Purple Art

[March 28 2017]

An interview with Nico Vascellari on his latest coral performance “Scholomance” at Palais de Tokyo, Paris

Vigorous, enigmatic, rebellious and slightly sepulchral,  Nico Vascellari is one of the most talented multi-disciplinary artists of our time.
Pupil of none other than Marina Abramović, his performative art has been acclaimed worldwide and arrives now at the Palais de Tokyo where VASCELLARI presented “Scholomance”, a performative night and installation featuring artists and musicians the like of Carlos Casas, Franck Audoux, Valerie Chartrain, Silvia Costa, Delfina Delettrez, Michèle Lamy, Ninos Du Brasil, Ghédalia Tazartès, Mark of the Devil, and Ash/Nargaroth

Immersed into a forest reconstructed with the combination of video, installation and sculpture, every artist was given a moment to explore the themes of mystery of Nature, cult and spirituality using his own personal medium. Poetry, art, sound exploration, performance: everything has been conceived as a magnificent one dance by Nico, the sensitive choreographer of this transcendent journey. Once again, the artist gives the public a mystic experience in which it is stimulated and intimidated, attracted and rejected, disturbed and seduced at a time.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Mysticism, rituals, and spiritualism are the focal points of  “Scholomance” — and of your work. What makes them so interesting to you?

NICO VASCELLARI — I’m interested in the concept of what I call Fossile Di Esperienza, literally “Fossil of Experience”: the belief that there is a force inside us, even if hidden and silent. We have to look back to the origins to be able to open a window to the future.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — In “Transylvanian Superstition”, the Scottish author Emily Gerard wrote: “As I am on the subject of thunderstorms, I may as well here mention the Scholomance, or school supposed to exist somewhere in the heart of the mountains, and where all the secrets of nature, the language of animals, and all imaginable magic spells and charms are taught by the devil in person”. What attracted you to the point of making an installation of it? 

NICO VASCELLARI — Reading about the legend I was fascinated by the fact that Scholomance is not always present, it appears occasionally as a secret place and then suddenly disappears. I applied the concept of appearance and disappearance to the sculptures: the installation is conceived as a liquid forest able to adapt herself to any space and form. Also, I was interested in the subjects taught in the school.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — It seems to me that your art — and music — is permeated by a dark but sensual mysticism, capable to perturb and seduce at the same time. Do you recognize a dark side in your work?

NICO VASCELLARI — Yes, totally. In fact in my work lights are often in the move. I love to leave lights and shadows move and evolve.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Did you want Scholomance to generate a specific emotion into the public?

NICO VASCELLARI — Not a specific one but one. I want to make people to feel something.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — You have been largely recognized internationally, exhibiting at the Biennale di Venezia and Manifesta 7 among the others. For an experimental artist, to have his work shown at Palais de Tokyo is a great goal. How was your experience at the Palais?

NICO VASCELLARI — Undeniably, Scholomance has been a difficult project to realize but the staff of the Palais de Tokyo has been very dedicated and helpful. Especially during the setting up when we have had short time to install the artworks, everyone has been so concerned and rigorous.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — In Scholomance various experimental artists experience a symbiotic relationship with each other, trying to find a communal Origin and the connection existing between human beings and the most primordial and ancestral forces of the Nature. How did you put them together?

NICO VASCELLARI — The main idea behind Scholomance is that every artist uses his particular artistic expression to face the subjects of the school: the secrets of Nature and the language of the animals. The goal is to create a coral work in which every artist does not have to compromise on his art even if they are part of my work.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Among the others, you have collaborated with the inexhaustible Michèle Lamy.

NICO VASCELLARI — Yes. Michèle has been very open and willing, she really risked it all. She received the text I wrote for her just two hours before to go on stage but she was able to put herself into it and make it real in such short time. I really admire her and I’m extremely grateful.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — The anthropologic research is quite important in your art. How much have you been able to learn about Human Beings thought it?

NICO VASCELLARI — Honestly, not so much.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — What does unlock the inspiration?

NICO VASCELLARI — Sometimes I pass a lot of time in my studio doing no art at all and sometimes I’m caught by the urgency to conceive and finish a new project while I’m traveling somewhere. The inspiration is a very impolite host as it doesn’t care about time or space. Because of this, every artist is condemned to follow a work schedule which is very different from the traditional “9am — 6 pm” one.

VALERIA DELLA VALLE — Do you have any upcoming projects?

NICO VASCELLARI — Scholomance is conceived in chapters. After Paris, the installation will move to the city of Bologna for the Live Art Week.
It will be on view at GAM, the same space where Marina Abramovic and Ulay got naked in front of the museum for a famous performance 40 years ago. I’m also working on a personal solo that I will present at the Museo Maxxi  in Rome next year.


Text Valeria Della Valle and photo Alessio Costantino

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