Last winter, Filippo Minelli (Italy, 1983) traveled to Portugal to go find his personal and self-imposed retreat. In an industrial area somewhere in between the Spanish and Portuguese border, the artist has pinpointed his quiet spot for work and living. «I’m actually on the Portuguese side, I’m in the middle of el Alentejo and I have to go up a the hill to get to the closest town. Almost anyone knows about this place», says Filippo in a funny Italian accented ‘portuñol’. «I love the border areas and I also was looking to work in a place where I could be surrounded by nature. Here there’s only fields around me, it’s kind of a silly place in the middle of nowhere, really there’s nothing here!», he laughs. His camera, his tools and Chooti, his dog, have moved with him to this warehouse now transformed into his hideout for introspection, disconnection from the world and new work space.
But it is through his artistic labor that Minelli finds disruption. His work revolves around the landscape investigation through social and political conflict and it’s the contemporary identity and the public sphere the main sources of his work, that he translates through photography, paintings or sculptures with a great poetic content.
From his personal confinement space and shaped as a photo journal, Filippo shares with us a piece of his intimacy caught through the lens of his camera.
(Click on the pictures to continue text)
Filippo Minelli outside his warehouse now home-studio.
«The warehouse were I’m right now is huge, about 350 sq. meters. There is a very large and open work space and then there’s a room where I keep the delicate stuff and a bedroom upstairs. When I moved here, I brought with me everything from my other studios. From the one in Italy I had some old works, paintings… I spent five years in Barcelona and there I developed more the work related to impressions, 3D scanner…».
«This is White Tara, a Buddhist divinity. Is an ancient painting from the begininig of the 20th Century that I bought when I was in Mongolia ten years ago and I always carry it with me. During the day I go through a lot of meditation moments but they’re not separated from my daily routine, I mean, living where I am right now I go through a lot of moments of introspection, calm and observation. I’m lucky my lifestyle allows me this in a very organic way. The necklace I’m wearing is an emerald from a mine in Colombia. I got it two years ago when I traveled there to work on a project with the Italian Embassy about the armed conflict and the landscapes of the resurrection of this problem».
«I’ve been with Chooti for more than 10 years now, she’s quite and old lady. She always travels with me when it’s around Europe, I have a van and it’s easier to move that way with her».
«I’ve taken quite a few pictures of bouquets these days. I take the flowers from the fields around here, even if I’m in the middle of and industrial area is great because I’m surrounded by meadows, I’m far from everything. The vase was a present from an Italian friend, she gave it to me when I was living in Barcelona».
«This picture with the pink smoke is part of my series Silence / Shapes’, it’s actually one of the first ones I shot around 2009-2010. It was taken in Italy very close from where I am from, in between Brescia and Milan up north. It’s an area of a lot of contamination and as a matter of fact is now one of the areas more affected by the virus these days».
«I’ve been working over a new series this year. This piece looks like the door of a car. One of the topics that I’m passionate about and that is mainly guilty for me being in this remote border area between Spain and Portugal is the contemporary landscape. In the art world, and in general in our society, we always hear people speaking about ‘historic heritage’ related to identity. Nevertheless ‘contemporary heritage’ is something different, it doesn’t mean is more or less beautiful or that it can or can’t have any sacred or social relevance for example. But is just something we don’t talk about».
«Related to this ‘contemporary heritage’ I like to find things and use the landscape to talk about this contemporary identity of places. It’s a series I’m doing about the idealization of scenarios, they are in search of this aesthetic. Contemporary identity or these kind of things».
«This space outside the warehouse is where I do all things like spray painting or burning stuff. I love it because from here you can see the sunset and I come by the end of the day. I constructed this transportable kitchen out of nothing. I installed wheels so I could cook outside when the weather is good».
«I work with galleries in Marseille, Italy, Germany… So from time to time I need to go there, leave the artworks, organize exhibitions… I also use this car when I feel I’ve been way too much time in the countryside and I just go to sleep in front of the ocean to find myself».
During November 2019, Filippo Minelli visited Madrid for the last series of the photographic project that he started more than ten years ago, ‘Silence / Shapes’, in the construction area of Caleido, the latest Real Estate urban project next to the four towers. Check out the video of this last work with his interview and learn more about the project here.