From “Aus Künstlersicht – 13 Fragen – 51 Interviews”, by Aeneas Bastian e Harriet Häußler, Galerie Upstairs, Berlin, 2009
QESTIONS TO MANFREDI BENINATI FROM DR. BASTIAN
1. What is art?
This is how I answered the first time somebody asked the same question. I just found it in my hard disc and tought it would be interesting to compare it with my new point of view (at that time I only had one or two years experience in the art world):
“Dear Mustafa’, you asked me to write a few words on art (“my” art? Boh!) and, well, I have to say that I’m not too good at writing since painting and drawing is all I’’ve been up to lately, like most people in my business, I guess. I have to try and guess it because I don’t know that many artists and hardly spend time with the few ones I know and whenever I do we hardly talk about art. Art is, in fact such a private part of my life that I rather deal with it privately. It has been the fulcrum of my entire life since the day I discovered its healing power, since the day I found out that making it is even better than just watching it. You enjoy it twice as much than a passive spectator. And you learn more and want to push further and further. And it is all so thrilling because you never know where things could lead you to. There is a sentence that is probably the most frequently recurring sentence (nearly a stock phrase) in art history which is credited to different artists by different sources that says roughly: ‘at each touch I risk my life’. Well I used to regard it as a pathetically pompous statement (deriving from romantic ideals of struggling artists etc) and I still do partly, but partly don’t anymore. Because I now know that it is true that art (just like life) is mostly about taking risks that means opening oneself up and dealing with whatever is in it regardless of consequences. Then once you have done that, you wait and see what happens. Sometimes you get amazing things in return. Sometimes you can feel like you were time-travelling and you get transported back to your childhood or forward to the future that you will never get to see. And you are the same age in both cases. Sometimes my feet are very ticklish and my eyesight blured and I wonder how could Piero della Francesca long for what he longed for and why couldn’t he do things the opposite way. Sometimes I let a little flower mesmerize me for dozen and dozen of seconds sometimes for minutes and minutes and that’s even more beautiful than getting lost in a beautiful idea. Manfredi Beninati ………..June. 2004”
Today I will just say that it has a very specific and foundamental role in human society. That of revealing new, unexpected or unnoticed sides of things around us. It has to show and explore hidden corners of our collective imagery without ever trying to draw conclusions or to explain things, though. that’s not its task.
2. Which late artist would you have liked to meet?
Medardo Rosso. Alternatively Marinetti.
3. Who or what is your role model?
4. Who or what has led you to become an artist?
A bet with my brother Flavio and my ex girlfriend Lourdes.
5. Where did you grow up? How do you remember this time?
In Palermo with my mother and brother. Of course it was the best part of my life to date. I reckon your life is about your childhood, really. whatever happens after that age is not that significant. I feel adulthood is about searching for the flavours of childhood.
6. Where and when would you have liked to live?
In 12th century’s Tuscany would be fantastic to spend a couple of weeks just to look around, but I’m happy with the place and time I lived and live in.
7. Which work of art do you personally consider the most important of all times?
There are many, too many. I don’t believe in hierarchies or classifications, anyway.
8. Which is your favourite museum and why?
I don’t have one, actually.
9. Who has decisively influenced your career?
Flavio and Lourdes, Steve McCoubrey, Lorcan O’Neill, Paolo Colombo, James Cohan
10. What is the key question in your work?
a) How do I get there?
b) Why are people so superficial?
c) How would time interfere with or change my work or the perception of it?
11. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Within myself. From the fading memories of my experiences.
12. What do you consider the most important work of yours?
My life, seriously!
13. Where do you see yourself in ten years time?
I could be dead by then. Although I’d love to be alive and still able to work, in which case I’d have produced enough work to be almost satisfied.