Painting the nail of Maurizio Cattelan's L.O.V.E. in fuchsia was a challenge to the art world and its way of being in our lives. Moreover, he got straight to the point concerning the status of women and triggered a participative movement of social awareness with the corresponding demonstration by many women and men that took place on 8 March at the monument's feet. By someone, always hiding behind social media, it was considered an act of vandalism and the Lega group denounced him also for being a recidivist (he was already sentenced for writing on walls) and for having merely heralded an action on Indro Montanelli's statue.
What Ivan (born Ivan Tresoldi) has done and is doing has nothing to do with the cancel culture that has dominated these last few months. His desire is to redefine the concept of making art in the street and, in particular, of making poetry, that is, to render different visions from the most worn-out social and aesthetic clichés. We spoke with him about this in an early meeting, also because of the question he poses, not so much between the lines, to the world of criticism.
You stated that you started from an aesthetic problem: "I wanted to break a taboo: to what extent can you affect the work of another artist?"
I started from an issue of both poetic and political impact, which inevitably sets an aesthetic problem in the relationship between a master and his public work, but I wanted to stick to the context of street poetry and muralism, which have always been permeated by these issues. The artworld is a micro-world. This is not where the first generation of neo-muralism, to which I belong and which emerged at the turn of the millennium, comes from. This generation is widespread, has had wide success in the 'social sphere', but is less interested in establishing itself in the cultural/institutional undercurrents. I am concerned with and interested in the great whole that contains everything and which is called the 'real and widespread world'. I am an artist who was born into the folk, who wants to be folk and who wants to continue to be in the folk (whether or not Pop Art has already said so). Clearly, in this "being" there are other issues such as the degree of legitimacy that an intervention must have in a public context about authority, authorship and its delegation, towards the value of a widespread art experienced by multitudes.
The idea of having an original and personal language, both written and visual, is basically a trick based on credulity. After all, people have always done anything but pick things up, especially words, and then put them back together. This also happens in poetry where, perhaps more than in the world of art, art and life have been mixed together for more than 150 years now.
That's right, it’s called “take-cut-remix”. I am happy to 'have said everything, without having had to write anything'. Even just the announced intention to redesign Montanelli's statue has actually already become a work. Today, 8 March, hundreds of women put on a performance in Piazza Affari, colouring the middle fingernail of their hands. A further question then arises, namely, to what extent can a graft, such as the one I made, lead to the creation of a new work that synthesises and overcomes the two previous dialectical movements?
Your expression "legitimate but illegal" refers to the great tradition of disobedience. After all the military terms used in art to define the role of the avant-garde, it is perhaps the case to modify the terminology, so for Street Poetry can we speak of "aesthetic disobedience"?
Certainly, we can speak of an overt revolt. Being partisans and critics of our own times is the privilege, the price and the barricade on which the art of the twentieth century (and not only) has been made alive and beautiful with scars. It also recalls the value of an author's determination, which, in elitist contexts, is done by self-celebration, elitism and via social means and media. In the real world and in the multitudes, on the other hand, it is a path of coherence of practices and constancy over time.
“When vandalism is gratuitous, it is violence. Anyway, when I can give “one finger” to someone to raise awareness for an important issue like respect for women, then I’m sorry when I realize that the other four are missing.” This is what Maurizio Cattelan said about your contribution. What would you answer to him now?
I would answer that I thank him for the cues and teachings of these years, for the sculpture L.O.V.E. and for the fact that I still have four fingers available (and this is, actually, more advantage to him, than to me). His sculpture is the only public work in the world that lends itself to actions like mine.
Now, I want to ask you, Marco, what is your reaction to this contamination impetus and to this “sculptural pathogenesis”?
Put a crucial issue on the table, “bear a grudge” and hit the jackpot.
You don’t want to be called a street artist even if you have been one of the first artists of this kind in Italy and you have promoted this art culture on a mass level through exhibitions and establishing relations based on complicity with other artists of this genre. At a certain point, you even distanced yourself from this world, giving birth to Street Poetry. Why?
For me, it was possible to be considered part of the first generation of the European street art movement thanks to Street Poetry, more precisely due to my only and very short experience in this field in the early 2000s. A few authors took part in this experience, some of them began to promote it starting from the country they lived in, others from abroad. We were self-organized and wanted to act in a different way with respect to institutional and legalitarian contexts (Abbominevole, Ozmo, Bros, Microbo&Bo130, Blu, Erica Il Cane, 2501, TvBoy, Chekos, Flying Fortness, Banksy, Space Invaders, Obey etc.). I didn’t take distance from it, today we talk about public art and neo-muralism: what I want to do is to differentiate, not to take distance.
As well as being the author, together with a few others, of that phenomenon we call "street art" (from a critical perspective), I am one of the leading producers in Italy in terms of the number of events, the audience reached and the quantity and quality of the artists involved. I am also glad to have crystallised my experience in those years where, among other things, other artists presented excellent productions and practices for this movement and the authors to come (I’m referring to the Urban Edge Show in Milan, the Frontier in Bologna and the FAME Festival in Grottaglie).
Today I am honestly more determined to consider options of critical diversification, to focus on my authorial dimension and to direct my research towards other aspects, such as the large sculptural bodies that we will soon pose for Arte Sella and Ac Milan (or that I posed with OBR/Renzo Piano in 2017).
I repeat, public art is a different but contiguous context, in which I have my place too and which has important and talented exponents, also from "street art" (Agostino Iacurci, Edoardo Tresoldi and Orticalnoodless just to name a few among the leaders). It has been preserved as a collective experience that has mostly come to an end (apart from the work of a few artists who are still carrying this art on, such as the Guerriglia Spam group), for which critics and the art world have not been able to produce a lasting reading, except for the contribution of a few curators who remain part of the movement and are, not surprisingly, very close to some of the leaders (including Simone Pallotta, Pietro Rivasi and Fabiola Naldi).
Since you are the pioneer of it, can you give us a definition of Street Poetry?
Write to address to the multitudes everywhere, write to give people the chance to be free to 'publish themselves', to make themselves known.