Carne Interview - Urban Decay and New Symbolism
Carne is a Friuli-based street artist, whose art practice pivots on a symbolical system applied to abandoned places. Carne’s works could represent a new visual glossary of symbols, which are borrowed from alchemy, various religions and esotericism. His artworks are usually displayed within urban decay architecture in a threedimensional way. They are not just flat posters, or stencils, but proper installations made of different techniques and materials, in which the location acquired the role of a photographic set.
Photography, according to him, is not just a mere documentation of the finished work, but a central part of it. Carne builds his installations as photographic images, in which every human object or natural element already existing in the place, becomes part of the work. He creates this visual powerful photographic imaginary with the help of Francesca Tuzzi, a urban photographer who has always been collaborating with him.
Carne considers beauty and aesthetics as a means to convey either political or social messages. They are tools to give to these abandoned and rotten places a new life.During our conversation, we’ve talked deeply about some topics, such as: symbolism, esotericism, urban places and photography.
Scroll down for the interview.
Giada Pellicari: Your art practice is very connected to the urban landscape. You mostly interact with abandoned places, giving them a new life. How do you conceive your projects within the space and how do you choose where to work?
Carne: My street art practice is united by an indissoluble bond to abandoned spaces. They are part of my work, either aesthetically, or conceptually. This is, in my opinion, one of the periods characterized by a greatest degradation, not only from the social point of view, but also from the aesthetical one.
One of my goals has always been to give back importance and value to beauty, a word that is meant with the classical sense of it. By placing my works within these spaces, I obtain a strong contrast that enbales myself to express and amplify this message. The choice of the locations to be explored is dictated by different elements: aesthetics, the history of the place and simple curiosity. The option of a specific space where to paint, instead, derives according to the emotive tension that I want to provide to my work.
Usually, the choice of the place stands also for “political” reasons. The region in which I live is called Friuli, and it has been one of the most militarized region of the world after the 1980’s, due to its special geographical position. This fact has left an indelible sign not only from the social level point of view, but mostly from the environmental and aesthetical ones, because of the existence of hundreds of military barracks, buildings, bases, which have been built during those years. The result is that now they are abandoned and rotting. They are a perfect monument to the failure of a politcs based on hate and fear.
For me, painting in these abandoned buildings is a way to reappropriate some places, which once had belonged to the collectivity. It is a way to give them a new life, in which beauty returns to be a central part. It’s a personal project that I have been developing since years, and which has raised interest amongst people, mostly on a national level. I have ready another new work about this topic.
GP: I think that the notion of site-specificity could be perfectly applied to your artistic practice, which blurs between painting and installation. Lots of your works fit the architectural space in a threedimensional way, by adding some objects or other elements to the piece on the wall, such as flowers. Therefore, could we talk about a new way of conceiving “evironmental art” for urban decay places?
C: Surely. Since some time ago, I have coined the term “urbex-art”, in order to describe my work. I like to think of it as a new branch of urban art or, better to say, of street art. The technics used are the same. The element that has completely changed is the approach to the space, from the observation to the interaction with it. These spaces have a unique peculiarity from the environmental point of view. They are post-intrustrial locations, where nature manifests all of its capability of resilience. Nature reconquers the places from which it have been uprooted. Thanks to this interaction, we find unique spaces, where the grey of the walls blends together with the emerald green of the mosses, the black of the oil with the orange of the leaves, the geometries of the pylons with those ones of the trees, and so on. In most of the cases, you work inside some buildings that have historical and outdated architectures, sometimes rare. These are very interesting aspects to be exploited by an artist.
I think that to work within these spaces in the better way, there is the need of a high sensitivity, either human or aesthetical. Behind simple buildings, there is a history of hundred years made of work, families, people. If you are not able to get this aspect, which is very important for me, the work created within these spaces results without a fundamental component.
The Role of Photography
GP: Most of your works live within aboned places, which are very difficult to be reached by the audience. But they can be viewed through photographic documentation, which I think has an important role for your installations. Do you create your art pieces by thinking to the documentation since the level of the idea, with nice shots and a kind of set design? What is the role of the photographic documentation and of social networks for you?
C: This is a very crucial node for my work. Francesca Tuzzi, the photographer who collaborates with me since the beginnings, and I have worked on it a lot. Photography not only has a documentaristic aspect, but also an artistic one, completing the whole production process in a better way. Francesca Tuzzi is the only one able to reproduce the emotive tension that I’ve mentioned. At the beginning, I choose the wall or the space in which to work according to my personal needs, leaving her the challenge to document the work in the best way. Lately, I begun painting only according to the final shot. But, this thing has generated strong ethical and conceptual contrasts in my mind.
My goal has been, and still is, to create a work for which the best way to experience it is from a personal perspective, not producing something just for the picture, its publishing and related liking. Thanks to Francesca’s suggestions I have begun, then, to observe the space as a giant photographic set, evaluating in the best way some aspects that I never have considered before, such as: brightness, light strokes, geometries, point of observations.
I would like to specify this: we do not create prepared “photographical set”. Everything that you see in the pictures, such as objects and furnitures, are already part of the place. Our politics is not to touch anything, ever. The positive thing is that who observes our pictures, most of the time, understands the whole working process that there is in the backstage, and that what we are doing is not just documentation potography.
I am very careful to the types of the atmospheres and images that I want to convey. Therefore, lately, I added videos as well, collaborating with RogerOn and Matteo Giacopci. RogerOn has this unique ability of making tangible the exact atmosphere that I want to convey through my works. Matteo Giacopci, then, is one of the most best potographer of urbex-art in Italy, according to my opinion, either for the qualities of the pictures, or the places he has visited by himself. Social networks have been very important for the propagation of my work, mostly due to its difficulty to get to it. A funny thing is that people ask me where the artworks are, and some of them, lately, try to go and see them.
GP: Your art pieces are full of symbols. They remind alchemy and lots of historical background in the art scene, such as Symbolism and the Pre-Raphaelites. Most of your works represent women, flowers, symbols and geometry. You are, in a way, beginning a new current regards a “new urban symbolism”. Would you like to explain these references a little bit more?
C: I had a strong crisis in the past, which brought me to work a lot upon my emotional sphere, and to deeply explore my Ego. I have begun practising meditation and studying alchemy, religions, middle-east esotericism, and, lately, the cheltic and scandinavian one. All of these references have authonomously expressed themeselves in my art practice, and, in fact, have become the fundamental part of it.
Through my works I want to tell my life path, and try to stimulate in the observer this curiosity, in order to turn it into research. The reaching of the light through the dark is the key that explains a lot of my artworks, always characterised by a certain glumness. The woman, instead, is a central figure and represents the Earth, Gaia. She is always placed in my works in a condition of sufference, in order to represent what is the actual state of our planet.
I think that the references you have made are very interesting. I believe that my art perfectly approaches to these ones, especially from the conceptual point of view. The technique I use is a kind of contemporary impressionism. The interesting thing is that this aesthetical closeness, even if I have a real passion for decadentism, comes from a research path that is exclusively philosophical and not artistical.
On the Use of Colour
GP: Even the way you use colours is interesting. Most of the time you use black and white, by adding to them some spots with powerful colours, such as violet. Is the use of colours conceived to reflect some symbolical aspects?
C: I’ve choosen to use white and black in order represent the duality between good and evil, light and darkness, but also to convey stilistical and technical expressions. One of my main goals is to master the art of black and white to its best, because I love it. I exclusively work with black upon a white base, fading it with the technique of dry brush. Violet, which I am partly abandoning, is the only colour that I use. I utilize it in order to focus the attention of the audience on a particular subject, which perhaps is the conceptual part of the work. But, in this case, is just a stylistical choice and not a symbolical one.
Ephemerality and Collectability
GP: Do you see a collectible part for your ephemeral works?
C: Honestly, I’ve never questioned myself about it. I’ve always thought that it should have been impossibile to put my work within a frame, or install them under a spotlight, because of the strong connection that my work has within the space that surrounds it. But, lately, I am beginning to think that my artworks could be addressed to other spaces, and different audiences. I am a street artist. I use aesthetical references which, for me, are mostly classical. This, perhaps, could be seen as a limit, or could be a strong point. Since today I’ve never have these kinds of exchanges with those realities. I live my art everyday, without too many expectations for the future. I decide day by day according to the occasions that arrive. I am always looking for new stymolous, either from the working part of view or the human one. If the occasion to work on other levels will arrive, I wouldn’t say no.
Images in the slider: Carne – Studio, Ph Courtesy: Marco Zamò; Carne – Equinozio, Friuli, 2013, Ph Courtesy: Francesca Tuzzi All the images in the interview, courtesy of Francesca Tuzzi