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Graciela Sacco

Retrato de la artista by Graciela       Sacco

interview transcript

Date of Interview: May 01, 2002
Location: Argentina
Topic: Interview with Graciela Sacco
Interviewer: Bill Kelley Jr.

LatinArt:  Can you tell us how you create your works for each new city, and particularly about the installation you did in Venice for the latest Biennial? I’m especially thinking about how your installation worked in a city so famous for being visited and looked at?

Graciela Sacco:  I think I always base my work on basic concepts, which are those which speak in all my proposals. The concept, of course, is going to depend on how this proposal develops. For example, "Entre Nosotros" (Amongst Ourselves), the work I showed in Venice had to do with how space occupied by the other is defined. I had been developing this concept from the border. The border is the problem; to decide what one’s territory is and what another’s territory is. Architectural concepts in a kind of unstable balance are materially installed visually and, naturally. The installation context involved how this work would be recorded in the space of a city such as Venice. This city, of course, has very special characteristics and moreover, being also extremely narcissistic, has stolen the glances of the entire world. In turn, as a result, it is impossible to withdraw oneself in Venice.

To experience what is beautiful...that can be a very strong aesthetic experience and the way it occurs in a city, in a space that belongs both to you and to others, is like making what the city contributes visible. This, in a certain way, returns to us as a reflection, as an experience of streets and corners which appear not to be seen but yet which always have something to be noticed; the experience of beauty can always justify itself from the most ordinary corner. In that way, thinking of Venice from that perspective made me think about lots of situations, and I believe that afterwards other works will continue to be inspired on what I call "urban interferences". That is, I speak of interference, not of intervention, because my proposals are generally based on the graphic and the codes of the street. I believe that all proposals made in the street with the usual level of visual information, whether in the large cities that are absolutely saturated with information such as advertising and photography or, in the case of Venice, where the architecture is so much a part of her history that everything recorded within can be nothing more and nothing less than a small interacting vibration. I believe this is the way in which one relates in such large spaces, great cities or great things and, in the case of Venice, with its great beauty. Nowadays to commence a dialogue with what is beautiful is not casual nor is it minor. When I, who live in Argentina, think of these things, it is as though the experience of beauty seems alien to what is human. I think it is good to remember beauty, even in critical moments, because it is the memory of the good can then generate better things. Art, although related to history, is not an objective memory but always a subjective memory, sensitive and in tune with the very intimate essence of us all, of every person. I remember that before going to Venice I worked with different texts, different authors and people who had written about Venice, and one of them was "Sartre" who was the author of the work "Venice from my window", and in one moment Sartre gives an entire description of what beauty is, and how beauty slips away from between one’s hands in Venice. At one moment he makes a comment which made a very powerful impression on me, something like "how ugly was Man when unaware, barely an intimate touch." I think one can summarize much of all this in that concept, that a glance is a memory that cannot be lost, that lasts and keeps coming back, and I think the work revolves around that, around that human minimum which can never cease to exist.

LatinArt:  I’m interested in how your interventions function in as different a setting as the streets of Havana or Buenos Aires, and the context of the works installed in galleries...with their own set of varying influences?

Graciela Sacco:  Concepts operate in accordance with the context in which I work- in the case of urban interferences, an interference intended for outside spaces- gallery installations also acquire certain characteristics in accordance with the context. These ideas can involve politics, history or the form of the place. In the case of works recorded in the space within a gallery, exactly the same thing happens. The work is based on a certain concept, the same concept which is going to reveal itself in two different arenas: in an interior space and in an exterior space. The latter will invoice some codes related to the street. Obviously when one is going to think of a work installed outside, it is not a matter of putting a painting on the curb, but of thinking of aesthetics related to it that will give you the means with which to articulate yourself in this context. There are elements belonging to the street and elements belonging to exterior space. And the gallery space allows me to interact with these refinements of the language constructed with very differing elements. Interior space allows me those sudden small refinements which the street makes impossible, and in the same way the street permits me things I cannot do in interior spaces. That is, the two form part of my need as an artist, and in neither do I negate what it is I am proposing. I believe that each conceptual articulation has power according to the space where it is recorded. I believe that when we look at art, we should see these works in accordance with the context, as they are as strong as the context from which they are taken.

LatinArt:  I am interested in the way you are able to combine artistic and personal language with more political and social contexts: this is interesting because your work represents to me a kind of balance between a universal artistic and formal language while, at the same time, possessing clear political and social overtones referring to things outside – or perhaps in combination with - the artistic world. You come from a city with artists who have dedicated themselves to socially conscious formal traditions, such as Lucio Fontana, Antonio Berni... Could you tell us a little of the type of balance between these two languages?

Graciela Sacco:  I really believe that every artist is a social being and, therefore, the construction of a language belongs to a human group. That is, language is made to communicate things, whether in an idiomatic, musical or visual form. Let us say that if a language has a reason for existing, it is to communicate things; this communication can be more literal, more abstract, and more objective, that is, it can adopt different forms. But I think that if we look at it from the viewpoint that the artist is a social being and, therefore, receptive to everything passing in his time, in his here and in his now, he has a lot to do and a lot to say in the matter. A lot is going to pass through him, from his position, his small intimate world, which cannot however stop being affected by everything forming the macro. I believe the micro and the macro belong to our own universe which is the universe of everyone existing in this world, and everyone must bring them out in accordance with what they have touched. It has been my lot to develop this, to construct a visual language. I think the only thing I do is to continue with my movement, with my own time, with my here, with my now. I feel committed to my time, as though my existence depends on it. I always like to say that the works of art or my artistic proposals provide no replies, but are usually written as a new question mark. Question marks are often recorded in places of conflict having something to do with our social world and our contemporary social scene. At times that social scene is more intimate, and the vision seems to cover much fewer people rather than more...One speaks by way of the need to do so, but your voice also depends on the impact of the form, and believe me, I am always the first one to speculate on this.

LatinArt:  It doesn’t seem like you separate the two...

Graciela Sacco:  I believe it would be much more difficult to try and reflect on the productions taking place today, here and now, than on those which offer us a historical perspective, because we have other elements with which to analyze them. In the case of Expressionism in North America, it seems to me this appears as a break with all previous movements, and also that it has an international concept, so the history of art puts forward different currents of manifestations in art and suddenly, at the beginning of this millennium or at the end of the last millennium (first there was Realism, afterwards Expressionism, etc.), everyone is talking on the same plane, everything is possible, these are elements which can conform to a language as such, and I also believe there is permanent contact with previous artistic currents. It seems to me that the moment or the reality, in which one lives, if it is possible to speak of reality, always calls for different reflexions. Yes, this choice is possible within our reality which makes those two spaces of the context and the intimate interact.

LatinArt:  What are very interesting are the processes you use, and one of these is the "heliographic" process you plan to work with different mediums, or will you continue with this process?

Graciela Sacco:  I believe no technique is innocent, and technique comes to the aid of the need of what one wants to materialize. Yes, in fact I have worked a great deal with heliography, and I also work with many processes such as, for example, the digitalization of images, serigraphy, serigraphic photographs and cast photographic shadows, which is what I am doing now. I believe that more than anything, my research in the field of art refers to the impact of the light on aesthetic space and how I can manipulate that light through mechanical processes. There are some uses I give to contemporary photography, what I call an experience in serigraphic photography, and also based on the sources of natural lights. I am working a great deal with natural light sources (sun, fire), as the antipodes of contemporary reflexions.

Yes, I have been working with these interferences, and I also continue with that of the glance or gaze and knowing what is the "ideal space", what is the limit between inside and outside, who looks at who, and who is looked at. Let is say that the use of the different light sources has something to do with the possibility of specifically seeing when one can see, and these are the conceptual supports of all the work I am doing.

LatinArt:  Are there ideas or processes you have not yet begun to articulate, but which you would like to investigate?

Graciela Sacco:  Let us say that what I am doing is new, therefore, I can experiment and develop it according to my personal needs, and that I also accord it a lot of passion. One work of mine is always following the next because, as I’m working I am already involved in the process for my newer’s as though there is no technique in what I want to do. For me the technique imposes itself based on my having a concrete need, I don’t know what it is or what appears first when I know what I am doing, but I know that there is a strong need; there is no concrete plan or process. For example, if there is a new laser image technique available, I don’t think, "Well, I have to do a laser image now." That is something completely alien to me. I don’t care for fashions.

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