by Anna C. Butler
Chicago, June 2009 -- Italian born, currently working and residing in London, multi-media artist and filmmaker, Marco Bolognesi is a refined contemporary cultural author whose creative vision seamlessly fuses together symbolic artifacts of our past, present and future. Over the past 10 years Bolognesi’s work has been presented in many galleries, museums and festivals throughout Europe. His exhibitions and films such as Black Hole continue to be well received alike by critics, the art market and public. With his unique approach towards his subjects and innovative interpretation of contemporary society, Bolognesi comfortably takes a step closer to establishing himself as a highly influential international talent.
After the ART Chicago Fair where Bolognesi exhibited in the Olyvia Oriental Gallery, I had the privilege to catch up with the artist and his manager, Tiziana Silvestre, at the ultra chic Affina Hotel’s 26th Floor C-View Lounge that boasts panoramic views of Chicago’s magnificent cityscape. As we drank Coca-Cola and nibbled on goldfish snacks, we had an exhilarating and fascinating conversation about Italian politics, inspiration in London, pop culture, cyberpunk and Bolognesi's belief tthat “the future is female.”
The following is a continuation from my meeting with the artist and filmmaker, Marco Bolognesi…
Anna C Butler: Many may think that Italy is abundant in creative and artistic inspiration. However, nine years ago you made the choice to move to London. Why did you leave Italy?
Marco Bolognesi: I left Italy for various reasons. Some of these were personal and some professional. I felt that there was no space for me in Italy. I felt it was impossible to express my ideas there and I didn’t feel very well. I moved where I had to go, which was London. For me, London has been an important artistic experience where I have been exposed to a lot references. Honestly, I find London to be the capital of the world and very cosmopolitan. In London, I’ve found a lot of links to my ideas in sci-fi and fashion. I found a lot of people interested in this world. I think, okay this is my world… I am not sick; I am normal.
ACB: What about London is it that you find so fruitful? How does London’s “research possibilities” fulfill your needs of expression?
MB: It is hard to say what exactly is fruitful, because when I first moved to London I found it very difficult to live in a city that is so big and competitive. For this reason, I ended up taking a lot of various and different jobs just for money. However, this gave me the opportunity to experience the many facets of London culture. So far, I believe that the spark overall has been different than life in Italy and of a different previous life.
ACB: How does being a multi-media artist free your creative nature?
MB: I started to use the photo camera because my idea is to stop life. The life or world that I express isn’t just that I look out of the window. It is a world that exists around me and is complicated to express. A universe of life and other life, together build an imaginary world with layers that is in theory real life. Photography and video provide outlets for me to say different things in different ways.
ACB: Your work provides a cohesive landscape for a collage of pop and contemporary cultural artifacts. What and who are some of your inspirational references?
MB: I started to find this interesting when I studied surrealist and Dadaist art. In particular I find the photocollage work of Max Ernst, André Breton and George Hugnet very interesting. After this, I find ideas from pop art and some artists like Andy Warhol. After this I combined my passion for comics, illustration, graffiti, and a lot of other things about pop culture to create my artistic approach to collage. For me it is always complicated to isolate points of reference, because there are a million things I see and I am constantly changing myself, and my mind about my artistic world.
ACB: Comics? Which ones do you follow?
MB: Yes, I have big collection of comics and normally I follow the superheroes like X-Men, Spiderman, Batman, Captain America and also European comics like Druna by Serpieri, Cage by Davem Mckeane and Valentina by Guido Crepax. Maybe in the future I would like to draw my own personal Comics novel like Stray Toasters by Bill Sienkiewicz.
ACB: You mentioned illustration and graffiti. What about Anime?
MB: Anime, anime every day for at least the last 29 years! I like so much the character Kenshiro who is based on the actor and martial arts legend Bruce Lee, my idol. The character Rochatansky from the amazing Mad Max series is definitely a stand out reference. Another of my idols is Go Nogai, a very famous illustrated version of Devil man. Also I love Mazinga Z and UFO Robot.
ACB: In your Babylon Federation series there are apparent elements of fetishism and bondage and in your book Dark Star the series is described by Alberto Abruzzese as an embodiment of total depravation. When creating the Babylon Federation concept, was this ideal intentional?
MB: I think we should take a step back here…Abbruzzese is an important and very famous critic that spoke of “total depravation” as a critical element. Abbruzzese also says, “[a] woman’s body harbors power.” This is his personal perspective on the issue. In reference to my Babylon Federation project, I would like to say that it is about war and power with an erotic link. My work aims to discuss the provocative nature of war and how it is possible to invade another country just for a fake reason. I am very critical about international political powers that use war as a means of total depravation and use the media as advertising and personal gain. My characters in Babylon Federation remember this status of depravation. They are erotic and at the same time, tragic…
ACB: In many of your pieces your female subjects are adorned with inspired fashion of fetishism and bondage and are often masked. How does this composition make the female a “dominant force of nature?”
MB: The point of this concept about nature has been developed in my Woodland series. Here I created a world of beings that are genetically modified with an alternate world, like in Woodland. The composition is influenced by art of the artist, Enrico Buy, who used little things like buttons, zippers and fabric to decorate his characters. In the same way I used elements from fashion, Fetish and Sadomasochism. The point here is that my women are beings that come out of a dream.
ACB: How do you feel about your work being compared to the cyberpunk aesthetic?
MB: The cyberpunk aesthetic is very broad and for this reason I am happy to enter in this big world. Plus, I have a lot of references from the sci-fi genre in film, novel comics and toys. With the progression of artificial intelligence, I believe the cyborg exists now in this world. And people becoming half man and half machine currently exists. This is only the beginning. The future is now. For this, I feel I’ve entered into cyborgpunk, but my world that I created anyway is different from the sci-fi worlds of William Gibson and Isaac Asimov.
ACB: Please describe your world where you say, “the future is female.”
MB: I say the future is female for different and obvious reasons. The first, for instance is that in the planet there are more females than males. Secondly, scientific research states that females are the stronger force of the human species. Maybe, the future is female because the man’s instinct is too weak since he is accustomed to simply using only muscle as a source of power. I think the female is more flexible and at the same time more contemporary. And from the female it is possible to see different ideas of society.
Another question I have been asked is ‘But are you man?’ Yes I am, but I believe in reincarnation. For this reason my experience like a man is in this life and it is a “crossing.”
ArtSlant would like to thank Marco Bolognesi for his assistance in making this interview possible.
-- Anna C. Butler
(All images courtesy of the artist)