Interview with Adamo Macri

Newsvine | Claudio Parentela

What is your name?

Great start. Officially it's Adamo Macri, that's if you get a hold of my birth certificate. Although my mother and some friends call me Damo. As a child, my mom would belt that out when she was annoyed with me. DAMO !....

Where do you live and work?

Montreal, Quebec, the land of Cirque du Soleil, Leonard Cohen, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Vito Rizzuto and many others.

What is your creative process like?

It's a segmented cycle which involves writing, drawing, sculpture and photographic work. In my mind there must be this metaphysical activity which mimics procreation. Meaning the subsequent phase is derived by the previous one. I use the term vector for the beginning, it symbolizes the dry seed or the "just about nothing" stage, which is how it actually begins for me. By vector I'm referring to a number, a word or text. The last phase or end result is something tangible. My method simulates the process of food preparation. The amalgamation of different elements to arrive at a specific feeling or flavor.

What is your favorite medium?

I don't have a favorite. They're tools in a methodical process. It always begins with writing a word or phrase down based on an idea. Then I begin sketching. Passed that point I think sculptural and objects have to be created. Finally, the 3D work needs to be recorded and documented by means of a camera. The camera literally becomes a weapon, the weapon used to eliminate sculpture. Going back to your question, I use more than one medium, as many artists do. I'm most comfortable with being described as a multimedia artist, if the term artist doesn't suffice.

The sculptural work you create must die?

Figuratively speaking. Yes, it begins with a seed and it ends up getting "shot". It's full circle. My concept with the tangible object, "sculpture" is what I refer to as a 3D Event, the practice of anti-sculpture. It's about perceiving sculpture as occurrence and not static presence. Ironically it ends up being sculptural because the final is an installation piece, but the sculptural aspects are trapped within. The photographic segment places all objects in the past tense. In an instant, sculpture has vanished and a new reality is created. The same thing happened to my grandmother and now we have to resort to our photo album to see her. For me the resonating image is of utmost importance.

What is your current favorite subject?

It's been the same for many years and probably forever. Human nature and condition, sexuality, contamination and cultural identity, minced and fused together. These are my set commandments. Currently, I've got my Antipasto project which will be ongoing due to its scope. This project's mandate involves creating a trajectory between two iconic works, Andy Warhol's Electric Chair and Da Vinci's Last Supper. Briefly, it requires celebrity participation, in which they're asked to disclose their final meal. One of the challenges is to generate an image based on what they consume and not their physical being. I'm excited about this approach to portraiture. Food as intimate subject matter. I'm overwhelmed by the response of the many artists who've contributed to date. Another project I'm developing is Silicon 1972.5 which documents the films created by both Federico Fellini and Pier Paolo Pasolini between 1969 and 1976. The objective here is a meditation into the collective subconscious, by channeling the films and their associative subject matter.

Which artists have contributed to the Antipasto project and how many do you plan to involve?

I refer to each reply received as an "order". I've received orders from John Baldessari, Karim Rashid, John Gilmore, H.R. Giger, Loretta Lux, Henry Rollins, Raine Maida, Fischerspooner, Floria Sigismondi, Edward Ruscha, Barry Gifford, Franko B, Herschell Gordon Lewis, David LaChapelle and many more. As far as the amount, I'd like a figure that symbolizes 100% split into two equal halves. Meaning, two large clusters. Each one representing and functioning as a cell. That's 2 cells of 50 which totals 100.

How long does it take for you to finish a piece?

Usually a long time. Painters have it easy that way, they need paint and a canvas, in little time they've got a finished piece. It doesn't happen that way for me. I've got project sketches from the mid eighties which would love to see the light of day. I guess funding would speed-up the cause. Actually I take back what I said - countless paintings took many years to complete.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?

I'm not one who lives in the past. I can't and don't think that way. Everything I've done in my life has value, even the bad stuff. My answer is, what I'm working on at the moment. That excites me the most, you know... the next thing.

Are there any contemporary artists that you love?

Many - they're all great in my book, alive, buried or buried alive. It's a natural attraction, a kinship I suppose. Recently I was fascinated by Vanessa Beecroft's South Sudan project. I'm always eager to see Damien Hirst, Ron Mueck and Paul McCarthy's work. There are many.

Can we buy your art anywhere?

No, but you can contact my studio for information.

Anything that people should know about that we don't?

Yes... lots, maybe too much. But I always say, don't spill your beans at once. Expose one at a time and make each as enticing as possible. Alright, I'll go out on a limb and say... I do love just about everything in nature except three things, which coincidentally rhyme - cats, bats and rats.

What is your best piece of advice for those who would like to rise in their level of artistry?

That would be: Determine what you're about. Find the best medium and technique to communicate what that is. Remain focussed, honest and stick to your guns. This may sound typical but it's the only way.

What inspires you to keep going when the work gets frustrating or tough?

Getting frustrated with what you're involved with, only means that you've been doing something wrong. Either working long hours or the project wasn't managed properly. But figuring out what doesn't work is part of the process. It should be addressed, then rectified or deleted. At times I struggle to find the missing link. It's frustrating, you're caught up in the moment, things aren't fitting properly. I believe it's time for a break. Leaving that environment works. Reinitialize... things will follow better later.

How do you describe your work to those who are unfamiliar with it?

I don't or as little as possible. I'd say that it's abstract. I'll talk about general subject matter and advise them to investigate other works which would help with what they're inquiring about. An artist shouldn't dictate his work. It's damaging to those who have a completely different perception. That goes against everything I'm about, which is variables, individualism and ambiguity. The title of the piece isn't ancillary, it's the best indicator of which direction to go. I believe that the art ornaments the title and not the other way around. There are many variables which would work as imagery but only one title.

What kind of training did you have which helped you achieve your current level of artistry?

Life experience mainly, tagged with my education in fine art, history and graphic design. You can have all the training you want from whichever reputable institution, but art comes from somewhere incomprehensible, from a very early stage in life.

Is there a tool or material that you can't imagine living without?

Yes, styrofoam. It's solid yet weightless, it's dry but can become organic, seems innocent but it's toxic, can be beautiful but escentially fake, is somewhat dumb and yet I can go on forever about it. Actually I'm very close to completing a new project called Endocrine Disruptor, where styrofoam takes the lead role.

Who are your influences?

Other than family, friends and environment, a handful of artists have inevitably inspired me. The prominent ones would be Salvador Dali, David Lynch, Federico Fellini, Andy Warhol, Peter Greenaway, David Bowie and Alejandro Jodorowsky.

What inspires you to create?

Everything and nothing. It just happens. I don't have a handle on it. It's taxing at times, many artists feel this way, it's very close to being possessed. I've always joked about reincarnation and that if it exists, I'd want to come back as a "normal boy" and have the need to play golf.

Your contacts?

Adamo Macri studio. I'd like to end with this. "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. His eyes are closed." Albert Einstein.

Interview with Adamo Macri by Claudio Parentela
Newsvine - Published October 3, 2008