What (I think) I do, and why (I think) I do it

My transition into the art world has been very subtle and complex. I had been making music for most of my life when, in 1975, i started to work in (live and recorded) radio. By the time I realized what i was doing was heading towards art (Sound art, or more specifically Radio art), 10 years later, I was a skilled professional. I still like to make a separation between professional work and art (although sometimes they merge, and the tools are the same), and I'm happy I can do both: much of my art has been funded by commercial work.

Since the late 80es I have expanded in two new areas, live performance and writing. I've done a lot of music gigs, both by myself and with other bands. But my own live act slowly turned into spoken word performances with sounds - and recently without any other sound than my voice. I write for the biggest italian underground music magazine, Rumore, where I have my own page since 1996; this is an extension of my art work, not journalism (which I also do, usually elsewhere). The voice on the page and in the shows is the same.

There's a basic common trait in most of my art work. It took me a long while to define it, until I came across the Joseph Beuys definition of Social Sculpture, an expression which describes my intentions very well. What I attempt to do is to produce an effect into the audience's consciousness (and hopefully unconsciousness). The art is not "the piece", but the effects of it on the audience, which happens somewhere between me and them. All my work since 1997 has always included my email (and everyone who has written to that address has received a reply); I consider this as part of the artistic process. One of my last pieces is Realcore, a one hour spoken word show (with 100 images) about amateur pornography. It has an unusual angle, and at the end I suggest a positive finale, of richness and variety in the amazing world of self made porno. Here's what a member of the audience emailed me afterwards:

Hello Sergio,
My name is XXXX and i listened to Realcore in de Waag last wednesday. I really enjoyed it. I came home with this very relaxed feeling of acceptance of this beautiful world and its crazy beautiful people and had really nice erotic dreams that night
.

My work often might look like politics, or social work. But there are big differences: what I do is often dangerous (while politics nowadays are way too safe), and I usually challenge widely accepted assumptions (instead of reinforcing people's opinions). And of course the motivation is different: I'm not very interested in politics or social issues in themselves. I'm after change, something at which art should be much better than politics.

"La rivoluzione siamo noi" (The revolution is us or We are the revolution)
(Joseph Beuys)

Sergio Messina
september 2008

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