Public and Confidential, presented by Wunderkammern gallery in Rome, is an art project that explores the theme of individuality between private and public spheres. Five artists were invited to discuss with the intimacy within the exhibition space and site-specific interventions in public places. Dan Witz, Alexis Rero, Agostino Iacurci, Aakash Nihalani and Jef Aerosol are the protagonists that between September 2013 and June 2014 invest the streets and walls of the city of Rome. After listening to Agostino Iacurci, we met Dan Witz.
Dan, in which way your interest for hyper-realistic painting is linked and has evolved towards a dimension of the immediate, mostly expressed in you street-art interventions?
Like most artists I try and make the kind of art I like. In my case, this would usually be some kind of painterly realism in the style of the old masters. Ever since I was a kid I’ve always admired those guys: not just how they counterfeit light and space, but how they can magically create such convincing presence. To me this is still incredibly profound. In my own work, this presence has come to be how I judge if one of my pieces is ready for release: it has to be completely utterly believable – at least for that brief (WTF) moment.
Your work has been recently focused on freedom, physical and of thinking. You have been collaborating with Amnesty International for the two series Prisoner and Free Pussy (riot), and today you present in Rome Natural History. How would you define the public and the private dimension?
I’m a fan of art (or films, or books, or music) that is unsettling, that jars me, that keeps me awake. In my own work, street art, especially the uncommissioned, non-permissional invasion of the public realm is the most effective way I’ve discovered of achieving this. In this context my private agendas are meaningless unless they’re made truly public (and not just in a gallery or museum setting). It’s my belief that if art is free, if it’s accessible to all, and if it’s experienced as something other than a commodity, then as an artist I’m doing my job – challenging the status quo.
The series Animal mosh pits echoes with the title of the project launched by Wunderkammern “Public and Confidential”, showing how the confidential sphere of individuals’ lives is often confused with the public one. In which way technology for everyone has affected and changed the privacy of individuals?
I can’t claim to speak for everyone. But I will say that since the early 2000’s and the onset of digital technology and the internet, the possibilities for my work to be seen beyond the art ghetto has grown immensely and in a most gratifying way. As for the consequent loss of personal privacy, I haven’t really suffered from this yet. As far as I can tell, these cyber profiles are bloodless and mercantile and pose no threat to my private life. I’m fine with them tracking my consumption algorithms: for me this is a small price to pay for this all this fantastic accessibility