An email conversation between Diego Bianchi and Inés Huergo, about Bianchi's work and the exhibition Soft Realism.
IH_ Dear Diego.
Some things you and Rahma Kazham discussed at the public conversation at the Maison de l’Amérique latine have been bouncing in my head ever since, and I would love to hear a little more from you about them.
In your shows, you have jarred the viewer from the onset, taking them out of their comfort zone when they walk into the show: they find the objects and—indeed—themselves in a strange state, confronted with an unusual and interesting set of circumstances. In that conversation with Rahma Kazham, you used a word that cannot go unnoticed: perversion.
How do you harness and maneuver perversion?
Could you tell me a little more about the place of perversion in your works and your shows?
DB_ I am being a bit ironic when I use that word, since it has such a negative connotation. But I also believe that deviation is the only feasible strategy to let the unexpected happen—semantic turns, impossible encounters.
What I am interested in is not being in full control of situations. In my practice, I am always wavering back and forth between control and non-control, because there is a tension in the back and forth between those two states that I find fruitful.
I am interested in showing the ambiguous relationship between pleasure and power that takes shape at that juncture.
I guess distorting is the first step towards undermining given forms...
IH_ The human body has been a part of your installations since early on. At first, it was your own body, but since then it has tripled and multiplied, which changed the perception of the object. Why was that?
DB_ In my first shows, I was interested in seeing persons in relation to the objects and situations on exhibit. Later, in 2008, for “la formas que no son” [The Forms that Are Not]—my first show of (“proto") sculptures—I came up with the idea, and felt the need, to include the human presence in relation to the objects and the exhibition space: for the entire opening, I lay with my ass in full view through a hole cut into a platform up near the ceiling over a gallery full of things. I understood at that moment that a single bit of the body, of my body, would change the reading of each and every object: they inevitably came to be understood in relation to that body. Each one of them became rife with experience and personality. From then on, the human body has always been present in my work—always in relation to objects, form, composition—in order to challenge viewers to understand it as an object in its own right.
IH_ Could you tell me a little more about the use of mannequins? Do they replace or complement the human body?
DB_ I am interested in representations of the body based on stereotypes; I like to incorporate mannequins in terms of their materiality, to use them as a passing form, something that can readily be handled, broken into pieces and chunks, taken apart.
This time I used them like shells. I made Frankensteinian collages to fill with putty.
IH_ In this show, you use frames that re-signify the object. Is that part of your love affair with the object?
DB_ I am sort of obsessed with objects, with their time on earth, with their visibility, with their duration …
I understand a frame to impose a division in space, but mostly in time, something frozen, an event brought to a halt, held in place.
An event where trifle reveals and becomes important.
IH_ In your show at the gallery you also start using materials new to your work. What possibilities do they open up for you?
DB_ New materials, that’s right.
For some time, I have been interrogating the relationships between touch and vision—my exploration includes contrasting, straining, and reconciling those sensory fields. I found myself really interested in these materials (latex, squeezy mousse, chromes). They put me in touch with some sort of alchemy and also gave me a healthy adrenaline injection.
IH_ Lastly, I would like to know what soft realism means to you?
DB_ A mix of sensations that has to do with soft matter, with the fading of forms, with the blurring of outlines and definitions.
I think about what gives way, what flows.
I also think about instability as landscape, about mattresses on street corners,
about realism and surrealism tormenting one another,
which makes straight lines bend, and things and people become muddled, indistinguishable,
and about the door of the fridge where hotdog falls in love with olive
IH_ Thanks so much, Diego, for generously sharing not only your thoughts but—mostly—your art. All best, Inés.