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Challenging Art: An Interview with Italian Artist, Biancoshock

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Milan-based socially engaged artist, Biancoshock (a pseudonym the artist prefers to use), was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to answer some questions for SAH Journal. We wanted to know more about his diverse, and often provocative urban art projects; as well his time spent travelling and creating in different parts of the world. So far in his career, Biancoshock has realised more than 800 “interventions” on the streets of Italy, Albania, Belgium, Croatia, France, England, Malaysia, Malta, Norway and Singapore, to name but a few. While he exhibits widely, he has also participated in numerous urban art festivals (Citileaks, Memorie Urbane, Stencibility). In 2014, he presented his work at TEDx Oporto, Portugal.1Biancoshock places social activism high on his list of priorities, using art as the mediator for a worthwhile and necessary conversation between each individual who encounters it. By choosing unconventional sites for the creation of his art, and involving those spaces in intimate and challenging critiques, Biancoshock infers his questioning more seriously towards society and the centrally politicised - perhaps overly polished - contemporary art world.
Studies in Arts and Humanities VOL02/ISSUE02/2016
INTERVIEW | sahjournal.com
Challenging Art:
An Interview with Italian Artist, Biancoshock
Biancoshock
Artist
Italy
Fiona Cashell
Visual Artist/Educator
Dublin, Ireland
© Biancoshock & Fiona Cashell. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/.
Abstract
Milan-based socially engaged artist, Biancoshock (a pseudonym the artist prefers to use), was kind
enough to take time out of his schedule to answer some questions for SAH Journal. We wanted to
know more about his diverse, and often provocative urban art projects; as well his time spent
travelling and creating in different parts of the world. So far in his career, Biancoshock has realised
more than 800 “interventions” on the streets of Italy, Albania, Belgium, Croatia, France, England,
Malaysia, Malta, Norway and Singapore, to name but a few. While he exhibits widely, he has also
participated in numerous urban art festivals (Citileaks, Memorie Urbane, Stencibility). In 2014, he
presented his work at TEDx Oporto, Portugal.
1
Biancoshock places social activism high on his list of
priorities, using art as the mediator for a worthwhile and necessary conversation between each
individual who encounters it. By choosing unconventional sites for the creation of his art, and
involving those spaces in intimate and challenging critiques, Biancoshock infers his questioning more
seriously towards society and the centrally politicised - perhaps overly polished - contemporary art
world.
The full array of Bianoshock’s projects can be found at http://www.biancoshock.com/
“For me it is essential to enter into contact with different cultures – it is a part of my art.”
- Biancoshock
Keywords: Biancoshock; Italian art; Street art, Ephemerals, Activism, Social practice (Art), Society,
Culture.
1
“Bio”, (2016, October 10). Retrieved from http://www.biancoshock.com/bio.html
Biancoshock and Fiona Cashell
58
From Biancoshocks ‘Borderlife’ series. Image courtesy of the Artist.
Q. ‘Biancoshock’ is not your real name. How does anonymity add to your art, activism and
public persona?
A. My anonymity is a provocation: for me the most important things are my projects, my
artworks, my activism. The idea and the message are more important than my face and
myself.
I don’t love to show my face on social networks or on the web, not because I want to seem
like a mysterious artist, but because I think that the focus has to be on my Art, and not on my
person. Too many ‘VIP’ artists in this period are often more important than the figure of the
artist. The focus is on his promotion, his personality, and not on his art. Really strange period.
Q. In Web 0.0, you are making a point about communities’ engagement and communication
through social media networks. Do you believe that social media negatively impacts people
and real communities?
A. The aim of my project is to stimulate people to think about a social aspect: I don’t want to
give a personal opinion but suggest a reflection. Certainly social media has changed people
and their habits, society and communities, but if used in the correct way, it can be a good tool
to stay connected and interact with people that live in other parts of the world.
In Web 0.0, I just wanted to show how all the social tools of the internet/web applications
already exist in real life. In this small village of 600 citizens that don’t have Internet
connection, they don’t know the meaning of these tools.
Biancoshock and Fiona Cashell
59
“Web 0.0". Image courtesy of the Artist.
Q. You largely describe your art as ephemeral- creating installations and works that exist for
short periods of time. Why is ephemeralism important to you? Where do you feel permanence
in art resides?
A. It’s important because Ephemeralism is the essence of my artistic adventure. When I
decided to give a name to my urban activism (that in my opinion is not street art) I realized
that Ephemeral was the adjective that better described a lot of the aspects of my activity. So I
decided to use Ephemeralism as definition.
My art is ephemeral in real life, as one intervention could be live for 2-3 hours, 3 days, in any
case for a really short period; but at the same time, it can be live forever through photo,
video, exhibition, and the web. For this reason, photos and documentation are really
important.
Q. Does your work highlight our tendencies towards social compartmentalization? I.e. are
we ignoring too many things in our environments? In consequence placing importance on the
wrong things?
A. I think we probably live in a society that doesn’t give the correct attention to environments
and the importance of environments. Probably globalization doesn’t help us to maintain some
important values and ideals. But as I’ve said, my aim is only to suggest these kinds of
reflection: I'm not conceited and I don’t want to make judgments or propose solutions. What I
can do and I want to do is to offer food for thought, and communication opportunities to a
heterogeneous public.
Biancoshock and Fiona Cashell
60
Q. For your Borderlife series, you converted manholes into small dwellings in Milan, Italy, in
an effort to create dialogue regarding the homelessness epidemic in Europe. Can you talk
about the development and realization of this project, and what it meant to you?
A. This project was born as I was affected by what I saw in Bucharest: 600+ homeless people
living in manholes. A lot of these people die in manholes everyday, as rats.
Everyday other citizens walk on the streets without considering that under their feet there are
people who are constantly suffering in terrible silence. This shocked me and then I decided to
create three installations, reproducing three different rooms of a house.
“If some problems cannot be avoided, make them comfortable” - I used this as a description -
a provocative sentence to invite people to open their eyes to this kind of daily tragedy.
From the “Borderlife” series: Installations created in manholes on the streets of Milan. Image
courtesy of the Artist.
Q. Movement and travel is predominant in your life as an artist. There seems to be an
underlying message in your process regarding the global community, and the limitations
and/or impact of borders. Can you elaborate on this?
A. Movement and travel for me are important because each place in the world is different in
terms of culture, history, problems, environments, etc.
For me it is essential to enter into contact with different cultures it is a part of my art.
Obviously is not easy because my art is independent and self-financed, but I always try to
travel and realize urban intervention in different cities, demonstrating that some ideas,
messages and problems can be understood across the world, because they are lived and
experienced by all people.
For me borders are stupid conventions: my art is for everyone, without borders or limitations.
Biancoshock and Fiona Cashell
61
Q. You have been called an “urban interventionist”. What does this mean to you?
2
A. For me definitions are not important. In the first period of my artistic adventure I didn’t
consider myself an ‘artist’, let alone a ‘street artist’.
I can say that certainly I’m an urban activist that works mainly on the street, with the aim of
offering a little ‘shock’ to the public viewer. My art is public, and my public is the common
people.
The rest for me is not important.
Q. What is the ultimate goal with your art?
A. To kill my personal anxiety; to stimulate common people to think about some social
problems; to demonstrate that creativity is free, and that is in the DNA of us all, and that it is
not a gift from God. Everyone can find his/her way to be active and alive: society wants us to
be passive and silent. It’s time to react.
Q. What are you working on right now?
A. I’m working on different projects. I’m not able to stay concentrated on only one project.
Certainly the most important project at this moment is the project I’m doing with Harmen de
Hoop, one of the pioneers of urban art, and an example for me. I’m really proud to have the
honor to work with him, and we are doing a really interesting project. (www.biancoshock-
dehoop.com)
Q. Studies in Arts and Humanities Journal is an open access, peer reviewed journal that
brings together work by undergraduate and postgraduate students alongside that of
academics. How do you feel about your Art being included in this context?
A. I’m glad, because my art is not for conventional galleries or boring exhibitions. My art is
public; it is directed to the common people, to the passerby, the clerk, the unemployed, the
students and the retired.
I just hope to be able to stimulate some young minds to start to create something new, with a
potential message, not only for business or economic purposes, but to demonstrate that we
can do everything just with our ideas.
References
‘BIO - Biancoshock’. Accessed 11 December 2016. http://www.biancoshock.com/bio.html.
‘The Crystal Ship - Biancoshock’. Accessed 11 December 2016.
http://www.biancoshock.com/the-crystal-ship.html.
2
Reed, Martyn. (2016, October 10). Retrieved from http://www.biancoshock.com/the-crystal-ship.html
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
The Crystal Ship -Biancoshock
  • Bio -Biancoshock
'BIO -Biancoshock'. Accessed 11 December 2016. http://www.biancoshock.com/bio.html. 'The Crystal Ship -Biancoshock'. Accessed 11 December 2016. http://www.biancoshock.com/the-crystal-ship.html.