In the works of Flavio Favelli (Florence, 1967; lives in Savigno in the province of Bologna), everyday objects become protagonists of installations, sculptures and collages. He has exhibited in public and private spaces in Italy and abroad, including the following museums: MACRO and MAXXI in Rome, MAMbo in Bologna, Marino Marini Museum in Florence, Palazzo Riso in Palermo, Luigi Pecci Center for Contemporary Art in Prato, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo from Turin, Maison Rouge – Fondation Antoine de Galbert from Paris, Projectspace 176, London.
Interview with Flavio Favelli
What are your inspiring references in art?
I think I bring everything back to my past, I take the family and social situations and mechanisms that I experienced as a kind of model, as an always valid and unshakable reference: psychological characteristics, power, recognition. In 1997, I traveled to Libya in solidarity with the Libyan people against the embargo. In Tripoli, a large wall of orange drinks served as a backdrop at the bar counter of a large hotel. I met an Italian businessman who suddenly said to me: “Do you know what moves the world? From two things: money and pussy”. Who knows if he was right. The world is as old as the world, as are the two things that have always accompanied us: art and war. And I’ve always experienced that in my family. For me, born to a mother who loved art – or thought she loved it – because it could free her from the war in the family, it was a beautiful story, not without shock. In the beautiful country, the past never goes away, ghosts float around and dreams are wishes. Ultimately I try repeat My story, but by doing it again I create a new one. Fate caused me to grow up in a failed middle-class family, between Florence and Bologna, where a never-ending game was played between the seventies and eighties. My mother seethed while reciting Goethe in German, cursing Franco Basaglia who he had hit on out of My father, a poet, took me around museums around the world. My grandfather, a beautiful man, anti-communist who returned alive from the Russian countryside, loved the house full of antiques and art. To vomit, you must first have an indigestion.
Which project represents you the most? Can you tell us something about its creation?
The work that I didn’t do but that exists as a project: Years ago I wrote to the director of the Palazzo Venezia, Edith Gabrielli, but she replied that my idea was not part of the museum program. But the Palazzo Venezia is always empty, there are no exhibitions and no program. The project was to display scratched mirrors, which I have been working on for some time, in the large halls of the Consistory and the Sala Regia, so that they reflect the surroundings in a way that is not exactly orthodox. And then I would have replaced the three curtains of the world map room with fabrics from other found curtains that I have collected to in some way mark and renew an insoluble space that, in my opinion, can only be considered by art. Three rooms that represent power in a long, never-ending historical phase.
I also wrote to Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, asking him the question, expressing my opinion and asking him if we could evoke the country’s past through art. But he never answered me.
How important is genius loci to you in your work?
Florence and Bologna are worlds close, less than 40 minutes by train, but very far away. To oscillate between these two complex and modeled identities is a privilege, but then to go to the Apennines and live there, to leave.
A bit like in politics, I would say: fleeing the left and mocking the right. I wouldn’t talk about work, it’s too intertwined with concepts like duty, virtue and salary. The Italian artist is born with too many burdens on his shoulders and therefore represents a great challenge. The loci are a complex matter, the past pushes and takes you with it.
The concepts of past, future and sacred according to Flavio Favelli
How important is the past in imagining and building the future? Do you think the future can have an ancient heart?
I would say that there is no past and no future, there are things, there are images, presences, memories, fears and hopes that move us like puppets. By that I don’t even mean people, because they too are things, images, presences, memories, fears and hopes. There is only the present, which is often elusive and is never enough, but it is also sweet and moving.
What advice would you give to a young person who wants to follow your path?
I don’t have children right now, so I don’t have to talk to young people and I don’t intentionally teach. I don’t feel like it, it’s all very difficult.
Does the concept of the sacred still have meaning and strength in a defined post-truth era?
It’s a term that brings with it too many things, perhaps it would be better to leave it alone; and then we worked so hard to desacralize everything! In Italy it is a concept too intertwined with the Church and Catholicism.
However, these are personal, private matters, it is a word best avoided, too dangerous to deal with, too involved in certain matters. Lately, someone is still trying to talk about it Sacred art, and then there is the church, which would like to work together. But art is also sacred, and if someone wants to distinguish art from sacred art, it is better to work for the church, where, as is well remembered, the religious image is intended for ritual. There are always some critics and some artists with guilt that bother us, but it would be better to leave it alone; As Mario Perniola said, it is better if art stays in Pandora’s box.
How do you imagine the future? Can you share with us three ideas that you believe will guide the coming years?
The future is none of my business, I know nothing about it and I really don’t think I think about it except to honor commitments I made a few months later. Not having children is already a good answer. In a few months I will be living in one of my house projects in Montepastore on the Bolognese Apennines. I will, belatedly, take what technology gives me, I don’t know, Whatsapp or photovoltaic panels, but I will also create a pond to store water, it is said that the great drought will come, but also, um to float a shipwrecked raft. Maybe I was too influenced by a story about my grandmother, a demonic woman, or rather by a dirty story she always told me: the one about the little ricotta woman, a poor woman who thought she would make a fortune off a ricotta, but then as she tried to greet passersby from the window of her new future home, the only ricotta she had fell into the mud. In 2022, global arms spending increased by 3.7% compared to the previous year. Let’s see what will happen in the coming years.