Interview #61

Giovanni Riggio

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

Giovanni Riggio (1993) lives and works in Milan. His work has been featured at AIR Antwerpen (Antwerp); Future Suburban Contemporary (Kobenhaven); Viafarini (Milan).
Together with BB5000 his work has been exhibited at Horizont (Budapest); Aldea (Bergen); Fondazione Baruchello (Rome); Galerie Tobias Naehring (Leipzig).

In your work, imaginaries of remote futures and pasts collide in forms which quite resemble an excessive present; its grotesque portrait. Do you feel close to this aesthetic category?

In my daily practice of visual research, what attracts me comes from many fields; from fashion to the work of other artists, from applied super technologies to everything that usually makes me imagine the future. Recently I became interested in primitive iconographic repertoires, and scrolled digital archives of ethnological museum, intrigued by the forms that some of these artifacts assume. I get the impression that they fit perfectly in the fragmentation that today has assumed, distributing itself between IRL and URLs. Maybe it’s in its generating different forms, creating new scenarios which are absolutely alien to both reality and the past, it is in this deformation that I find a “grotesque” aspect, but this is a definition that I use quite often, it is rather a matter of perceived mindset than the paradoxical or comic feeling it causes.

In what form did the theme of the rite emerge from your work?

Approaching to the above, it was natural to consider the ritualistic dimension that this sphere brings with it. I like to observe how a certain tribalism emerges in some contemporary practices, absolutely primitive impulses blended with different things from different worlds or cultures. In one of my previous performative works, NINJANINJANINJA (2015), a dancer performs a freestyle session of Voguing. Created in the New York gay clubs, this kind of dance preserves a typical tribal character in creating communities and transforming the body of the interpreter in a magical body, extended from its limits. The choreographed sequence of the movements I used blends the fashion magazine poses (hence the name Voguing) with typical movements of the martial arts and the Japanese ritual dance, with rigid, controlled and symmetrical lines. Another kind of rituality emerges which I like to define #RitualFAKE, that is a false transposition of ancient rituals which in a globalized contemporaneity lose their original magic matrix to become something else.

Would you tell me about the past, present and future experience of BB5000?

I, Arcangelo, Francesco, Filippo and Giada met at the Academy, and we felt a great harmony straight away. It seemed as if we were magnetized by each other, intrigued not only by the work, but by the personality of each of us. We started spending much time together, to forge a great and deep friendship that went beyond the professional relationship that existed between us. It was therefore only natural to try to test these ties also in the working environment and in June 2015 we took the opportunity and organized an open studio among friends. The effect was immediate! Despite their differences, our works matched perfectly, they related to each other cohabiting the same space. Subsequently, when the proposal to create an exhibition in a Milan exhibition area came up, the idea of working together as a group was immediate; a single identity composed of all five of us. Given the positive outcome of our first experience, we are continuing to work together and will definitely continue to do so!

It seemed that HyperRruin aimed to build a world that the works in the exhibition would inhabit. Would you live there, in that world?

The first impression HyperRruin generated was this desolate landscape, a deserted beach, on the shores of which new organisms were forming from the residues left by an earlier culture. It was a landscape of ruins, enhanced by their dual concrete and digital nature. If I were to imagine to live there, I would like HyperRruin to be one of the lands of Second Life, where I would like to log in every now and then, wearing my Hololens setting them on #goodlife and maybe take a Mojito while watching the sunset.

What would you save of this world you live in, now, here, in this city, of the objects and beings that inhabit it?

Lately I have more and more the perception of living in different, not entirely contiguous spaces. My IRL life, here and now, there and nowhere else, intersects an axis belonging to a different time dimension. I lived in Milan for almost four years, my present lies in this physicality which I love. It is a city that has made me feel good, which I like and which I still find fascinating, despite I strongly feel its limits. At the same time, in some specific places or moments it happens that images of other spaces, where I lived in the past, overlap them, imagining that they are flowing and growing in a dimension that is not the real one, but which nonetheless I continue to experience.