The Opening Response: Vincenzo Estremo
The Opening Response titles a special series of interviews with artists, curators, writers, composers, mediators, and space-makers around the world. Dialoguing within and around the thematics which have rapidly emerged as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, we offer within this frame a differentiated, honest, and beautiful bid at understanding. Weekly, distinct doors are opened into the lives of the contributors; into their experiences dawning on pleasure, productivity, metaphysics, and paradigmatic shifts. Hopefully, these conversations can act as way-posts and lead to furthered empathy, unison, and co-creation. The Opening Response meets the need for weaving the autonomy of a web of conscious communications in times of extreme perplexity.
Vincenzo Estremo is a Ph.D. in Audiovisual Studies: Cinema, Music and Communication. He is at the moment lecturer for NABA (Nuova Accademia Belle Arti Milano), an independent curator and an art writer. Recently he edited (together with Francesco Federici) the book Albert Serra. Cinema Arte e Performance (2018), and (together with Alessandro Bordina and Francesco Federici) the volume Extended Temporalities. Transient Visions in the Museum and in Art (2016) and wrote Teoria del lavoro reputazionale (2020). Vincenzo is chief editor for Droste Effect Magazine and regular contributor for Flash Art Italia.
Josseline Black – In this phase of forced isolation, how are you articulating your response in a public discourse? What is your role in this larger conversation?
Vincenzo Estremo – In spite of the quarantine and forced isolation – in Milan we started to stay at home from March 8th – I started to weave a series of private conversations, trying to limit my presence on social media. I am relying on interlocutors who can produce referenced information rather than indiscriminately vomiting the contents entrusted to social media. Several articles that I have written are about to come out, but which, and I would like to stress, have been conceived and edited in team with the editors of the various magazines.
JB – Has your artistic practice changed through isolation?
VE – As a writer, curator and art writer my practice radically changed because of the isolation. First of all, I started to reconsider not only the ways but also the themes of the reflections. I believe that in cases like these, exceptional and emergency cases, it is necessary to adapt one’s reflections to an increasingly political dimension if possible. The space dedicated to our word and action must not give way to entertainment. As far as modes are concerned, unfortunately, there is little that can be done at home other than using digital communication media.
JB – How has your practical capacity to produce work been affected by the pandemic?
VE – The first few days I went into a kind of chronic procrastination. It was hard not to think of that isolation as a form of temporary pause. Then came the awareness that we would be in this state for a long time and that’s when I started to work a lot, maybe even more than I usually do. This reflection is absurd, but in reality it only supports what I maintain in the book that I am about to publish in Italian, Theory of Reputational Work, in which I maintain that productive deterritorialization has in the responsibility of the individual and in the impunity of companies one of the most difficult issues to deal with in semi-capitalism.
JB – What is your approach to collaboration at the moment?
VE – As I have said before, I try to build and work in small groups that look at and produce referenced information from an information ecology.
JB – How would you define the present moment, metaphysically/literally/symbolically?
VE – Actually, I prefer not to define it, I think that one of the guilty pleasures of these moments is precisely the defining hypertrophy. I prefer to fight rather than shoot sentences that is an authoritarian and self-centered form against, I think it is better to reckon at the moment. Never before have we been a collective body and so we must act, in Italy as in China, in Portugal as in France.
JB – Do you see the potential for renewed support for cultural production in spite of macro and micro economies which are currently rapidly restructuring?
VE – Neoliberalism has taught us that it is in the folds of its crisis that it grows stronger and more organized. We will all come out weakened by this epidemic, even the artistic system, which as an open, unprotected and asymmetrical system, will be exposed as much as others to this storm. I believe that cultural production at this time needs to take a step back and reconsider its priorities. If something was wrong before the epidemic, and we all know that a lot was wrong, now is the time to rethink those things, rather than thinking about starting over from where we left off.
JB – E.M Cioran writes: “in major perplexities, try to live as history were done with and to react like a monster riddled by serenity”, how do you respond to this proposal?
VE – As far as I am concerned, reacting is not the thing that begins where there is crisis and vehemently, but it is freedom that begins where all the others begin and, all together, go on forever.
JB – How is this time influencing your perception of alterity in general?
VE – Let me give you a practical example. You’re told to stay in the house, you’re told to stay in the house. It seems that these statements, impositions, precepts, consider home as a right. Here is my definition of otherness built on these lies. The house remains a privilege and to reiterate this I believe it is one of the most substantially alternative messages that are currently going through my head.
JB – How is your utilization of technology and virtuality evolving the paradigm within which you produce work?
VE – Responsibility and awareness!
JB – What is your position on the relationship between catastrophe and solidarity?
VE – One thing comes to mind that I thought immediately after the suspension of many activities, both artistic and productive. That is, whether, in the face of the worsening inequalities in the treatment of contemporary workers, alternative forms of organisation to the institutional ones are perhaps necessary. Who is protected and protected would be willing to grant part of their own protection (also perceived as privileges) to support others?
JB – What is your utopia now?
VE – The horizon is far away even if you just think of taking a walk, going to the sea and feel the beginning of spring.