Marco Croci is an engineer who is also an artist who lives in Milan, Italy. Among his body of work is a genre that he calls, “Hurtwork” http://www.marcocrociart.daportfolio.com/. I was intrigued by what I saw on his website and requested an interview. We chatted about his work, contemporary art in Italy and the erosion on culture.
MICHAEL: Hey Marco, Thanks for chatting. First of all, you seem to be focusing on erosion, damage and pain in your work. It's obvious in your paintings and canvases. What's that all about?
MARCO: Hello Michael. Yes, a large part of my work focuses on some kind of erosion due to disregard and insensibility, causing art degradation and cultural desertification. I see interesting networks growing out there, connecting people who care, but we're so far from reversing the main trend. You can find these concepts in my Hurtwork, which is a manifesto for art preservation, a call to consciousness. I provide "weapons" like nails, screws, barbed wire and broken glass to my canvases, to make them able to preserve themselves. You also got the point talking about pain and damage, because the fear of being hurt is needed to awaken watchers' consciousness. Other means could be used to do that; I choose the straight, rough way.
MICHAEL: I love the concept. I think most people look at erosion and think it's someone else's responsibility whether it’s art or the environment. What led you to this concept?
MARCO: Well, of course it's easy to think that is always someone else's fault. I see a general lack of consciousness, especially here in Italy. Your parallelism between art and the environment is fitting because my aim was exactly starting from art to extend the concept. We (including me) should think more about what we do every day. Maybe it sounds boring to someone, but I believe that life could be more fun if we used our brains.
MICHAEL: Lack of consciousness in Italy? Isn't Italy the home of art? Don't Italians celebrate and revere the good life? Wine, art, great food, Tuscany? Rome? Florence? If Italy isn't conscious about preserving art and culture, we're in big trouble.
MARCO: I know it seems a paradox, but it isn't at all. Just think about the conservation issues of Pompeii or the illegal building in archaeological sites, two examples of an endless list. To sum up, remember what former Italian Finance Minister Tremonti said few years ago in order to explain budget cuts: "You can't eat culture.” But it is a worldwide problem. Ivanhoe has been rewritten by the Sir Walter Scott Club because they thought it was too long for third millenium readers. It means that something is going wrong, both with common people and institutions.
MICHAEL: Absolutely. It's amazing and frightening. And so, given the erosion of culture and values, do you ever feel that you're fighting an uphill battle with your work?
MARCO: It's almost surely a losing battle, I know, but I keep on trying. However I don't spend my whole day blaming and complaining and also my artwork is not only about hurt and preservation. It seems to me like I'm living on an island in the ocean of decline, but people I care about are with me and I also know that lots of other islands are out there. We just need to connect one to each other.
MICHAEL: That's exactly why we're chatting. Tell me about your painting and sculpture. What's it all about for you?
MARCO: Well Michael, I don't know if I have a unique, satisfactory answer to your question. I have hints and I should join them, but a little naivete might be a good thing in this case. Undoubtedly, there is a well defined design behind some of my works, such as the previously mentioned Hurtworks or Musical Decomposition. I wanted to translate complex thoughts and careful considerations into "self-sufficient objects.” It is a way to strengthen the message and it is also like taking pictures of my thoughts in certain moments of my life. Otherwise, talking about Rain on Canvas, I think I'm trying to reach a symbiosis with nature, a purification. This is a synthesis of thoughts as well, but it is less explicit.
MICHAEL: Are you a full-time artist? How do you support yourself? How do most Italians think about contemporary art compared to Caravaggio (my favorite artist) and the Old Masters?
MARCO: I'm not a full-time artist, I work as an engineer in Milan. About your second question, I think it's difficult to compare, because art is a flow and what happens now depends on what happened before. Moreover, society changes, needs are different. Probably we should compare the art to the society of the same historical period. Maybe today we have more quantity, thanks to a "globally increased" welfare, so it is more difficult to find something interesting.
MICHAEL: Milano! I have a very romantic view of Milan. I see it as a highly cultural, upscale city where a lot of hip and educated people live in cool lofts with Jacobsen eggs chairs and Mies Van Der Rohe sofas. Am I right? LOL. What's it really like?
MARCO: Yes, you can find that kind of status symbol, like elsewhere. Maybe Van Der Rohe wouldn't be so proud of that, because often the form is the only aim. What is Milan today? It's a city breathlessly trying to get cosmetic surgery, awaiting Expo 2015. You can still find a lot of good things - just don't search for them where they are flaunted.
MICHAEL: What do you think about the art world today? Do you feel that you're part of it or alienated by it?
MARCO: It's not so easy, but fortunately it is possible to find people who encourage young artists even during this financial crisis.
MICHAEL: Does you work as an engineer influence your art at all? Do the two disciplines ever overlap?
MARCO: A certain kind of mix surely helps me in finding solutions, sometimes through an iterative process. My artwork is the sum of artistic thinking and an engineering approach.
MICHAEL: Finally Marco, what are your hopes for the future and your work as an artist?
MARCO: I hope to keep feeding this flow, gathering something from the environment, from the people, and giving it back in new forms. And I wish to continue to have fun, after all!
MICHAEL: Thanks Marco. Rock on!
MARCO: Thanks to you, Michael. It has been a nice conversation.
Check out Marco and his cool work at www.marcocrociart.daportfolio.com.