* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
Marco Belfiore (Rovereto, 1971) studied at Accademia di Brera (Milan). His work has been exhibited at Objective Exhibitions, (Antwerp); The Cinema Museum, Chelsea Art Space and Acme Space (London); Triangle France (Marseille); Gertrude Art Space (Melbourne); Galleria Monica De Cardenas, Peep Hole and PAC (Milan); Flacon Design Zavod (Moscow); CAC (Vilnius).
With The Home Project, you started to collaborate with other artists. Could you tell us more about the project?
For me, being an artist means to confront myself, accept criticism and criticize in a constructive way to better understand my work and the work of others. That’s why I’ve been challenged to organize exhibitions with artists I knew in and outside Italy: I invited them to exhibit in a house in Milan and to interact with local artists. Sometimes I was invited by some of them to participate in similar projects in their hometowns: it was a way to enquire my work and to relate it to the work of other people working in different cultural environments; thanks to this, I have experienced that each work can live several lives, often depending on the cultural environment in which it is exposed.
In your works, you tend to link more traditional concepts and techniques with unexpected and modern twists. How do you balance between the two? What comes first in your creative process: the context or the single work?
My first inspiration derives from the context in which I find myself in that precise moment; I usually work with iconographic elements that belong to the collective imaginary, so for me it is important to absorb what influences the history of a given environment or a single person and then I start to work on my ideas. This way, I realized that there are points of contact between seemingly different imaginaries; that’s why my works often include a hybridization of ideas. Every time I start a new cycle of works, for me it’s as if I continued a conversation began long time ago, my attempt is to create new associations between elements that are seemingly far apart. I like the idea of searching mathematical rules within the chaos.
You’ve been abroad for many artist residencies, how does your return to Milano influence you and your process of creation?
Few years ago I won a residency in Moscow for three months, the experience was so intense that I gained new interpretations of the place where I live and of my personal history; I react in this way, every time I live in a new place for some time, I immediately feel the need to undermine my certainties and prejudices of that particular place, and when I return to Milan, I usually feel myself part of the world, and less part of a single city; this helps me to create new connections between my old and new works.
You are currently based in and working in Loreto, what was the main motivation behind your choice? How does that area influence you?
I was born in the province, in Rovereto and I spent my adolescence in Sanremo, Milan seemed the big city; since I live in Milan I’ve start to travel, then over time this ‘great city’ has become increasingly small for me, but is also a strategic place, it is a geographical crossroads; its position allows you to reach many major European cities in short time and this favours the city travels of many people. Today I think that Milan is the perfect place to leave and come back to.
Recently, also music has become an integral part of your pieces. How did you decide to include it in your works?
Music has always been part of my life, the music I listen to and the music I play on the piano and electronic music. When I started with my exhibitions, music had remained a little aloof, in recent years however it has increasingly returned to be the centre of my work. Music is harmony and that means it can hide the chaos: I’ve always been interested in the relations between harmony and disharmony, melody and noise, order and chaos.
You tackle the idea of irony and misunderstandings in many of your different works.
Chaos is where everything we know comes from, it holds all possible stories. Irony helps me not to get lost, not to take myself too seriously, otherwise I would stop to work, being afraid of making mistakes. Irony helps me to make mistakes and to mature both in life and in art: obviously, the kind of irony I intend needs to be thin as a blade, that’s why it takes a lot of experience. I believe that the constant confrontation with the semantic chaos of languages brings up inherent self-irony.
For a while you worked on a project which you chose not to document anywhere on the internet.
When I organized The Home Project, I decided to use word of mouth to spread the event, it was in total contrast with the general trend of communication. Today Instagram has become my laboratory for chaotic interim ideas that I share with the world, while Soundcloud is where I put my music, I make experiments, receiving always stimulating feedbacks from musicians I don’t know. I tend to share many of my works in progress, I am not afraid to burn them off, in fact I think that it is a good test to see whether the ideas in progress are good.
You work with many diverse techniques, how do you think they create a discourse?
In every language I adopt, I find references to other languages and other techniques. I work by searching/creating analogies, dissonances, more or less explicit references to facts and things pregnant with stereotypes & clichés. The collective imaginary interests me very much as I believe that it shows how we transform chaotic things into something that fits in our way to think and live life.