Chain D.L.K.: Guido, I know that you’ve been involved with the punk and skateboard scene since your teenage years. How did this influence you to becomeinvolved with visual arts and when exactly did you begin considering it as acareer?
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: Yes, at the end of the 80’s my sister had this plastic “banana” skateboard, but I thought it was something for girls. I think it was in ’89/’90 when I got this Variflex deck and I started to skate with some friends. It was the end of a little good time for skateboarding here, but it was also different if compared to the contemporary skateboard scene now… it was a real street thing with dirty ugly people, violence, stuff like that. I’ve been skating especially between ’91-’95 during the worst crisis of skateboarding. It was awesome we were just few people in the area, we dressed like clowns buying XXXXXL clothes in cheap market. We skated only the streets and we were hated by all the people and we hated all the world…we had a lot of fights, daily problems with police. It was a problem at the school too, everybody was playing football…Anyway today the situation would be a bit different. I usually talk so much about skateboarding because thanks to it I met some of my favorite punk music (but also other bands like Sonic Youth or Dead Can Dance) I have read the first infos about animal rights and I decided to be vegetarian when I was 16-17. I was listening a lot of hardcore-punk at the time…I started with fast old school bands than I was into typical ’90’s HC stuff, also because in the squats of Alessandria I saw a lot of good bands (you know Andrea…), some of them are still on my playlist. About the visual arts: I started drawing when I was a child and I never stopped. I always watched everything around me, searching for inspirations…during my skateboarding days I also started doing tags, and I’ve been one of the typical writer painting letters everywhere for all the 90’s. In the last ten years I searched for something new, experimenting daily, I tryind to forget all that influences coming from the U.S.. I’ve never seen art like a career, I just needed to paint, to play, to do something…I really don’t care about fame, the problem is that in Italy you don’t have any true support for art like that you have in the rest of Europe, we don’t have either any public money for jobless people or things like that. So when they start calling you everywhere and you do something important that requires time, you must take it more seriously or you simply have to stop. For me doing these things is something “holy” so I don’t want to stop but at the same time, I’m trying to survive. Starting to live now as a normal human would be a true nightmare for me…
Chain D.L.K.: So do you think art should always be highly rewarded or even be commissioned? I could imagine it’s hard to be passionate about your art when at the same time, it can be hard earning a living but perhaps it could be thought that, what makes an artist so special is the fact that they are completely free from commission or not connected to a ‘scene’. Do you agree? I see you promote yourself in a really humble way. Is this because of the belief that ‘social climbing’ never pays? Have you got problems with your self-esteem? Are you a permanent member of the ‘pessimists club’ or are you a loyal ‘no compromise’ diehard believer?
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: Absolutely not. This is not an easy subject, anyway if we talk about ‘pure art’ I think money, commissions or any kind of reward ruin everything…It’s hard to express what I think, especially in English, we are talking about philosophy (anyway, I think about art like something spiritual, true artists are something like holy men, not exactly like a priest but like a shaman. 90% of today’s art is not art for me). I always worked on the streets for myself only, or at home, doing drawings, engravings, tapes or CDr in few copies, just because I want to do it. I still produce my book in 50 copies, I give them to my friend or I trade most of them, and sold some for little money. To think about my art like something with a monetary value is a real problem to me, also because without a price, people don’t give any importance to art or everything today. The problem is that now I’m 31 and I’m not rich, and to be sincere I like to travel and to meet other interesting people…things that you can’t do if you have a job, a work would steal too much time from your life. Above all I think that work is bad, most of the time a job is the end of your life, I can’t see anything heroic in work and I think work makes people ugly. Most of my favourite artists are outsiders…Yes, it’s very hard for me to make compromises…but I’m doing some. I mean I do compromises about commissions, not about my art. Sometimes I can’t sleep when I do things like that, but what can I do?! In the end I live in the european arse you know, and surely I’m a true pessimist, optimists are stupid.
Chain D.L.K.: What turned you into a member of the pessimist club? Usually people into dark ambient, punk, black metal and dark art have some sort of freudian explanation so as to hide or forget reality. Don’t be shy and feel like you’re speaking to your psychoanalyst.
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: I see a big difference between being pessimist and being part of the dark side. I mean: if you talk about the real world, every living being must be pessimist today. I’m not only talking about political stuff or social stuff. You see that 90% of our planet has disappeared, you see pollution everywhere, deserts, concrete and extreme suffering that I can’t explain to myself. We can see over the last century the disasters caused by humanity. Over the last fifteen years, many glaciers have disappeared, along with, lots of forests and rivers. And we can’t forget an important factor, there are too many of us (humans). The best thing that could happen now is the extinction of human kind. I’m sorry to admit that, even if I’m part of it, but any other theory is just pure fantasy. Also, nature is cruel, I know, but when you are part of it, you see that you are part of the cycle. Now, we are just something like a terrible illness, and we are not happy. (We are also sad) This is horrible. Anyway, when I was a child it was the same for me. I never wanted to eat animals and I always felt closer to a tree or to a cow than to another human being. My parents probably thought I wasn’t normal…at the time. Then, I found some underground cultures that I still like in part, but…this is a more recent choice and I don’t care so much about scenes. Anyway, today I’m very bored about being always so negative and distressed. I’m searching for… not the truth, but maybe just a way to escape. I think that modern religions, especially monotheisms and science (today science is the same as religion in medieval times) are something too far from the truth. At the moment I can’t find anything else than frustration, it’s very hard to wake up every morning as a stupid human, we’ll see. I think maybe the trees know the truth but I’m not sure.
Chain D.L.K.: “I search for an escape”… What about drugs? I mean, I’m sure you’re into the work of artists who where heavily into drugs…
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: Yeah, drugs can be a key. But what kind of drugs are we talking about? And anyway, drugs have always been very important for the old cultures, a good way to meet ghosts and the other reality…but today? In our stupid society there are too many drugs like heroin or television and they are not a good way to do anything, I think. I started to be interested in people like William Burroughs when I was very very young. I think he was one of the greatest people of the last Century. I tried to build my first dream machine when I was 15, with my record player… and it was the first thing I made with Flash. Anyway, in every ancient culture drugs were another way to meet the spirits. Shamanism, druidism, greco-roman mysteries…witchcraft. Christianity and Islam made humanity and our world so sad, evil and ugly. Anyway there are many other “drugs” that can be a big help in everyday life like two glasses of Barbera wine. It’s just what I need in the evening to disconnect my mind a little bit and to feel better. When you have respect for Dionysus then he has respect for you. That’s not a chemical thing.
Chain D.L.K.: I think there’s a lot of people out there who don’t know that much about your musical projects. Can you tell us something about Larva, Corpo Parassita, Eyless and the like?
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: Yeah, my musical projects are very very underground. The main one is Larva. It’s just the sonic side of 108…it’s a series of works, CDr or other that I called Larva. I create them in the same way I make my visual creations; something psychedelic and gloomy to enter directly inside my soul. Abstract landscapes, sometimes just noise and sometimes there are some melodies in them. The Larva tracks are always created (in first instance) for myself. Corpoparassita is another experimental project featuring Diego and myself. Alessandro has now joined us especially for the live show, in his role as the “hypnotic drummer”. Corpoparassita is more Dadaistic. We like to create creepy sounds by mixing existing records filled with some of ours creations. We made a lot of limited productions around the world. Eyeless was a rotting hardcore band I had with Diego from Corpoparassita, Peio and Cristina. We mixed a lot of grind and black metal influences. We played some shows and recorded some stuff. After more than fifteen years, I am bored of most of the actual hardcore productions, but I still play in a band called Bhopal with some old friends from the local Alessandria scene. We play a sort of Swedish styled “technical” melodic crust style with some black metal and death’n’roll riffs.
Chain D.L.K.: You come from the punk scene. You’re a visual artist. You still play hard music but at the same time, experimental. I know you’ve also taken part in the Venice Biennale right? Hey, all of these references made me think of another “artist” called Nico Vascellari. I’m sure you know of him: is there any connection? Did punk/hardcore nourish your creative attitude with people like you both or what? I’ve never considered the D.I.Y scene as a cradle for soon-to-be geniuses. Has it been an oversight?
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: Yeah in 2007 I painted a very big thing in the Arsenale together with JR and Daim during the Biennale. It was nice but nothing that changed my life. Yeah, obviously I know the works of Vascellari but as I told you before, I’m still very underground. I think the very nice thing in DIY Punk/HC, especially back in the 90’s was that it had to be really independent. Now HC is like metal or something else. At the time it was very underground, but people were very enthusiastic and happy to do things. It was not just a musical genre. There were many labels and many fanzines. I think a lot of people in that scene learned to do a lot of things like producing stuff, screen printing, a lot of activities – and not for money. It has been like a very good ‘school’ for people like me.
Chain D.L.K.: Concerning issues of DIY, don’t you think sometimes being independent and being part of a self-supportive scene could be a good shelter for people without talent? How many people would remain independent if they had the chance? And you, would you refuse “major-money” just to remain a DIY hero? Beyond the nobleness of self-expression, what do you think when “independent” equals “cheap, ugly and unprofessional”?
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: Yeah, I think this is the biggest issue ever; not just for the DIY scene but in any kind of true Art (such as visual arts, music, cinema and literature). I also remember a little book by Schopenhauer I read years ago (probably the only one of his I read), that was focused mostly on this kind of problem. I think it’s not a problem of the DIY scene. It’s a human thing. Mediocrity rules everywhere but I think that usually the most interesting stuff evolves in new small scenes, when there is a lot of fresh energy, rather than any movement which becomes boring or reflects a simple trend. Think about punk or hardcore. I think the only important thing to do is what you really want to do. It’s simple, but not easy. In my experience, I have seen that sometimes it’s easier to do better works being more personal and independent and working for instance, in a squat, rather than with a big “commissioner” Yes: “cheap, ugly and unprofessional” but the most important thing is that most of them are not really free. Honestly, most of my favourite works are “cheap, ugly and unprofessional”. That can make things honest and spontaneous so beautiful, but most of the time, they are just an ugly copy of another ugly thing. That’s one of the causes of my disappointment regarding independent scenes. Unfortunately, people are like that everywhere. I have refused some “major-money” in my life because I really care about my art, I think maybe too much. Anyway, I don’t care about being a DIY hero. I don’t care about what other people think. People’s thoughts are bullshit to me; I’m independent because my work is not addressed to the masses but to myself and only to a few super-humans and nobody else.
Chain D.L.K.: “A few super-humans”… holy shit!! That’s pure elitism!!! (…ha,ha…) A lot of art is elitist and snobish, but what do you think about popular art? Or about art that can be “understood/consumed/digested” by the masses? (I’m thinking about some traditional but classy songs about Leonardo da Vinci, etc)
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: Yes. Pure elitism… right. I think that most people living in this country (and on this planet) are pure shit. So…why must I do something for them? They have always hated me and what I do, since primary school; my drawings, my thoughts, so, fuck them! I just care about what few people think about my art: some friends, some people and some cats who I really admire. I’ll rule the world with them soon. This is my biggest project, didn’t you know? Ok, I like some pop songs, but it’s a product. I really don’t know what I think about Leonardo da Vinci, really… sorry.
Chain D.L.K.: What are you planning to do in the next future; both music-wise and as a visual artist?
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: For the future, I don’t know exactly. If there really is a future, musically, I hope to have more time to do something new with my Larva tracks. I think maybe some new work on something gloomier and ambient and less noisy than past stuff. I would also like to release something with my favourite tracks that I made between 1999 and 2009, but I need a true label for it. We have many upcoming works as Corpoparassita. I will only play a few shows with the HC band because I’m not really into it anymore. But at the same time, I have a new secret noise/blackmetal project… just wait and see. About the visual stuff, I’m working a lot on paper right now and I have some exhibitions planned for the next up and coming months. I’m starting to think about a new idea for 2010 but I must wait for a good idea. I would like to work on 3D things but as usual, I’m not certain because it’s not easy to find a good place, and obviously it’ll be more expensive. As always I would like to work with video.
Chain D.L.K.: With a ‘dark age’ like this we’re experiencing, don’t you think there’s more and more inspiration for people like you? Above all in a moment like this, what is the future for art?
108 ARTS / Guido Bisagni: Yeah, I think now it’s the right moment. I think that some of the best things in art (art in general) come from the dark and depressive ages. I think about the years near the First World War or during the early 80’s. Anyway, I think that in a way, those were sad years and now we are living some true desperate times. It’s not about the money or the crisis. It’s about everything all at the same time. In this age of decadence, most of the people don’t know why they are living. There have never been so many humans living and exploiting this planet to such a degree. We know that we are facing our end. Everything is dying and if something goes bad now, we know that probably the entire world will finish here; not just our stupid kind. That is very sad. I think art reflects this. It can be totally empty or very dark or… I don’t know, but I think you can see what I mean. It is very, very sad. I think that art must be something spiritual, so it must reflect each other. In fact, I sometimes found real beauty inside this age of decadence, you must see it from the outside. We are living in this decadence with no escape and no hope. But at the same time, we must celebrate each other with a glass (many glasses) of red wine. What is the future for art? There is no future for this world. So I think there is no future for art too. Maybe there is in another world.
Visit 108 Art on the web at:
[interviewed by Andrea Ferraris] [proofreading by M. S.]