Art

When refuse meets art

In Francesco Petruccelli’s works for his latest outing — bangaloREsidency, a collaboration between the Goethe-Institut and Max Mueller Bhavan Bangalore, trash is transcending into art.

Trash bags, wires and woven plastic sacks make way into his sculptures, which are busts of influential personalities. “For me, trash and art have a lot of commonalities. There is nothing more that you want to add to a finished painting hung before you. Likewise, trash is at the fag end of its life. It is the real death of the matter. You can’t do anything with it. And may be 1,000 years later, what is trash for us now would be interpreted as cultural remains by an archaeologist,” says the lanky German artist. At the warehouse of Daily Dump, situated just above their outlet in Indiranagar, the German artist is busy realising this vision.

When refuse meets art

While he has already exhibited one work, a sculpture of a slaughtered cow, in a group show at Max Mueller, he plans to create six more and exhibit those at a recycling unit. “I am unable to remember the name but I was quite taken in by what I saw, especially the conditions in which the workers were operating. The unit recycles everything including plastic. They are inhaling poisonous gases, their surroundings are toxic. So, I want to work there, create art in collaboration and then exhibit in the same space. I have started working towards it but the time is very short. I don't know if it will be possible,” says the Italian-born artist whose residency ends this month.

Irony rides strongly in Francesco’s seemingly simple-looking pieces. Portraits of powerful social personalities in classical baroque art style created for posterity are interpreted by him using trash bags. His works are not meant for keeps but to be destroyed. The recreation of influential people in a material considered so low and fragile comes across strongly. “My approach changes with different materials and techniques but the underlying issue of identity and crisis remains an ongoing concern in my artistic practice. How we define ourselves forms the core issue of my art. The concept of power and its display interests me. For me, it is all appearances and a mask,” explains the artist.

When refuse meets art

The latest work in progress is a bust of a cardinal. Talking about his previous work, Francesco explains why he chose to make a slaughtered cow, which is also a hot topic of debate in controversies and debate here. “For me, a cow is a symbol of nature and how we are working against it.” He stretched plastic trash bags to make the slaughtered cow, which is split from the middle.

When refuse meets art

“When you stretch these bags, you get tensions similar to a human body. When I came here, I thought I would have to order some European plastic trash bags online and after I used the ones available here, I am thinking of taking back a few with me. They are so thin and malleable. Also, the shine gives it another effect,” he adds. Talking of trash, back home in Germany, he says recycling is apparently on track but in his native country Italy, the situation is not so good. About Bengaluru, the artist is happy to note citizens and artists engagement with current issues and the presence of innovative ideas like Daily Dump, an outfit led by Poonam Bir Kasturi promoting the idea of composting at home by offering aesthetic home composting units.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 12:29:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/when-refuse-meets-art/article19790800.ece

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