ALBERTO
DE MICHELE

 

I was born and raised in a town not far from Venice till the age of ten, when my parents separated and my mother took me back with her to the Netherlands, where she was from. During school holidays I would go back to Italy, where I was introduced to the world of my criminal father, who surrounded himself with gambling addicts and gangsters. This environment first became a playground to me and eventually a real-life movie I could step in and out of.

After graduating from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam I initially made abstract and conceptual video art not directly related to my personal background. This changed when Adriano, an acquaintance of my father from Italy, came to hide out at my place in Amsterdam. We had extensive conversations about his life ‘as a predator’ and a relation of trust developed between the former bank robber and me, which allowed me to start taping our conversations. When Adriano was arrested by Interpol in Paris, where he had gone to pick up a false passport, I used the recorded conversations and personal documents that he left behind for a multimedia installation, Adriano (2007).

Producing this work not only made me realise that my background enabled me to enter worlds that are inaccessible to most people, but also that the distance created by the translation of a personal story or experience into an artwork allowed me to look at the shadowy contours of the underworld to which my father belonged in a different way, from multiple perspectives. Since then I have continued to explore the tensions as well as the overlaps that exist between codes of conduct prevailing in that parallel reality of the world of crime and the customary moral codes operative in the regular ‘upper’ world.

Every subject asks for a different approach and I always try to find a form for the artwork appropriate to the nature and logic of the matter at hand and what I have to say about it. One time this may lead to an installation, the next time to a film, book, sculpture or photo series. The only restriction I adhere to, though more from an inner necessity than due to artistic principle, is that the stories I recount are drawn from real life.