Giovanni Longo is a young Calabrian artist who lives in Locri (in the province of Reggio Calabria). He entered higher education at the Academy of Fine Arts in Reggio, even though a number of different workshops subsequently led him to other parts of Italy and the world. The destiny of his works is quite similar, as they have been put on display at the museums of many different cities, such as Genoa, Lecce, Milan, New York and London. He has also been conferred a good number of prizes. The more recent of them is “Premio Elmo”, awarded to him in Rizziconi; but it is only one from a long series of recognitions extended to him for his skill: he was the winner of “Art is clear as clouds” a contest held in Brescia, second place at the Premio Ugo Guidi in 2012 (held in Montignoso, Massa Carrara) and shortlisted for the Premio Arte Mondadori in 2012 (Scultura, Milano) to name only a few of his achievements.
Giovanni, I would like to start by quoting two of the concepts that you often mention in relation to your works, and that I have found particularly interesting from a sociological perspective beyond a merely artistic one: I am talking about “the sense of contemporary precariousness” and “the simplification of what is nowadays made unreasonably complex”. In the ongoing times, do you really think that simplifying might be a way to solve the problem of precariousness (above all, in Calabria)?
In most of the cases, simplification is the right path to follow in art and I believe that societies too could draw inspiration from this method. Children are endowed by nature with the amazing skill to be able to draw an outline of the structure of things: that’s right what we should start by doing in Calabria.
Your Fragile Skeletons, made with driftwood found on the shore, represent an inescapable link that you have with the place where you were born and live. Does being able to bring them to other parts of the world entail a desire to express your sense of belonging?
Unavoidably, my native region is the matrix of my artistic identity; the realization of projects in which my personal ideas and solutions meet my origins in an international context is the best I could hope for. Of course, Calabria is not the whole world and couldn’t ever be it, but I certainly hope that my work might be different than that of an American or Asian artist, maybe as a result of my cultural background.
Of all the exhibitions, whether in Italy or abroad, that you have taken part in, what are the ones that have subsequently brought you more artistic stimuli?
The workshop in Shangay has been a humanly significant experience for me. The artistic borough M50, where it was held, is a whirlpool of different spaces, ideas and experiments in contemporary art. The metropolis itself is an essential part of this fascination, with its wide gamut of contradictions, past and contemporary elements, poverty and luxury, local and global aspects, all mixed in the same context. Such feelings remain with the individual, inducing him or her to think about their sometimes insignificant role within the community. For this reason, I deem it important to derive positive stimuli from simple things; strange as it may sound, there are times when even banality becomes stimulating.
Besides sculpture, you often experiment with video design and photography. Do you think that the interrelationship between different media could be considered as the end of the road?
The answer is probably no, even though they are useful tools to achieve different results, allowing you to think outside the box. Considering my past experiences, I certainly don’t mean to rule out projects in which different media coexist, but I don’t see them as the final achievements of my research. They are more like a middle stage.
Tell us which of your works is more representative of yourself and the territory where you live.
The one I’ll create tomorrow.