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Dino Bruzzone

interview transcript

Date of Interview: Nov 07, 2006
Location: Argentina
Topic: Interview with Dino Bruzzone
Interviewer: Marí­a Fernanda Cartagena

LatinArt:  [We started the conversation with Dino Bruzzone by commenting on the acquisition of Kiss, one of his latest series of works, by a private collection of Latin American art in Denmark.]

Dino Bruzzone:  It’s a very nice collection, I liked it a lot. It has a certain dark and bizarre side of the Latin-American, which seems to me very appropriate, very real.

LatinArt:  It’s seen in your work with this U.S. rock band.

Dino Bruzzone:  Yes, but that rock group was a great hit in Mexico, in Argentina... in a different way than in the U.S. I guess we have a certain unconscious bond with that dark side.

LatinArt:  Kiss enriched the mythology of the irrational, the occult. I heard they used to crush chicks with their platform shoes...

Dino Bruzzone:  (laughing) Yes... I never confirmed it, but that’s what they tell me. I don’t know if it’s a myth, but it sounds good...

LatinArt:  Either way, you chose an idealization. It corresponds with a certain imaginary. Perhaps the most popular that they created?

Dino Bruzzone:  I think it forms part of their image somehow. Their image is of bad guys, tough guys. But actually they’re good guys! That’s one of the first things you feel as a teenager, an attraction. Because they come across with an image of bad guys, of death, diabolical, all that, but actually their music is good! And at a certain stage when you’re a teenager you rebel, you always have to rebel. Against the establishment, for instance. So people identified with that image. And it seems to me that that has to do with being a teenager, with being a 15 or 16 year-old during the dictatorship, where everything was strict: you had to have your ID on you when you went out, wear short hair at school, a uniform, etcetera. Things that have changed a lot since then.

LatinArt:  Like an escape valve.

Dino Bruzzone:  I always say that many of my works are like escapes. Italpark [emblematic funfair in Buenos Aires active from the 60s until 1990] was an escape, perhaps these are escapes of mine: I used to escape. It has to do with rebellion.

LatinArt:  I get the impression that Italpark - a little like Kiss - conveys conflicting emotions.

Dino Bruzzone:  When they see Italpark [photographs and scale model] many people tell me it reminds them of something: "Ah, I remember when such and such!" Or "I used to go to Italpark and such and such a thing used to happen to me", "The first record I bought was by Kiss, etcetera, etcetera." It’s not, let’s say, a collective memory: it’s difficult to explain because it’s not that historical memory, the one in books, the one that tells you: "this is the way it was". It’s different, it’s emotional, a memory that I believe transmits more things than a historical memory. But more than anything, it makes you see how things were at that moment.

LatinArt:  The point of view you convey through photography is very important in relation to the scale model. In the photographs - in Italpark’s case - there’s a subjectivity that has to do with an age, a certain gaze...

Dino Bruzzone:  Well, that’s always the idea: for the photograph to transmit what the scale model cannot. When the photograph’s being taken I try to make everything as real as possible. Like when a boy plays with an airplane and does the movements and the sound of the plane. For him, at that moment that plane is flying. So the idea is to capture in a photo THAT moment when something important is happening: something is produced that may be artistic or not... I don’t know, but something emotional is produced.

LatinArt:  In your subsequent series, like the one on the emblematic rationalist architecture in Argentina, or the one on landscapes (2003-2004), you incorporate movement. Instead of being generated from the camera, in your case it’s done through the scale model...

Dino Bruzzone:  There’s an example that I like a lot, of a work I saw once, about an ant wandering on a wall, in which the artist drew the path of the ant. So you looked at the wall and it was nothing, a pencil line! An absurd drawing on the wall. And I think that absurdity helped me understand what art is about. So it seems to me that all this business of creating a complex system of scale model, movement, camera plate, manual, etcetera, makes something happen to the final photo which has an element of absurdity. That’s why that photo requires - it seems to me- a complex system of steps to transmit something that was much easier to communicate in another moment.

LatinArt:  Is that why play is so important in your work in general?

Dino Bruzzone:  Of course! I think playing is one of the things that is sometimes lost in art, and it shouldn’t be lost. It’s important.

LatinArt:  In Kiss, presented at the last Arteba Fair (2006), scale models were gaining more of a leading role.

Dino Bruzzone:  Yes, that’s why it’s good: it’s like Italpark. A technique that has become more sophisticated more emphasized, during these past five years.

LatinArt:  You incorporate music too.

Dino Bruzzone:  The tune is Black Diamond. They finished the concert with that tune and black smoke came up under the drums, it was the last one of the show...and I looked for that moment, which is the climax of the concert...

LatinArt:  With this work you joined the National Fine Arts Museum collection.

Dino Bruzzone:  Yes! Incredible, incredibly! (Laughter)

LatinArt:  The Museum acquired the photograph and the model...

Dino Bruzzone:  Yes. That strikes me as a good decision, because the work is the entire thing, although you can’t always make a model for sale. Sometimes you just make the model for the photo, or you work with it so much that once you’ve taken the shot it comes to pieces afterwards. But now I try for the models to have a definitive state so that they reach the collector together with the photo.

LatinArt:  The process of making the scale model for Kiss strikes me as interesting. Could you tell us a little about it? In a way it refers to all this cult collecting, fanaticism, searching the Internet...

Dino Bruzzone:  I remember when I saw that show on a video in 1975. I was a kid. So I looked for that show and looked for photos and all that kind of material and rebuilt the scenario with it: the stage setting, the same lights, the same drums, the poster. And I got the Kiss dolls on the Internet. After that it was a matter of reconstructing it using my experience and knowledge of architecture.

LatinArt:  At the last Buenos Aires Photo Fair [2006] you exhibited Shaila.

Dino Bruzzone:  Shaila was a cabaret we used to go to when we were 16, 17. Now my friends send me mails and say..."Ooh, we’re going back! They’re happy too, because they really feel it, they feel it was an important place, where we used to go and have a lot of fun. Many anecdotes came out of there, or afterwards, at school, with the things that happened on the weekends when we had gone to Shaila. It was a cabaret on Talcahuano street, between Sarmiento and Corrientes. And it was no big deal, but they were our first experiences nearing the ...erotic. Watching a striptease...

LatinArt:  Like in Kiss, in Shaila you work with the stage setting, bringing the viewer closer.

Dino Bruzzone:  Perhaps it wasn’t exactly like that, but the feeling --I’m going back to the feeling -transmitted by that moment was the same: that thing almost like a fantasy of lights, sound, music, her dancing... it was like a magical world for us too. It was like Italpark, because, although the cabaret was probably not extraordinary and was even a little decadent maybe, to us it was a temple! (Laughter). I wanted to convey the memory, as a very lovely, magical thing.

LatinArt:  In this series the photograph and the scale model have a certain autonomy.

Dino Bruzzone:  It was a very difficult job but it was good because I think it opened up a new experience. When one sees the photo and then the model, one wonders: "but is that the photo of this model or a similar one? It’s the same girl... but the light is different" or "the surroundings seem different"... What you see in the model is not the same thing you see in the photo. And that’s the difficult part that I tried to work with. It’s very difficult to compete with the model because you can see the lights, sound, movement... it’s more of a trompe-l’oeil effect. And all that is something that can’t ever be transferred to the photo. The photo needs to be worked with in a different way, and that’s why it was difficult. The photo has to find another path. I tried to make the girl look like a beautiful body, like a real body, for it to be just figure and background.

LatinArt:  Could you tell me about the choice of songs that are heard?

Dino Bruzzone:  There are two songs. I put one on one day and the other on another day. I’ll leave it up to the person who acquires the work. I looked for a song of the period, the eighties, and "Parole, Parole Parole", sung by Dalila, a French singer, sounded very very appropriate. Apart from being a romantic song of that time, the lyrics are very interesting because she and he are speaking practically about the lack of communication between men and women. He tells her "... no, but you’re very pretty today and you’re adorable, etcetera, etcetera..." and she says: "Ah! Words, words, words that are no use to me." What struck me the first time I went to a cabaret was how seriously the stripper took the song to which she was dancing. How can I put it? It was moving. It wasn’t just another striptease: she really did it with feeling and must have chosen the song because she thought it was important; she wanted to convey those lyrics, and took them very much to heart. You went to see a strip show and were met with an emotional performance. My desire, then, was for the dancer doing the striptease to that song, to act it out. The other girls are looking at her seriously, so a tense moment is produced. Everybody’s attention is on her.

Afterwards, looking for a romantic song of ours, a local song, I got interested in the cumbia a little because it conveys a lot of that: lack of understanding... Argentinean music... social, popular. That’s where Gilda and another singer called Dalila came up. Gilda’s song talks about a woman who gives her body and says: "I give my body without my soul". Because I was also told that this singer had somewhat of a past in the world of cabaret dancing, so she wrote that song. It has the kind of sound that is joyous but with dramatic lyrics. It generated a very interesting tension for the artwork. Because when you listen to the lyrics, they say something like: "I give this body without a soul and this is not what I dreamed when I was little." Of course! "Forgive me mister if I start crying, it’s just that this not what I dreamed when I was a little girl. But I give this body without a soul and I want to make you spend an unforgettable night." The lyrics go something like that... So she finishes singing and the music keeps going, and it kind of wants to be happy, kind of wants to elevate you, but those lyrics take you in and drag you down. So there’s the part about wanting to have fun, but all the while knowing that there’s a lot of drama behind it all.

LatinArt:  The global relevance of your work is very interesting. Even though Italpark was a very local amusement park...

Dino Bruzzone:  It’s something that really surprises me and that I see later, once the work is ready, and that’s when it starts to happen. It happened to me... the first time was when I exhibited Italpark in Sao Paolo (2002). I thought: "Nobody’s going to know what I’m talking about." Because nobody knew it. However, what happened was that somebody would come along and tell me: "in Dí¼sseldorf there was one just like it." And there it is. "We know what you’re talking about." That work has become universal, as you say. It happened with Kiss... but there was no way I could have known.

LatinArt:  Another thing that strikes me as interesting is that there’s a certain common thread in your series, something like a gaze full of candor. It could be precisely because you go back to a time of innocence...

Dino Bruzzone:  I’ve talked about this with Lucas [Lucas Fragasso] and with friends of mine as well. We kid each other: How innocent we were! You relive that feeling, of happiness almost, because you’re innocent and naí¯ve, because you see it now and you see it in a different way...

LatinArt:  It’s as if they become relevant from today’s standpoint. The past comes back, but it does so in order to tell you something today.

Dino Bruzzone:  And we don’t know what exactly, but it definitely means something and you’re trying to understand it, to listen, to discover. Lucas made a good comparison, with an Ernst Bloch phrase: "Happiness is a place that nobody knows where it is, but that we’ve all been to at some time". Perhaps that has something to do with all this. Perhaps that has something to do with a moment in infancy, in adolescence, in childhood. Lucas says something about "pure immediacy." I liked that phrase, because they were indeed moments of pure immediacy. And now, to achieve one of those moments, you need a complex system involving a scale model, photo, movement, sound, music, light... to achieve or try to achieve what was once pure immediacy. And we don’t even achieve it. But we can’t stop trying to achieve it.

LatinArt:  An element that I think helps a lot is humor, does it?

Dino Bruzzone:  Ah! There you go!

LatinArt:  I think it lets you take it in a different way.

Dino Bruzzone:  That’s true. My work aims to be fun. In some cases at least entertaining. It has to do with having fun and that’s why it tries not to be dramatic.

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