A conversation with Fabrizio Cicero

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Let’s start from the end, or better from the exit. Why did you choose this title?

I had almost finished the first module you can see in the videos, many possible titles were in my head and “exit” was among them. It’s a word that has always been teasing my imagery, an everyday word that carries deep hints.
The ultimate confirmation came while I was watching Barfly, a 1987 movie with Mickey Rourke acting as an alcoholic character based on Charles Bukowski’s figure. I was appealed by the EXIT sign that persistently appears in the bar where these people, desperate and defeated by life, gather to endlessly drink, never seeing the daylight. It’s like they are stuck in a claustrophobic parallel universe, but, sooner or later, they will be forced to come out and face the reality, somehow.

Also your artworks set up a parallel universe, but its mark is pretty opposite: ethereal, otherwordly…

Yes, they are, but this is not a contradiction. An exit is always an entrance too. There’s something beyond that red sign, for sure…

The triangle. The displayed series is based on this geometric shape, a very strong element with millennial symbolic meanings. On the other hand, the triangle is quite a hype right now: in graphic, fashion, music…

Oh, yes?

Your reaction makes me smile and it’s already an answer to my next question, that is, what’s your position on this trend?

Are we talking about hipsters? They didn’t invent anything, it’s all a matter of trends coming back again and again. Let’s think about the ‘70s: the triangle influenced a whole generation.

I managed to provoke you, I see! Joking aside, I would like you talk about your personal approach to this shape, on a pure creative level and also in connection with its meaning for you.

Unfortunately – or luckily – I tend to proceed through confirmations, both in my work and in real life. It happened this time, as well.
I began this series because I wanted to release myself from the two-dimensional space. The triangle, on a practical level, seemed to me the most useful and suitable shape to build a volumetric structure. A further confirmation arrived while I was visiting my cousin, who builds artificial prosthesis: she was working at the computer and polygonal shape images formed by triangles appeared on the screen. I was curious, I asked her what they were and, by reducing the zoom, she showed me they were a graphic reconstruction of artificial bones.
I took this as an existential proof, even before a practical validation: it was like we were fully composed by triangles. I think everything can be built starting from this shape. I limited myself to the sky, for now.

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The atmospheric element is a counterpoint to the geometric one. While realizing Exit’s modules, when did the sky make its appearance: before, after or together with the triangle?

I started from the sky as a two-dimensional drawing. Even though, now that I think better about it, the very first “sky drawing” I made was on a series of triangular sheets I didn’t know how to use and develop. Only after some time I understood I simply had to assemble them and make them proliferate.

Indeed, you follow an opposite procedure than the one adopted in sculpture, where you start from an unicum and you remove pieces to let the detail emerge. On the contrary, you start from an atom and then add pieces to obtain the unicum…

Yes, I start from a unit, that influences all the others with its presence and, in doing so, the entire object. Moreover, the triangles are all the same dimension, so we could imagine to determine the precise surface of these sculptures by starting from the triangle’s sides. Are we daydreaming about measuring the sky, aren’t we? The conceptual mission of my work is precisely this: to calculate what is not measurable, what is immaterial. It’s always over our heads, but we can never catch and contain it in a unique vision.
After all, the choice of the sky as a subject is derived from a similar need. During the days after my mother’s death, a year ago, I found myself watching the sky very often, as I hadn’t done for a long time. When temporal life oppresses us, we look for a relief above us… in this case, I needed both to abstract from the pain and to search for my mother’s presence. That’s why I passed from sky observation to sky representation: giving it a shape and measures was like having the power to control it. It was a therapeutic action, it helped and accompanied me very much. This exhibition is dedicated to her, for sure.

Let’s switch on the influence the theatre is having on you. A couple of years ago, you started this experience [light designer for theatre shows, Author’s Note] and from that moment on your creative action has been deeply changing. Am I wrong?

It’s a process in progress and at present it’s still partly unconscious: when you deal with lights, sets, atmosphere changes, it’s difficult to come back home without being influenced.
On a rational level, I became passionate with light both technically and perceptively, or better with how it interacts with objects. Surely, this helped me to understand that it was time to emancipate myself from the two-dimensional space – that I have already explored and that was starting to bore me – and to move towards volumes. The Exit videos are my first experiment in this direction: at a certain point, it’s the no longer the artwork itself, but the light that determines the result.

We must accept to lose control…

Totally. The final effect was a surprise even to me, even though I was the one operating the source of light. The “picture of the situation” is set by the video, that becomes an independent artwork. Nothing is concluded in this process, on the contrary, we’re just at the start.

Future plans?

I’d like to continue with these skies and make them very big, passing from sculpture to installation, to scenography. I’m thinking about expansive projects, related to the places and the territory, capable to distract me from pure study.

Last question, maybe a bit weird, since we’re in a virtual context: would you ever give up the manual skill?

Never on Earth. Even when I realize videos, I’d always like they had the shade of a pencil. The pencil prevents me to be lazy.

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