The CIAC Museum (International Centre for Contemporary Art) in Genazzano, situated in the beautiful halls of the Colonna Castle, presents a double art exhibition that sees Antonio Trimani’s work in conversation with Korean artist T-Han. The exhibition, set up by Claudio Libero Pisano, who for years has been curating the programming for this space, paying great attention to the contemporary scene, contrasts two different ways of depicting landscapes through video. More importantly, these are two different ways of ‘treating’ and interpreting time. Antonio Trimani recounts his experience with video art and his relationship with technology.
Elena Giulia Rossi: Can you tell us about your formative years and your sources of inspiration?
Antonio Trimani: I came into contact with video art very early in the ‘90s. I was a student of Valentina Valentini on a Drama course, part of the degree in Modern Languages at the University of Studies of La Calabria. In the 90s, in 1991 to be more precise, I was invited to work on the event Video d’Autore for Taormina Arte. In those years Taormina and Locarno were the only places privileging video art. As a technical assistant I had the chance to work with many international artists. Vito Acconci took part in 1991 and Bill Viola in 1993 – in those years I had the opportunity to work with many artists and create their installations. Among these I remember Mario Camerani, Studio Azzurro, Paul Garren and Nam June Paik. Over the course of the various editions I lived off the videos screened in the cinema at the Exhibition Palace. In addition to the artists I just mentioned, I remember the work by Jean Luc Godard, Peter Callas, Alexander Kluge, Yoko Ono, Antoni Muntadas, Derek Jarman, General Idea, Bruce Nauman, Gary Hill, Jem Cohen and many more.
In those years I was experimenting with a chamber music group from Cosenza, the Microcosmos, (Giorgio Reda and Ivano Morrone), who often organised video projections and screening events. I made an installation called Mercure, pose video with César Meneghetti, a video artist with whom I have a great dialogue and worked with on many exhibitions – we also have many future projects together. Then I was almost always going out with artists, poets and philosophers from Cosenza – in fact I still have a very productive exchange with them: Massimo Celani, Francesco Garritano and Achille Greco.
In 1995, after having completed a degree in Semiotics of Performance with Maurizio Grande, a great teacher both in name and person, who unfortunately died prematurely, I decided to specialise in video art and went to London for an MA in Video Art at Middlesex University. In the meantime I carried on collaborating with Taormina Video d’Autore as reporter in London. In those years I was responsible for selecting and making contact with British artists. I remember taking part in interviews and presentations of work by John Maybury, DV8 Phisical Theatre, Monica Pellizari and Michel Mazier, who at that time was director of the Lux Center, a special place for video art in London that I often went to.
After my long stay in London, about 5 years, I came back to Rome in 2000 and I started collaborating with RAM – Radioartemobile (Mario Pieroni and Dora Stiefelmaier), which had just then been founded. I continued to work with Valentina Valentini as a Technical Director on many video art exhibitions. In 2003 I organised an exhibition, which was very important for me, at the Colonna Castle in Genazzano (at the time it wasn’t called CIAC) entitled «Zero Visibility», always curated by Valentina Valentini. That exhibition represented for me the opportunity to express and make the most of all the technical and theoretical knowledge acquired in those previous years. I connected with the studios of the exhibiting artists, from Bill Viola to Gary Hill, including Ruiz de Infante, Studio Azzurro, and especially Paolo Rosa, who had by then become a friend. In that extraordinary exhibition Peter Campus was the only artist present. He was so struck by my technical skills that he asked me if I would consider becoming his assistant. 15 years have gone by since «Zero Visibility» and I’m still working with him on his international exhibitions. I consider Peter, without a doubt, my Master. It’s thanks to him that I think I’ve found my own personal way of expressing myself through the electronic medium.
On the subject of sound I must add that my conversations with Alvin Curran, who I worked for as an assistant for several years, certainly provided the foundations to make what I call sound landscapes linked to my images. In these past years I have shared an artistic journey with some very dear friends and artists. Among these I should mention Matteo Montani, Federico Fusi, Gianni Lillo and Giulio Lacchini.
What is your relationship with painting?
I’ve always been very interested and inspired by nature: natural and artificial landscapes, as well as urban environments.
I have undoubtedly a strong relationship with painting, more than with cinema or experimental cinema. I make videos that are, to a certain extent and if I can use the expression, paintings in the form of moving images that find a much deeper expression in the wall monitor installations. They have a tridimensional presence and can relate to the surrounding space, ‘operated on’ by the viewer.
I’m very close to past landscape artists, from Caravaggio to Hopper, including Jan Van Eyck, Jacob van Ruisdael, Giorgione, but also contemplative abstract artists such as Rotcho or surrealists, from Piranesi to Magritte.
Actually my landscapes are found in the mind. I create them by patiently mediating between the electronic medium, which records real images, and an extremely personal way of transforming and hybridising these images into new compositions.
As you have said before, when telling us about your formative years, you have collaborated with the pioneers of video art, such as Peter Campus and Bill Viola, tracing – in parallel – your own creative journey. Your work has recently been exhibited, together with that of Peter Campus, in a project titled De Bello Naturae. This project began at the Museo Civico, situated in the historical castle of Barletta, with an exhibition curated by Bruno Di Marino, Daniela Di Niso and Tonio Musci, then it travelled to Seoul, extending the conversation to a Korean artist, the photographer Ito Lim. Can you tell us more about your relationship with these artists and curators, and the creative dialogue in place after all these years of collaboration?
As I mentioned before, the collaboration with Peter started back in 1993. As I was often in contact with Peter’s family, because of my continuous work with him, I met Kathleen J Graves, his partner. Over the years we developed a special relationship, based on dialogue and exchange, as Kathleen also photographs landscapes. Kathleen’s work has emerged from her love of nature and technology. She has created these artificial creatures called Nanobots and new life forms that can work and live in open landscapes to help preserve nature. This photographic work, titled Dark Garden, was included in De Bello Naturae Exhibition.
So after many years of knowing each other we decided to embark on a journey that would bring us together. Thanks to the responsiveness of Giusy Caroppo, Bruno Daniela and Tonio, who in 2014 was Head of the Local Department of Culture, this project became reality and we put together the exhibition De Bello Naturae. I consider this not only an exhibition, but the first stage of an artistic project that, with the exhibition at the Castle of Barletta, has come into being after a ten-year conversation between the three of us.This artistic project then travelled to other locations, involving Ito Lim, a Korean artist I met few years ago with his manager Yujin Lee (Art and Real Movement) through Elisabetta Ficola Colaceci . Obviously Ito works on landscapes, taking exclusively black and white photos.
For years Yujin has been promoting exchanges between Korean and Italian culture and has been a tireless promoter of this Oriental adventure, giving us the possibility to present our project to the City Hall Gallery in Seoul and later to the Swon Art Center in the city of Swon. Other opportunities and relationships emerged from these exhibitions, allowing me, for these past 2 years, to exhibit my work across different events and in international locations, such as the Street Museum and the Yesultong Festival. The Street Museum (an open air museum), situated along a road, exhibits our work in permanent structures that are designed ad hoc to screen videos.
Let’s go back to the work currently on display in Genazzano. Which works are you exhibiting at CIAC? Can we say that the juxtaposition of your work with T-Han’s offers a comparison between Oriental and Western culture through the lens of landscapes and their temporal transposition, specifically by using moving images? How did the conversation between you and the curator, Claudio Libero Pisano, evolve?
On occasion of the exhibition «Tempo del Paesaggio» (Landscape Time), I presented some new works at CIAC: Chora (tryptic) and 2 new versions of Ferite (Wounds), which I had previously made on wall and moved, for this exhibition, to reflecting surfaces.
In Wounds hand-made cuts are made to the surface of a mirror; fluid video images then emerge from the cut, colours changing from blood red to gold. Chora is a video made at the end 2015, but presented for the first time in Milan in 2016 on occasion of my solo exhibition «Risonanze» («Echoes»), curated by Fabrizio Pizzuto in Carlo Cinque’s temporary space «Le Stazioni Contemporary Art». Carlo has been following my work as a gallery owner and manger since 2015. I must say, however, something about «Le Stazioni», which is a travelling project requiring several exhibiting spaces. This is an open project that finds meaning not only in its form, but in its execution: in being involved and experimenting. The artists, who come from the Italian and international scene, even those who have a more classical formation, approach video art and new technologies in undefined, often temporary spaces, so not always in a predetermined way.
Returning to the exhibition at CIAC, it was Yujin Lee and I that suggested the idea of organising this double exhibition to Claudio Libero Pisano. I had met T-Ahn last year during my stay in Korea. Claudio, who I didn’t know very well at the time, after viewing our work accepted and we came up with this trajectory for the exhibition, which would interweave Orient and West in a reverse route; as Claudio Libero states: «In both artists time plays a decisive role; syncopated, constantly measured in the Korean artist’s videos and dilated, seemingly blocked in the Italian artist’s work. In T AHN’s landscapes the video becomes a palette which the artist adds or removes to, superimposing pictorial or digital elements following the flow of Admir Shkurtaj’s music. In Trimani’s work the landscapes experience an interrupted time, slow and without many visible shocks, but still possessing a disruptive hypnotic effect. The images, regardless of whether these have been manipulated or sharpened, give a very unusual idea of time and landscape; it’s T AHN’s work that appears to be closer to Western culture in the same way that certain Oriental atmospheres appear to belong to Trimani’s videos». I must say that working with Claudio has been very inspiring. We share the same vision of space: bare without any additions and respectful of size and architectures.
What is your relationship with technology? Are there any tools you would you like to use to create your landscapes?
Even if I use technology, one of my goals is to humanise it and often I transform it, moulding it to my expressive needs. I don’t like to give a logical description of my work. What I can say is that I’m always fascinated by stones, natural materials such as glass and wood; in other words, natural elements like water and trees. I like to think that my work invites the viewer to contemplate, to find themselves/reflect on themselves through the images and sounds I present. This is the mystery: human beings are always fascinated by landscapes. Landscapes are the most photographed subject on social media. The challenge, however, is how do you create interesting landscapes and not images that are just clichés.
I would like viewers to enter the space I define/create and try to use their bodies to interfere with this space. They might wonder, distracted, into another room, but they can return later to face the monitor hanging on the wall. I’m interested in getting everyone to take part in this game, especially people who might not frequently visit contemporary art exhibitions.
They often write that my work is in slow motion In fact, they almost never are, but I’m pleased this is the impression as it means my work achieves its goal to give a sense of slowing down and changing the viewer’s perception of time.
The impact that video installations have made, especially on the perception of time and space, in the past is undeniable – I’m thinking of Anamenesis by Peter Campus, Present Continuous Past by Dan Graham or Corridors by Gary Hill. There are many artists working on these themes with great results. I believe, however, the field has yet to be fully explored. For this reason I would like to work on light and sound devices and with new technologies that have recently come out, the laser video projectors for example. Conversely, I’m working on a new project with very traditional material, glass.
What are your future projects? Can you give us any advance details?
On 27 July I will take part in a collective at Serre di Rapolano, in the new studio of sculptor Emanuele Giannetti, led by artist Wang Yu, who is originally from Mongolia. The exhibition is titled START – conmoltiplicarsi is organised by the Yurta Association of Cultural Relations, Art, Culture and Education Tuscany – Beijing. 10 artists from 4 countries – Italy, China, Belgium and Great Britain – will present their works.
Antonio Trimani – T AHN. Tempo del paesaggio, curated by Claudio Libero Pisano
CIAC – Centro Internazionale per l’Arte Contemporanea, Castello Colonna, Genazzano, Italy, until July 16, 2017.
images: (cover 1) ) Antonio Trimani, «Elegia», 2014, still from video (2) Suwon art center (3) 2 Room 1 & 2 Lg – Foto Barletta De Bello Naturae ph Kathleen J Graves (4) Angoli & Curve #2, 2012 ph Eledian Lorenzon (5) Grass-Roofed hut with Plum Blossom and a bridge Video by tahn (6) Senza Limiti #2 dettaglio (7) Come and go, waiting, korean paper print, b&w, 800 x 500 mm, 2016, by tahn (8) Chora trittico, 2017 ph Paolo Schiavella (9) 1 Room 1 & 3 Lg – Foto Barletta De Bello Naturae ph Kathleen J Graves