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 I accompanied my mother to the Netherlands, where she was originally from. During school holidays I went back to Italy, where I was introduced to the world of my father, who surrounded himself with gambling addicts and criminals. At first this environment 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 Amsterdam to hide out at my place. 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 one day. After Adriano had been arrested by Interpol in Paris, where he’d 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 made it possible for me to look in a different way and from multiple perspectives at the shadowy reality of the underworld to which my own father also belonged. Since then I’ve been exploring the tension which exists between the codes of conduct prevailing in that parallel reality and the customary moral codes in the regular ‘upper world’.

Every subject asks for a different approach and I always try to find an appropriate form for the artwork that corresponds to the logic of the subject and what I want to tell about it. That may lead to an installation one time and to a film, a book, a sculpture or a photo the next.