* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
Luca De Leva (Milan, 1986) studied at Accademia di Bella Arti di Brera (Milan) and HGB (Leipzig). His work has been exhibited at Zico House (Beirut), Museo Villa Croce (Genoa), Almanac Project (London), Collezione Giuseppe Iannaccone, Room Galleria and Peep- Hole (Milan), Family Business (New York), Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (Rivoli), ADA project and cura.basement (Rome), Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, (Turin).
Looking around, what catches immediately the eye, is the number of books and zoomorphic objects that populate your studio. What inspires your work?
The facts of life.
Which are in constant becoming. In fact, at the centre of your practice there is the constant search for mutation: on one hand as a questioning of critical and linguistic values, on the other as a – perhaps cathartic – transformation of your point of view and your role as an artist…
I appreciate and agree with your synthesis, my practice is directly related to my life and the way I try to understand me and other people is the same with which I face a work. I have the illusion that it is spontaneous, a spontaneity that matured slowly over time, which I am not fully aware of. I’m trying to feel how I would like to stay in this world and what should be my role.
You once told me that you would like to dilute yourself in order to commit yourself exclusively to exist. Hence your works are exercises in this poetics?
Yes, these are my dreams, utopias that fall apart as soon as I fight with other living presences that surround me.
At this point it comes natural to ask you to talk about a pivotal figure in your work, your sister Fiammetta. Has this peculiarity of your personal life intersected with an investigation already in progress, or has it been its cause?
I think it is the fact from which germinate all the others, who knows what I was thinking about before…Fiammetta is handicapped, she suffers from a syndrome which is the result of a genetic mutation which she is not aware of, among other things she has no perception of time, she just lives; her stunning condition of perception is an interesting path for me, with ambiguous implications that I do not master yet completely, but that I perceive to be useful to create distant works, while I myself get increasingly distant, too.
A ‘distant’ work you have accomplished is Life Swap / Scambio di Vita, a genuine change of identity which took place in Beirut, in 2011. How did it go?
I swapped life with a boy found by the staff of the residence where I should have been, he went there instead of me and I went to his home, we swapped everything, clothes, passwords, circle of friends, documents, anything and that’s how it was. It was the coolest thing I have ever experienced, a strange sidereal distance from the idea of myself, very intense and very beautiful.
Staying on the subject of personal relationships, how do you interact with the people and the projects that surround you?
People who are close to me, really close, always enter my thought and production activity, as they are part of my life this is inevitable, I am fortunate and grateful for these relationships. I do not believe in spiritual autarchy, everything is inside of me and it is right there where I search, but ‘me’ is not only me.
In fact, you teamed up with Giacinta Gandolfo for the realization of one of the key projects of the last months: the exchange of views by means of ocular devices for virtual reality…
Yes, she saw what I saw and vice versa. It was one of the finest moments experienced so far, we have radically inverted our views, guiding us and seeing us in third person; to me, this is a further momentum towards a dimension which we invented: all this happened ‘in real time’, we acted while seeing ourselves in action, but at the same time the perception was to be elsewhere, as spectators of what we were doing, no longer real, not virtual, different. All this is beyond art, this is a person who rejects the fundamental principles of the group and aims at something else by distorting him/herself without devouring culture, but giving vent to spontaneous impulses that transcend scientific understanding. There are still many things to discover, I hope I have enough time to do it.