Hyperlinks, fluidity and destruction of boundaries characterise our times like travels characterise the colonial era. In the same manner, images and visions shape the world we live in and influence artistic productions and artworks. If sometimes trends or (temporary) main topics are embodied in concepts of artworks and art exhibition, other times they are chances of deep analysis about the contemporary. The purpose of the artistic research of Marco Siciliano (Caltagirone, 1991) is to investigate relationships among bodies, transliterated into multidisciplinary works, with an impressive sentimental gaze. Thanks to accumulation and cataloguing, the spectator can enter in the story of the person behind the artist, the unknown Marco who could be someone we met, someone we love. In his artistic research the space assumes a pivotal role, a field where bodies acquire coordinates to appear in intimate places or in unknown landscapes, hiding and fragmenting themselves as we silently observe their slow dissolution between public and private.
Gianluca Gramolazzi: After graduation in Design, you started to create artworks. How much has your study influenced your research?
Marco Siciliano: Studying interior design at Politecnico di Milano has led me to have an open-minded approach to projects, whatever they may be.
The premise was to create an experience of a place from multidisciplinary research leading to a concept, which was then translated into a project.
With this type of preparation I never focused on a predefined media but used different media as needed.
With a background in architecture, the analysis of space takes on the same importance as the work itself, or rather, they are part of each other.
For my master’s thesis I presented Soffitti Sconosciuti, a series of ceilings photographed every time I woke up in an unfamiliar bed. This work stems from the desire to change the point of view of a room and the perception we have of it. Focusing on an element, the ceiling, which in a design context is always removed from the technical drawings.
The photographic series, also including date and time, allows the ceiling to take on an identity of its own, observing the movements below it. We are no longer the protagonists but the ceiling which, under its gaze, sees the bodies disappear.
G.G.: Your photography production combines a perfect aesthetic with rough elements. Does it have a conceptual purpose?
M.S.: I’m interested in using familiar elements that change with the body: chewing gum, toilet paper, plasters. Elements with a precise and recognisable function that, once in contact with the body, turn into disgusting objects.
Chewed gum, used plaster, all elements that embody the DNA of the person who used them. Found on the ground, they simulate a naked body. With their function they have been intimate allies of our bodies and I try, perhaps almost unconsciously, to restore value to these objects in the photograph. Where the oxymoron of an elegant presentation takes them into another context that can perhaps lead to a reappreciation of the moment we have shared with them.
G.G.: Your artworks mix everyday life with high references as a result of visual associations, sometimes with no logical connection. It reminds me of Mnemosyne Atlas by Aby Warburg. How do you combine different media and layers?
M.S.: My research and artistic practice, by not focusing on a particular medium, develops and creates a kind of connection between works on different levels. Semantic associations and meanings combine between the lines of a work without being necessarily linked.
Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas is obviously an inspiration for my research, but in addition to the logical or underlying meaning in my practice I try to create a sentimental map. Taking inspiration also from the work of Nobuyoshi Araki and Felix Gonzales Torres.
How does a diametrically opposed colour or image connect to a common feeling?
And above all, how to give it back to an audience?
In the development of art books, I try to create a kind of mnemonic system in which the same elements are combined on the basis of literary and emotional inspirations.
In particular, in my artist book Pink is a sadø color, the paper expression of a wider research, the multidisciplinary nature of my research is gathered in an object-room, the book, in which the elements are combined according to a semantic/emotional fil rouge.
G.G.: Vergissmeinnicht is your last exhibition at Hošek Contemporary in Berlin. There we could see a great accumulation of layers. Could you tell us about this project?
M.S.: Starting from Astolfo’s journey in Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1532), where the Moon is described as an accumulation of objects abandoned on Earth, I wanted to reflect on how a lost object could tell a forgotten story.
The project is developed in two site-specific installations: the first in Berlin where the Hošek Contemporary, a boat from the early 20th century, is illuminated from under the wooden beams of the floor, allowing the viewer to observe all the objects lost and stratified over time.
As a collection of lost objects, all the plasters abandoned and found in the streets of Milan have been collected photographically and marked on a map of the city. Being lost on the Moon, and therefore charged with light, the patches are transformed into stars that come together in new constellations. This map of wounds, reflected in the sky, comes to life thanks to the collaboration with Luca Longobardi with whom we created a sound composition that accompanies the visitor in Berlin and Milan.
In the city of origin of the patches the spectator could find the second site-specific installation: a map, this time sewn onto a curtain, covers the windows of Superfluo, an independent space in Milan. As a representation of the path of a myth up to its decorative translation, on a familiar element such as a curtain.
G.G.: Another medium you use for your project is the artist book. Could you tell us about the one you made for Vergissmeinnicht?
M.S.: The book looks like a parallelepiped of opaque semi-transparent elements held together by a silver thread that binds them in a shibari knot. The bondage element constricts the body of the book together, but once freed it will not be possible to close it again, forcing the reader to make a choice.
Once opened, the book consists of a series of pages layered on top of each other, much like the project. The glossy paper with its opaque transparency allows the images to emerge as if from a fog, so that the content blends from page to page. And not being bound, each page can stand apart from the content in its singularity.
A transparency that also allows you to observe your own body as you turn the pages.
Vergissmeinnicht, from the german ‘forget me not’, the name of the blue flower, has been used as a title to represent a melancholic metaphor of the desire not to forget ourselves.
Inside, in addition to the genesis of the project and references to Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso as the incipit of the project, we find references to medieval medicine, which assumes astrology as scientific knowledge. Analysis of a connection of the body with the cosmos and at the same time to the unconscious that vents itself in psychosomatic pain.
G.G.: Could you tell us something about your future projects?
M.S.: This autumn I will take part in the Art Verona fair, for the Pages section curated by Ginevra Bria with Archivio magazine.
Starting with the year 91, which happens to be my year of birth, we are working on a different sensory perception of an archive.
Focusing on an ancestral perception of memory that cannot be transmitted through social media, but how, through the physical memories of the body, memories crystallise into us.
I will then participate in a series of projects curated by Petr Hošek in the Mala Voadora space in Porto, Portugal.
In which we will present the Vergissmeinnicht Artist Book with a site-specific setting. Spatially unfolding the pages of the book, thus making clear the levels of the project and the connections between them.
In November, under the curatorship of Valentina Casacchia and Mariella Franzoni, I will participate with a site-specific exhibition at the loop festival in Barcelona, Spain. The selected videos will be part of a site-specific installation project in the Souvenir space, where the room will be transformed into a mind full of questions and lies as answers.