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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My interview to Vicious Vitamins for Surveillance exhibition


Untitled(sponge), 2009,


Untitled(shop), 2009,


Regarding your work on the web, what does the web-domain address mean to you as an artist? Given that millions of people can visit and print your work on website, do you see the web domainaddress as the materialization of your drawing and programming work?
The web-domain address is the title of my pieces, this is where they exist too. When I register a .com title I immediately become the owner of a unique web domain. Although it can be reproduced and can be seen from every computer in the planet, it still belongs to me and exists in a unique location, so these works are unique. I find this intriguing and subversive. I always have to think a title depending on their domain availability. When these websites are sold to collectors I transfer the domain ownership to them. The certificate of authenticity I give of this work is a print out of this legal procedure with my signature. Then the collector is responsible for the maintenance of the site like paying hosting fees, etc, the same way that he had to pay storage for a painting or sculpture. So at the end you “treat” a website as any other piece of art.

Could you please explain what kind of work you have made on social networking web site and what it means?
The Angelo Foundation is a series of projects that I am having fun doing, like for example the impact of the internet in our culture. It is a project that mainly uses Facebook as it’s main communication tool to make events, art exhibitions, fund raisings, charities, protests etc. Every board of directors’ member has its own profile. For example one of the Board members conceived a funny way to bring people to donate money. He conducted an auction on by selling Donation Certificates. These certificates are in edition of 20 signed by me, and they get you access and special benefits to events and functions of the foundation. Also you can frame it and hang it on your wall. The campaign on Facebook really worked because we sold some editions to different people we did not know and we used the money for different missions.

Is the Angelo Foundation a mockery of traditional signs of authority? Do you demonstrate here that the virtual could potentially not replace the real world but actually become reality and take over the world?
I always wanted to play with the idea of a foundation because they are always so serious and ceremonial. I looked at religious or political organizations but also artist’s foundations. I admire the foundations the same way I admire many other hierarchical structures such as countries, kingdoms, royal families, parades, political parties. They are like kindergardens for grownups. The art world system is ruled by very hierarchical regulations too, though they usually pretend to be very casual and artistic and even alternative, when in fact they are as precise as a Swiss bank. The internet is totally the opposite from all these things. It is totally non-ritual, non-regal, nonprecise and non bureaucratic. Everybody can become famous while at home in his/hers pyjamas. Everybody can create his own “kingdom” now with no hierarchies. I am very interested in this paradox and I want to present it, so yes my foundation maybe mocks the establishment, it can actually become the establishment and dominate the world!

Does the International Portrait Gallery project intend to demonstrate that security cameras will never see everything and that the artists will always find a solution to express themselves regardless of the environment?
Since I was a kid I was always finding things that look like faces around me. It was like playing Hide and Seek and being watched all the time. Later when I became an artist I decided that these little creatures were still very interesting and still had the same effect on me so I decided to capture them or even stage some of them. Nowadays we live in another kind of Hide and Seek, a less imaginative one. I am trying to subvert authoritarian surveillance with using the internet as my main medium for expression and research. Either in good or bad times the world is full of challenges for artists.

To which extent does your work relate to surveillance and public security measures?
Surveillance has a more meaningful approach in our connected -everyday reality. Regardless the imposed security measures, we as persons are becoming surveillance machines. When for example, we are looking persistently at somebody’s Facebook profile to see what’s their status or what new photos they uploaded. Our attitude is becoming more and more sneaky. We are also deliberately invade our own privacy. We almost live in front of a crowd, google is watching us, we basically have an audience and finding new ways to deal with this. Many of my works are inspired by this mind-set and have hidden messages of surveillance, to name few -apart from the International Portrait Gallery, the , where intimacy, subtle presence and observation are really take a big part in their meaning.

Is the gallery space a way to materialize and monetize your work or is it really an important component of your work?
The gallery space for me is some kind of reward event, both socially and financially. It is also important place for the promotion and support of the work. But to be honest my work starts being exhibited the moment I launch it online so a gallery space is not an important component for exhibiting it. When I started doing websites I never imagined that they would be exhibited in gallery spaces. At the end it is really great meeting people real time and of course I love covering real spaces with the internet.

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