Giulio Locatelli, born in 1993 in Bergamo , has always been interested in the universe of textile fibers and has been working for years mainly with thread in which he recognizes a ductile and versatile tool to create his complex installations similar to articulated stalactites and stalagmites. Thread for the artist is a medium of expression and analysis – personal and universal – a metaphor of roots and ties, a simple element which, like the calcareous drop, sediments one passage after another until it assumes the sculptural form of the idea of the artist, to the point of becoming a place-non-place where each of us can be welcomed to rediscover themselves.
“Il Pensatoio”, variable dimensions, thread and thread, 2019, photo by Giulio Locatelli
What meanings does the thread assume in the context of your artistic research, beyond the mere function of an expressive medium?
The thread, the primary element of my artistic research, beyond being just an expressive medium, or just a material tool for the concretization of ideas, becomes both a tool for analysis and reflection and a symbol that brings with it all the experiences; it becomes a catalyst for memories, relationships, friendships, discords. Initially manipulated through sewing, a ritual in which there is a shift from reality, from present time to a beyond, not visible, not measurable.An act to highlight a push towards a horizon, a landscape, another entity distant from reality, but with inseparable links with it. The thread, moreover, is not used either in a decorative way or in a descriptive way, but more as an expression of my gesture that becomes free, analyzes and reflects on cities, landscapes, places and non-places that have always been frequented by human beings, in where there are exchanges, relationships and contaminations.
“Into the waves”, taccuino cucito, 2020, photo by Giulio Locatelli
From two-dimensional works you have moved on to large three-dimensional installations in which the public enters the work. How did you come to this change and why?
As I mentioned, initially the thread was used through sewing, the equivalent of a pencil trace, a brush, a gesture, a testimony that brings with it all the experiences; the thread thus gave rise to two-dimensional works, to Tracciati, whose images evoke geographical maps, “cabrei” with the aim of creating visions of the world that do not lead back to known places and spaces, but that allow us to glimpse ghostly shapes, liquid and changing gazes. In the Tracciati starts from the English term landscape, as this term speaks of lands and escape, of spaces in which to get lost and escape, with an anxiety to overcome the finitude of borders and places of the collective imagination. Driven by the desire to leave the “place of painting”, the thread now finds space in a sculptural dimension, giving rise to sculptures that recall limestone shapes, rocks, stones, stalactites and stalagmites in which the viewer can approach and enter into a relationship with them. This change from two-dimensional to three-dimensional was born in a natural way, as a result of continuous reflections, thoughts, questions about the thread, an element so subtle and so sensitive that it contains changing and countless possibilities.
“Masafuera”, further away, variable dimensions, thread and thread, 2020, photo by Giulio Locatelli
What are and/or represent the ‘non-places’ of your installations?
They are real analogies, surreal situations that induce whoever is confronted with the installation to feel like a traveler aiming to embarking on a journey towards a space, towards an intimate, inner dimension, inherent in each individual where everyone can rediscover what is and it was, his own memories and recollections.The installations that I have recently been making are analogies, installations that can exist in any space, in any place not determined in a precise geographical position, because they are subject to a curvature of the space-time dimension that make themselves visible and accessible only to those who have the sensitivity to perceive their presence and stimulate the viewer to undertake that journey into the bowels of themselves by looking in the mirror, investigating their inner dimension, facing those fears and all those memories that often and willingly want to forget.
“The Cathedral”, variable dimensions, thread and thread, 2019, photo by Giulio Locatelli
What is ‘memory’ for you, one of the main themes of your work and research?
The theme of memory, of remembrance, are key themes of my artistic research: this is because I believe that they are the result of the experiences matured, of the encounters made and of the intertwined relationships, they are what shape and sculpt the human being, leading him to growth. Therefore I believe that through artistic work it is right to bring attention to these conditions thus favoring those who relate to the work in a personal interpretation derived from the fact that everyone can and must go in search of their own memories, of their own recollections , to discover and rediscover one’s identity, what one is and has been.
“Under the flow of time”, variable dimensions, thread and thread, , photo by Giulio Locatelli
We live in an era of liquid and virtual relationships, yet in your works the relationship and bond with each other are expressed through the ‘knots’ that allow the structure to ‘enrich itself’ and grow solid. What value do they have for you in life and in art?
Relationships, experiences, encounters established with others are the basis of human growth, therefore for me they have a primary value both in life and in art, I do not separate the two; I try to bring into my artistic work what I discover about myself through the relationship with other persons and where there is an important exchange a knot, a symbol, a cornerstone of the map of my experience is established that gives shape and form to my person. The liquid and virtual relationships, filtered or established through the screen, I see them a bit like a flowing river, smoothing and sculpting the stone of the human being.
“Protected Place”, variable dimensions (53 x 53 x 53 cm), wire, photo by Giulio Locatelli
How do your installations relate to the places that host them?
My installations always relate to the place that hosts them: I firmly believe in the fact that the place becomes part of the artistic work, the space granted for the installation becomes the property of the artist and an integral part of the work itself. In the last installations that I am creating, the contamination between artistic work and physical space is given by the presence of the threads that from the sculpture expand to the ground like roots.
“Stalagma”, variable dimensions, thread, 2019, photo by Giulio Locatelli
In many installations, for example in the ‘The nearby cave of memories’ selected for the Arte Laguna Prize, you only use white thread. Why this choice?
The choice of white thread is due to the fact that white helps the installation or sculpture to send the viewer back to an image already present in his imagination. If you think about stalagmites or stalactites, the color white immediately comes to mind. Furthermore white, cold, white as snow is not without emotion, as is often thought, but brings with it purity and inside white there are shades that emerge, depending on how the light filters on the installation, pushing themselves up to blue. Until I have extrapolated everything possible from white I will continue to use it, not precluding myself from using another color, in which case it will be the work itself to suggest it.
“The nearby cave of memories”, variable dimensions, thread, 2019, photo by Giulio Locatelli
You argue that ideas must be given concrete form because if they remained in the head, ‘they would catch cold’. So making art for you is a sort of ‘planting‘ of the idea, like a sowing, or it is keeping it safe and secure in a work of art to transport it beyond the personal dimension and share the experience? Or something else?
Exactly, if the ideas are not given a definite form they become cold and fossilize in the head, which means that when you have an idea, interesting or not, you have to make it real, to observe it, analyze it and see if it really works even below the material aspect; often and willingly there is an abyss between the idea and the material realization, and only by extrapolating it from the dark room of the mind can you perceive whether it works or not. For me, making art is a sort of sowing, leaving a small seed in the fertile soil of life, a small trace of one’s passage which, if cultivated correctly and carefully, can give excellent fruits. Fruits that must be shared with the people who observe the artistic work, because the work of art must be usable to the viewers, it must be shown, because if it remains only in the artist’s studio and seen only by its creator it remains sterile, it loses every chance to sprout, mature and evolve into something else.
“Diary of a quarantine”, sewn notebook, 2020, photo by Giulio Locatelli
“Diary of an ancient star navigator”, sewn notebook, 2020, photo by Giulio Locatelli
“Black Book”, sewing notebook, 2020, photo by Giulio Locatelli
How important is the technique in your work compared to the idea, the ‘artisan’ dimension compared to the ‘conceptual’ one?
In my opinion, technique and idea go hand in hand, this is because when you decide to implement the idea that you have in mind, after having passed it through a sieve and analyzed analytically, you have to relate to the implementation which is often not taken for granted. In addition, the handcrafted aspect is present in my work because I like to put my hand in what I do since the materials are alive and speak to you and in turn suggest possible solutions.
“Meteora”, variable dimensions, thread and thread, 2020, photo by Giulio Locatelli
A project or a work that you would like to be able to carry out in the future?
In this period I’m working on a big project called Magic carpet, a magic carpet, a bright star in a spring sky. Magic carpet was born from the desire to highlight a reflection on the cold and unexpected condition in which I found myself living in my city, Bergamo, and the country where I have my studio, Alzano Lombardo, during the COVID- 19 pandemic. As if overwhelmed by a storm, everything that seemed certain and safe to us melted like a thread of a skein, we found ourselves in an upside down condition in which relationships were interrupted, ancient memories lost and more stable bonds cut.
Magic carpet, through a choral artistic operation, based on the cooperation between the various territorial entities, wants to mend the wounds of this storm, trying to re-weave a torn social fabric, make citizenship their own identity again, creating, through artistic operation, a magic carpet. The work involves the inhabitants of the Val Seriana and Bergamo, a sign with which to go and dialogue with the territories, leading them to work collectively on the realization, thus making them reflect on the meaning of a union, on the exchange of experiences, knowledge, lived experiences,where today dominates the single individual lost and locked in his own island, afraid to venture into a stormy sea.
The primary element of MAGIC CARPET is the thread, a tool for both analysis and realization of the idea, a physical element and symbol of a valley with a deep and ancient textile vocation. The thread of each individual, woven close to each other and inserted into the weave of the carpet, becomes a testimony that brings with it all the experiences, it becomes an expression through which a reflection is carried out on one’s origins, on one’s own roots, on cities, towns, places, non-places, spaces, in which there are exchanges, relationships, contaminations that form and give shape to one’s being.
The work as a large puzzle will come to life from the union of several elements scattered in the fabric of the territory, becoming an assemblage of several languages, which as pixels of a larger image, become symbols of the collectivity of several countries which, by uniting, intertwining threads, weaving bonds and exchanging relationships and experiences with one’s neighbor, allow the creation of a real magic carpet.
By installing itself inside the public space, it becomes an appendage of thought, a way to counteract loneliness, anxiety and to grab concepts of solidarity, influence integration experiments, becoming a sign of a potential return of the idea to a universal of freedom and emancipation, a small bright sign in a deep darkness. Finally, through the dialogue with the urban fabric of the valley and Bergamo it becomes a discontinuous narrative in which to measure oneself with the morphology of the territory, rediscovering the power of art when confronted with the public sphere.
“Flying carpet”, 120 x 220 cm, wool, 2020, photo by Giulio Locatelli