Naima Morelli

Published! Interview with Elizabeth Pisani on Art a Part of Culture


Little post to say that Art a part of Cult(ure) – the Rome-based art web magazine I have been writing for since 2010 – has just published the Italian version of my interview with the one and only Elizabeth Pisani, badass adventurer and epidemiologist (that’s right!), trawling around Indonesia to write the tome “Indonesia Etc.” The interview happened thanks to the mediation of another wonderful kickass gal, Ilaria Benini from the publishing house ADD Editore – you might want to google her to check the work she has done in Myanmar as well.

Here is the link to the interview 

Also, another set of considerations, since this morning I feel talkative. What would you do in life if you hadn’t any obligation  or responsibility? This is a recurrent topic I have been discussing with my friends and my ninjas lately. In my case, I had no doubt: I would keep doing exactly what I’m doing right now; I believe that this job I have created for myself is perhaps the coolest.

The contemporary art world can be a tricky one. Sometimes it can feel like you are working for something that has no meaning and is quite superficial (this is from a chat with another contemporary art super-villain friend of mine, who is in an existential crisis right now). For me, this feeling disappears when I met people like Elizabeth Pisani, who are of course not about contemporary art, but about the taste for adventure, learning, knowledge.

Looking back, some of the most beautiful moments and interesting situations of the past few years I have experienced thanks to the question I was allowed to ask because of my job as a journalist. I remember artist Eddy Carrol in St. Kilda, Melbourne mockingly exposing me on that: “Being a journalist must be for you the best alibi to travel around and ask questions!” For sure! In that, the interview is perhaps the best instrument; words of artists still resonates with me many years later.

Off the top of my mind, I can think of what Japanese graffiti artist Twoone told me: “Defining nothing is for me good metaphor for human interests, as in how far you can go. That’s what I do every day by painting and sculpting. For me, to define nothing is to look for new ideas, to make more work, to go through a lot of crisis and to talk to a lot of people. That’s how I expand my universe.” Or American Bali-based artist Ashley Bickerton: “Artists are dyed poodles dancing through fiery hoops for the one percent”, or Singaporean artist Ruben Pang: “I do see the decorative aspect of my work. And want to see my painting being put in bedrooms. You wouldn’t vomit in your mouth, you know? I want my paintings to me in a museums, to be on an altar shrine on the moon, not in someone’s bedroom while they are fucking!”

In some interviews I felt deeply moved. Sometimes you get the most noble, vulnerable and beautiful part of a human being came up. When Indian Singapore-based artist Shubigi Rao was telling me about her beloved library which got burned to the ground, I got tears in my eyes. In an interview with some kids in the tough neighborhood of San Basilio, a little girl struck me by innocently saying: “I like it here, but there are some bad guys who kill a lot of people.” Or Iranian artist Koushna Navabi who told me of that time when military came into her dance school with machine guns. These stories emotionally hooked me, they allow myself to expand my sensitivity and universe.

All these different voices and accent I have recorded are the biggest treasure. But they are not just audio files to be archived. It is like in that episode of The Fist of the North Star (you total nerd!), where the protagonist Kenshiro uses a fighting technique called “Trasmigration through Satori”, where he is able to use the techniques all the people he has fought and met throughout his journey. This is because he has absorbed their spirit and now they are part of him.

Yes, journalism is ultimately my job and contemporary art is the arena in which I operate. But the ground is not cold. But these pieces of spirit, these words, these moments, these beacons of beauty as well as deep, funny, moving reflection, will stay with me forever. In that, I had no doubt: this continuous learning, feeling and expanding is precisely how I want to go through life.

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