Today we’re talking to Andreco, and setting sail towards a dialogue between art and science. The focus of this interview from the Heroes Never Sleep project will be Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) “Ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.
How would you introduce yourself in a few words for those who don’t know you?
I always hope that my works speak for me but if I had to describe myself in words I would call myself a visual artist. I make art influenced by contemporary environmental issues but also by scientific, anthropological and social research. I am a visual artist with a background as a researcher and environmental engineer on the sustainable use of natural resources.
So, Art and Science coexist within you, what do they mean to you?
For me, Art and Science are two researches that for many years in my past went in parallel, but then completely overlapped. They have two different methodologies that within me have created communicating vases that converge, creating transdisciplinary works.
When did it occur to you to devote yourself full-time to your art project and why was it so imperative for you to focus all your energy on it?
For years I pursued the two jobs in parallel. As an engineer, I liked what I was doing, what I was making, it gave me satisfaction and, in a certain sense, recognition. Nevertheless, I found myself spending sleepless nights painting, even though I had to go to the office in the morning. There I realized that this was an urgency. Not even a desire of mine, but a necessity that I could not do without in my life. It inevitably had to become my Work.
And I must say that in the end I had to sleep somehow.
In your themes there is the influence of science, environmental issues, among them the theme of water is very recurrent in your works, where does this intimacy come from?
I am very attached to this theme because even as an engineer I was very interested in the theme of water resources. I was involved in international cooperation projects on water supply in both urban and rural areas. Both as an engineer and as an artist, I find this theme very important. In a way, water is the most important thing of all, the first source of life, a necessity that unites us all. Water is an inalienable right for everyone, regardless of nationality, social status, economic availability. It is a fundamental theme on which I have carried out many works and research.
What is your main message on this topic?
Water is a right for everyone. And yet there are so many people in the world who do not have access to water in adequate quality and quantity to allow them to live in dignity. This is not acceptable.
What distinguishes the language of visual art from other methods of spreading the word about the importance of environmental sustainability?
The language of contemporary art is different from scientific, political or media communication. It is a less direct language, less explicit and in a certain sense more ambiguous. But at the same time, it touches the deepest chords of human feelings, stimulating the sensations and perceptions of the observer. It is therefore important to say that contemporary art does not communicate, nor does it do propaganda, but it creates further questions. For me, the work of art is “open”, it is completed by the observer, who interprets it according to his experience and cultural heritage. For this reason, the artistic language is different from other languages. The philosopher Gilles Deleuze sees a fundamental affinity between the work of art and the act of resistance.
The artist also has the task of bringing things “elsewhere”, to make them see from another point of view. The role of the good artist is to be able to talk about the future or in any case to show possible future scenarios.
Instead, what distinguishes you as an artist within this language?
Delle differenze possono nascere dalla mia doppia formazione scientifica-artistica. Il mio lavoro ha come prima necessità quella di partire da studi scientifici molto solidi. Ho un grande rigore sui contenuti da cui parto. Da queste basi poi faccio un salto per creare una visione, che è l’opera d’arte. Il trampolino che permette il salto dalla scienza a questa visione è la pratica artistica.
It’s very interesting what you said about your works, which is that they appeal to different viewers, and then complement each other with their knowledge and consciousness. So your works of art are addressed to everyone right?
Yes exactly. I believe that art should not be intended only for experts in the field, but for everyone. This does not mean simplifying or looking for easy populism, but to make available to everyone complex contents of an artistic research. Public art, art in public space, has this great potential and responsibility to address everyone, even those who would never enter a museum, and it does so for free, on the street. In this way, art can reach different people, from all social classes and conditions, ages and backgrounds. This has always interested me a lot, “art for the many and not for the few”.
What are your future projects? Can you tell us about a project you are working on in particular?
Since 2015, I started this multidisciplinary project between art, science and environment called Climate Art Project. An itinerant project that, through contemporary and public art, talks about the causes and consequences of climate change and possible mitigation and adaptation methodologies. The project has several phases: one more of denunciation of the situation and the need to act, a more constructive one, which thinks about solutions and best practices, and another phase that creates moments of debate and confrontation at all levels. I work in different cities with institutions, the scientific community, associations and other local and international partners. In every work there is always an artistic, scientific, environmental and civil society involvement component.
Climate Art Project was born in Paris in conjunction with the Climate Agreement, then it was in Venice to talk about rising sea level, in India to talk about air pollution and rivers, in Puglia to talk about desertification, in Portugal to talk about fires and heat waves and now in Rome, my city. Together with a multidisciplinary and ever evolving team, I am carrying out a long-term project on rivers, wetlands and parks. The goal is to enhance through art the natural capital and the urban system of Rome. One of the last activities I directed was the Tiberina Parade amongst the Initiatives for the New Year’s Eve of Roma Capitale. A collective performance, a tribute to the Tiber River, its urban, social, and ecosystem service. The parade is also an open call for the protection and regeneration of the river. I believe that taking care of the river and green spaces and maintaining good environmental quality is fundamental to the well-being of the city and its citizens.
Speaking of rivers and water, as you know SDG 6 “Ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” is part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Based on your experience, how can we spread awareness around this issue? What is missing and what can we do?
In cities in the West, it’s hard to experience what it’s like to lack water. When that happens, you immediately understand its importance. I’ve seen this working on environmental engineering projects in Brazil and the Sahara.
Raising the awareness of civil society is important, but unfortunately the problem is also political. We need a renewal of economic and ecological thinking. We need an economic model that budgets not only Gross Domestic Product but also natural capital and the importance of ecosystem services. Primary resources, such as water, must be equally accessible to all. The current economy is based on unlimited growth based on the use of limited resources. Clearly the reasoning does not hold, the neoliberal model has failed, we need to move from a linear economy to a more circular one. We need new ethical foundations in the economy that also consider the environment, health and social conditions.
Interview by Yo Nishimura, Global Shapers Rome Hub