“To make this choice means having the possibility of giving importance to our own thoughts”
AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?
SC_NC: Nicolò comes from Garbagnate, Stefano from Milan, and we got to know each other in NABA (New Academy of Fine art) during the Master in Visual Arts and Curatorial studies in 2012. “I always had pictures at home and my family took me to shows, museums, and antiques markets, and for me it was always an adventure full of treasures” (Stefano). “I was saturated in these things since a child by looking, thanks to my parents, at the works of the great masters and playing about with them, changing the images that I found and making them mine” (Nicolò).
AT: When did it become serious?
SC_NC: We could say that it became “serious” when our studies became aimed at art, and “seriously serious” when we met and founded Spazienne with Giulia Fumagalli, Federica Clerici and Alberto Bettinetti, then it became life and work. Everything.
AT: Was there anyone who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?
SC_NC: Doubtless, the support of the people dearest to us who believed and still believe in us, who have taken it on themselves to teach us something, and whom we could compare ourselves with, when things were very delicate. Alberto Bettinetti had an important role for connecting us up to each other and for being a fundamental part of the birth of Spazienne. And then there are all the masters whom we have not had a direct dialogue with but whose work we had a connection with.
AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?
SC_NC: Exploration: to observe and develop hidden areas and spaces, both physical and mental. Playing: to impose rules on ourselves and to begin to enjoy ourselves by acting within them. Comparisons: the need and wish to discover ourselves together through an open and constant dialogue between us and the material. Physicality: everything is channelled and translated into something real, to become a tool, ability, and sense. It is as though all this were the skeleton of our work, one that has allowed us over the years to develop our language and aesthetics, and that we try to carry on with and always evolve. Our practice is very open and is based on particular places and on our needs; we love to make our work versatile by modifying form and materials on the basis of the needs of thought, a kind of profound listening.
“Tentativo di superamento del volo (Sigillo_07)”, polyethylene tube, gas tube, 280x220x150 cm, 2020 | courtesy Otto Zoo | ph. Luca Vianello.
AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?
SC_NC: In our view, the work is a space of emotion and reflection that allows us to enter into a dialogue with people in a non-verbal way, to be a vehicle of expression, and to give form to an imagined world. We always try to spark off a shift and enlargement of seeing: in the first place, with our research, aesthetics, and way of working. We also want it to be a confrontation and listening experience for those who, like us, feel that need. All of this, is a game with the unknown and the failure, in order to create solutions unwritten so far.
AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?
SC_NC: The need to express ourselves has led us to materials and techniques that, until now, have been translated into raw materials, building-site materials, abandoned objects, improvised or artisanal techniques observed in rural environments. Graphics and print have also become part of our practice for some time now, and all this allows us from time to time to model the heterogeneous body of our work.
AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?
SC_NC: The emotive range you touch is infinite. Let’s say that during the work phase inside you there grows a sensation of energy and tiredness, of involvement and dedication, a great effort (which asks a lot of patience even of those who are near you because we often happily lose the boundaries of the world and the sense of time! Ahahah). With regard to the final result, we work by sensations, basing ourselves on confrontation as we often have to question ideas and forms; as a result of this we have a very strong structure on the plane of aesthetics, material, and form, one that leaves the path forward free in order to arrive at the finalization of the work.
AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?
SC_NC: By listening and having a dialogue among ourselves and, above all, with the work. There exists a moment as wisp-like as the shading between what is finished, what is too much or too little; if you manage to sense it, you recognize it: you recognize it, the work, and yourself too.
“Visioni di un oltre – Ciel sereno”, flooring (linoleum), 89×63,5×4 cm, 2020 | courtesy Otto Zoo | ph. Luca Vianello.
“Madreperla”, traffic delineator, glass globe, iron, 44,5x33x16 cm, 2020 | courtesy Otto Zoo | ph. Luca Vianello.
AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?
SC_NC: For us, inspiration is connected to our research which consists of the exploration and traversing of the landscape: what we see outside doubly resonates with us in a link between thought and reality. And then, obviously, there is everything that touches us or passes in front of us in a perceptible way and that we still do not know.
AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?
SC_NC: We like to answer by saying “all of them” as the work of each artist we came across, whether we have appreciated them or whether they are not at all kindred spirits, has sparked off ideas for creating our own critical thought (even about our own work).
AT: How important is the role of social media for you?
SC_NC: They are a tool for revealing ourselves and for discovering the stories and research of others. A vehicle for creating links and for being able to keep open a small window on the undertaking of constant research.
“Eternamente grata”, iron grating, glass, wood, 153x85x35 cm, 2020 | courtesy Otto Zoo | ph. Luca Vianello.
“Perfettitudine – Distratto”, pvc tarp, strapping for packing, 166x122x4,5 cm, 2018 | courtesy Otto Zoo | ph. Luca Vianello.
AT: As artists, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?
SC_NC: Like all systems, it is cogent and complex, and also determined by a series of internal rules: we have chosen neither to take it for granted nor to take it for granted in this particular form. To experience it with a critical point of view in the sense of a need to continuously interrogate ourselves about or needs as artists and what our work and research need in order to grow. In this way we can find in the system answers to our needs and to search for them elsewhere, to ourselves be our own system and to find in the world, in the widest sense, the way to do so.
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?
SC_NC: Challenges, delusions, excitements are what discourage you and that, at the same time, make you carry on. The most intense part is when you understand you have gone beyond yourself and have reached somebody, that a certain emotion has been activated. The most frustrating part is the sensation of not having been fully understood for what we are doing, and the difficulties from the point of view of sustenance. To make this choice means having the possibility of giving importance to our own thoughts, to dedicate ourselves to it for all the time necessary, and to grow as individuals, artists, and human beings by translating it into an aesthetic and poetics.
AT: What do you do besides art?
SC_NC: We have both developed a part of our abilities in such activities as, for Stefano, teaching graphics in an academy and, for Nicolò, about installations. Apart from this we continue with collaborating on publishing and graphics, printing, workshops, and activities linked to exhibiting with situations and people we believe in and who share affinities of aims and thoughts.
AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?
SC_NC: To continue with our art and to make it an increasingly versatile undertaking both in our life and in contemporaneity. To make and materialize ideas that at the moment seem utopian, and to manage to communicate to more and more people the poetics and passion with which we create each thing, sparking off a dialogue and comparisons with people and institutions from all areas of thought. As in our work, there is no arrival point but a long personal development full of adventures and challenges, with the hope of having ever more satisfactions.
“Lì dove nascono le forme del vento”, installation view | courtesy Otto Zoo | ph. Luca Vianello.
Stefano Comensoli (1990)_Nicolò Colciago (1988) is an Italian artist duo who works and researches together since 2014. They are co-founder of SPAZIENNE, an artistic project and heterogeneous space based in Milan, Italy. Stefano Comensoli_Nicolò Colciago works with rough, ruined, and worn out industrial materials, strong and independent with a specific character that has to be approached, known, never forced. A balance that they can never dictate but where they can work. Solutions and techniques that are thrown together, instinctive, and spontaneous and that, through experimentation, work and comparisons, explore possibilities and distinctiveness.