Interview with Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi
Nowadays, everybody, everywhere, at every moment is – or seems, or wants to be, “connected”. Although humanity has more means than ever before to be connected, the past few months of the worldwide lockdown have shown how lonely and easily “disconnected” so many of us are: disconnected from ourselves, from our families, our friends, from nature, our past, our future, from the world we live in.
The architect and artist Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi has found fascinating ways of connecting people, surfaces, spaces, dimensions and times. He is linking chaos and structure, science and nature and art in a very unique way. His beautiful colour aluminium fibre sculptures refuse to obey the laws of dimensions and of confinement, reminding some spectators of a representation of DNA or blood veins. In my case, it reminds me of the landscape of the roots of a tree, what the author Peter Wohlleben called the Wood wide web.
Amélie Eise – Guillermo, when & how did the architect become an artist and why?
Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi – I find in art the freedom I haven´t found yet in architecture. I think that everything started with a simple line of ink over a paper. After that, I felt that the border of the surface where I was drawing was a limit and I wanted to break it. I create modular artworks made in different papers where a person could interact with them changing the position and always making the borders where interconnected. That was an interesting beginning.
I started those works following the directions of Luis Felipe Noé, a Master of Visual Arts of Argentina and part of the Neo-Figurative movement. He guided my work that was then still dependent on the support of a surface like canvas or paper. One day I realized that I wanted to set my work free of the borders of these surfaces, letting them decided where to go and guiding me to find new directions. After that, I started to think about the relation between the audience and the artwork and where I wanted to place the audience. There were two options in placing the audience, one to be static in front or secondly to be in movement, connected. I have asked blind people, for instance, to come and experience my installations. The reactions were mesmerizing.
AE – It seems to me your installations resist the limitations of a beginning and an ending. Is that voluntary and if yes, why?
GAV – I have to say that I feel really thankful about this question because it helps me think about my artworks. I can have an idea, something to start to work but, in the end, I let the work tell me where to go and how to move. I feel that maybe is the Universe which is flowing through me trying to communicate these ideas and I could be the musician which is following the orders of the Orchestra Director. Everything is connected and we are part of something that we really don´t know.
AE – Are your installations some sort of maps, some new form of “rhizome”, or rather a bridge between nature and art? And are your installations themselves interconnected, is there a chronology?
GAV – I think they are like traces, like the vestige of everything what could be or couldn´t be there in another time. If we try to think in roots, we can start to generate relations between the macro and micro scales and we can discover that our veins are like the roots of a tree. Maybe that helps us to realize that the veins inside of us are parts of a small forest living inside of us, inviting us to think about the relations between every living being on Earth. We are part of a system where the education makes us think in nature as something separate of us and that is a lie, maybe the biggest one. Nature is inside and outside of us.
AE – Your installation Memories from another Earth at the Luisa Catucci Gallery Berlin links nature, in this case, a tree on the street, to art, in this case, the gallery, and to the normal spectator who passes by. Is this a playful way to involve people and draw them into another world right off the street?
GAV – This project is part of one of my bigger ideas to make art in unexpected places. The way we connect with art has always been mediated. We live in societies where the access to the information has been always controlled and managed by the established structures. If I base this concept in the local experiences of Argentina, I can say that the relations between art and people are always under control and management of established organizations (Museums, Art Galleries, etc) and that is one of the reasons why not everyone can have access to arts. It is time to change the way how art connects with people. Arts can face people in the middle of their daily lives, appearing in unexpected places, like graffiti, connecting with them helping to break the limits that separate them from culture. Maybe that is one of the reasons why graffiti is so powerful: you don´t need to go to a confined place to enjoy it or you don’t have to wear nice clothes to assist the opening. Those kinds of ceremonies have, indirectly, generated barriers between arts and people and we, as artists, have the duty to work to break them.
AE – How can / do your installations create and promote nature protection?
GAV – My installations are based on scientific studies of the consequences of global warming on nature. I started working on the disappearance of trees in 2015 for the First International Biennial of Asunción in Paraguay. I decided to create and promote nature protection through installations representing the absence of what is disappearing every day while we are immersed in our daily routines. Most of my installations were made in public places to remind people how big the damage to nature caused by human activity can be. I am also concerned about how the global warming increase the melting process of the poles increasing the sea level rise around the world. I feel that it is necessary to start to face people in neutral places, not in Museums.
AE – Time and the perception of time seems to be an important factor in your work. Your installations are timeless in design and material. However, they only remain for some time where they are displayed. What happens then?
GAV – Like us humans, everything has to disappear, we are all victims of time. We used to believe that everything has to last forever and that is why we are always trying to fight against time denying that our biological bodies were made to get old and disappear and that is maybe one of the biggest troubles of our times because we are all more interested to preserve the flesh than the soul. I feel that my installations have to be like us and appear knowing they are going to disappear to talk about life and how everything gets transformed. I use the same material in a different way for the next project. I doubt it is necessary to preserve a painting forever. I don’t want to be against culture and everything that it represents but I think that it is a reflection of our societies where we are always trying to preserve what time change naturally.
AE – Also, titles of your work like topography of chaos and topography of an uncertain future and your search for man´s role not only in time but also in cosmos suggest a search for orientation. Are your installations “signposts” to connect past and future, nature and technology?
GAV – Thank you again for so beautiful questions. Yes, I think they are, and I wish they could orientate people to find new directions and I wish the people could help me to follow them for the new horizons they could find. I am always talking about time as something which is not linear. My favourite books are of science. I read a lot of Stephen Hawkings theories and Fritz Albert Popp and I feel a great connection with his work.
AE – Guillermo, you have endorsed the TreeToo Manifesto. Why? Please tell us more about your reasons and what you think can be achieved.
GAV – I met Etienne Verbist and his TreeToo movement and the Manifesto through Facebook and we immediately found a common goal. I believe it necessary to find actions like the one that Etienne is developing to connect and spread the message. Etienne thinks like a tree, roots going in every direction… I am really thankful for this opportunity to add my voice to something bigger because we need the voices of everyone to help to find new directions. TreeToo is something open where we can share ideas and work together even if we are in different countries, through collaborative projects where we can work from far away but always connected, like Nature, a big network of commitment.