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Issue No. 18 - Humanity

Emerging Artist Interview: Valerio Polici

Above Image: A painted subway is seen in the station

Please tell us about some of the work featured within the series.

I've realized this project in the last three years while traveling between Europe and Argentina. Using the community of graffiti writers as a pretext, I have tried to speak about the human condition of suffering and escaping. I myself have been a writer for a long time, and all of my past in that world was a continuous attempt of escaping from what I didn't like about my life. I remember to have stumbled upon this reality around my twelfth year, and to have been immediately fascinated by all the mystery and the unclearness that envelops it.  The characters were my idols: "superheroes" of a clandestine world, faces unexposed. About them you could only know a name and the legends.

The first glimpse into adulthood reminds you how misleading adolescence can be, and graffiti offers you a consolatory space in which to seek refuge for a while.  It gives you the illusion of lightness and freedom. The theatricality of the locations where these missions take place, the illegality, the strength of the experiences that they live when compared to their peers (deactivating sensors and cameras, going down forty meters underground by rope, escaping entire nights from the police), transform their lives into a very adventurous video game.  These actions are a response to that need for a special feeling that everybody has.

All the bitterness and the disillusion caused by the fake promises of advertising and movies we grow up with, the hope that one day we will be someone and that our lives will be extraordinarily full of surprises, become partially stemmed. Virtually, it is like having the possibility to rebuild your own identity from point zero: you create your avatar, adding to it the features you prefer, free from the limitation of your real life. With time, your avatar grows up feeding himself with your real ego and often it is hard to go back. Through these pictures, I've tried to let the viewers taste the sensations that trap kids in this parallel world. Among intrusions, climbing, infinite running, dark moments and a lot of adrenaline, the story of our escape is created.

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Looking up on a high fence, the entry of a subway engine room & Waiting, the painted subway in a station

Where do you see your work going, what is next in the development of your project?

So far, I've received good feedback on an editorial level, so I would like to propose it through exhibitions. Moreover, I'm starting to work on a book in order to develop the theme in a wider and more structured way.

What inspires you? Who, Where, Why?

I got inspiration from a lot of different fields. Photographically I believe that I'll never stop adoring the works of Eugene Richards,  Mario Giacomelli, Alex Majoli, Gilles Perress, Antoine D'Agata, Giovanni Cocco, Alex Webb, Larry Towell, David Alan Harvey, Michael Ackerman Joseph Koudelka, and Vanessa Winship. They were my first masters. Additionally in the last period I've been completely overwhelmed from different schools of thought and from the poetry of Alec Soth, Bryan Schutmaat, Lucas Foglia, Luigi Ghirri, Viviane Sassen, Peter Hugo, Nadav Kander, Rafal Milach Michael Wolf. Maybe one day I'll use this medium or large format too. The music of Eric Satie, Dirty Three, Chet Baker and the Sigur Ross inspire me. For the rest, the alienation of "The Stranger" by Albert Camus, and the disillusion of No Logo form Naomi Klein, the rage of Fight Club, the sense of belonging of the Warriors, and the desire of revenge of La Haine.

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CCTV monitor on a subway engine room & Stairs to the subway depot

Our theme was ‘Temptation,’ how do you relate to this within your work and how would you define temptation.

Temptation is a primordial instinct as ancient as the world's history. From original sin and on, it establishes an essential element of our lives and an expression of our duality. Graffiti writers yield to the temptation of letting the public hear their voice, searching those "fifteen minutes of fame," and imposing their own will above the rules and the opinions of the society. Their form of expression responds to the rigid aesthetics of authorities that ratify decrees about beauty and perception of the space. They are like a system error, a virus that wildly runs through the city, in the research of her weak points to attack and modify her "corporate identity". They yield to the temptation of risk and push their own limits more and more, until they discover the point which they can hazard. As modern knight errant, they just want a new adventure before the curtain's light will vanish and real life will definitively prevail.

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Running on the railway tracks & Painting the train under the snow

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Subway engine room

Musée Magazine

Valerio Polici

Interview with Arne Svenson: intimately detached.

Christopher Williams "The Production Line of Happiness" at MoMA