Donnerstag, 22. Oktober 2020

Interview with Pablo Chiereghin: RIOT DESIGN

Q & A between the artist Pablo Chiereghin (P) and the curator Lisa Ortner-Kreil (L)

Vienna, 1 September 2020 


alle Fotos ©  Pablo Chiereghin


L: I would like to start our Q and A with a short introduction on the project RIOTdesign, which is an ongoing one. We first talked about your idea in April 2019. Can you give a brief definition of RIOT design and its idea and how it has been transformed since the first thoughts until now you’re presenting it at tresor this fall? 


P: RIOT Design is a project about consumerism, violence appeal and value of objects in the market. It is a process in which un-personal everyday objects are transformed using a riot esthetic and then brought back to functionality through an invasive restoration. The act of destruction is part of the artwork, violence models and deconstructs the object, leaving left-over pieces which are then to be recomposed in an unique object. 

The idea of applying violence to things is common, either in everyday life or in the art. Nevertheless I was for a long time fascinated by the power of exercising violence and the appeal that violence has on human beings. With the passing of the time I realized I wanted to excerpt the idea of RIOT and its violence from a context and use it as a ​cultural ready made, ​a tool of design. 

I think the core steps of the process were already present back to last year. I would say that the restoration process and its connection with the circles of live-value of the piece, and the presentation of the destruction video alongside the object, are the phases that permitted the primal idea to stand, at least in my mind, as a project. 


L: For your project the tresor not only serves as exhibition room but also as production area. By “attacking” an object of everyday life, which bears a certain design, you seem to utilize the structure of these objects against themselves before restoring them and giving them a new practical value. In a greater context one could also conceive that the place where all this happens is the former tresor of a bank and therefore the cell, where capitalism and consumerism culminate. How far does this place influence your project? 


P: I often work in connection with the space I am exhibiting with. The partnership is sometimes consensual, as in this very case is, sometimes it is not. So it happened to me to 

organize an unauthorized itinerant party in banks foyers, visiting six banks. The idea was that I did not know what the bank does with my money or my debts, but that people can still have fun in a bank. 

At the Parallel art fair, held in a previous Bank Austria office building, I performed the street-gambling game ​three cards​ with the aim of making, in that very building, some illegal black money. 

Another time I organized a fake financial bureau in the festival “Multimart Kunst und Kapital” in the Künstlerhaus Vienna, collecting money from the visitors with the declared goal of doubling it, gambling in finance. I just kept the money for me, revealing later that the title of the performance piece was ​The Scam​. 

And actually we started collaborating together with my performance ​Bagarino​, (Ticket scalper), Bank Austria Kunstforum gave me 100 entry tickets for the Kippenberger exhibition back in 2016. I was selling them cheaper before the institution, confronting the visitor with an illegal act, transforming the money of the institution in black money for myself. 

This action drove then later to the project RIOT DESIGN. tresor is financed from the biggest bank of Austria, which belongs to my “heimat” Bank Unicredit. In tresor I developed a project which plays with the value of things, trying to transform the perceived value of objects using a violent action. Through developing the destroying and restoration actions in the exhibition space I am bringing riot into a bank without attacking it. I do not consider myself a radical thinker, I believe in compromises and I can use contradictions as a starting point of an idea. So I think that, in this consensual partnership, where identity and roles are defined and clear, I am using the institution as the institution uses me. 


L: In fact, I see the RIOT DESIGN project also somehow as a project which is emerging almost “logically” out of different actions and ideas and projects you did before. The Banking Business, at the latest, since the Financial Crisis hit us back in 2008, has been the “target” of many artists. Some have attacked the system, others have infiltrated it. With RIOT DESIGN at the tresor you manage to fit into in a space where you, as you put it, use the institution while the institution uses you. There is no “winner” or “loser” but both players get a piece of the cake. I consider RIOT DESIGN to be a highly site-specific work as the surroundings, in which you produce and present this idea define its character. The production of RIOT DESIGN surely has also tested the “skin” of the gallery. You have worked with riot tools like iron chains, slingshots, smoke bombs and explosive material. Can you describe the 

production process a little bit for us? How did you “select” your objects, how did you choose the way they are attacked, and when and how did your idea of artistic restoration and re-usage come up? 





P: Yes it is true, the gallery skin had been proved, hit, scratched, smoked and burned but the traces are now only visible in the videos and in the RIOT DESIGN objects. The original objects I collected and processed had to respond to some premises. They should have very low or no market value. They should not have been special or outstanding but rather impersonal everyday-use furniture. Furthermore, the pieces should not have been created as mass products and at the same time they should be things that everybody could be familiar with. The tools I used to attack the objects came from a visual research. I have been watching lots of footage about riots, focusing first on my memories, picking up events which captured my attention like WTO riots in Seattle 1999, the Genova G8 Summit 2001 going to the Greek anti-austerity riots of 2010 until the recent riots of Hong Kong and Black Life Matters. What I tried to get was to “exert gestures in a climate” as an individual act or a collective choreography, researching tools and urban objects that had been used to offend and defend. The combination of the objects and the riot tools had been influenced by the destruction result I wanted to obtain and by visual references to the history of riots. These references are contained in the titles of the RIOT DESIGN objects. 

The restoration is a necessary part of the process and as soon it came to my mind I decided the idea could have stood as a project. Afterward I decided to shape the restoration process, using only materials which are normally hidden behind our walls and pavements. The wounds of furniture have been fixed and underlined using construction material as a tribute to hand work and workers. 


L: I think RIOT DESIGN is really the first exhibition project which was completely produced from A to Z on the premises of the tresor at Bank Austria Kunstforum. It is highly site-specific and the layers of the project are many: Consumerism and institutional critique, reflection on basic questions such as “What is art?” and “What is design?” and how far the exhibition context defines such a “status”. You have also made a series of RIOT objects including a pencil, a calendar and a photo frame, to be put on sale at our book shop - which is nothing but a logical extension of the RIOT DESIGN idea. Many thanks for the insight, Pablo. 



alles Fotos © Pablo Chiereghin

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