"I no longer want to accept the idea of the future simply as something we inherited from the sixties or as a utopia. I don’t believe in that because I think it is important that the future for everyone is now, we have control and that we can construct this future." Interview with Carlos Garaicoa.
Who are you?
This is the most difficult question for everyone! I have been working with visual arts for the last twenty years and many areas interest me - languages, literature, music, etc. I started off as a painter, then I became interested in photography and from photography I got involved in architecture and urbanism. I still feel like an outsider even though I have worked with photography for many years - I don’t feel like a photographer. Although I have worked with architecture and urban landscape etc., I have nothing to do with that - it’s really a very conceptual process. I would probably define myself as somebody that works with ideas.
You’ll be part of the opening of the Centro Pecci. What are you working on for this exhibition and what kind of research methods and resources, if any, will you use?
Actually I was approached by Fabio in relation to a specific work of mine. The piece is on how the earth tries to resemble the sky. He had been following my work for many years and is familiar with it so it wasn’t a coincidence that he called me. Originally I was showing my work in Venice and then I did another show in the Galleria Continua. My approach to the Pecci opening is already in line with some specific works of mine. I am currently exploring the possibility of adjusting the idea to update these works. With regard to what I am currently working on in general, I’m doing different kinds of things. I am simultaneously working on a numbers of pieces, moving between projects from time to time. This one is probably my most ambitious piece.
"On How the Earth Wishes to Resemble the Sky", as you titled a work from 2005, what might humans wish to become?
This piece tries to talk in a poetic way but also in an existential, philosophical way. I believe that humans have been asking themselves questions without getting any specific answers. We keep seeking to find out “who we are”. When you are outdoors in the countryside or at the beach for example you feel the power of nature, the power of the sky and it can cause us to question our existence. We think about existence in a philosophical or religious way and discuss it at length but humans do remain the big question. We live confined in our cities and - in a way - mimic nature. There is a tension between culture and nature where human beings lie. We could say that all the questions, the problems and the answers are based on that.
Do you think we are building our future against or in harmony with nature?
I think humans tried to create something that they thought was in harmony with nature, though it is very clear that we are against nature in many ways. It is important to keep this in mind when considering the future. I’m not someone who thinks in a very apocalyptic way because we already have so many images and visions from Hollywood on this subject. Of course, we are obviously losing our resources and if art and consideration can help this situation in any way then it is necessary to keep talking about it. It’s a crucial ecological question: how are we building for our future? It’s not just about us anymore but the generations to come. I have kids now and I no longer think just about myself. I’m not an old person but I have already had my life. I think that if you are in this situation, with kids, you start thinking in a different way. You become a kid again and that’s probably an important factor. It’s very difficult to explain these apocalyptical ideas, but they are there. That’s why I say that I’m not very interested in this apocalyptic vision anymore. The important thing is to keep talking, continue to analyze and seek to find out the real reason that we’re here. I think this is also a political question. These days we’re experiencing huge disasters, not only ecologically speaking but also with regard to the ways which humans relate to one another. You see it throughout history, repeating again and again but it’s important to construct something for the future. I no longer want to accept the idea of the future simply as something we inherited from the sixties or as a utopia. I don’t believe in that because I think it is important that the future for everyone is now, we have control and that we can construct this future. The future is in the hands of every person and each human being can do something. Of course, this includes myself - I can have ideas and I can create a discussion on the topic. We can’t forget all that we have seen before. The idea of the past and how political we were is something that matters. We need to be political and active people, for the future.
What do you think the end of the world might be?
I don’t think about it. I’m very positive and I think that a difficult time lies ahead but I also believe that humans are capable of so much, including reconstructing themselves. We are scared of an uncertain future but humans will always persevere so I don’t even question that. My way of thinking can be very existential and so critical that it doesn’t always find a solution, but it never faces this apocalypse. This is why I don’t like the strong belief in something coming to an end. I just think we must build the future together.
Carlos Garaicoa, On How the Earth Wishes to Resemble the Sky (II), 2005, Installation. Metal, light. 0.5 x 12.43 x 13.18 m, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (MUSAC) Collection, Spain. Photo: Ela Bialkowska.