by Vatsala SethiJan 23, 2023
Humour is possibly one of the most intriguing aspects in anything. It attracts attention, engages, and also has a tendency to stay in one’s memory for a long time. Milan-born Federico Clapis is a contemporary Italian artist. Trained in traditional art forms, he diversified into digital format under cover. He says that to remain anonymous was a strategy to gain followers and a fan base. Only recently he moved away from ‘entertainment’ and began to focus on the engagement with his followers for his artworks.
Clapis began his creative life early on, but not by creating works or even studying aesthetics. For him, it was a spiritual journey of soul searching. He spent time at an ashram in India. His work is a personal commentary on his observation of the world around him. Technology remains an integral part of his practice and he is very optimistic about the digital in all things art!
I speak to the artist about his practice and concerns.
Rahul Kumar (RK): You straddle multiple disciplines and genres. From traditional paintings and sculptures, to technology powered works. Please elaborate on the concerns that you aim to address through your work.
Federico Clapis (FC): I do not concern myself about this. I come from the traditional arts space, despite this I have embraced and worked with digital formats. I have used 3D scanning and modeling from which many of my works are born. And now, thanks to crypto art, I can reduce many of the physical production processes and devote myself to greater digital creative exploration. I feel at home in this environment. I have worked in the world of traditional art for years and I feel that my competence in communication and digital development, vision regarding what I think the future would be…is yet to be recognised.
RK: Most of your video work is satirical yet has deep underlying emotions. For instance, the Look-Alike Experiment. Is humour integral to your practice?
FC: Look-Alike Experiment certainly also brings with it irony and evocation. Humour is something that is present within you and emerges even when you are not aware of it, and helps to express concepts that need it. In many of my known works, people see irony, which I am not even aware of. Perhaps because the role of the comedian is actually a very serious one and when he is writing his lines or planning his act, generally he does not laugh. Therefore, the concept of irony is internalised, as much as that the author can never see it anymore. Irony is perceived as a communicative reinforcement.
RK: There seems to be an undercurrent critic of the digital world through your early work like Social Cage, as well as through your most recent work titled Deep Scrolling Experience. But you rely on the very digital infrastructure to share your work with your audience. How do you balance this dichotomy?
FC: Deep Scrolling is an artistic and social movement that aims to positively change our relationship with social networks by transforming them into an inspiring and therapeutic habit. A new digital lifestyle: unfollow people who post useless stuff and start following people who post art. My works invite the viewers to a reflective state of mind, they do not necessarily criticise new technology as creator of social detachment. Art is the means of communicating something that cannot be expressed in words, and the user’s interpretation is an extension of the work, as a part of it. Through social platforms the users have the opportunity to comment, enter into a discussion and dialogue within the community. This is the reason why I invite them to leave a comment, it becomes part of the work.
RK: Why did you work undercover for the initial period of your career? What triggered coming out of anonymity?
FC: Entertainment was my strategy to attract critical mass and build a fanbase.
In 2015 I bid farewell to entertainment to convert all platforms into vertical content to my artistic path. Since that day, it has become my only profession. I still use social communication to convey about my art to many.
RK: How has the recent pandemic crisis impacted your outlook? Has it impacted your work and art expression?
FC: I certainly see a great acceleration in the sector that was lagging behind, perhaps because the arts have always existed as one of the oldest areas of human evolution. Although I never wanted this moment, I see the positive side of the great acceleration leading to digital.