Alice Pedroletti is a visual artist born and raised in Milan. She has lived and worked in the Netherlands, the United States, and China. She focuses her practice on the idea of fragmentation that puts identity – personal or collective – in connection to architecture, landscape, and territory: these real places, through her visual narratives, tend to be an imaginary one. Alice activates cartographic and imaginative research, reconstructing the places where she has lived and linking these to a geographical theme, intended in an emotional and sensitive way. This allows her to analyze the territory through a series of particular features, such as feelings, memories, fantasy, imagination, melancholy, poetry and desire.
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, and 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 with science, literature, history, architecture, and geography. She focuses also on islands as unusual geographical sites, in which she can underline the psychological relationship between individuals, architecture, and nature through analytic photo-sculptures or landscape interventions.
As an artist-curator, Alice runs ATRII, a ‘living archive’, a collective project and cultural association hosted at the City Archive in Milan (Cittadella degli Archivi). The archive involves artists’ projects for the future, constantly in evolution until their realization. The project — also a working methodology — investigates the concept of ‘atrium’ from a processual and theoretical point of view. The aim is to create an unusual comparison between artist, space, commission, and public, creating new opportunities and tools to enjoy contemporary art and architecture. ATRII is also part of The Independent at MAXXI Museum in Rome – a research project that focuses on the identification and the promotion of independent thinkers and spaces.
FIELDWORK Q&A – October 2019
How is fieldwork part of your practice?
Fieldwork for me has a double meaning. It is time I spend on sites photographing, walking, collecting, looking, breathing, thinking, hoping, studying, listening and doing all those things I do differently when in my hometown (wherever a hometown is); or, in my studio (everywhere I decide I have one); it’s also the theoretical space of my own and first working media: photography. Fieldwork for me is questioning my working methodology and creating a space of criticism inside my own art practice. To do so, I often need an environment that challenges 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, than just trying a new film or lens for the camera. I could say my practice is my field and I apply it to what I want to investigate at moments related to my life – for example, mostly 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 a guiding principle that brings me from one thing to the next one, to early and previous ones too. I try not to shoot landscape pictures, I really don’t like them and find them unnecessary for my practice: they confuse me, and they don’t represent what I see – they are only a small and cruel fragment of my sight. I do them instead for fun, tourism or fetishism. I make interventions when I can, and I use photography to document them into the landscape or the territory. I also try to find traces of random interventions, people leaving marks or trash – geographic bruises caused by humans. The Anthropocene is mostly what I’m interested to investigate from a larger perspective: territories intended as large scale site, daily life and objects. I create small scale memorials to paraphrase my ideas, and I use photography or sculpture to do this. Working with archives I tend to be quite obsessive in using what I have found or collected. My studio has an archive room with many different boxes, and when I can’t physically be ‘in the field’, I just open a box to travel without leaving. That’s why I say that my fieldwork is 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 these, it’s a gift for me; and when they don’t, it’s even better because they are following their own art-time. It requires at least two different workshops before the artists I work with start to work freely from their daily practice. ATRII is an experimental project and I co-curate every project with another artist. Together we talk and share ideas and then we guide others without really deciding, rather helping them achieve their proposals or projects. I get ‘contaminated’, and I hope to contaminate. One year ago we opened the cultural association, and I now have a young curator as partner. 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. For site-based fieldwork, I don’t share this aspect and prefer to work alone while I’m walking, photographing or drawing. It’s something for myself – two sides of a coin you could say.