Luca Maggio: Andrej Koruza (Koper, Slovenia, 1982), I know that you attended the Mosaic School of Friuli (Spilimbergo), but where did your desire to use mosaic in the 21st century come from?
There have been various stages and many people who have contributed to the development of my urge to make mosaic. If we talk about the School of Mosaic, then I must mention Giuseppe Semeraro, a mosaic professor in the third year of my being there. He gave me an immense passion and made me realize that mosaic can be whatever I want it to be: a technique, a craft or art. From that moment on I began to doubt everything I was taught about mosaic and questioning is even now one of the things that define me and make me analyze things thoroughly.
My interest in mosaic as an art form has always gone hand in hand with the interests of society and the phenomena that occur in it. I spent every Friday in the course of my last year at the Mosaic School of Friuli attending the classes on philosophy and psychoanalysis at the Faculty of Humanities in Koper, Slovenia. After these classes, I would be talking for hours and hours about mosaic, philosophy, art, and cinema with a couple of friends - a philosopher Matej Vatovec and an anthropologist Tomaž Gregorc – who have contributed greatly to the refinement of critical thinking in me, which consequently took shape in my mosaics.
The consequence of all this rethinking on mosaic was my first series of mosaics called Tessera and fuga, which were made in Colombia in 2009. I feel they are like a manifesto, the rules I give myself when I do mosaic. I think it was during that period that I realized the potential of mosaic; at that particular moment in history all of the great systems (political, economic, social) were crushed. The individual started facing Capitalism, which has slowly subdued both the political and the social system, exploiting the individual in order to derive more profit – the only remaining hope for the individual is a new form of collective consciousness, that will bring with it the formation of new, more just, harmonious and livable communities. From this perspective, I believe that the roles of both mosaic and a mosaic artist are very important since they have the ability to represent new forms of relationships between individuals, between an individual and a group, and also among groups.
I am convinced that some mosaics and some mosaic artists – those who dare to (re)search, not find, and to be radical – can change the world. So, it bothers me when I see mosaic competitions with juries full of people who defend solely their visions of mosaic or people unfit to understand the world in which the young mosaic artists live. (I have met a few wonderful exceptions but they are in minority.)
On the other hand, those who will change the world will not be stopped by mosaic juries. For me, mosaic is a living language as much as the language we speak; it is alive and no rules dictated by tradition can ever define it. For my part, I am only able to appreciate the mosaics and mosaic artists who help to define what mosaic is or may be, showing us what until now it was not. Amongst the people who contributed greatly to this, and have had the greatest impact on me and my mosaics are CaCO3, Samantha Holmes, Jo Braun, Marco de Luca and Felice Nittolo. And also Daniel Torcellini and Luca Maggio, who contributed to the culture of contemporary mosaics as authors of critical texts.
LM: The white and gray metal, the purity of the wood – even when you build your very intricate machines and mosaics, there is always a sense of motion or “escape ” in many of your works. The photo below portrays many of the components from your last formidable and hypnotic installation “Signals From the Limit” including you with your body as one of the gears that drives the work. I ask you to continue to talk about your idea of mosaic and in particular of “Signals From the Limit”.
I look on mosaic as science; a science of relationships between tiles, particles, elements, entities, etc. and, as such, I find it very interesting, because I understand it as a tool for the analysis of the majority of the phenomena that occur on this planet. Almost every phenomenon can be divided into smaller parts, that can be analyzed.
The idea for Signals From the Limit started as I watched the growth of the uprisings in North Africa, the so-called “Arab Spring”. I was fascinated by this revolutionary spirit that, with the help of technology, has led to radical changes in their region, whether for better or worse cannot be said yet.
I thought in Europe and especially in Slovenia, people will never be able to find some common ground, and regroup to demand and cause change, but it happened, almost inexplicably. A sequence of events led to major protests and subsequent changes, but they were not radical because the protests haven’t continued. In short, on the one hand the idea for the mosaic sprung from this alternation of social order and disorder, and on the other from an interest in the role of technology in contemporary art and mosaic.
To tell the truth, I was disappointed by most of the things I saw relating technology to art, especially when interactive. It is why I formed the decision to try to do something about it; with the help of Borut Jerman and KID PINA we received funding from the Slovenian Ministry of Culture, and after 6 months, with the collaboration of Borut Perko (who was in charge of circuits and sensors), I finished the mosaic. Signals From the Limit is my first attempt at doing something interactive and as I look at it now, I am satisfied. I especially like its form; the mechanism behind the mosaic becomes an integral part of the mosaic, the mosaic is not only the tessera placed on the canvas, but also what stands behind it - the mechanism, technology. I believe that mosaic should critically reconnect us to the period in which we live, and Signals From the Limit is definitely an attempt at this link.
I hope I have succeeded. All the attention it received, and all the positive feedback at RavennaMosaico surprised me. It is a motivation, so I will continue even stronger.
LM: What is GRUPA and what is your participation in it? Finally, will there be new shows, new machines? Are there future projects you would like to talk about?
GRUPA is a group of architects, designers and craftsmen working in the field of social innovation, social projects and volunteering. Our goal at the beginning (three years ago) was to help establish a new type of entrepreneurship in Slovenia – a social one. One of the first opportunities we identified was working with the CPU (the ReUse Center) with whom we began a collaboration. The CPU is a landfill, where objects that can be reused, such as furniture, cutlery, appliances, etc. are separated from other waste, adjusted, arranged and then sold at low prices. GRUPA tried to create an integrated cyclic system for CPU, so there would be no trash anymore.
Another very interesting and important project which we worked on is Gostilna Dela. In this restaurant young people from difficult environments gain experience as waiters or assistant cooks and, in the end, are offered work within the project. GRUPAs role was to do the architecture, interior design, the production of the interiors and all the graphic design for the restaurant. Our aim was therefore to create a bond between the community and the restaurant before its official opening, a goal that we achieved by organizing events called Delavnica za malico. During these events people helped us to collect information about the type of restaurant they wanted in the neighborhood and the dishes they wanted to eat. In doing so, we created a positive opinion about the project among the people and in the media even before the restaurant actually opened. After the opening it was full from the first day onwards.
Within GRUPA I took care of the development of the projects in collaboration with Nina Mršnik and Gaja Mežnarič Osole, and also the production of objects that were used in those projects (like the furniture used in Gostilna Dela). GRUPAs activities are currently on hold, but our workshop/studio is working independently now, under the name DELAVNICA. It is a laboratory for the design and production of wooden furniture and objects where I work with Matej Rodela. We are developing our first series of objects and there is a nice atmosphere in the studio. I love working there because I’m challenged with practical problems all of the time: it keeps the mind in constant exercise and, since we are continually producing objects, it also helps me to rid myself of the fear of not being able to produce art, as it has already happened in the past, when I was questioning my abilities.
Now I am mature enough to confront every project I take on and am not afraid of either losing or winning. I want to take risks and to be radical. I want to tread on the edges of mosaic and try to define it, understand it and improve it, always. I’m not afraid to make mistakes, to go beyond its limits, because I am convinced that even passing its limits, we can still define and understand mosaic much better than when we are not even trying to reach them. This is why I find the work 80mesh – The shape of sound by CaCO3, and also some mosaics by Samantha Holmes and Jo Braun to be the most important works of contemporary mosaic in recent years, works that I consider to be genuine works of contemporary art.
As for me, I am pleased because Signals From the Limit will be exhibited along with the work of Karina Smigla – Bobinski: ADA from 27 November to 12 December at the Festival of Transitory Art - Sonica 2013.
I also have several mosaic projects in the testing phase, which I hope to produce in 2014. The project I currently regard to be of the utmost importance is a performance, where mosaic and dance will come together in an interaction between dancers and an installation – mosaic. The project is in the process of planning and research funds are necessary for its production – therefore producers, benefactors, patrons, millionaires… come forward!