Dario Tironi is an Italian visual artist with great respect and attention to the environment and society. Since he was young, he was interested in visual arts and music, so he decided to undertake this path and graduated in sculpture from the Brera Academy in 2006. In the following years, he gained a lot of experience both at work and in the organization of artistic events, by creating an association that worked in the area of Bergamo and Milan. Since 2009, he has been working on his own projects, making exhibitions, collaborating and participating in competitions.
The choice of a certain technique or material is often a consequence of what we want to communicate.
How did you come up with the idea of creating artworks and installations with recycled objects?
The use of recycled materials is an important part of my artistic production, but it is not the only one. The choice of a certain technique or material is often a consequence of what we want to communicate, that’s why different projects have been made through different processes and media. In general, I have always been interested in artists who use real objects in their works, as they manage to attribute meanings and create stories or sensations evoked by the objects themselves, starting from Dadaism and Duchamp, through Rauchemberg and Nouveau Realisme, up to artists like Felix Gonzales Torres or Mike Kelley. More precisely, the idea of working with this kind of material was born in 2008/2009. I had been interested in environmental issues for quite a few years and I wanted to create a project that would describe some aspects of contemporary society from an evolutionary and anthropological point of view. So, I thought of a type of work whose meaning was intrinsic in the material used and from there on, I began to include discarded materials of all kinds and mass products.
Your art is really focused on the concept of sustainability, but is art so unsustainable?
Even creating artworks, like any other human activity, has an impact on the environment. Perhaps, in different ways, it depends on the processes and materials we use, but no action is 100% zero impact. I think that if we want to do something for the environment, we should either do nothing, or do less; slow down, have a more sober and respectful lifestyle. It was once called "happy de-growth”, in contrast to today's trend to have a more dynamic, prone to consumption life.
What kinds of materials do you use? Where do you get them from?
Sometimes I use single elements, or just a few ones, combined to create tensions, short circuits that give the observer the possibility of a reinterpretation of the object that differs from the usual one. In the "Things" series, I used a multitude of heterogeneous objects instead: technological waste, mass products, toys, souvenirs, gadgets, consumer materials, personal items and other everyday objects that I recovered directly from ecological platforms or through friends.
These kinds of sculptures are conceived as portraits of the consumer society, as they depict a temporal cross-section of our civilization. The pieces are designed as three-dimensional puzzles and reflect the fragmentation, precariousness, transience of our condition. There is an attempt to make harmonious and unitary something that it isn’t; to reconstruct a stable condition from the rubble of the past, a complete form from the fragments of something destroyed.
I saw on your Instagram profile that you have reproduced the human body. How long did it take?
I decided to represent the human figure based on classical statues, trying to give expressiveness and a semblance of life. Sometimes the process of constructing anatomical details is quite laborious and takes a few weeks, while other times, I opt for a more material and raw impact.
One of the greatest challenges of humanity concerns the relationship with the environment, which can no longer be based on the exploitation of resources, but it needs to shift to the protection of the ecosystem.
The basis of your art is recycling. Do you also recycle in your daily life?
It may seem strange to you, but in my art I don't recycle anything. When people talk about recycling, they are referring to the creative reuse or recovery of materials, which I fully agree with by the way. But true recycling is what companies in the sector do, which means transforming objects into raw materials and then re-melting them into new products. They create a cyclical process where the same material takes on a new life every time. What I do is quite the opposite: by including these materials in my works, I take away any possibility for them to be recycled, I crystallize them in a form that will remain unchanged over the time, as if they were archaeological finds of the present, fossils of the techno-sphere. In my work, the use of common objects has a symbolic and conceptual value.
In your opinion, what is the main problem of contemporary society?
One of the greatest challenges of humanity concerns the relationship with the environment, which can no longer be based on the exploitation of resources, but it needs to shift to the protection of the ecosystem. This is not just my opinion, but it is shared by many and it can be considered from different points of view: political-economic, psychological and social, but also biological and evolutionary. The symbiotic approach that instinctively belonged to us, and that we find in the animal world today, must be reconstructed through a rational process of awareness and consciousness. I wonder if the instinct of preservation of the species remains in us and if this will lead us towards a real change.
Consumerism is also linked to the fact that once the garbage we produce every day is removed from our sight, we forget it will continue to exist.
Through your works you also convey a social message against the consumerism of the XXIst century. Was there a particular moment that led you to this?
Consumerism is one of the aspects that I think is mostly related to these issues I started working on since my graduation thesis. I like the idea that through my work I bring waste into museums, or in places where the products of our culture are shown and contemplated. Consumerism is also linked to the fact that once the garbage we produce every day is removed from our sight, we forget it will continue to exist. So, I love to make these materials visible to all.
Moreover, since matter can only be transformed, polluted materials will inevitably continue to be contained as particles in the soil, water, air, and therefore in living beings. Plastic is now part of our organism, and in my works this connection is clear.
On the one hand, my pieces reflect the enormous amount of waste produced every day and, on the other, the complexity of the society we live in, the overproduction of goods, the visual saturation of supermarkets and the media bombardment of advertising campaigns.
You took part in numerous exhibitions over the years. What has been your greatest satisfaction?
Among the locations in which I have exhibited my work, one of the most evocative is undoubtedly the Royal Palace of Caserta: a unique place in the world, a Unesco Heritage site, and one of the largest historical residences in the world that more than half a million visitors visit every year. This year, I will be involved in a project commissioned by one of the largest Italian power companies, while in 2022 there will be a collective exhibition at the Mart (Trento and Rovereto museum of contemporary and modern art) in Rovereto, where I will be showing my pieces too because I was selected in a competition.
What does it mean for you to dare?
In my opinion, daring means going against the tide, against common sense, questioning even the most obvious things in everyday life, escaping cultural homologation and taking the risks that come with it, not being afraid to make mistakes and fail in things that you have to deal with all the time in your artistic practice.
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