Edoardo Tresoldi: A conversation with the artist who built 'cathedrals' at Coachella
Like a prayer
How was the set-up for this installation in Singapore?
We worked for two days to set up this installation here. The first time we installed it was for an important private event for the royal family in Abu Dhabi. This place is perfect to show this installation because it has a more intimate relationship with the public.
What was the first piece of wire mesh sculpture that you made?
It was in front of the sea in the south of Italy. It was very emotional for me. At that time, I didn't know how hard it was to work with wire mesh. It's a difficult material. The result was important because it was super viral on the internet. It was also the first time I kept in touch with my public. A lot of people started writing to me. They sent me pictures and poems that they created at the intervention site. It is still there. It has become a monument of the village. When you enter the village today, you will see a billboard with a picture of the sculpture.
There is a behind-the-scenes video on Youtube that documents this public intervention. The video begins with your hands being bandaged. How would you describe the labour involved in manipulating wire mesh?
It's really complicated to work with wire mesh. In the beginning, I had a ritual. I would tape my hands. It is a material that is full of contrasts; it is soft and transparent while being strong and powerful. At the same, it looks like fabric, something really poetic and soft, but it can cut when you work. It's hard and you have to be prepared. It's like a rose. I've already started to work with other materials in my studio. The relationship with the material is the most important thing in sculpting. Every material has a different physicality and personality, just like a person.
Your installation at Coachella was in a very different context compared to your other public interventions. The energy that people brought to your installation must have been different as well. How would you describe that experience?
I like going to music festivals, more than a biennale. At a biennale, you have a public that is prepared to view art. At Coachella, it was not like this. It was full of people who were there for Beyoncé, not me. Some people started praying when they entered my cathedral. There were some people who started to do pull-ups on the arches. There was a free sense of interaction with the architecture. We put low lights all around the installation to evoke a softness and sacrality. When I talk about scarcity, I'm not talking about religion but rather, the respect for our sensibility. It was in the middle of Coachella so there was a big party all around it, but when they entered the cathedral, they started talking softly like they were entering another dimension.
You will be opening up your headquarters for research in Milan. Could you explain the thinking behind that?
For a long time, I have been working like a gipsy. The idea is to not only have a space where I can work, but also, a space to create connections with other artists that I've been working with for the last few years. It would be a place where we could conduct experimentations through different disciplines, whether it's music, visual art, fashion or design. It is important to create a place for consultation to compare our network of ideas, not only for business. In Italy, we need a place to talk about this kind of contemporary art. The contemporary art we know, the galleries and the surrounding circus, don't give answers to the new generation of artists. The position and the figure of the artist in the contemporary age are completely different from 10 years ago. We have to remix the situation to create new language and contexts.
If you could choose anywhere in the world, where would you like your next installation to be?
My dream is to work with a landscape that is far from the city. I have some ideas for the desert, the hardest regions of the Alps or a big lake in the south of California. It is in these kinds of places, where with two or three works, I would like to create a sensation. I like it when people have to go on a dangerous journey to arrive at the installation. You could arrive in the desert by a private jet, but trekking across a mountain or forest and seeing the landscape change from green to yellow, creates an emotional moment.
A lot of your installations are reminiscent of classical Western architecture. Does architecture in Asia interest you?
The neo-classical architecture for me is a code to talk about the sacrality of the space. If I'm talking about a temple, I can say that there is something intimate about the place. The elements are the same around the world, whether it's the columns or capitals. It can be a universal language sometimes. I've seen a lot of Buddhist temples that I like in this region, and I would need more time.
Edoardo Tresoldi's "Cube Temple" was made possible by DZ Engineering - the company behind Singapore Grand Prix's spectacular lighting.