Alice Pedroletti is a visual artist born and raised in Milan, but she has lived and worked in the Netherlands, the United States, and China.
Currently, she’s a fellow artist at ZK/U (Center for Art and Urbanistic) in Berlin, and she won the Italian Council 9 international project promoted by the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, supporting Italian research, talents and excellence in the arts.
Her research investigates the relationship between artworks–viewers and archiving as an art practice, working on the multiple aspects of being and vision. The photographic medium, as well as the action of using or displaying it, is regularly challenged: a physical relationship emerges between photography and sculpture. The outcome takes different final forms – always concerning the problem of temporality, fragility, and matrix in both disciplines. In her works, as well as in commissioned projects, art connects both with science and humanistic subjects. She focuses her practice on the idea of fragmentation that puts identity and memory – personal or collective – in connection to architecture, landscape, and territory: these real places, through her visual narratives, tend to be an imaginary one. She then uses scenic design or installations to recreate ambiguous photographs, memorials, analytic sculptures where traces and objects are obsessively collected and removed from everyday life.
As an artist-curator, she founded ATRII Open Archive: a collective project hosted at Cittadella degli Archivi, Milan city archive, which uses contemporary art to investigate the concept of the atrium from a processual and theoretical point of view. ATRII is also part of The Independent by MAXXI Museum in Rome: a research project that focuses on the identification and promotion of independent thinkers and spaces.
She recently founded u-form with multimedia artist Andrea Familari: a duo project based in Berlin working in digital geography, databases, sounds and images. Their first project is u-form.earth, a living artwork intended as new archaeology for the future, a platform open to collaboration and experiment in digital fieldwork.
Alice has a strong background in commercial photography, she studied management of public cultural events, and she also taught editorial and personal research in documentary photography at IED Milan.
FIELDWORK Q&A – May 2020
How is fieldwork part of your practice?
It is time I spend on sites shooting, walking, collecting, looking, breathing, thinking, hoping, studying, and listening. Or doing all those things, I usually approach differently when in my hometown (wherever is a hometown though) or in my studio (everywhere I decide I have one). But it’s also the ideal space of my own and first working media: photography.
Fieldwork, for me, is questioning my working methodology, is creating a space of criticism inside my own art practice. To do so, I often need an environment that helps challenge myself, my choices, and my tools. It’s like saying my art practice is also my field of practice. Sounds cryptic maybe, but questioning the chosen media and evolving from that choice into an unknown direction, is much more similar to exploring a new geographic site rather than just trying a new film or lens for the camera. So, I can say, my practice is my field, and I apply it to what I want to investigate at that moment, related to my life, for example, mostly to feelings or perspective. It’s creating a connection to something material that surrounds me and something immaterial that comes from my vision of life and reality.
How would you describe your fieldwork activity?
My activity depends on the single project, but I do have some sort of fil rouge that brings me from one thing to the next one, to the early and previous one too. I try to not shoot landscape pictures; for example, I found them unnecessary for my practice: they confuse me, they don’t represent what I see, they are only a small and cruel fragment of my sight. I do them for fun, tourism, or fetishism. I do interventions when I can, and I use photography to document them into the landscape or the territory. When I’m not doing so, I try to find traces of random interventions: people leaving marks or trash, geographic bruises caused by humans. Anthropization is what I’m interested in investigating, from a broader perspective: territories, intended as a large-scale site, daily life, and objects intended as mockups. I create small-scale memorials to paraphrase my ideas, and then – again – I use photography or sculpture to tell what I want. I collect stuff, that’s for sure one of my fil rouges.
Working with archives, I tend to be quite obsessive in using what I find or collect: it’s a blurry and dangerous boundary between obsession and artistic vision. I like my practice being always in danger; I find it stimulating. It’s a fear that forces me into constant self-criticism and a straightforward confrontation with both the audience and the curators. It’s a fundamental self-training process. My studio has an archive room with many different boxes. When I can’t be physically “on the field,” I just need to open a box to travel without leaving. That’s why my fieldwork is, first of all, my own practice and media.
How are you currently sharing your fieldwork?
I run a collective project that is based on an Open Archive: ATRII. The project itself is my own practice, extended to other artists. After a few years now, I can say it’s a real methodology of working, and I’m thankful for that to all of them. I learn how to share, they teach me how to share. They challenge themselves sometimes because they decide to work differently, pushed by my suggestions. When they accept them, it’s a gift for me. When they don’t, it’s even better, because they are following their own art-time and that means personal growth, accuracy, reliability. It requires at least two different workshops before the artist starts to work freely from a daily practice.
ATRII is an experimental project – artist for artists – not everyone can fit in it, it’s not easy even for me and I founded it. I co-curate every project with another artist, and together we talk, and we share ideas. Then we guide the others without really deciding, instead of helping them achieve their proposals or projects. I get “contaminated,” and I hope to contaminate. One year ago, with Eugenio Martino Nesi – a young Italian curator – we opened the cultural Association. It’s a new step: we want to work more with institutions and collectors, but the experimental part of the project will be working as before.
But talking about the fieldwork on sites: I don’t share it. I usually work alone, and I wouldn’t say I like the company while I’m walking or shooting or drawing. It’s something for myself. Two sides of a coin, I can say.