VINCENZO DELLA CORTE in conversation with

The following lines are conceived as a short, informal conversation about three sculptures by Michele Gabriele that I recently saw in Vienna.
Actually, using the sculptures as an opportunity to start the conversation,
this is a small investigation about Gabriele’s process, practice, vision.

VINCENZO DELLA CORTE: I saw your sculptures here in Vienna and they made me curious. What materials are they made with?
MICHELE GABRIELE: Well, actually they are made with a lot of different materials, but my “secret” wish is that I would really feel satisfied if they were perceived as sculptures made by just two or three components in balance.  Anyway they are made with soil, sugar, resin, silicone, shin guards, and a couple of taxidermied owls.

VDC: Sugar… Taxidermied owls – this sounds interesting.  I must admit that my initial thought was that it was just: transparent plastic and some sort of terrain. Why taxidermied owls? Was it a processual necessity? How did you use and insert the sugar?

MG: I used taxidermied owls for many different reasons actually: in some way that was already by itself a container of many different important things to me. But maybe too boring to be described. Mostly I was interested, ironically, with the stereotype of a ritual evoked by some of my choices, including the use of an owl, and to be precise a barn owl. Like the stereotype of some ancient magic recipe.
I feel this work is an attempt to simultaneously satisfy and disappoint the expectation of Bernhard  and Peter who invited me to Vienna. I tried to follow my idea of what their expectations were.
The sugar was isomalt, that has been crystalized to simulate a natural resin; and to make everything sweeter. I am not sure if I fully answered your question?

VDC: This irony you are talking about is somehow hidden. I interpret these two sculptures as everything but ironic. This makes the three works more ambiguous and, therefore, more interesting. We can see two main blocks: the one I defined as “transparent plastic” contains the black one. Is it an “absorbing” process, or is it more like something trapped/ caught by something else?

MG: Yes,  two blocks: the geometric transparent one and the organic dirty one. To me they are  somehow always in-between.  I mean my works in general. I like to think about it as it were something that we didn’t know if it was grown right there where it is exhibited or if it fell down from somewhere. In-between.


VDC: In-between! Is it up to the viewer’s gaze to determine what happens in the space in- between?

MG: We all are “the viewer”.  Anyway when I work, I like to leave many possibilities open, even if apparently and formally I “close” my work with very specific references.

VDC: Oh. So, let’s imagine you and me observing your sculptures. Do you put yourself on the same level as the viewer? Once you’ve made the work, is it like it doesn’t belong to you anymore – also in terms of you being the source?

MG: I’m the first viewer, so maybe i have also some privileges. But I always work on the idea of stratification. Stratification of gestures, and stratification of meaning. The stratification of gestures for me is always related to the memory and to time passing.  As well as to a certain dramatic thing that is also related to forgetfulness and misunderstanding.
In – between.
So sometimes to see what I did in a piece, I need to forget something and maybe misunderstand something else. To have the right distance so to speak. Gosh, I hope this doesn’t sound too abstract.
I’m talking about what I care about and what I try to catch in a work, but this is not what I expect other people to notice. It is just deep inside it.
VDC: I Get it – so the viewer or reader as well in other words. You talk about stratification. Actually your sculptures appear very compact. I would say that your work is stratified, materially and conceptually, but the final visual result suggests somehow the opposite: compactness. How do you react to this perception of mine?

MG: Often I have considered and described my works as “containers of themselves”, therefore your analysis could not be more correct. I talk about stratification. To me the stratification is a possibility that the work should have and give. But not necessary for the perception of the work.


VDC: What does the word “primordial” mean to you?
MG: Timeless.
VDC: I perceive a certain primordial quality in your sculptures. Is your artistic practice also an investigation about time?

MG: About time? Actually yes, it is something I believe is important in my work. The time between existing a million years ago and in a million years is interesting. It is important for me that my works appear as something that have always been there but somewhere else, or “some place” else.
Perhaps in all honesty this is the biggest effort that the work demands of me.


VDC: As a young artist are you satisfied with the art scene in Milano? Has Italy given you good opportunities?

MG: In Italy there are good artists and very interesting projects for sure. I mean in Italy in broad and general sense. One of the most interesting to me is called “Siliqoon”. But Lately I feel  myself more connected to the internet than in Milan. Most of the artists I’m working with or I follow with curiosity and interest are not here in Milan but on the internet.
VDC: Can we define your practice as somehow “liquid”?

MG: Between liquid and Rhizomatic.


Title of the works: “Sweety-Knify
soil, sugar, resin, silicone, shin guards, taxidermied owls
2015Michele Gabriele (b. 1983) lives and works in Milano, Italy.Text: ©Vincenzo Della Corte © Michele GabrieleImages: © Michele Gabriele

O Fluxo, September 2015.