Most of your artworks play with fictional scenarios of how we and our minds remember certain events. Where do you get the inspiration for those fictional stories and sculptures?
My works almost always arise from reflections on the language of art or the art system. From reflections in which selfish and childish personal needs and small and futile acts of rebellion against the language of art itself sometimes intertwine. It often focuses on the distance between the work and the viewer. So, on the perception of artworks with today’s tools. Formally, however, I am very much influenced by everything around me; the sculptural forms are often formally influenced by the art I love but also by the toys I had as a child or the films I grew up with. Most of the time, I use elements of an almost secondary culture, to escape the clichés and customs typical of those who make art today.
Formally, I am inspired by the stereotype of museum aesthetics and science fiction films. It comes naturally to me. I let myself be inspired by the things that surround me, by my previous and childhood experiences, by my daily life, by what I see every day between traffic lights and road tunnels, by what the algorithms of the different social media I use suggest to me; the shape of things for me is almost always an excuse to emphasise a certain discourse, deepen a process, divert the attention of the public so as to be able to select it, so as to recognise the most attentive and sensitive interlocutors.
I try to satisfy the propensity of some objects to want to be something else. A sort of ambition that I find in the objects I work with. I decided to choose those that are able to show themselves for what they are while maintaining a certain ambiguity and bring the viewer’s mind far away.
How would you describe your creative process?
I describe my way of working as post-digital hyper-materialism. In my opinion, a way of working with characteristics common to several European artists of my generation. I don’t like the name very much, but so far, I haven’t found anything better. I am waiting for an attentive and sensitive art critic to come up with a better one. In the meantime, I say: post-digital hyper-materialism. The sensitivity and the glance is post-digital but the desire is carnal, material, hyper-material. With my work, I try to reach the anamnesis of reality. While working, I often have the feeling that I am looking at the world through glasses that make me look at things around me either from too close or too far away. I often come out with a headache but my desire is to understand and bridge that distance – that space that I cannot see with these metaphorical glasses.
What are the most disturbing stereotypes that you can think of? How are they connected to your sculptures?
Stereotypes are all a bit disturbing. My sculptures are often forms, and those imaginaries they suggest are their surface, they are traps, they can add content and levels of reading or they can take away the possibility of digging. In this, I believe that the viewer must redefine their role and understand fully that they have a responsibility. Sometimes, I talk about stereotypes but in reality, I think I mean stereotyped and prototyped imageries. I often include extremely recognisable elements in my works, but for me, they are a double-edged sword, and I ask myself, am I helping the viewer to approach the work or am I just giving them this illusion, preventing them from really seeing what is inside and going deeper?
How can we corrupt our memory by displaying pop-culture iconic props as you do in your art pieces?
When I use certain elements in my work, I rarely think of them as pop-culture iconic. I am aware that many of them are but I don’t choose them because they are pop-culture iconic. I believe that I am very democratic in this, they can be and they cannot be. I personally choose them because they are part of my life, because they have a very personal relationship with me. Then I’m interested in hypothesising how these elements are able to communicate with other people, even far away from me. But in the first place, they are subjects and objects that are important for me or for my experience or simply the best way to talk about certain topics and express certain concepts and reflections. I am convinced that the viewer has a great responsibility in this process of reading the elements.
Are you currently preparing any exhibitions or projects we can look forward to?
For almost a year now, I have been working on an ambitious video-installation project that will also include several sculptural and pictorial elements. A complex and extensive project, which I will be showing in several exhibitions from 2022 onwards. This one has two titles. The first exhibition that will allow me to show a part of it, will be a double solo exhibition I will do in March with Monia Ben Hamouda at Berlinskej Model Gallery in Prague. After that from May, I will be in Boston for a few months on a residency project. It has become very difficult to make long-term plans right now but I think that next year could be a year full of changes, professionally speaking, so let’s keep our fingers crossed and see.
BIO / Michele Gabriele is an European visual artist who lives and works in Milan, Italy. Michele Gabriele’s work explores the distance between the observer and the work of art in the constant search for a balance between representation and materiality. A selection of solo shows includes exhibitions at: Nevven Gallery (Göteborg, 2020), Edoardo Secci Contemporary (Florence, 2019), Gossamer Fog (London, 2019), Whitenoise Gallery (Rome, 2018), OJ Art Space (Istanbul, 2017), Konstanet at Kunstihoone Art All (Tallinn, 2015) and group shows at: ADGallery (New York, 2020), 16eme Biennale d’Art Contemporain Alios a La Teste de Buch, 2019), Et.Al Gallery (San Francisco, 2018).