Interview: GB Group

Interview: GB GroupCose Scritte e Riscritte. Image courtesy of GB Group

Interview: GB Group

Luca Curci talks with GB Group during VISIONS of ANIMA MUNDI FESTIVAL in Venice.

GB Group is committed to creating immersive performance art. The group’s artistic practice was born with the intent to design performances to be carried out exclusively by their audience, thus rendering them protagonists of the performances. The public becomes the artistic medium used by GB Group to produce pieces of art. These artworks are referred to as ‘living objects’. The living objects pertaining to each performance differ in their aesthetic and aim. Nonetheless they have a common characteristic: they are all subject to ‘conditions of existence’. Every living object is sold alongside with a legal agreement that obliges the owner (or owners) to interact with the object in specific moments throughout their ownership of the work. The legal agreements and the photographs documenting the evolution of the work’s mutation thus become an integral part of the artwork. This material represents the ‘biography’ or story of the piece.
Furthermore, the value of the living objects is not primarily aesthetic but lies precisely in their becoming an integral, ‘active’ part of the owner’s life and of those who come in contact with the artwork.

Interview: GB GroupExhibition opening of VISIONS – ANIMA MUNDI FESTIVAL at Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi on September 14, 2017 | Image courtesy of Luca Curci

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The GB Group was born in London with the performance of Act1-What Do Words Mean to Say” in collaboration with Dreamspace Gallery to subsequently realising a new act, “Our Text” through other dedicated artistic bodies such as ArteFax- Movement. The group decides then to move to Italy where they kept working on producing performances such as “Equazione” ( Rome, Dakota Caffe, October 2015) “Cose Scritte Capitolo I” ( Rome, Lanificio, Ottobre 2015), “Cose Scritte Capitolo II” (Roma Dakota Caffe Febbraio 2016), “Cose Scritte Capitolo III” (11/05/ 2016 Milan Antonio Battaglia gallery), “Cose Scritte Capitolo IV” Subfestival a Holsterbro, Denmark Maggio 2016. The group then participated to the artistic event “NO FUN WITHOUT E.U.” which took place in September, London. The 20th of December 2016, the GB Group enacted a new performance titled “Nodi” curated by The Orange Garden Group. The group participated to an exhibition which took place on the 21th of April 2017 at Laura Haber gallery, Buenos Aires Argentina organised by the ITSLIQUID GROUP tiled “Firma d’Artista”. Recently, the GB Group produced a new performance titled “COSE SCRITTE E RISCRITTE” during the exhibition Anima Mundi curated and organised by ITSLIQUID GROUP. At the moment the Group is working on a new itinerant project: Interpretare una Stanza.

Interview: GB GroupInterpretare una Stanza, Bari. Image courtesy of GB Group

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Luca Curci – We were attracted by your last artistic production. Has the artwork presented been created for the festival or as a part of preexisting works?

GB Group – The performance we enacted during the festival was a unique variation of a series of performances we were working on a couple of years ago titled “Cose Scritte”. Similar to “Cose Scritte”, the work we performed during the festival “Cose Scritte e Riscritte” seemed to create unique connections between strangers. The work of art created during “Cose Scritte”, “Untitled” was meant to force its owner to use money differently, using the money to create a connection between the owner, the artwork, and the world. Briefly, the artwork created by the audience during the performance was a sculpture made of four different paper-bricks. One of them is donated to a member of the audience and the remaining three form the sculpture “Untitled”. The sculpture must be displayed alongside with its legal agreement that states that the sculpture’s owner must acquire the missing brick and sell one of the sculpture’s three bricks at his will every year, continually changing the sculpture’s form.
Instead, the artwork “Untitled but thought”, created during “Cose Scritte e Riscritte”, tries to use thoughts as a monetary means in order to create connections between unknown people and exponentially enriching the artwork and making it grow. To acquire or sell a brick, in fact, the sculpture’s owner or the brick’s acquirer must write an essay regarding the artwork that will be treated as an integral part of the artwork, its biography. Specifically, when the sculpture’s owner needs to acquire the missing brick, he or she must write an essay regarding the sculpture and give it to the brick-seller as a form of payment. On the other hand, when the sculpture’s owner needs to sell a brick, he or she must write an essay and give it to the brick-buyer. All the legal and photographic material, as well as the essays, are considered as an integral part of the work.
In conclusion, both artworks aim to re-establish connections (links) between people coming from different contexts, different ethnicities, and different opinions and make them physically see and talk to each other. “Cose Scritte” and “Untitled” both aim to use money differently, to use money (even though only in a symbolical sense) to create connections between people who probably would have never had a chance to meet each other. “Cose Scritte e Riscritte” and “Untitled but thought” tried to make this link between people using only their thoughts as a form of payment. I would love to say that we are giving what this era of technologic advancement and improvement in communication are stealing from us. However, I am not criticising the technological progress or the way it is used, but, instead, I am curious about it.

Interview: GB GroupInterpretare una Stanza, Bari. Image courtesy of GB Group

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L. C. – Please tell me what are you working on right now…

GB G. – Thank you for asking. At the moment, we are working on our most ambitious project so far, an itinerant performative project, “Interpretare Una Stanza”. The artist, Aldo Spoldi, has gently patronised the project that will end at Antonio Battaglia’s gallery. “Interpretare una Stanza” will be enacted in four different galleries or museums in Italy that had been chosen for their geographical locations: Milan (North), Catanzaro (South), Bari (Est), and Torino (West). In each of this location, the GB Group will expose to the audience a huge painting, showing the word “STRANIERO” (foreigner) written in white on a black background. The GB Group will then invite the audience to write their interpretation of the world “STRANIERO” over the painting and inside the word “Straniero”.
After all the four walls are collected from the galleries in Italy, the GB Group will then assemble them, creating a room which will be the final artwork: “STRANIERO”. The project will be repeated every five years to allow the artwork to continue to grow and to show the mutations of the term over time. All the walls that will be created in the future will be assembled together with the walls previously created forming an artwork that will mutate and grow over time. The final result will be an enormous structure that travels in space and time.
The goal that ‘Interpretare una Stanza’ wants to achieve may be the best way to explain this project: showing the unpredictability and the mutating nature of words and the almost infinite interpretations of them.
Finding a common language between different ethnicities and groups coming from diverse contexts and with different mentalities seems to be essential to create a dialogue between them. Thus, the first step toward this ambitious aim, which intends to change human interaction, would be realizing, once and for all, that we do not have full control of words and the different interpretations that we all may have of them.

Interview: GB GroupInterpretare una Stanza, Catanzaro. Image courtesy of GB Group

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For instance, a comparison between the Western and the Middle-Eastern interpretation of a word such as ‘Liberty’ would be a key example to support the need to acknowledge that words are unpredictable beings, ready to mutate at any time. The French philosopher Jaques Derrida inspired the project with his linguistic theories, particularly with one of his writings titled ‘Il monolinguismo dell’altro.’ The project is rooted in the belief that the understanding of a word is always partial and subjective to the listener. ‘Interpretare una Stanza’ may be understood as a more expansive way to read the meaning of a word in a dictionary.
The final work of art, STRANIERO, could be seen as a quest for a universal (ethic, political, and social) language to establish a dialogue which would create a comfort place where different opinions and views can coexist and freely express themselves. Showing interpretations of a word from individuals who have different opinions due to different ways of thinking seem to be an educative and resolutive step towards truly understanding each other, or at least trying to. On the other hand, “Interpretare Una Stanza” has given up the research for a universal language and it is pointing out that global languages are a utopia. The artwork Straniero is willing to make the audience realise that patience and the understanding that even a single word has got many meanings and interpretations are the only way to understand each other, being patient and never too sure of what you are hearing or saying.
After all these years spent on the quest for a universal way of communication which has resulted in the rise of politically correct behaviour, people are starting to refuse this dialogue method that has been condemned for hypocrisy and lack of sincerity. It seems to me that the failure of the political correctness has led us to valorize individuals who talk freely, not enchained by communication limits imposed by the politically correct dialogue. And here comes the risk to confuse a sincere, genuine talker with a careless and antidemocratic individual.

Interview: GB GroupInterpretare una Stanza, Catanzaro. Image courtesy of GB Group

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L. C. – What is art for you?

GB G. – I have always been reluctant to answer this question as, in my imagination, this thing called art keeps changing and mutating constantly and sometimes leaves me in an absolute state of confusion. I may not have a proper definition of “art” in my mind, but on the other hand, that is what allows me to make my works. By that, I mean that since I do not have a static definition of art, I try to fuse (or conglomerate) all of the various understandings of this word and all of the different approaches to it by the audience and put them together.
The result is something that immediately goes beyond my understanding. It is like seeing God for the first time. It goes beyond my understanding because the artwork created during the performance is the result of the acting of the audience and their will to enact the performance. This artwork created is a hybrid formed by a vast group of people. Overall, they get sold alongside with their legal agreements that impose (force) the owner of the artwork and, in some cases, many people who are connected to it, to interact with it and make it grow and change over time, as a living being.

Interview: GB GroupInterpretare una Stanza, Catanzaro. Image courtesy of GB Group

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L. C. – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?

GB G. – I started to grow interest in art when I first acknowledged it as a human conversation that evolves over time rather than mere representation. However, since my generation and I have always been taught that any image may have an idea behind it, it isn’t a surprise that, in my opinion, art has always meant communication and conceptualisation rather than being only a representation pattern (tool).
Studying at Goldsmiths College helped me deeply to enlarge my view of the art world. Among all the texts and books that I came across when I was a student, the work of postmodern thinkers such as J.Derrida, Foucault, and Barthes have been crucial for my artistic practice. In particular, Derrida’s work on communication and language influenced me and my work the most.
Duchamp, Kosuth, Sol Lee Witt, Baldessari, and other conceptualists are the masters who influenced my understanding of art the most. It may be said that the passage from abstractism and conceptualism was the moment when I started to feel art as a part of my being, even though I was not born yet. However, I must highlight a performance created by Yoko Ono that changed my life forever. The performance title was “The Promise”, and it consisted of two big Chinese vessels–one of them was broken into pieces, and the other was whole.
Yoko Ono announced to the audience that those two vessels were identical before one broke, and told them that within ten years they must recompose the broken vessel. Thus, every member of the audience picked up a piece of the broken vessel, and they will have to reconstruct the vessel collaborating with each other in the course of time. This was a magic moment for me that changed my world forever. The idea of a performance enacted only by the audience and artwork created during the performance that works as an extension of the performance itself electrified me. I immediately grasped the importance of this work.

Interview: GB GroupImage courtesy of GB Group

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L. C. – What role does the artist have in society? And what about their art?

GB G. – Mystic? Prophet? Guide? Critic? Creator? Saviour? Genius? The role of the artist has changed and evolved so quickly during the last century that, nowadays, it seems to me that his or her role in our society has become blurry and confused. People tend to represent the artist as a saviour of the human race, a mystic, a prophet, or a post-human (a super-human).
I do not share this view. On the contrary, I think that an artist can be many different things at once. Pollock was probably one of the most skilled abstract painters of his time, but he also was American, passionate about alcohol and maybe with an adoration for football. The point that I am trying to make is that we should not oversimplify the figure of the artist as an absolute genius, but rather, consider his persona as a complex figure composed of the artist and the man. It is rational to say that no one except a human being can understand and talk about human problems. In conclusion, the artist, in my view, must first be a man and only after can he attend to become a very sensible man: an artist.
What role does art have in our society? Although I cannot affirm that the figure of the artist is super-human, I will say that art is something created in another world but for this world.
Nowadays, it seems that technologic advancement and the rise of social networks have somehow made physical interactions and verbal communication harder. Art is seeking to reconstruct this interaction and it needs to change its artistic medium (the way it comes to life) to do so. That is why I firmly believe that at present, art needs to use the public as a brush to create art.
I believe that art in our society is committed to re-discovering feelings and sensations that had been put to sleep by cold technology, and it appears that the feelings and links that were buried alive are now fighting to come back to life.

Interview: GB GroupImage courtesy of GB Group

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L. C. – What is your creative process like?

GB G. – I don’t have a creative process, but, at the same time, my life can be described as the creative process through which my works come to life and, the same is for my colleagues.
I cannot decide or force my mind to invent a performance or an artwork; it would not work. However, when I live my daily routine, and I see or read something that fascinates me, that thought will follow me for an incalculable amount of time.
Thus, I might say that living is my creative process. This creative process also has some disadvantages such as being enchained by unformed ideas that nervously move throughout my mind. I love my relationship with art even though, sometimes, I feel like I need more privacy in my head. Therefore, I must admit that my mind enslaves me, but I quite like the feeling.
Obviously, there are places or things that inspire me more, such as museums, galleries, books, seminars, etc. But none of them would create such an explosion in my mind if these experiences or places were not connected to things happening in real life. Finally, my creative process consists of remaining alive and letting the information in my head come together and create an idea.

Interview: GB GroupCorda. Image courtesy of GB Group

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L. C. – What do you think about ITS LIQUID Platform?

GB G. – ITS LIQUID is a platform that profoundly helped my group and me.
Thanks to ITS LIQUID, my group and I had the opportunity to travel to Argentina at Galleria Laura Haber and to test our art on a different, faraway continent. Thanks to ITS LIQUID, my group and I had the honour of participating at the Anima Mundi Festival in Venice, comparing our works to many other artworks and sharing ideas with other artists. I think that the existence of ITS LIQUID GROUP and of other groups committed to organizing exhibitions for new emerging artists is crucial in the growth of our artistic generation. Also, we had the pleasure to meet Luca Curci, the organizer and curator of the events. We met an energetic individual who had a love for art, and spending some time with him and his colleagues was a great experience for us.
We appreciate and love our experience with them, and I frankly believe that it and other art groups committed to organizing international competitions among emerging artists will be the future of art. The need to participate and work together to create something that goes beyond any expectation seems to be coming alive these days.

L. C. – What do you think about our organization of the event?
GB G. – The ANIMA MUNDI Festival was well curated, and we were particularly astonished by the amazing location, palazzo Ca’ Zanardi. On the day of the performance, my group and I were very satisfied when we saw that the audience was trying to get into our room and there were so many of them that they could not fit. The festival was a big success, and we would love to continue working with such a dynamic group. “It’s such a liquid group”

Interview: GB GroupUntitled. Image courtesy of GB Group

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