interview by OLIVIER ZAHM
during the confinement period, the italian artist and filmmaker FRANCESCO VEZZOLI produced an original online series on love in partnership with the prada foundation
I have loved. I have fallen in love. I have rejected love. But mostly, the love I have offered has been rejected. I have tended to fall in love with men who were either too handsome, too powerful, or too rich for me. I have basically been cruising for a bruising for my entire life. My mistake…
… I would say receiving love can be one of the most important things in life. If you are not loved back, it merely becomes an exercise in pain, therefore something to avoid. Love hurts. Full stop. Love can literally break your heart. Love may even break your life. And these are not the lyrics of a ’90s pop song… But I’m not afraid of love. Love can change your life.
The most crucial experience of my life was moving from Brescia and my rather provincial background all the way to London in the late ’90s. I learned that my sexual and emotional inclinations and orientation could be accepted and reciprocated. That was when I discovered I could exist as a “loving human being.”
I am afraid true love doesn’t change much when you get older. At least for me. I always had clear in my mind what my idea of emotional and intellectual exchange was, and not much of that concept of love has changed for me.
My secret definition of love is respect. If I respect you, if I admire you, if I am in awe of your integrity, your ethics, and your talents, then my love for you has many chances to be an everlasting love.
I don’t really believe in a new model for love. I believe mechanisms of love and attraction have hardly changed in the past 2,000 years. I hardly believe new changes could start happening now. I am afraid love will always, in one way or another, be connected to power. Either the power of the body or the mind, or even merely financial power. But if there is a truly balanced relationship between the strengths and weaknesses of the two lovers, well then, that’s the eternal recipe for love. And even for true sexual attraction.
If I have to imagine true love, true orgasm, true pleasure, true excitement, I would never think about poor Marilyn being mistreated by Arthur Miller or poor Jackie being cheated on by JFK or poor Callas humiliated by Onassis or poor Theron dumped by Penn or any of these unbalanced, uselessly misogynous dynamics. I would rather think of Axl Rose and Stephanie Seymour at the height of their passion. That, for a moment, seemed true mutual celestial desire.
At this stage of my life, I have given up on true love. I have tried everything. Younger. Older. Same age. Richer. Poorer. Smarter. Dumber. Better endowed. Less endowed. I was never able to create a functioning economy of human feelings and desires. I failed. Blame my vanity, I don’t know. I’m so vain. I probably think the song is (always) about me.
I think love is necessary and not arbitrary. But sometimes — however hard you may need it — it may not come, and then you just have to learn to love yourself and love your work even more and just get on with life.
We can love without being a couple. Absolutely. Secret love stories are often the most durable. It doesn’t matter if the liaison is public or hidden — all that matters is the equilibrium. There always has to be a well-balanced tension.
I don’t think we could love something other than humans. I think all the time about my collection of vases, but I can’t say that those vases love me or, scarily enough, that I love them. And sincerely, I don’t see any connection between love and serious contemporary art practice.
The dream of transforming the world can certainly become a steadier effort if you handle your battle with an equally loyal, stubborn, and courageous companion on your side.
My project, Love Stories, with the Prada Foundation is an Instagram-based attempt to make a survey of how people relate to love and the identity of “the couple” today.