Identity and politics have become inextricably linked over the past two years. Filippo Minelli brings these two themes into the great outdoors - sometimes wooded areas, other times the public sphere, to take an anthropological look at what they all mean.
It seems like Minelli's life is that of an activist-intellectual. Driven by exploration and learning, he has travelled the world creating and documenting interventions that border on the philosophical as a device of understanding how all of the cogs work together.
In a past life he may have been an explorer in a more literal form, or maybe he's just a contemporary version of the Renaissance man - ceaselessly projected forward by the desrire to know stuff about stuff. Minelli studied in Milan, and spent a lot of time creating public interventions, prodding a challenging finger at societal conventions.
Flares and banners inhabit a lot of his work - giving his pieces an inherently political dimension. He takes these motifs of protest into unlikely locations to decontextualise their assumed purpose, highlighting the beauty and absurdity of these devices.
Seeing flags and smoke bombs in beautiful natural environments undermines their more sinister connotations. By drawing the viewers eye to them he emphasises the contradictory beauty that they posses. They are as capable of uniting as dividing, of enhancing as well as destroying.
24-hour news gives our lives a sense of perpetual state-of-emergency that's only subsidised by the anxiety-inducing pings of social media notifications. By removing the popular images associated with these feelings of anxiety (people screaming, police cannons firing) it becomes possible to admire their objective beauty. The feeling of admiring his smoke bombs being ignited over a gorgeous lake is like a stampede roaring past you, but not hitting you. It's all a spectacle and he wants to emancipate us from it, even just momentarily.
He talks about the varying reactions that his pieces provoke, depending on where they are in the world. In Moscow some people paid no mind to vast plumes of brightly coloured smoke, as if it didn't even register with them. Security services didn't take to is so kindly - for them it did become a real state-of-emergency.
What does this say about people? Places? Well that is probably the endless quest that Minelli has endeavoured to answer. One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, similarly, one man's distraction is another man's artwork. In London, a city known for being richly cultural and artistic, passersby were far more receptive to his impromptu public events. People would stop to take pictures and ask questions. These objects have an arbitrary symbolism that depends on the associations of the object in that particular place. Moscow for example, is no stranger to violent protests, whereas London is much more familiar with public displays of art and eccentricity.
His willingness to try things out, act upon impulses and sit back to photograph and admire the results is valuable in a time of throwaway entertainment. It gives his work value in the moment, but also much more value in the long run - once all the dust has settled.
More like this:
Please, check your email.