cartasia7

Friends of mine put me in touch with this talented young artist whose work is featured right now in the famous piazza dell’ampiteatro in Lucca at Cartasia 2010. Thus I had the privilege of asking him a few questions about the creation and meaning of this piece of contemporary installation art.

In this photo you can see the paper diamonds in their urban setting – if you think this is surreal, you should hear about how they were moved into place!

AT: Please tell us a little about yourself!

Stefano Giovacchini: I was born in Lucca in 1975 and studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Firenze from where I graduated in 2001 with a thesis on Color Design. After that I had an internship at the museum of Fine Arts in Brussels, and have studied the application of color also at the University in Milan. I now work as a creative artist and designer in Lucca, painting, doing graphics, and designing with color. Currently I run Di.Segno, a company that does color projects and domestic mural projects: www.disegnodesign.it

AT: What is Cartasia? Can you tell us something about the history of paper in Lucca?

SG: Cartasia (www.cartasia.it) is a Biennale of Contemporary art now in its 5th year; an event related to the artistic use of paper and its derivatives. First I should clarify why this would be in Lucca – in this province, they make almost all the packing and transport as well as domestic-use paper for all of Italy. Furthermore, there are companies that make paper-marking machinery here in the province of Lucca whose clients are all over the world. So, paper is one of Lucca’s major economic channels. It seems that they were already making paper in the province of Lucca back in the 1200’s when it was just brought to Europe by the ‘mores’.

So, I consider it entirely normal that there be an event that puts into the spotlight Lucca’s role in the paper business, but also one that addresses it from an artistic point of view, one that points out the aesthetic and creative role of this product. Also, as we’re in this economic crisis right now, I’d like to point out how artists can help evolve, distinguish, and promote paper and the paper industry.

diamonds in the rough!
diamonds in the rough!

AT: Well put! How did you get the occasion to participate?

SG: I submitted a proposal in the international competition organized by Cartasia – the theme is “paper and creativity as renewable resources”. 170 artists responded, 10 were selected to show their works in July 2010, while I was chosen as the inaugural artist whose work is being shown this September, which is a very important month for Lucca.

AT: I’m really impressed – you have a huge installation in what is probably the most prestigious piazza in the city of Lucca! I read that your work is intended to signify the precious aspects of two renewable resources: paper and creativity. What role did PLACE have in the way in which the final work was constructed and placed?

SG: actually, having my work in that piazza was more than I expected! In fact, for the proposal I had suggested a smaller project for another piazza, the Piazza del Giglio (del teatro). But they liked my idea so much that they asked me to make it larger and think about how to put it in piazza dell’ampiteatro, which Cartasia also considers the most prestigious space. In the past 5 events, an Italian has won this location only twice, so I am really honoured.

The ampitheatre’s shape easily lends itself as backdrop or site for my diamonds – a precious but also popular container, coherent with the language of the material and shape used – a precious object or space made of traditiona, poor, recyclable material.

Just made it out the door
Just made it out the door

AT: I noticed from the photos on your website that you made the diamonds in a warehouse in Lucca and then transported them one by one in the streets of Lucca. That must have been quite the experience! How far did you walk and what were the reactions of people who saw this process?

SG: The transport was perhaps the most interesting part of the work. Three of us moved each single diamond on a cart, passing by some of the most significant areas of the city, from the ex-tabacco factory, along the urban walls, in front of piazza San Frediano with its mosaic fronted church, along via Fillungo which is the principle road since Lucca’s Roman foundation, all the way to piazza dell’Anfiteatro. This was about 1.5 kilometers.

through the streets of lucca
through the streets of lucca

People we encountered on this road did not fully understand the object being transported. They understood the shape, but not its weight, use, or material. Many were fascinated by the surreal event that happened before their eyes. It is not every day that you see a 3.5 meter diameter diamond made of paper being walked through the city by three people.

Some streets are rather narrow!
Some streets are rather narrow!

AT: That’s exactly what I thought when I saw the photos. I hope you made a video too!! You must have made the works to measure in consideration of getting out the door from the building in which you made it, but did you encounter any really tight squeezes on the road?

SG: Yes, it turns out that the entranceway to the piazza dell’Anfiteatro is narrower than I thought, so we had to go around via an external road and enter through a side door!

AT: the work is of course made of paper, and there is an emphasis on recycling in your description. What happens if it rains? And what happens to the work when the month’s show is over?

SG: The corrugated paper used for this installation had to be treated against the elements with a resin that unfortunately makes it not recyclable in a traditional sense. It can however be re-used: the larger diamonds will be dis-assembled but the smaller ones (2.5 meters) will be re-used by the organizers of Cartasia for future promotions.

Stefano’s piece is on view from September 5th to October 3d 2009.
In Piazza Felice Orsi-Porcari there is another installation work by Enzo Iorio.

All Photos are by Silvia Vercelli.

Installation in the piazza
Installation in the piazza

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