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Interview and studio visit #1

Daniela Novello

Petrifying objects

Ph. Jessica Soffiati
Ed. Jessica Soffiati


«I chose marble and marble chose me. Sculpting marble is a slow process that requires great care because every move, every single carving can irreparably ruin the work, so it definitely helped me develop a great discipline and patience in work.»

J.S: Hi Daniela! You are the first person to be interviewed for Camerae and also the “spark” which ignited all this.
We know well your studio; we came to almost all events here with you and your sister, Patrizia.
The must-have of every studio-visit are the two tracks of tables that welcome the visitors: there is edible food on a table and food from your serie “Archeologia del contemporaneo” (“Archaeology of contemporary life“) on the other one, and I have to say it’s challenging for hungry visitors. The sandwiches made of stone are so tempting that you think you can smell them.
How did it all start? I mean, eating is a primary need and your work partly highlights the sanctity of gestures and the importance of this daily ritual by “humble” simple and ancient elements like bread, we can call them archetypical. What is the consideration that pushed you to create these series?

D.N: “Archeologia del contemporaneo” starts from the idea of petrification of everyday objects, generally these are objects of little value but with a great symbolic significance, for example sandwiches or tanks.
Bread represents the idea of food as a key element for human survival.
The purpose of this research, started in 2007 and that I now consider open and constantly expanding and evolving, aims to speak to human life through some objects that surround us.

J.S: You always worked with stones, marble and lead. Do these materials represent you? Do you think the experience and experimentation on these materials influenced any aspect of your personality and personal development over the years?

D.N: My love for sculpture was born from the halls of The Brera Academy; I used to walk there from room to room and I glimpsed marble blocks take shape on dusty easels. The attraction was immediate and mutual: I chose marble and marble chose me. Sculpting marble is a slow process that requires great care because every move, every single carving can irreparably ruin the work, so it definitely helped me develop a great discipline and patience in work.

J.S: Your twin sister, Patrizia, is an essential and constant presence in your life. She too is an artist and you share the studio that belonged to your grandfather, if I’m not mistaken. Family has an important role, at least it gave you the first field of exchange, it influenced your world and your reflections about work. How much does she take part in your work and vice versa?

D.N: Our trainings were different: she studied contemporary art restoration, whereas I graduated in painting; we both chose different paths, in fact I work in sculpture while she paints. I think I’m very lucky to be able to share my mental and physical workspace with her: I evaluate her work first and vice versa, we are our most ruthless and strictest judges.
Our researches are completely different, but perhaps the methodology of work is more similar; I mean, there’s little space for improvisation and impulsiveness, everything is the result of thoroughly thinking.

J.S: When we came here, you were working on a sculpture shaped like an anvil in Belgian black marble, to be exact. The room, the objects it contained and the walls were covered with dust to the point where everything was monochrome and in shades of grey. We can see a picture down there, though; there are two girls of about 15 years old who are sitting side by side and looking into the camera. What story do they tell us?

D.N: Actually the girls in the picture are my dear friend Maddalena and me in our twenties; we were in Seggiano, a small town in Tuscany, in the sculpture park designed and requested by the great Daniel Spoerri, who spent years and worked in that beautiful place and disseminated sculptures and artistic installations by him and his artist friends. Places like that are always of fundamental importance for promoting artistic knowledge and confrontation.

J.S: We found out that you often travel to learn about new types of stones and work on them. Which areas of the world gave you the chance to experience the most interesting things with local stones?

D.N: I remember with great affection the sculptures I made in Turkey with a local veined light-grey marble, it was pretty hard and shining; a violet colourful brownstone named Sandstone I sculpted in Germany and also a beautiful Sicilian tuff that I’ve found in my uncle’s country house, who’s been supplying me by postal delivery whenever I need it.

J.S: Describe a significant meeting for you and your work.

D.N: Firstly, I must thank my first master, the one who mentored me in my job, Massimo Pellegrinetti, my professor of marble techniques at the Academy.
Secondly, I remember with emotion my first curator, Angela Madesani, who got me into a gallery in Milan where I still work.

J.S: Your mission is to petrify contemporary objects. What would you like to petrify in your life today?

D.N: A bed. I often reflect upon it and it will probably be part of a future work.

Camerae is not a journal as it is updated without any periodicity. It can not therefore be considered an editorial product under Law No. 62, 7.03.2001.