Monday, November 18, 2013

Il Mondo Del Calcio: A Conversation with Artist Pierre Poggi

MC: How many years ago did you begin using soccer as the main theme in your work?
PP:In the late eighties, early nineties.

MC: Some people think you should change directions with your art, because it is difficult to promote it here (Poggi is often critical of the soccer system and that is dangerous territory since it is near and dear to many peoples' hearts and bank accounts). 

PP: Sometimes my concepts break away from the world of soccer, but I usually go back because it is a huge resource for ideas.

MC: Your most recent work evokes a strong sense of design. Is this on purpose, because the Italian art market is in trouble and you want to find another means of marketing your work?

An example, the idea that the pieces extracted from your sculpture can be manufactured as a line of cutlery...did that come after you made them, or was it planned?

PP: It came afterwards. Perhaps on an unconscious level I look to Italian design products because of their beauty, audacity, and originality but my idea happened by accident. For the piece "La Nazionale"(The Italian National Soccer Games) I had something in mind. The deciding moment came when I picked up one of the plastic men as if it were a normal object, removing it from its context (foosball table) and holding it in may hand. It was then that I realized it could become an object used for an act of violence.

MC: Something used for an act of violence. Soccer violence is an underlying thread in your work.

PP: I think about it every day.

MC: Explain this  (referring to a piece hanging on studio wall) piece to Americans since not alot of people there follow European/Italian soccer.

PP: This sentence was written by a fan on a cemetery wall in Naples in 1987 (also made famous in a thesis–author's last name is Ferrari, but Poggi can't remember her first name–  on the anthropological and sociological connotations of soccer)  'Ca va vita persa-in Neopolitan dialect translated into Italian (translated into English) means, "Look what you missed, " because they had missed Naples win the '87 Italian Cup games. This was when Maradonna played on the team. The joke is that the person who wrote this was writing, referring to all of the people in the cemetery.I think it is brilliant, in the sarcasm and in the black humor that's typical of Neapolitan culture.

MC: The materials you used (cement, paint, styrofoam) look heavy, but this piece is light, also could be a reference to the Neapolitan tragic-comic humor.

PP: Yes-all of this is also self referential, and possibly the title of a future exhibition.
Since I am an under-recognized artist I will call it " Look what you missed".

MC: (Trying to make light in a serious moment, because it is true how little recognition this dedicated artist has received up until now) You're like Clint Eastwood. When they asked him how he handled fame, he replied that he was always preparing for it....

PP: I don't think about it. I want to be humorous, I mean, what can you do, right?

MC: You mentioned that you have enough work here in your studio to have a show in a museum, like the PAC in Milan. It wouldn't be a bad idea.

PP: I know, but it's not up to me.

MC: Let's stay on track. Let's look at "La Cage".

PP: Sure. "La Cage" is my most recent work of my three works: La Cage, La Nazionale, e Misura e Contra Misura.

PP: "La Cage" seems at first glance like a cage, where the interior structure is that of a soccer field ( recurring motif in Poggi' s work centered around soccer), and these lines establish the rules of the game.
Ideally, in order to accentuate the claustrophobic quality of this piece you could put two canaries inside; one white, one black. On a formal level this is an architectural structure based on the grid. Because of the wire grid depending on the viewer's perspective the form is abstracted. On a more conceptual level it evokes an implosive, closed and self-referential game. I feel that a work of art doesn't make true statements, but brings about debate and discussion. I don't tell truths, but make suggestions, with the cage. It is something that we all can recognize. Formally it is something sculptural, an object, forms, but it implies a structure that closes in on itself.

MC: The grid...
PP: Yes, it's interesting because if you multiply it and use wire with smaller squares visually elements become abstracted.
MC: Almost like pixels.
PP: Yes
MC: The ironic thing is that you avoid technology, yet in your work you always make reference to it.
PP: Sometimes if there is something I need done and technically I don't know how I'll have someone else make it. I have no qualms about that. It's usually a question of having funding. Frequently my ideas cost a lot to make. But most of the time I like to use my manual skills, because it's something I like that's fun.

Then we turn to look at the next piece "La Nazionale"

PP: This is a prototype. I got the idea, like I said previously, after taking apart a foos ball table, and holding one of the plastic men in my hand, like this; Poggi demonstrates how he grabbed the man in his hand like a knife handle. I realized I could give it more strength turning it into a sharp, cutting object, like a knife or a screwdriver.This is the piece that could be made in an edition. It has handles on the sides that move, but do not have a function. This was a labor-intensive piece. The most difficult part was attaching the men/handles to the knife-blades and screw drivers.

Pierre Poggi has an upcoming exhibition of site-specific work at the Castello Borromeo the month of December, 2013. 



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