Born in Verbania in 1980, with a degree in Physiotherapy in 2004 and with several shows in Italy and abroad, Samuele Papiro focus his artistic research on the concepts of the physical body and the relation, using various media - drawing, painting , photography, installation – to emphasize that the ego is a paradigmatic illusion ‘cause the one and only reality is “Us”. "I write signs. I offer senses. I transport meanings.": an aphorism used by Samuele to summarize his existence in the world.
Who is Samuele Papiro?
I am the resultant force of all my “we”.
Looking at the world that surrounds you, what draws your attention and what influences your artistic research?
Nature in the form of organised and structured world that creates conscious individualities. Nature in the form of “becoming” and of the relation that every human being feels with this flock he/she belongs to. I feel this in every corner of the world.
Which is the thought/project behind your artwork: the urge coming from an idea or from a need? Is there a recurring theme in your artwork?
There is a need of finding a meaning. Every human action happens to modify a material or symbolic value in order to keep us alive. Our life, as human beings, is not only a biological matter, but also involves a constant research of the meaning of our actions. We meta-communicate to ourselves, we look for a Truth. Through a knowledge that is much more than the simple information. The recurring theme of my artwork is the concept of Relation, of Us. I narrate the story. My artworks are a combination of elements that can stand alone but that together have a different meaning. As I said earlier: a “becoming”. Back in the days I started from more personal, expressive needs. Today my need becomes art the moment my personal narration meets the Historic Narration. This should be a truth for everybody, actually it is what we have called “art” so far. In this higher frame of “we” the question is: what is that I don’t know? What is that I don’t see? What is hidden? What has become stratified and what has been erased? What am I ignoring? The latter is a philosophically vital question because we are acted by language and arts tends not only to be acted, but to become, in turn, language as it has got nothing to do with facts, but with events because the frame of meaning that brings to the piece of art breaks in the exact moment it relates to it and a new frame is created. This is what we feel when we are standing in front of a real “poiesis”.
What is your approach to “matter” to get to the contents and concepts of your artwork?
I am a physiotherapist: my “matter” is the human body I feel as alive, as an acting mind. From this experience I abstract and meet the matter that produces artwork starting from very simple elements: paper, graphite, ink, pins and glass. Matter is my action or the one I ask others to perform. My work is always gestural, even when it looks conceptual.
Working on an artistic project, how important is planning and research and how much is unpredictability playing a role?
There is some sort of deranged awareness influencing the Organisation of the art work and the completely random part that is typical of the Structure. The separation between Organisation and Structure is something I take from Maturana’s e Varela’s epistemological thought and their concept of “auto-poiesis”. Take a tree. The Organisation of a tree is: roots, trunk, branch, leaves. The Structure of a tree is what changes: leaves change, branches grow etc. The Structure changes so that the Organisation can stay alive. I can cut a branch, two and so on, but if I cut them all there will be no photosynthesis and the tree is not a tree anymore. Life shows us how there is always an encounter of our intention with the becoming, of need and freedom. When I am in a flow, need and freedom are parallel and I travel. I create. I exist. I become.
A for awareness, M for memory, P for person... what role do these words play in your artistic research?
Awareness is what I look for and is something that, once found, does not stop the need to seek it even more. Awareness means to act according to a conscience, some sort of moral responsibility: if you smoke knowing it harms you, you are not aware it harms you. Art is a process of researching a personal and common responsibility. Memory and immagination create Reality. Rephrasing Perniola I say I am the engine for a real knowledge. Nowadays communication seem to be very important. Perniola says it’s important to know and that communication and knowledge are opposed concepts. Communication is the limit of western thought aka dialectics. Communication tries to use itself up. The true and the false, good and evil. Everything can be reduced to two categories. Real narration allows to go beyond this duality because it doesn’t end, but it operates. It informs the world and transforms it. It integrates in time. For a long time I have associated the word “person” to “mask, thinking it was an unsettling Greek term. Then I found out the Etruscan root “per-sonar” (per suonare = to play music): a whole world opened in front of me because voice is a mean of extraordinary power. After all music is where form and content match. The Greek philosophized and narrated the myths singing. What is really important to me is the concept of “individual” associated to “responsibility”. We all should be able to be this.
If I ask you to focus on “how” you remember something rather than on “what” you remember (an experience):
• do you mainly remember the feelings?
• are the colour predominant in your memory?
• do you remember rather sounds and voices than silences?
• do you remember the people’s face?
• do you remember scents or smells of something in particular?
• anything else?
Smell is biologically the strongest sense linked to memory. I also remember images and visceral feelings.
Which of the five senses do you use more often, more gladly and you feel more familiar with while you work?
Touch is the only bi-directional sense: you cannot touch without being touched. Touch can explain the other senses too. The real sense is the action that allows the resulting force of the various senses. Artistically I think sight is the predominant sense with my artwork, although not all of them can be seen as a whole. Please note that the biological senses are way more than five. Five are the major senses: the Aristotelian ones.
Which of your artwork would you show us as main turning points of your career?
Are you here? is a work in progress with pins stuck in several places, some of them illegally, such as Centre Pompidou and Louvre. It’s an artwork with several pins and a writing saying “are you here?” Usually on maps you can find “you are here”. But it’s a map. I am trying to ask myself where to find the real places I have no access to. Maybe I have access with a question and the physical action of moving and creating. Stormo – 1832 – drawings – one drawing for each week I have lived. From conception to my last exhibition. It grows. It changes. It changes shape. Analysis and synthesis.
What are your “challenges” as an artist? How do you keep experimenting?
I think I can be an artist the moment my research can influence the consciousness of other people. This is a challenge because I need to “do” but I cannot know the consequences in advance. I feel a responsibility of action. “Becoming” happens despite my choice, yet my choice is needed. It’s freedom, hence love. Love only manifests itself in a condition of freedom.
What message do you see and do you want to be conveyed by your works to the audience?
I’m touched when I see someone else’s work because I see that another human being has looked for themselves and whose search has produces something for me to do the same personal research. It makes me feel human. Art is a process where nothing is finished or completed. Times change and today there must be somebody that tells that not everything can be said. We’ve got to move and create a new model. Art is functional because it’s needed in order to give meaning. I can only met-communicate so I talk about arts. They are not quotations. They are archeology of a thought that needs to be recognised by me. Even if it is dead. I try a symmetrical path if compared to Duchamp. Every artist should deal with his thought.
What are your motivations, your drive, your conditionings, the limits and the consequences of being an artist nowadays?
I see many egos that want to say something, me included. Though the deeper motivation should be the relation with others but this doesn’t mean the recognition that your expression is compelling or that the sale of an artwork gives you a social status. My starting point is a very clear concept: Request for quality. I don’t exhibit often because I feel and am aware of the fact that I have created something that hasn’t added any quality to our world. We are human beings related to each other; when our actions in this world have a value of quality for the Other, then it has a meaning and a sense, else we are just a mass of people saying “my, me, me me”.
To what scenarios can the world open itself to through art?
To a deeper awareness.
How useful is organizing an exhibition in a certain context for an artist nowadays? How useful is the passage in the context that welcomes an artist?
Context is always vital, for all form of expression. All contexts have codes to respect but we are at a breaking point where the categories we “divide” the world in are blocked and we need to create new ones, without trashing the old ones but rather linking fields that seem separated. Alla such Classes become part of a higher Class. The level of information becomes of very high importance. Here comes again Duchamp and his limits of all possible contemporary artistic expressions. Post-modernism is dead. We are something different, something that is not visible in an artwork yet.
Do you have projects in progress?
S(p)eculum through the history of art as archive of history, collecting fragments of a past.
[Pharmakos] pharmakeia-pharmakon-pharmakeus is the declaration of human beings getting ill and healing themselves according to their beliefs/choices and the inability of seeing what makes them blind.
Answer a question you wanted me to ask you but I haven’t...
I think you and me are a possibility for you and for me. Our hearts and the acknowledgement that we are both “beings in pain” are the elements that create a link between us. This is true for the ones I choose to be with, you, Flavia: you are somebody that can understand me because you have asked yourself “who is Samuele?” without speaking it out and I am very grateful for this. This is my answer to the question you have not asked me: who am I for you? This is a question we all should ask: who are we?
For more information:
Translation curated by Lara Ferulli
Frammenti di opere, 2014, mixed media