Between late June and early August 2014 artist and MAKER Magazine contributor, Davide Balliano was invited to work with NUOVE, an artistic residence project dedicated to the knowledge, experimentation and production of ceramic art works, based in Nove, near Bassano Del Grappa in the north east of Italy.
While in Nove, Balliano and photographer Alessandro Zuek Simonetti, whom he calls ‘Ale’ for short, spent time documenting the ceramic pieces he made, discussing the evolution of his work, and the affects the change in creative environment had on him and the work alike. Below is a transcript of their first Skype conversation since leaving Nove, with Simonetti leading the interview:
I saw the installation of your pieces again.
Davide: So what do you think?
The light was amazing and the pieces looked dope in that space. I love it!
Yeah, the light in the space was insane. I practically had the holy grail of light all day long. It’s soft and diffused but powerful, and it lasts all day.
Of course I've seen your sculptures in NYC, but I have to say, it was quite interesting and unusual see you working with ceramics. I mean it’s such a familiar environment, since I grew up in Italy and ceramic airbrushed dogs, plates and colorful vases have always surrounded me.
Yeah, I feel like the locals haven't seen much ceramics like mine in the past, but they were all so nice and friendly. Everybody was excited and ready to help by suggesting solutions and possible new directions. Without that I could have spent the same six weeks just trying out materials, colors, and finishes...
Nove has 2000 souls living there...wasn't it a visual/cultural shock for you to operate in that type of environment?
Not really actually. I come from a somewhat a similar environment, the countryside and a hard-working mentality. I immediately managed to get a very nice dialogue going with them. Seeing as how I had never even touched ceramic before getting there and we ended up with a fabulous production.
Its funny thinking of you waking up in the middle of nowhere and going to the factory for hours!
Yes, if you compare it to our NYC lifestyle sounds strange but actually I'm very old school in my daily routine also at home. Like for the last month I've been stopping at the square cafeteria and getting my coffee and reading the news, surrounded by old dudes already sipping white wine.
Well, at least in the approach, in the way of thinking. I had always thought of photography as a very sculptural media, much more then pictorial.
I actually remember your photo pieces from back in the day.
Once you pass by Torino we'll go through my photo "archive" together. You know I should be a photographer, right? That was my major.
I do know!
I often still think in those terms, I feel I relate to my surroundings in a matter of framing and lighting.
I can see that, the layout of the installation in Nove was so photo friendly!
Yeah, solids arranged in a space in relation to shadows and highlights.
I snapped few images with my phone
For me its essential. I could never imagine being satisfied with something that doesn't create a beautiful picture, at least in my mind.
It’s happened in the past, that I have bumped into works that are super in a photo, but clumsy in reality. No good but you could fool people…especially now where the perception is 80% virtual. Anyway, I could never fool myself and I'm a stubborn critic. But as I was saying about the connections with photography, you know when I was studying and even the years after; I was really fixed with that kind of cold (a little big German) photo minimalism. If I can call it that? Sort of a Dusseldorf school, mixed with Ghirri.
Hey so, tell me what was the reaction of locals towards your production!
I think they liked them a lot actually! and I really loved how the comments where so genuine and direct. No one said "interesting" it was more "it looks like a toilet"!
But truly in such a funny, in a no filter way, I loved it, I miss it now. For that reason and many others, I do think that was mutually interesting. I certainly got so much more than I gave, but I think that I opened up a couple of breaches as well.