Cre­ative Cos­mos: Mar­co Fusina­to in con­ver­sa­tion with Melis­sa Keys

Melis­sa Keys
Bux­ton Con­tem­po­rary at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Melbourne

MK: As an artist and musi­cian, you have rela­tion­ships with audi­ences. What dri­ves you to make work, and who do you make it for?

MF: Well, it always begins with some­thing I want to expe­ri­ence. It may con­nect with some­one down the line … but it may not. I’m aware that the ref­er­ences are pret­ty oblique, but I find they act as a fil­ter … they elim­i­nate an audi­ence I wouldn’t hang out with. There’s an expec­ta­tion to make work so that it’s liked, so that it gets dis­cussed or reviewed pos­i­tive­ly and is deemed suc­cess­ful’ if it sells … I find this abhor­rent. I know from the out­set that my inter­ests and audi­ences are mar­gin­al, ugly and unpop­u­lar. There’s no expec­ta­tion so I’m nev­er dis­ap­point­ed. For exam­ple, when I do per­for­mances of solo-gui­tar-noise the audi­ences are very small and spe­cif­ic. In any big city around the world there are gen­er­al­ly the same look­ing 50 peo­ple at the shows. How­ev­er, if I’m per­form­ing as part of some­thing big­ger, a fes­ti­val for exam­ple, I may start off with 200 peo­ple in the room, but dur­ing the per­for­mance most can’t han­dle it, they don’t under­stand the lan­guage, don’t know the ref­er­ences, don’t get it, don’t like it and there­fore they leave … so in the end, it’s the same 50 weirdos left in the room. That’s who I make work for.

Marco Fusinato
100% New Zealand wool rug, monitor, camera
9.25 x 12.04 metres
Installation view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

Marco Fusinato
100% New Zealand wool rug, monitor, camera
9.25 x 12.04 metres
Installation view, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Carriageworks

MK: Your work fea­tures images of social agi­ta­tion and polit­i­cal cri­sis and at the same time sug­gests utopi­an pos­si­bil­i­ty. I’m inter­est­ed to hear you reflect on how your prac­tice cor­re­sponds with history.

MF: I’m con­tin­u­al­ly not only cross-ref­er­enc­ing what I’ve done in the past but also re-exam­in­ing ear­ly influ­ences. There’s a lot of research and con­tem­pla­tion involved; how­ev­er, the real­i­ty is I spend a lot of time work­ing out prac­ti­cal solu­tions to unortho­dox man­u­fac­tur­ing and pre­sen­ta­tion prob­lems. How do I sus­pend that alloy tub­ing … do I need shack­les and mas­ter links … how many? Should I swap out the Mullard EL34s? How thick should the lip on the frame be, 19 mm or 24 mm? What DPI is that image? How strong is VHB tape real­ly? Mas­ter­ing at ‑6 dB. Trilob­al poly­ester. Cast­ing in bronze. Down­tun­ing to brown stan­dard and dropped brown. Mar­tin Atom­ic 3000 LED. Mey­er Leo or Leop­ard? Angle grind­ing into brass. EGC #569/​black and #654/​polished. Subs at 15 Hz. 3D print­ing with air. Pressed flowers.

The Amer­i­can min­i­mal­ist com­pos­er La Monte Young talks about one of his strongest influ­ences being the wind that blew through the chinks in the log cab­in in Ida­ho that he was born in and the par­tic­u­lar impres­sion the tonal­i­ty of that sound made on him as a child. That got me think­ing about my child­hood mem­o­ries of sound. I grew up in the work­ing-class sub­urb of Noble Park (south-east of Mel­bourne), and I would wake up in the morn­ing to the sounds of Simsmet­al at the end of the street crush­ing cars and scrap met­al. There’s a par­tic­u­lar rever­ber­a­tion that occurs at 7 am on a still morn­ing. It’s real­ly beautiful.f

Marco Fusinato
Installation view, Anna Schwartz Gallery
Photo: Andrew Curtis

MK: Your work takes var­i­ous forms, includ­ing instal­la­tion, per­for­mance, pho­to­graph­ic repro­duc­tion and record­ing. Have the inter­re­la­tion­ships between these forms changed and evolved over time?

MF: Things are always mutat­ing and chang­ing. It depends on what’s on offer and when. Exhi­bi­tions are usu­al­ly years in the mak­ing, while a per­for­mance might be pro­grammed only a cou­ple of months in advance. There’s a big dif­fer­ence in the dynamism. With exhi­bi­tions, there’s not much imme­di­ate response; it trick­les down over time, per­haps years. With a per­for­mance, you have a sense of its recep­tion immediately.

MK: Do you pre­fer the imme­di­a­cy of per­for­mance? Does the con­nec­tion feel clos­er with audi­ences for music and sound who share this language?

MF: Exhi­bi­tions and per­for­mances are very dif­fer­ent expe­ri­ences, each with their own fac­tions and sub­gen­res. The audi­ences for a grind­core gig are there because they’re into grind­core, so imme­di­ate­ly there’s a clos­er con­nec­tion. The audi­ences at an exhi­bi­tion are there for a mul­ti­tude of rea­sons, some of which may have noth­ing to do with the work on display.

MK: Your research and inter­ests encom­pass a wide array of intel­lec­tu­al tra­di­tions, social and polit­i­cal move­ments and forms of cul­ture. What ideas, forms of mak­ing, cul­tur­al codes and lan­guages are you engaged with at the moment?

MF: Sep­tic Death, Face­less Bur­ial, Blood Incan­ta­tion, Vile Appari­tion, Infest, Dis­cor­dance Axis, Inter­nal Rot, Incin­er­at­ed, Head­less Death, Exclaim, Siege, Gauze. 12” LPs here in front of me.

It’s occurred to me that the par­tic­u­lar Venet­ian dialect/​language I speak is dying out with­in my life­time. My par­ents and their gen­er­a­tion were the last in the line of con­ta­di­ni (a form of pre-indus­tri­al agri­cul­tur­al farmer or peas­ant). Theirs was an oral tra­di­tion, passed down over cen­turies. They nev­er learnt to speak Eng­lish and only ever spoke in Vene­to or, more pre­cise­ly, Bel­lunese, the name of which refers to the region with­in the Vene­to that my fam­i­ly is from. My par­ents were born in vil­lages that are a few kilo­me­tres apart, and yet some words are pro­nounced slight­ly dif­fer­ent­ly. I can pick the inflec­tion. This lan­guage in its purest form is pret­ty much now only heard in aged care facilities.

MK: Has your selec­tion for Venice made you think more about the dynam­ics of these region­al and famil­ial tra­di­tions and histories?

MF: Well, I’ve always had a strong con­nec­tion as my extend­ed fam­i­ly is there and we still own our cen­turies-old fam­i­ly home. My selec­tion for Venice has made me appre­ci­ate the irony that I’m return­ing to the very same place my par­ents migrat­ed from as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the coun­try they migrat­ed to.

Marco Fusinato
Aetheric Plexus (Broken X)
, 2013
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

MK: Ges­tures and ideas of explo­sive­ness, rup­ture, inten­si­ty and dura­tion var­i­ous­ly play out across your prac­tice. Some­times the expe­ri­ence of these is con­fronting­ly vis­cer­al and oth­er times more medi­at­ed. What inter­ests you about the encounter with art?

MF: It’s the phys­i­cal­i­ty, the expe­ri­ence. The fact that we have to go out of our way to get there … decid­ing what time to go, the weath­er, choos­ing the mode of trans­port, the queu­ing up, what­ev­er … all of this I con­sid­er to be part of the expe­ri­ence; it cre­ates a mood, a state. And once in the gallery … what hap­pens? Are we pas­sive or are we acti­vat­ed? What is our rela­tion­ship to scale? Did we stay 30 sec­onds or did we stay for hours? The encounter with art should remind us that we have a pulse.

I’m par­tic­u­lar about con­text and how that affects the recep­tion of the work. I think the give­away with any gallery is how the archi­tec­ture of the wall meets the floor. Shad­ow lines or skirt­ing boards, con­crete or floor­boards and so on … The gallery’s posi­tion and atti­tude are evi­dent in these deci­sions, which deter­mine who its audi­ences will be. I’m being inten­tion­al­ly elu­sive … I’m talk­ing about details. It’s the details that can elic­it intim­i­da­tion, sta­tus and power.

This inter­view is repro­duced cour­tesy of Bux­ton Con­tem­po­rary at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Melbourne