“Through the ambiguity of the forms I try to investigate the idea of metamorphosis that accompanies all forms of life”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
EM: I grew up in a rural context, a farmhouse from the early 1900s, where my family has always lived. Like most farmhouses, it is marked by ruined architecture, by the abandonment of land once used for agriculture. In these places, nature grows freely, covering the objects that lie on the ground and transforming them into documents of a time that cannot be perfectly calculated. I began as a neophyte to use these elements recovered in the countryside to create the first sculptures / installations.
AT: When did it become serious?
EM: Over time I realized that the rural context that I had around me was becoming more and more a solid reality on which to do research. This stimulated my interest in topics such as the relationship between the natural and the artificial, the human and the animal.
AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
EM: Certainly the confrontation with artists such as Marcello Maloberti or Andrea Sala, who were my professors at the New Academy of Fine Arts in Milan, has been important. My practice has grown a lot also thanks to the constant dialogue with friends such as Lorenzo Lunghi, Sara Ravelli and Andrea Bocca. We started together from the same province and even though we took different paths we never stopped confronting each other.
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
EM: I would describe my practice as the recovery and re-elaboration of materials. I am interested in the world of objects that somehow link humans to the environment or animals. I study the design of these tools such as bird calls, agricultural tools, or animal traps that I try to turn into works. I collect physical or visual material first. The formalization of this process then results in a transformed, ambiguous object.
Untitled (Fame), installation view at State Of, Milano, IT. Photo: Francesco Spallacci.
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
EM: Through the ambiguity of the forms I try to investigate the idea of metamorphosis that accompanies all forms of life. In this perspective, the objective is to achieve an inclusive aesthetics, a decentralized and relocated look to a universe that includes the non-human.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
EM: The choice of materials and tools depends on what the artwork needs. I generally like to use multiple materials and techniques in a piece, both natural like wood and industrial like polyurethane. There are also elements that frequently come back as in the case of branches. I use these as natural prostheses, as fragile displays, they have become a signature.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
EM: I am constantly thinking about the final result, which is why I am not very patient.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
EM: In many cases it is never easy to decide that an artwork is finished. I am definitely more aware of my research and therefore of what the final result of my work will be. Many of my pieces are born from actions already defined in the beginning, such as: erasing the animal from hunting scenes, or recreating a form of an already existing object, as in the case of bird calls or animal traps. Often entrusting the work to artisans helps me to delegate the end of my work to others.
Untitled (Scene), 2021, Installation view at Artissima Art Fair, Turin, IT.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
EM: I am inspired by the design of objects as to the forms that are found in nature. I try to think about how to transform them into a work of art, how they might interact with the exhibition space. Most of the time it is the exhibition space that inspires me.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
EM: This would be a very long list, I’ll just tell you about my favorite work: Shedboatshed (Mobile Architecture No.2) a 2005 work by Simon Starling. He dismantled a shed and turned it into a boat; loaded with the remains of the shed, the boat was paddled down the Rhine to a museum in Basel, dismantled and re-made into a shed. The aesthetics of the piece are largely irrelevant, it’s all about the slightly ridiculous undertaking and the way we imagine the process of circularity. Looking at the rebuilt shed in the gallery, we see the idea of the journey and trasformation which it represents. I can find no other work that would better explain my idea of art.
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
EM: Certainly they are very useful, in my case for sharing artistic activities and doing research. On the other hand, it is problematic how social networks have replaced downtime in an endless and unsatisfying refresh. It would be useful to be able to cultivate some healthy boredom, to practice laziness.
AT: What is your opinion about NFTs and their impact on the art world?
EM: It might affect the art market but I don’t think in the long run it will be something so revolutionary, I don’t think it will change the history of contemporary art, or at least I hope so. It would be interesting to read this answer again in fifty years.
Untitled (Fame), installation view at ArtNoble, Milano, IT. Photo: Studio Mare.
Untitled (Fame), 2021, branches, berries, wire, thorns, spray paint. Installation view at Macina, ViaFarini.Work, Milan. Photography: Mattia Angelini.
AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
EM: For me it is a refuge where we can be understood. At the same time, precisely because of its closure, self-referentiality and exclusivity, this system limits its range of action. What is needed is an inclusive effort, an opening towards other interlocutors. This would help the creation of new imaginaries, questions and forms of creativity.
AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?
EM: It’s a job that requires a lot of commitment and dedication. Due to the fact that outside of the system, for many it may not be considered a job, this sometimes leads you to question whether or not you should pursue it. The greatest satisfaction as a result is when your work is understood and recognized.
AT: What do you do besides art?
EM: I do other things related to art.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
EM: Being able to live more in the present without anxiety of the future.
Germano Reale, 2020. Photo: Mattia Angelini.
Edoardo Manzoni (b.1993, Crema) lives and works in Milan. His research develops from the rural context in which he grew up and which has always influenced his work.The rural world and the imaginary linked to it have stimulated interest in the relationship between the natural and the artificial, the human and the animal. His latest works reflect on the connections between seduction and violence, weapon and ornament, starting from the relationship that humans and animals have established through the practice of hunting and the processes of seduction, deception and concealment that this presupposes. The aim is to reflect on the animality that accompanies the human being, from the deepest times to contemporaneity and on the idea - reversible - of prey and predator on which the relational and cognitive structures and our relationship with space have been built. His works have been exhibited in different places including: PAV, Turin; The Address, Brescia; State Of, Milan; Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como; Triennale, Milan; Sonnenstube, Lugano; Fondazione Pini, Milano. Since 2017 he is a member of Altalena, an indipendent curatorial project. In 2018 Edoardo founded Residenza La Fornace, inviting several artists to expose in his family farm.