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Smells like the end of revolution
2005
Javier Diaz-Guardiola
How does an artist, whose work is so often associated with the world of fashion and beauty, manage to free himself from these prejudices?
Daniele Buetti
No artist is ever immune to prejudices and misunderstandings, ever more so when one makes use of the imagery of popular culture and of its outward signs, stereotypes, and clichés. It is just as with an actor who is mistaken for the character he or she plays, or with the bearer of bad news who is punished.
JD-G
Where does your special interest in these topics come from?
DB
Advertising beauties, labels, super stars, images, lifestyle are signs and concepts of a phenomenon I am interested in less for aesthetic than for socio-cultural reasons: Which effects does the media omnipotence in our society have on our mind? In which manner do images change our perceptions of the world and to what extent do the media castrate our senses?
JD-G
Do your recent installations mean that you are moving into a new direction without being untrue to yourself? What remains of what came before and how would you define the "new"?
DB
Some of the central questions in the context of working with and on the iconography of pop culture are these: Which function and role do media play in the formation of identity? What ultimately constitutes indentity, what does it represent? Will identity be eclipsed of completely replaced by "images" in a world which is characterised by electronic and print media? And from here to the question: Why is the individual so rarely able to form its very own image of the world, to form its own, independent opinion, consequently craving outside help and patterns of orientation?A further question concerns the manner in which beauty icons today have becoming religious substitutes? Just like the figurines of saints offered on sale in churches, newspaper kiosks appear like displays of devotional objects where the portraits of modern saints promise salvation. Or, to put it differently, the fusion of absolute beauty and economic success at the beginning of the 21st century is the late-capitalist answer to the prediction of Dostojewski's "idiot" that beauty would save the world.
JD-G
The critics spoke of the most introspective Buetti so far. Would you agree?
DB
What has been called introspection in this context I would rather like to be seen as a change of perspective. The latter has shifted from dealing with outward images of identification and projection surfaces to an examination of the profoundly human aspect of the subject as an individual with "faults", which also Molière dealt with in his Comédie Humaine.
JD-G
what is the "Venetian Mirror"?
DB
The title refers to a method of torture where the victim is tortured in front of a mirror. Emerging from a cavity hanging from the ceiling tentacles like umbilical cords are winding their way through the room. They seem to feed image motifs that bridge the gap between dream and nightmare. Yet the work aims to trigger a psychological state that reminds us not so much of actual memories, but rather to initiate a removed experiencing in the middle of a configuration that is both comforting and aggressive. As in the American freak shows this work aims for archetypal emotions and fears and less for the staging of a great "weltschmerz".
JD-G
Your light boxes occupy an in-between stage between your "marked" advertising images and your most recent installations. Which role does light play in your work?
DB
Light, no doubt, is the most seductive and the most magical of all the media. Flashing, colourfully sparkling spots enthrall us like moths drawn to the light. This simple, indeed crude trick allows me to lead the observers very close to the work. To seduce, to bewitch them, in order then to, almost imperceptibly, confront them with sentences and questions, swirling as speech bubbles around the models: "Have you ever considered suicide?", or "Would you watch a capital punishment on television?", or also "What do you feel guilty for?"We must no forget that man is a sentimental creature. We are all too prepared to let ourselves be lulled by syrupy kitsch in order to gain access to other, more pleasurable spheres. If, and when, we want to avoid the confrontation with the strategies of seduction or see through them, is an indication for how tricky the relation between seducer and seduced in fact is.
JD-G
Your activities are not restricted to photography or installations, but go far beyond that. Which role does the respective medium play?
DB
It has always been one of my main concerns to make the choice of medium depend on the overall concept. This has had the effect that I still do not have any preferred working techniques or media. Apart from that every era has its own language, technologies, and means of communication. It only seems logical to me to avail myself of these means. And if the work of art is rounded off in my head, the decision will come quite naturally on what form it should take.
JD-G
On the subject of brands/trademarks: What does the "brand" Daniele Buetti stand for? What defines you as an artits?
DB
The artist as a "brand" often is a very ambiguous matter: On the one hand striking images also entail a high recognition value, and thus a larger public. At the same time, however, the work is reduced to its most obvious attributes that are drawing the greatest media attention. It goes without saying that complex correlations are transformed into simple formulae blocking a more profound view. Still, it is nearly impossible to avoid an identification of the topic chosen and its author.
JD-G
What are your immediate projects and which questions will you focus your attention on in the near future?
DB
I am very much interested in a number of problems: What to do with our longings, dreams and beliefs? Who shall quench our boundless thirst for attention? What shall we fill a certain "emptiness of sense" with? As these questions are a little too large sometimes, though, they have to be reshaped to become nearly unrecognisable. Only if that happens the work can open up and - ideally - grow out of itself.
Interview by Javier Diaz-Guardiola
Abridged version of an interview for ABC Cultural, Madrid 2005.
Daniele Buetti biography

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