Creativity doesn’t happen in a vacuum, artists inspire and actively influence one another, germinating new ideas and techniques. In this spirit, we invited three fine art photographers to talk about the work of another artist that was seminal to their own artistic journey. Discover the inspirations that took hold of Anna Reivilä (Purdy Hicks Gallery, UK), Alessandro Sambini (MLZ Art Dep, IT) and TILO&TONI (METRONOM, IT).
Anna Reivilä (FI, b.1988)
“In his project, Yucatan Mirror Displacements (1969), Robert Smithson installed 12-inch-square mirrors to the installation. The mirrors reflected and refracted the surrounding environment and offered a new angle to view the landscape. In a similar tradition to Smithson’s use of mirrors, my lines [in the Bond Series] show how the shapes of the elements and the connections between them become visible when something alien is added. I’m not only changing their essence but also from my own point of view.
It is interesting to consider whether the specific place in Yucatan Mirror Displacements is a reflection of a non-site or whether it is the opposite. I think this work crystallizes Smithson's idea of presence and absence. In my own view, the mirrors reflect the surrounding landscape, in that two distinct landscapes form one ‘non-site’. The mirrors show the passing time, but the photographs freeze the time.
Using rope for lines is my form of drawing. The lines create interactions, making connections between the elements—a reinterpretation of the landscape. These three-dimensional drawings are physically unstable; they exist only for the moment. By recording the process, the photograph becomes part of the piece. Every space is different and I’m interested in how the volume of any given site can be stretched by the use of several simple lines.”
Bond 36, from the series Bond, 2017 © Anna Reivilä
Yucatan Mirror Displacements, 1969 © Robert Smithson
Alessandro Sambini (IT b.1982)
“I am inspired by many artists working with archive material, such as Harun Farocki, who was one of the theorists behind a certain analytical approach toward images and visual culture, who I admire the most. Nonetheless here I must choose Francesco Vezzoli as his early work on Italian TV was particularly inspiring for me since 2011 when I decided to work with UAN, a very famous puppet from the early Italian TV. His work somehow allowed me to completely break that wall between myself and the TV spectacle, of which I was always a spectator.
I realised that I could play a lot with the spectacle-spectator structure. The TV shows I used to watch were like chemical compounds in which every single element could be taken apart and recombined with others to obtain new solutions. I eventually became the main character in one of my TV spectacles. The trigger may be one of Vezzoli's early works belonging to An Embroidered Trilogy (1997, 1999) and OK, the Praz is Right! (1997), where he chose Iva Zanicchi, an Italian TV icon, and placed her in a different context. As he recently said: ‘The same thing can foster a different emotional meaning in different people’. For me, seeing that was like hearing a call of God.”
REPLAY! still taken from the second episode © Alessandro Sambini
TILO&TONI (DE, 2015)
“The term ‘vernacular’ stands for dialect. It is well known in architectural theory, dealing with the question of how architectural buildings can be constructed and designed in a regional fashion, and to what extent the materials and methods vary. It’s a concept that can be easily transferred to art. This is especially the case given that we are not only interested in professional work and craft, but also when we integrate work, knowledge and the craft of non-professionals and amateurs. Everyday life is full of pervasive solutions that are technical and creative and refreshing because, in a sense, they are detached from a reflected and artistic awareness. The photographer Martin Fengel takes these amateurishly crafted doings into account by sourcing them and translating them into the specific photographic world in which they are both a portrayal and autonomous image at the same time.
The second example has its roots in music. Fizheuer Zieheuer (2006) is a track by Ricardo Villalobos. It represents a synthesis between brass music and techno. Brass music, which is usually frowned upon, is not integrated as a joke. Villalobos recognises the aesthetic qualities of brass music by facing its values both in a neutral way and a curious manner. Fizheuer Zieheuer is extremely cool, although it makes a pact with the enemy—without manipulating brass music too much. It is still distinctly recognisable as brass music and isn’t radically subordinated to techno.
And finally, we'd like to highlight Photomagazin Ohio, which ultimately processes the artwork of amateurs and arranges an array of images and videos, instead of editing them. This results in peculiar and funny artworks that are impossible to imitate and most importantly, they never point to the real authors but rather pick them up in a subtle, appreciative way. This alone demonstrates the belief in these images as well as artist renunciation from intervening too much with the material encountered.”
Untitled, 2018 © TILO&TONI
Feature image: Fair, Unseen Amsterdam, 2017 © Maarten Nauw