During the Coronavirus pandemic, Art Spiel is reaching out to artists to learn how they are coping.
Gianluca Bianchino is a multimedia artist and curator living and working in Northern New Jersey. Inspired by physics and architecture, his work is focused on immersive installations and interactive sculptures that often engage with optics and technology expressing lyrical qualities that stem from a background in painting and an interest in astronomy. Originally from Italy, he attended an Architectural magnet school before relocating to the US where he received a BFA from New Jersey City University, and an MFA from Montclair State University. Bianchino is currently an adjunct professor at MSU, WPU, and BMCC.
AS: How are you coping?
GB: Considering the unprecedented circumstances I am doing well overall. My thoughts are often directed at my mother, who is elderly and lives in the south of Italy, the country hardest affected thus far by the outbreak. Considering her even more preoccupying set of circumstances, she seems to be safe at the moment, quarantining in total isolation but cared for at a distance by friends and family. It is still unsettling not to be able to assist her beyond phone calls.
As for my situation here in the US, I am rather lucky to be in isolation in my studio in Newark NJ, where I am able to “camp out” indefinitely with all the basic resources needed, and studio time beyond imagination. I am also fortunate to still be employed working as an adjunct for universities. Adapting to remote teaching has been challenging and already gratifying at times, but I miss the classroom and its rhythms. Given the extraordinary studio opportunity at hand, art making has been therapeutic to say the least. Here’s a glimpse into what’s currently brewing in my quarters.
AS: Has your routine changed?
GB: More than changed. My routine has slowly expanded and dilated, becoming oddly more fluid, allowing even for prolonged unapologetic procrastination. As an artist who collects a decent amount of material and things I find myself these days aimlessly roaming my studio and storage area, rediscovering old artworks, objects, and tools that belonged in a remote compartment of the creative mind, now suddenly resuscitating use or meaning. Each time, when I am finally able to remind myself to stop scavenging my own archive, I get back to my actual work in progress.
AS: Can you describe some of your feelings about all this?
GB: I will restrain myself here a bit as my feelings would be mostly directed at our failing relationship with our world, and those generally conflate with ongoing concerns about misguided political and corporate leadership in all sectors of the human experience. I am sad, yet oddly not surprised by what is unfolding. As artists, we have an innate propensity to explore, to various degrees, the interconnectivity of life. And now that interconnectedness is ever more visible through a near perfect recipe for disaster fueled by conflict, systematic poverty, economic inequality, and climate neglect, which in my view encompasses climate denial and misdirected climate positivity.
AS: What matters most right now?
GB: There are many aspects of a complex society like ours that matter very much at the moment, but what I think really matters is the opportunity nature suddenly has to reclaim some of its own real-estate on this planet. In doing so, I hope it can show us the way to a renewed global environmental contract that can thrive outside the private sector’s thirst for monetizing world problems.
AS: Any thoughts about the road ahead?
GB: In the age of information we must become better critics of the content that is provided to us by those who have the power to edit and filter it. As artists we participate more directly in visual culture making. It is therefore our responsibility to equip society with the ability to see beyond the surface. Our world, while dark in recent times, does not look like it did in George Orwell’s 1984, where society lives in fear within a bleak reality of pure totalitarianism. We would not allow it under our dominant economic paradigm. Our world rather feels more colorful and exciting, filled with dynamic architecture and advertisement, and even still with moments seemingly in harmony with nature, all in the pursuit of progress.
This situates our reality closer to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, where a type of progress and information age that parallels our own reality results in a stagnant and clueless human condition. Will that be our future? How will we especially respond when our economic and political institutions will steer in favor of business-as-usual the process of normalization that is bound to take place after Covid-19? Our ability to construct a better world for all and everything on this planet may rest in the message nature is delivering to us while we exist as hostages of our own perils.
All photos courtesy of the artist.
Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: email@example.com