The following interview is part of a series of conversations with the artists and publishers featured in 2016 – On New Italian Photography, running through September 16 in Viasaterna.
BlisterZine is a publishing project aimed at promoting the book as an art object. It is run by NASTYNASTY©, a collective founded in 2008 by Emiliano Biondelli and Valentina Venturi, whose main focus is to investigate the impact of photography on our culture and its influence on our perception of the world.
NASTYNASTY© exhibited at Artists Space (New York), Cleveland Art Museum, Miami Public Library, Corvi Mora Gallery (London), Museo Marino Marini (Florence) and Camera – Italian Centre of Photography (Turin). BlisterZine books are available at the MoMA Library and the Brooklyn Museum Library, among others, and have been acquired by several private collections.
F: What was your first approach to photography?
VALENTINA: Since my father is a photographer, I used to play with analogical cameras and darkrooms during my childhood, but I started thinking seriously about photography when digital technologies appeared and started substituting analogical photography, becoming much more accessible.
EMILIANO: My first step was looking at photographs taken by others compulsively, then I slowly started to take my own. I simply dreamt to be a sort of “Photographer of Studio 54” (iconic club of New York, active from 1977–86, Ed.), although I never worked in a disco.
F: Who or what had an influence on what you do?
NN: Among others, Mishka Henner, Arts & Sciences Projects, Taryn Simon and Broomberg & Chanarin, with whom we share a special connection with the “book-side of the art.” In general, we are inspired by artists such as Richard Prince, Sophie Calle and Christian Marclay, but we must say that the biggest inspiration comes from mainstream information.
F: What stories do you like to tell?
NN: We are interested in working through fluxes of images, photographs in particular, since we are attracted by the power of photography and we aim at catching all its implications. We prefer to show stories told by others, which lay somewhere after the passing of the flux.
F: What does it mean to be independent?
NN: You are independent when you can do your research without thinking about your salary, thus you are totally free to work on it. When talking about publishing, we prefer to discern between “being independent” and “being a research project,” since we ourselves don’t understand exactly what the word independent could mean.
F: What is the best photobook you have seen so far?
NN: We picked two books: Four Cowboys by Richard Prince (Other Criteria/Murderme 2009), mostly for its design, which perfectly matches the content, and Mishka Henner’s self-published No man’s land (A Road Movie), vol. I&II (2011), a project that changed our perspective on artists’ books and photobooks.
F: What is the best exhibition you have seen recently?
NN: Performing for the Camera at Tate Modern, curated by Simon Baker, which explores the relationship between performance and the ways artists make use of photography, but also photography as a performance itself.
F: And the record you like the most?
NN: #1 by Fischerspooner (2003). It is very difficult to say, though, the answer could be different everyday!
F: What are your future projects?
NN: The second chapter of PUBLIC COLLECTION, a book that assembles images of artworks culled from Hollywood and international feature films. The book, which also became an exhibition at Camera – Italian Centre of Photography (March 2016, Turin), highlights works of art often overlooked by the casual viewer during the cinematic experience. We are embarking the following chapter, which is about art in television, in cooperation with Arts & Sciences Projects.
Conversation with NASTYNASTY© Tuesday, June 28 at 7 pm Viasaterna Via Leopardi 32, Milan www.viasaterna.com www.blisterzine.com www.nastynasty.org