Interview: You complete me – Raffaela Naldi Rossano in conversation with Attilia Fattori Franchini
AFF: Artist, psychologist, curator. Your work takes many forms and influences, difficult to define under a single name. This openness and diversity has at its center the artistic, personal, and urban dialogue. Naples for you is an operational platform, where among other things, you have founded in 2017, Residency 80121. Tell me a little bit about how this project was born and how it binds to your personal practice?
RNR: My artistic practice lays its foundations upon a long research that began during my studies in psychology, focused on the generational transmission and the relationship between the self and the other in continuous transformation of identity. I never wanted to be a psychologist, but conceived my work as the realization of a cathartic process in which those who study its methods can come into contact with themselves and the world analytically. This process recalls the revealing effect of a therapy session. Residency 80121, was born out of the need to want to unlock an immobility linked to my past academic practice, in which working closely to someone else, together we can build a new way of living the present. Every year, two people work together closely, and after leaving, they leave a new constitution for the space to be inhabited. I don't even think I can call myself a curator here, but rather just a host aiming to create a community of people, imperfect and utopian.
AFF: The accumulative thought is an interesting one; to try to convert the exhibition space into the treasurer of a complex of memories activated by presence, signs and temporality. Do you foresee that the artistic experiences will accumulate at the residency, year after year?
RNR: The Residency takes place in the abandoned apartment in Via Martucci 48, where Zehra Arslan and I started an artistic dialogue in 2017, on how to inhabit the space and transform the traces left, including those of my grandmother who lived there as a child. The result of this conversation was then transformed into the exhibition "On the Forms of Living“, which inaugurated the activities of Residency 80121. The next artists invited to dialogue with the space will have the possibility to confront both with the historical layers of the building and with the artistic interventions of the recent past.
AFF: These are also in some sense the elements you face in your next exhibition at the Museo Apparente..
RNR: I start from the need to change the energy of spaces by following an investigation on the history of selected places and objects. In the case of the Museo Apparente, the space immediately reminded me of a small house in the garden where children hide and create imaginary stories.
AFF: The show ‚you complete me‘ at the Museo Apparente takes it’s title from the text of Paul Chan, 2010, The Unthinkable Community. Paul Chan writes:
“Community, then, is what happens when we complete ourselves. Through purpose, members of the collective come together and merge with the work they have agreed to accomplish as one.“
Do you want to explain this relationship?
RNR: Sartre would put it this way: “You begin to exist when you mirror in the eyes of others.“ I imagine any creative work as a relational work, everything we give to the world is part of it and contains the continuous potential of transformation. For the exhibition at the Museo Apparente, I decided to assemble objects that share the fate of having been abandoned in the same space, a hotel, a place of passage, which are re-defined in a community.
AFF: What is your imaginary community like?
RNR: I find that the work of curator always brings with it a thrust of micro-community. Each exhibition or project has, for a limited time, an aggregating force. My ideal community grows in a cactus garden, where philosophical, artistic, political, biology, diversity and resistance conversations can originate.
AFF: The abandoned and recovered objects in your exhibition become a group and create new relationships with the space. The audio track, a Gestalt-inspired guided meditation, accompanies visitors in the discovery of new relationships. Do you want to talk to me about this item and why you choose your mother’s voice?
RNR: I'm interested in the fact that a mother’s voice is usually the first sound that we hear at birth. Also my mother has a very sharp sounding voice, it works as an element of contrast with the hypnotic and soothing nature of guided fantasies.
AFF: On the occasion of the exhibition, you intervened in some way with the objects, turning them? Assembly, sculptural intervention, presentation?
RNN: I tried to recreate an environment between an interior of a washing machine locked in time and a toy store. The resin gave me the opportunity to work with transparency, while the colors chosen, pink and blue, remind me of the furnishings in children’s bedrooms. It’s the sense of flooding, a multitude of relationships, similar to when you return home after meeting many people but you remain alone. I think you know this feeling well since your job leads you to travel continuously, how can you not lose yourself in the multitude of meetings?
I have always been interested in experimenting with different places and contexts, cultures, languages. My work as a curator leads me to be in constant movement, research, sometimes overwhelmed by the amount of people and new contexts. My antidote is taking lots of time for myself.**
AFF: The Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé, recognizes the profound influence that objects can have on the lives of people and what surrounds them, highlighting the typical ability of the migrant body to transmit their culture in countries other than that of origin, becoming at the same time a user of the cultures with which it comes in contact. Are the objects lost and found, keeping track of their own culture of origin? How do they respond to the context of the Museo Apparente?
RNR: These objects have been abandoned in a hotel, a meeting place of cultures, deposited in parcels and contained in small envelopes. I could think of the idea of demolishing the internal walls of an apartment building and mixing relationships between people and things in a different way. The Museo Apparente is thus an ideal house in which there are no divisions between one room and the other. The culture of origin is a bit like an eternal lover who wants to be tied to you forever but whose love must be kept at a distance to be accepted.
AFF: What are the objects that surround you in your studio?
RNR: Various objects of my childhood home, an olive branch and a photograph of the hut where I lived for two months in a rural village in the north of Vietnam, and many boxes of lost and found objects.