Interview #68

Marco Ceroni

Marco Ceroni (Forlì, 1987). His work was featured at GALLLERIAPIù (Bologna), Toast Project Space (Florence), La Triennale (Milan), NESXT (Turin), PAV (Turin), AplusA (Venice), Fondazione Francesco Fabbri (Pieve di Soligo), Viafarini (Milan), Villa Vertua (Nova Milanese). DOCVA (Milano).

Your studio is in Nolo, where the BienNolo was recently held. You were among the invited artists: what did you present?

I featured a performance I had had in mind for about year. When I saw the space they proposed (which was the former Cova Panettone Factory) I realized it was the right location for it. A tribe of 5 scooters entered this industrial space, making some carousels around a central element – a pole to pole-dance – which on one hand worked as a menhir, a totemic object, and on the other as a strong urban element. After the scooters had formed a circle around the pole, the performing lady – a pole dancer and contortionist – wearing a mask made of the front hull of a scooter, descended from one of the scooters. Her figure oscillated between a supernatural entity and a tribal chief. Once in the centre, she wrapped herself around the pole and danced for a minute while the scooters were revving up, standing in place. On the one hand the roar of the engines gave voice to the body of the performer and vice versa she gave body to their yell. Once she had got down and got back on her scooter, they all left the scene. I liked the idea of showing a work with a fast outlook, a nomadic ritual that blends with a metropolitan crash in an enclosed place which recalled the imagery of raves and the timing of a tag: go, hit and run.
Then I let the masks that you can see here in the studio displayed for the whole duration of the exhibition.

What’s the title?

It’s Pupa, which refers both to the slang for “baby” and to the phase when insects slough, drop the mask – change shape and become something else.

How did you make these masks?

With pieces of moped. In fact, the sculptures are named after the model: Nitro, Rocket, Pegasus, Spirit … I try to pull out its personality, its superpower. I work on the pre-existing hulls with the tuning technique which is used to modify elements of cars and motorcycles, raising them to fetishes that then re-collapse violently in the present, in everyday life. This is what I’ve always tried to do, to blast the imaginative potential of the object, which eventually always returns to what it is. A continuous short-circuit between the real and the likely, the usual and the disconcerting, the trivial and the supernatural. I’ll carry on with this work and would like to use other materials, perhaps ceramics. These masks recall the endless rows of demons of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, but also the Ninja Turtles or the Street Sharks, these gangs which in the end turn always to be just guys on a motorbike that cross the city, with their fetish with which they try to create a subjectification in the desert that surrounds them.

How comes you’re into mopeds?

I’ve had a scooter since I was 14, it’s the symbol of the gang, and coming from the suburbia, it was also the symbol of freedom, of escaping. I’m from Faenza, but here in Milan, I lived for a long time in Corvetto, a neighbourhood which I really love. I used to live there for two years, first in a squat and then in public tenements. In the courtyards you would meet all those youngsters who spent their time disassembling and reassembling scooters. You saw carcasses reassembled in weird, non-existing shapes. All this has matched with my background: Romagna, the raves with their tribality, the totems at the entrance, the influence of the Mutoid Waste Company. All of my research derives from a very deep attraction I encounter on the streets, everything starts outside the studio.

Do you also recover materials on the street?

Yes, last night I found this shell of a scooter in Viale Monza. I already had in mind to reuse one, I’ll use it as a prototype. Years ago, I painted the carcasses of some abandoned cars in gold, but every time I did this, after a few hours the car was taken away: it changed both the perception of the object and of the landscape.

What about this jaw?

This jaw you see is part of my latest solo show NOW NOW at Toast, a project space in Florence. It is inside the former guardian’s booth in a tobacco factory and it reminded me very much of the super-rough little temples that you find along the roads in Thailand and other places I travelled through. These two concrete jaws at the entrance included an iridescent motorcycle visor and served as guardians of the temple. The work is called Horizon: the two sculptures create a temporal twist between the past and the future and then re-collapse into the present. The vision of these guardians causes a lowering of the gaze, thus creating a horizon poised between cosmic immobility and acceleration. While it was inhabited by a demon, drawn from a phantom, with a giant mouth, swallowing a spiral.

Looking at your work, I’m wondering whether you feel a little nostalgic.

Somehow, yes. But I would never go back. Never. I think of nostalgia as something that acts as a clutch, that lets you see something new, like when you are a kid and you see the older guys with the cambered scooters, or when you leave the suburbs for the first time to go to Bologna and discover the Livello 57 of that time, you had the chance to see unknown worlds, everything was completely new, while now, as a grown-up, I don’t find anything anymore that makes me think “I want to be in there, I want to do that”.