June 2017_ by Valentina Rossi
Dear Salvatore, first of all I’m very happy for your participation at the Biennale, how do you feel?
Oh thanks, I feel exhausted dear! Well, I actually still feel exhilarated the adrenaline, seems to be forever kicking somehow... I am so excited and grateful to be part of the Biennale, it feels unbelievably privileged to be communicating to millions of people at once!
Could you briefly describe the works for the exhibition?
I have presented two separate works: a ceramic sculpture installation and a video. They directly dialogue with each other and are somehow the products of a session of hypnosis that I found on the Internet, which goal was to turn the listener into a better artist!
How did you decide to produce a video? Is it related to the sculptural project?
The video was originally a performance commissioned by the Whitechapel Gallery in London in 2015 titled: “MIND AND BODY BODY AND MIND”. It was a live re-enactment of the hypnotherapy session. The idea that a this experience could enhance somebody’s artistic skills, immediately struck me as a rather humorous interpretation on what it means to be an artist, questioning as well the function of art education, but also potentially a great and simple gesture in order to improve us.
I used the session’ s original script, extrapolating the text and having an actor reciting it against the background of a very psychedelic, trance-inducing footage and sound that I made using images overlapped with continuous flashes of lights, which frequency is identical to the one reproduced by the Dream Machine created by Brion Gysin, William S. Burroughs and Ian Sommerville in the late 50s, together with binaural beats, which are meant to stimulate Alpha brainwave levels.
So going back to your question, the sculpture installation entitled: It Was Only a Matter of Time Before We Found the Pyramid and Forced It Open, was produced under the influence of this hypnotherapy session, directly putting in practice its effects.
I see the space as a sort of therapeutic “healing area”, where visitors are able to absorb this artistic enhancing aura, whilst being somehow confronted by enigmatic totemic formations, which origin could be from a distant future or possibly a long past we never knew. They also represent how we fetishised elements of the natural world in order to connect to something spiritual.
Did you realize the three sculptures in Italy? Faenza?
Yes in lovely Faenza, it is the result of my first collaboration with Bottega Gatti, they have been working with several artists since 1928 and they seemed the perfect companions for the alarmingly short journey I had to realise these ceramics!
How is important the sculptural tradition? Do you have any role models?
Well it is obviously something that cannot be ignored and it is important to acknowledge it, but at the same time in my case, I deliberately try to not become obsessed with it. I somehow try to leave it at the back of my mind when making new works. I personally do not give it more importance that the knowledge that I find in a museum of Natural Science or other sources, which are of interest to me. I always initially try to leave the inspirations flowing unrestricted, I think otherwise artistic legacy, can become somehow limiting... So to answer your other question, I would probably say Lucio Fontana, Leoncillo Leornardi, Thomas Schutte, Tony Cragg, Ron Nagle and Ken Price, but in this respect I would not called them role models, but more artists that I have always respected.
How is important the sculptural material?
I always try to keep a direct connection between the concept and the form that my work takes, it is not a case that I work with clay. I specifically use this material as it directly comes from nature and I like the idea that trough my manipulation it returns to somehow become nature again...
There is a special relationship with the others selected Italian artists?
Nothing comes to my mind, can you think of anything?
The director Christine Macel divides the exhibition in nine chapters or families of artists, which part do you prefer?
I would say the Pavilion of the Shamans, I could see my work fit in it also...
Which pavilion do you prefer?
I liked several: the USA, German, Belgium, British, Italian.
What do you think about the Biennale in this particular time where borders were thinned and you can acquire information from the other part of the world in real time?
Well actually especially because we live in the age of social media, the Internet and so forth... When the power of a work is often only viewed or judged on how well it photographs on a square format, I am so pleased that events like the Biennale are still retaining such an important role.
Is there a historical exhibition you like and in which you would like to participate?
Some artists you’d like to work with? Any curator?
I would definitely like to work with musicians, more often than I have done so far. Music and sound have always been a passion of mine, I find crossovers very stimulating.
Are there some artistic projects that you’d like to do?
Oh yes so many!!! For example I would definitely like to work more in response to already existing collections.
If you were not an artist, what job would you like?
I would probably be back to be a university lecturer; I do miss the exchange and sense of being there to help.
A collection you wish at least one work of yours was part of?
...Tate, Moma among others...
A museum where you’d like to have an exhibition?
Hard to narrow it down to one...
Lightness or depth?
A mixture would be ideal, otherwise depth!
What are you reading?
High Society by Mike Jay
Where would you like to live?
Apart from London, NYC, Mexico City or else anywhere by the sea.
Anything by Visconti and Tarkovsky I can think of... and of course 2001 Space Odyssey!
Day or night?
Day and night!
Sea or Mountain?
Wine or beer?
Wine, can’ t drink beer at the moment at least not in the quantities I used to... its alarming!
Dog or cat?