Post-Corona with artist Daniele Formica
This is a new series of interviews with artists looking back on the year 2020. An attempt to reflect and to look ahead on what will come. We start with the young artist Daniele Formica (1996, Perugia), born in Italy but living and working and thinking in The Hague.
What did 2020 bring you? Have you gotten busier or calmer than before corona? And what have you done with the situation?
Solitude threaded the motive of my experiences from spring 2020 until present time, almost spring 2021. This specific gift of solitude, as disarming and submerging as it felt to times, I learned to welcome with gratitude and pleasure.
In 1996 Fabrizio De André published the album written with Ivano Fossati “Anime Salve” (etymologically Solitary Spirits). In a concert that same year he revealed the meaning behind that album, with a praise to solitude. Solitude, said De André, is not something anyone can afford. The elderly, the sick, and even politicians cannot allow themselves to solitude. Yet, when we are able to be alone with ourselves we more easily manage to enter in contact with the surrounding; and the surrounding is not only made of our akin, it is made of the whole universe: from the leaf sprouting at night in a field until the stars.
To an artist like myself, solitude has brought focus, reflection, clarity, manic production at candlelight, an even freer order of time, an obsession for a feeling of being present yet always displaced and most of all a craving unrestful neurotic urgency to taste, touch and feel more of the bigger out there and inside me.
What did you learn from an artistic or professional perspective?
Sibling of solitude is patience. Patience is a trait, perhaps skill that I lack since I was a child. My grandfather’s words echoed in my mind throughout all 2020: “Be patient, Daniele, be patient!”. It is not easy to be patient for a child, nor it is for a young artist, nor it is for anyone facing the ghost of solitude. The lesson of patience is only learned through experience.And in front of something so big and disarming to even overcome the Anthropos in Anthropocene, one experiences such a fervor and excitement to be alive that the only mentor of patience becomes time. That unescapable time. That ever looming time. So. Much. Time. Fluid, malleable and extremely arbitrary as well because there is so little to do and so much to feel and express.There was I: no nails to bite, a studio constantly filled to its brim and a very few people to pour myself into. I do not know if I truly learned patience or just came up with a complex set of tricks to keep myself busy.
Have you started to see things in a new light? Has the corona period led to (permanent) changes for your practice?
I puzzled and improvised my weekdays/nights as it best suited my urgency. Sleep split between a threat to avoid and a marvelous realm of exploration. Eating also split between bare hunger and holy ritual of cooking. I’d alternate days fueled with sandwiches and pizzas and days spending hours cooking, looking at the steam condensing on windows, treating garlic cloves as sacred life vessels and spoiling myself to fancy wines. Laurel was the axiom of consumption. If at night I’d find myself at home, I’d draw, write, read and drink until sleep got the best of me. When I was at my studio I’d do similar, perhaps bigger, messier and with loud music. I felt naked all the time. Getting home was always successful. I’d take pitch-dark hot showers from night to night. Spend hours observing still lives occurring in my living room. On the few sunny mornings, I’d find myself admiring the clouds, smiling and crying of joy to be alive.
It all felt and feels like a miraculous drift. Be it stormy, placid or something in between, the drift came natural and felt just right. Ongoing shipwrecking into the present. Drowning, emerging, taking breath. It is something I want to treasure and commit to transmit in the future.
How do you view the recovery of the cultural sector? What do you hope will change?
Solitude has also another sibling. This one is solidarity. A sensation pushing and pulling ones together. An opening, an understanding, a common ground. If there is another thing to realize from the state of things, solidarity is exactly it. Yes, solidarity exists! It is here, among us! Perhaps due to precariousness of the socius, or a deep feeling of trauma, this sort of higher spiritual awareness infiltrated our concepts of meeting, gathering and connecting. And now it is here living through us. Every time I approach the other, I feel this call for grace and genuineness. It takes my hand and guides me to the point of action. I want to comfort them. I want to be comforted. Then I meet the other and it feels like we are both naked. I just hope everyone feels the same way.
Finally, what would you like to say to a next generation of artists who have no idea what life was like before or during the corona virus.
I could say that solitude is a blessing, patience is a teaching and solidarity is an awareness; but I wouldn’t only like to say it to the dazzling blurred future.No. I’d much rather have it engraved on the planks underneath me and the others on this same floating boat.