Interview with Judy Cai
Judy Cai: How you see yourself as a photographer in current time? Anything changed from your initial vision of being a photographer?
Marco Scozzaro: I’ve been interested in art since an early age and discovering photography was a great epiphany. There is something strange and subtle about the artifice of photography and its apparent simplicity that mesmerizes me. This very modern medium that engages with both the fine art and the commercial worlds really appealed to me and gave me space for experimentation. Its double nature as representation of the real, document and archive of our memory, and fictional element and starting point for something new has still a big impact on me. The more I explore the medium, the more I get excited about its possibilities.
I am an artist but also an editorial/commercial photographer and I’ve always tried to blur the lines between these two worlds, although I have often faced the fact that they are still perceived as separate.
Being a photographer today is challenging and exciting at the same time. Photography is of course ubiquitous and society is more interested in engaging with it. I am curious to see if the diffused vernacular and the democratic gaze will push the medium other than spreading mostly stereotypical and generic images, the same that I address with my current project.
Marco Scozzaro, SVIAGGIONI, (2016), acrylic mounted pigment print, 40 x27”.
Judy Cai: No one can avoid the impact of diverse culture in our daily life. But how do they exactly play the role through photographic medium in your work and practice?
Marco Scozzaro: I have been exploring how culture and mass media influence our identity and the impact of technology in shaping behaviors and the perception of who we are and how we behave. The most recent step in this process has been the paradigmatic switch from analogue to digital. Digital images are the syntax and the grammar of today’s vernacular. We communicate through images more than we do through words. Especially with social media we cannot avoid that, the process it’s fast, on point and fulfills that lazy instant gratification that we seem all addicted by. In my recent practice I have been embracing what’s happening around me in this particular moment as the starting point for new possibilities, letting the medium speak by itself about its identity. A photograph is an image but it can also be an image of an image and the subtle gap between reality and its fictional representation is what really interests me.
WAITING ROOM, 2016
Acrylic mounted pigment print, 32x40”
DIGITAL CLOUDS, 2016
Jacquard woven blanket, 54x70”
￼PALMS ON PALMS, 2016
Acrylic mounted pigment print, 16x20”
Judy Cai: In your recent works, there are more explorations on bringing photographs in the space as installations. What's the idea behind those works? What you would like to communicate with the audience? What's the relationship between your 2D photo work and the installation?
Marco Scozzaro: Before embracing visual arts, first with collage, then with photography and installations, I have performed in several bands and experimental electronic audio-visual projects. My practice has always been multi dimensional and I have been interested in blurring the lines between different disciplines, including photography, music, installation and video. Lately I have been very interested in the sculptural dimension, which is very related to my long time fascination with design and architecture. Since my early projects that I exhibited in museums and galleries in Italy, I have been engaging with the space on site-specific installation that include photography, sound, language, and light. After moving to New York 7 years ago I have been focusing somewhat on photography, either published by a magazine, printed on a book or hung on a gallery wall. With my current project Digital Deli I felt the need to expand the space of my practice and I have been exploring how to expand the two-dimensionality of an image and using the apparent paradox of reproduction as the starting point for a new conversation. In my recent show I created images that look like objects and objects that look like images. I want to let my audience reflect on what an image could be, either a printed photograph, an image on a screen, a sculpture, a tapestry, a wallpaper, etc.
Installation view of Marco Scozzaro’s Digital Deli solo show at Baxter St in NYC.
Installation view of Marco Scozzaro’s Digital Deli solo show at Baxter St in NYC.
Judy Cai: Can you give us some examples how you play with different materials and how they work with photographs? Like in "Digital Deli", you composed real life objects/people with artificial props, digital drawing etc. Any specific reasons you choose to pair them together?
Marco Scozzaro: With Digital Deli I embraced a very eclectic approach and I created a diverse range of images that reference or appropriate different languages and genres in photography.
One of the topics that I wanted to explore is my natural attraction to opposites and contrasting/contradictory elements. The moment I realized that these signs could coexist in a new possible dimension opened my work to new possibilities. I like to deconstruct and re-contextualize elements that are apparently different but related on a broader level. I take them from different frameworks and juxtapose them to create new associations. I create sculptural compositions in my studio, I add different layers on an image both physically or through digital interventions. I juxtapose portrait and still life, details and textures, I sample cultural artifacts, I re-photograph my photographs, I make sculptural constructions with images, and I arrange all these elements in the space so that they can be in dialogue outside the limit of their frames.
BETA 909, 2016
Acrylic mounted pigment print, 20x25”
ISLE OF MOTTE, 2016
Acrylic mounted pigment print, 16x20”
The conversation between 2d and 3d elements happens in the exhibition space as much as within the images themselves. My photographs are not traditionally framed, but mounted on fluorescent acrylic so that the reflected light creates a glow around the image that virtually frames it. Some images are printed on adhesive wallpaper, so they can be overlapped and the flat appearance counterpoints the tridimensional look of the other images. One of my photographs is woven into a blanket, creating a parallel between the subject - a girl wearing a blanket on her shoulder - and the meta-photographic representation of it.
left: Marco Scozzaro. GIANT SINGLE, 2016.
Right: Marco Scozzaro. DIGITAL CLOUDS, 2016.
Judy Cai: With the popularity of image-based social media (eg. Instagram), does it affect your practice? If so, in which ways?
Marco Scozzaro: At some point I started to think seriously about the circulation of images on social media and the Internet in general. I wanted to use these tools my own way and I studied the different dynamics related to these new ways of experiencing/consuming images. My current project is basically my comment on the way we use these new tools.
I am fascinated by the possibilities of juxtaposing images from different contexts in curated mood boards on Tumblr or on Goggle Images search results. My own Instagram account is a parallel project itself that I called Sviaggioni (the word is Italian slang that can be translated with “big mental trips”). I post photos taken with my iPhone and the images are automatically reposted on my Tumblr page where they appear in a slightly different layout grid. I might post some images directly on Tumblr that are not on Instagram and vice versa. The way the images appear on the screen inspired me to make a book where each double spread represent and edited version of a collection of photographs as they appear on my Instagram or Tumblr. I then realize that what I thought were just visual notes I was recording with my iPhone where the starting point of the new project that would have become Digital Deli. The book Sviaggioni, together with my Tumblr and Instagram feeds became the mood board for the images that would have created later.
So, to answer your question, I think that the theoretical structure that I created from my exploration of image-based social media was the starting point for my current practice. By using the same language Digital Deli questions the overwhelming amount of images that surround us, and comments on a generic, stereotypical and glamorized visual language that these mass media might inspire to adopt.
Judy Cai: Can you share bit about your recent solo show, Digital Deli, at Baxter St in New York? What's your relationship with the organization? What does it mean to have a solo show in NYC?
Marco Scozzaro: My solo show Digital Deli was the final part of an artist residency at Baxter St, the Camera Club of New York, one of the oldest non profit art institution in NY. Being selected for this competitive residency program has been a very important step in my career and certainly opened my work to new directions. The instrumental support and the ongoing conversation with a big community of great artists helped me develop my practice and deepen the conceptual thoroughness in my work.
I see my solo show in NY as an important stage of the process that puts my work in a broader arena and me as a more official participant in the ongoing discourse about art and photography. I enjoyed and treasured the whole process, from developing and conceptualizing my project to creating the site-specific installation for the gallery space. It has been definitely the starting point for a deeper engagement with the art community and future development in my art practice.
Judy Cai: What will be your next project?
Marco Scozzaro: After wrapping up my show, I have been focusing my research on video. I want to expand the conversation created with Digital Deli and explore the potential of its concept by using different media.
I was selected by BRIC as a Media Arts Fellow and this program is giving me the space, time, inspiration and support to develop the part of my practice that is more related to performance, video and music. I am planning to explore the potential of Public Access and sublimate my conflicting relationship with pop culture and mass media by producing and hosting a TV show that will incorporate all these elements.
Marco Scozzaro, 1979 is an Italian artist based in Brooklyn, NY. His practice started with music and sound before focusing on visual arts and photography. He received his MA in Psychology from the University of Parma, Italy and has been a Photo Global artist-in-residence at the School of Visual Arts, New York. His work has been exhibited in group and solo shows including Ed Varie and New York Photo Festival, NY; Galleria Civica di Modena, IT; Galerie Villa Des Tourelles, Paris, FR; Grid Photography Biennial, Amsterdam, NL; Mala Stanica National Gallery, Skopje, MK; London Design Festival, UK, among others. His photographs have appeared on international publications including The New York Times, Wallpaper, GQ, ArtReview, Osmos and Vice, among others. He teaches photography at The School of Visual Arts in New York.
Marco Scozzaro website: www.marcoscozzaro.com
Judy Cai is Program Officer of NYFA Learning/Asian Affairs at New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). She facilitates various professional development programs at NYFA, such as entrepreneurial boot camps and the Immigrant Artist Mentoring Program, to better serve individual artists. With a strong interest in arts and cultural exchange, Cai also manages a number of NYFA’s China programs, and conducts outreach to local Asian artist communities. Since 2013, she has led three intensive professional development training programs for Chinese arts administrators and curators in the United States. She is also the Chief Representative in the United States for the Shanghai Interactive Festival of Theatre (SHIFT), the only festival focused on interactive theatre and arts and technology in Mainland China.
Prior to NYFA, Cai was the Outreach Coordinator at the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts. To become a strong advocate of a global arts exchange and to gain extensive experiences in international communications, Judy also worked at Christie’s, Dance/USA, and Shanghai International Arts Festival. Currently based in New York, Judy Cai has a MA in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University, a BS in Culture and Arts Management, and a Bachelor of Law, from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.