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INTERVIEWS

Tigers in flip-flops: VOID and Marco Godinho

On the occasion of Tigers in Flip-flops, the exhibition collecting the results of the residency organized by Galleria Massimodeluca during July 2017 in Mestre, artist Marco Godinho and the artistic duo VOID open up about their life experiences in the Venetian Lagoon, its influences on their practice, and make some considerations about the unusual title chosen for the show.

 

MOUSSE: Tigers in Flip-flops is the culminative work of the residency organized by Galleria Massimodeluca during July 2017 in Mestre. The Venetian Lagoon and its surroundings offer many visual, historical, cultural, and anthropological stimuli. Could you expand on the influences that the territory, its cultural traditions, and native crafts have had on your practice? How is this reflected in the works you produced for the show?

VOID: The Venetian territory was the source of inspiration for all the works we realized. From the beginning, we were very motivated to work on new projects based on the experiences we were about to have in Venice. Working in situ is always exciting to us because it’s a challenge, since we never know what’s going to happen. The presence of many factories—industrial, high-quality production places—but also craftsmen and scientific researchers around Venice (especially in the Mestre neighborhood), gave us the inspiration for projects like Glasswork, where we imprinted some resonance frequencies into blown glass with the help of a glassblower. For the work, My microphone is a camera, we worked together with scientists from ISMAR, who are mapping the Venetian Lagoon with the newest sonar technologies, which allowed us to capture some images using sound instead of light. The Darsena residency was quite stimulating.

MARCO GODINHO: For me, the context and the temporality in which I work and move is very important; it’s always part of my creative process. At the residency, the fact that the gallery was near the lagoon—and still somehow in the periphery of Venice—gave me a lot of possibilities to experience the tension between an urban environment within a territory surrounded by water. Also, the fact that the residency took place in Italy and in the South of Europe was, for me, an infinite source of exploration. Living in Paris and Luxembourg and being born in Portugal, exploring this territory of the South is like going back, searching for something connected to the feeling of home. Also, the connection to the Mediterranean Sea and what is going on in our society—linked to immigration, exile, and the perpetual displacement of people looking for better living conditions—concerns me all the time. The fact that I arrived the day of a full moon was the starting point of the main work I realized at the residency. For example, with Lunar Cycle (9 July – 6 August 2017), I tried to connect the presence of the universe and the cycle of the moon to the local everyday newspaper, Il Gazzettino, which opened a lot of layers of interpretation, especially connected to our way of life—which seems more and more disconnected from nature and natural phenomena. I tried to erase information based on the shape of the moon and see what remained, which fragment of our common memory was still activated and perceptible. To collect—to go out every day to buy the newspaper—was part of the process. Going out, being outside, and using the world as a workshop, as a studio where life interacts in the process of thinking, of making. Everything starts with an experience that implicates the scale of my body. Everything is experience: a pair of moccasins, for example, that I found in the street a few meters further at the lagoon that surrounds Forte Marghera (a nineteenth-century fortress and former barracks of the Italian Army). The fort was part of Mestre’s defensive camp and the widest defensive system in the lagoon. Exploring the borders of this fort, I found some tree roots that made a temporary stop before being carried away by the flow of the Mediterranean Sea. Back at the gallery, I connected the found shoes with the tree root to create a fortunate encounter between the two elements, which are residues of our consumer and natural society. All this has in common an endless process of thinking about who is trying to open and who is trying to break the social and cultural conventions in which one remains locked. The work entitled A slight change in direction is also anthropometrically identical to the measurement of a long step. Other works created in the context of the residency, such as Going south is not the same as going south/Going south is not the same as going north, are concerned with the psychological perception of geography or use the weather—the sun and the moonlight as material to explore a work that requires the entire duration of the exhibition to be created. The exhibition is therefore the moment of creation of the work, which will be ready the moment the exhibition ends, and the public can no longer see it. Home is no longer warm questions the presence and/or absence of nature in a space, the notion of hospitality, and the psychological perception of geography. The Mediterranean Sea as a suspended territory consists of two gold wire earrings in the shape of the Mediterranean Sea that, during the inauguration, will be worn by the gallery’s director. The work alludes to the inextricable network of relationships—cultural, economic, and social—that link the people who face up to this sea, and that the geopolitical events of recent months seem to have made us forget. It is both a warning about our condition and a hope for change.

MOUSSE: The exhibition’s title, Tigers in Flip-flops, is an oxymoron that invites us to reflect upon the artist’s condition; what inspired the show’s title, and could you talk about this condition?

VOID: Words create images. And associating two words of very different nature (such as flip-flops and tigers) creates in the mind of the reader a brand new image, which will be different for everyone since no one has never seen a tiger in flip-flops. It’s a surrealist game, certainly a part of our Belgian touch. But it also connects with the status of the artist who always has to create new images, new visual and conceptual shapes. We live the condition of the artist as a choice, which is intrinsically a political position. Our works are not directly related to politics or to a specific protest, because there is no need for that: Being an artist is already a protest itself. Liberal society wants the human being to take part in massive production and consumerism; being an artist is a non-productive way of living outside of the standard working process. We mainly produce ideas. And yes, sometimes we pay the price for this, but it’s part of the deal!

MARCO GODINHO: Tigers in Flip-flops is the first work of the exhibition that opens the imaginary to an endless process of thinking. It is also the consequence of a context, which was revealed during the residency and the conversations we all had together. The fact that the residency took place during the summer certainly influenced the title and how to dress, feel comfortable and ready to explore, and welcome people in different contexts. Wearing flip-flops all the time during the residency—walking around in slippers without socks—was, for me, like connecting several worlds together. Public and private become the same interaction, sharing the intimacy of our living spaces. Outside becomes inside, the studio is no longer the studio, home no longer home; the whole world is the studio. Walking around in flip-flops while I’m supposed to take part in a residency is a gesture of freedom and living life as the condition of an animal— a stray dog, a wolf, or a tiger. They have a permanent connection to the ground, and the notion of home is dissolved into several places. This condition also has to do with the uncertainty of everyday life and, to me, precarious life is the only life worth living. I try to live each day like a lifetime, as a permanent experience that leads to an open relationship to the other—to the world, where everything can connect and disconnect in the flow of our common memories.

 

Marco Godinho (Salvaterra de Magos 1978; he lives in Paris and Luxembourg) has been for a number of years now, sensitively tackling the themes of exile, memory and geography inspired by his own experience of nomadic life, suspended between different languages and cultures and nourished by literature and poetry. From installations and videos to drawings and collaborative pieces, his works form a map of a world shaped by personal experiences and multiculturalism. In 2016 he held solo shows at MAMAC – Musée d’art moderne et d’art contemporain de Nice (F); in 2015, MNAC – Museu Nacional de Arte Contemporânea do Chiado, Lisbon (P); in 2013, Museo Universitario Universidad de Antioquia, Medellin (CO) and Casino Luxembourg – Forum d’art contemporain (L); in 2011, Mois de la Photo, Montreal (CDN); in 2007, Chaudronnerie – FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims (F). In 2017 he has taken part in such group shows as Mondes Flottants, 14e Biennale de Lyon (F); Tous, des sang-mêlés, MAC Val – Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne (F); Homeland, ARGOS – Center for Art and Media (B). In 2015 Eppur si muove, MUDAM – Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, Luxembourg (L); Everydayness – Alternativa, Wyspa Institute of Art, Gdansk (PL); Bienal video y artes mediales – Autonomia, Museo National de Bellas Artes, Santiago de Chile (RCH); Les lignes du geste, Centre Pompidou-Metz and Frac Lorraine (F); and in 2010, Marcher-Créer, Les rencontres d’Arles (F). 

VOID is a visual-sound art collective based in Brussels founded in 2013 and composed by Arnaud Eeckhout (Belgium 1987) and Mauro Vitturini (Italy 1985). VOID’s research often leads to time-based and site-specifics three-dimensional installations, in resonance with the places they inhabit. Among VOID’s solo shows, mention should be made of Monographie Arts 10+6, La Médiatine, Brussels; Lorem Ipsum, Maison des Arts de Schaerbeek, Brussels (B), and Sound never dies, MAAC, Brussels, all in 2016. His work has been shown in different museums and venues, like ARTER foundation in Istanbul (TR), Carrillo Gill Museum in Mexico City (MEX), BAM in Mons (BE), OFF Biennale in Cairo (ET), Villa Croce Museum in Genoa (IT) and Macro Testaccio in Rome (IT). 

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at Galleria Massimodeluca, Mestre
until 15 October 2017

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