Interview #50

Jacopo Miliani

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

Jacopo Miliani (Firenze, 1979) studied at DAMS (Bologna) and Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design (Londra). His work was featured at Palais de Tokyo (Paris); David Robert Art Foundation. Kunstraum, Victoria&Albert Museum (London); Matadero, CentroCentro Cibeles (Madrid); Kunsthalle Lissabon (Lisbon); 10th Nicaragua Biennial (Managua); Museo Villa Croce (Genoa); Galleria Art Moderna (Turin); Villa Romana (Florence); Verbo Festival (São Paulo); Marselleria, Careof, Viafarini (Milan); MACRO, Fondazione Giuliani (Rome); CAC (Vilnius), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo (Turin); Kunsthal Charlottenborg (Kobenhaven).

Let’s start with your experiences in performance, in what way were you attracted to it and how have you kept documentation of your past works until today?

Having studied History of Theater, performance to me was the bridge between my academic education and the practice as an artist. What interests me, about performance, is its relationship with the linguistic dimension, or better its impossibility of a sheer verbal transposition, which consequently leads to the creation of countless languages.
It’s a melancholic relationship, which involves the loss of the performance experience. For this reason, I don’t document my performances with video, but I archive them by taking some pictures and printing some contact sheets.

In Ropes your strings are almost immobilized in the movement that was previously impressed, can you explain your interest in the inability to stop the movement, also referring to the works on canvas Contacts?

In every gesture there is a before and an after, which, although not present in sculptures, is imagined by the one who looks at them. The works on canvas instead emphasize the forces of tension of a rope that remains impressed after you eliminated the object-string from the contact surface.

About your works on hands, how did you approach the resins and what is your relationship with that type of matter, which effect do you search for in the final installation like the one from last year, Not With a Bang?

Resin fascinates me for its transparency and its artificiality. I made a cast of my hands and then I slowly poured a transparent resin and a black one, the opposite of transparency. Not With a Bang refers to a short story by Howard Fast where one hand kills the sun. The use of hands in this work is similar to the shots of Dario Argento in his first movies: when a mysterious hand or glove takes an object or grabs the body of a victim.

In Rope and Leaves the strings emerge into palms, almost becoming aesthetic elements. We find this work again on prints, scarves, even in vegetal shapes in your studio. Would you like to tell us about this project also referring to the installation of Walking through the Garden?

Palms are to me a kind of Leitmotiv… They have been accompanying me for years. They have been defined ‘daily exotic’, in fact they are connected to the idea of travel – mirage, but they are also interior and domestic decorations. Walking through the Garden is an installation that consists of a digitally printed scenery and of three framed pictures printed with silver salts. The different techniques of photographic processing and printing emphasize this relationship of closeness and distance inherent in the image of palm trees.

Your series of collages counterpoise photographs of classical bodies as in Robert is dancing in the Pavillon, to rather austere and geometrical architectural spaces. The result is almost cinematographic, as in the films by Bergman. Are there references to the cinematographic practice in this sense?

Cinema is imagination, dream and desire. In that series of collages, the bodies of Robert Mapplethorpe, so full of emotions and sensuality, live in the interiors of Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe, creating new narratives full of mental and physical attraction.

In Easy as… Simple as… a dancer interprets the body alphabet ABECEDA by Teige in 26 pictures, wearing a parrot mask. In the projection the phrase of Carmelo Bene appears: “when we believe it is for us to say, we are told” which is probably the essence of the job, do you agree?

Exactly, it’s the language that denies itself continuing to dominate our knowledge and awareness. Like a parrot in a cage that is forced to repeat some words without much sense.

You also have a good collection of books, and we know you have always confronted yourself with the field of self-publishing, presenting in Italy and abroad. Would you like to tell us something about your books?

Da alcuni anni ho iniziato il progetto Selfpleasurepublishing, progetto editoriale indipendente sui temi di omosessualità e linguaggio. Il primo libro, CLUB DESERTO, è un testo teatrale scritto in Polari (uno slang inglese usato dagli omosessuali nel secolo scorso che fonde parole di italiano con la lingua anglosassone). Il secondo Your boss has given you this factory. What do you think? è un dialogo corale tra users di chat gay e la trascrizione dei dialoghi del film ‘Teorema’ di Pier Paolo Pasolini. Il terzo libro, Whispering Catastrophe. On the langauge of men loving men in Japan, è il risultato di una ricerca condotta con la semiotica e curatrice Sara Giannini.
It’s some years since I started Selfpleasurepublishing, a publishing project about homosexuality and language. The first book CLUB DESERTO is a theatre script written in Polari (English slang used by homosexuals in the last century that combines Italian words with Anglo-Saxon language). The second, Your boss has given you this factory. What do you think?, is a choral dialogue between gay chat users and the transcription of the dialogues of the film ‘Teorema’ by Pier Paolo Pasolini. The third book, Whispering Catastrophe. On the language of men loving men in Japan, is the result of a research conducted by me together with semiologist and curator Sara Giannini.