative network that will in the first place let me generate a micro-community, and secondly, allow the work to slip out of my hands a bit, to surprise me and thus to have the chance to fall in love with it for a few seconds. I love it when things don’t look too much like me, because otherwise I get a bit bored.

How do you manage this need and at the same time having to balance your practice with that of others, in a collective project as BB5000, to which you belong?

I handle it simply by asking who I like to participate, to join me to see an under 16 rugby game or to realize a sculpture by following my directions but their own taste. BB5000 works and produces only when reaching the full satisfaction of all its components, a small anarchist society. Utopian? Maybe not. The work undergoes 5 reviewings and grows, reflects on itself taking new and unexpected forms. With the group I have the chance to reflect and work as I wouldn’t do alone because my own habits inevitably fade to accept new ones. To explain better but in a silly way, I can tell you that I have always admired those who are capable of working at night, staying up very late; well, BB5000 almost works only at night, and so, already in this aspect, I can be something that I wouldn’t be alone, and perhaps I don’t want to be, but I like it.