Claudio Costa

Criticism

Antrropological art? If such an art exists then Costa is definitely its prime mover. He was so before the French began working in that direction, before the poiriers revisited Nero's house, when the artistis of the United States, such as Simmons, has yet to begin modelling mud of their own body: when anthropology was still, above all, the "raw and the cooked" the forest and the river, the undergrowth and the scythe. Before it was metaphore and its own story...

Giorgio Cortenova

[Dal catalogo "Africa" di Claudio Costa, A.P. editore, 1991]

MIRIAM AND CLAUDIO: TALK ABOUT POST-AFRICA IN THE EX PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITAL OF GENOA-QUARTO

M: "The philosophical sense of your research consists, I believe, in the undeniable fact that the contemporary code -having forgotten its usual close attention to every novelty- has been transformed in your work into a code of affection, where everything moves by osmosis. And, if your body continues to move your hands tirelessly in order to “reconstruct the shadow of the world”, your objects too come into this essential code of love, ordering themselves outside and far away from the ordinary palimpsest of rules..."
C: "Someone once said that you never find what you are looking for.., the important thing is to search, to set out on a search, because from this disposition of the soul the right attitude is born, the capacity for finding the best of ourselves. Contemporary art exercises its fascination only in the mental condition of research which, in changing itself, generates infinite metamorphoses. When, at the end of ‘69, I found an unlikely aesthetic in photocopies of maps of the skull and the brain, taken from books of medicine, I never would have thought that the first result would have been work on the classification of primitive man and his material culture... Research puts into focus the nebulous creatures which move chaotically and unconsciously inside us, crystalizing the tendency of our real nature which finds itself minored in the material of the work, in its way of recreating itself continually as a transfused metaphore... The “Cifrari d’amore” (Code books of love) are those marks that I find in objects and which seem to correspond, as though announced, to my concept of truth, because I find harmonious correspondences with my own being. Like myths, it is the spontaneous expression of ecstatic trance, of enchantment, the “objects of affection” are the poetic seal of my linguistic action in the history of these very moments..."

M: "Your narrative know-how as the source of knowledge, where formulations have no need of proof or arguments to support them, has led you to an interest in primitive mentality and, more recently, in the other dimension, of madness... Your studio is in a very particular location: the ex-psychiatric hospital of Genoa-Quarto. You work for the mental-health service in an art and therapy studio and you were co-founder of the Institute for Unaware Materials and Forms which is concerned with the cultural relationships for the rehabilitation of the inmates. Could you tell me about this new activity of yours?"
C: "Art therapy or, perhaps a better way to put it, creative therapy (a definition I find more exact), has as its aim the “repair” and the “reconstruction” of personalities gravely impaired by “that other thing” known as psychosis. If we agree with the theory (put forward by Melanie Klein) which holds that creativity is probably born from a conflictual impulse of the “depressive position” and aimed at overcoming it and ideally recreating the totality of the symbolic object (loved and wholly possessed in early in­fancy but later lost and shattered), then the effect of art would be a point of reunification of the spirit that can work therapeutically on the divided personality. The artist’s energy can act as a catalyst and mediate between the emptiness of the conscience and a certain regained syntony. The artist, often in conflict with himself and society, which does not fully satisfy him, differs from neurotic subjects who participate in the enchantment of creativity, in the greater capacity of his interior world to bear with anxiety and depression, as well as for his awareness with regard to artistic activity. His function in a studio of creative therapy ought to be, according to me, to organize a meeting place and a moment for relaxation, in order to facilitate the study of symbols and reality (by this I also mean the intenor reality of psychic fantasies expressed through artistic practice), and rehabituate the inmates to contact with the world and its social aspect, lost together with the increase of states of anxiety. If, as Heidegger states, “All arts are contained in a poem”, such a poem can only be sustained and guided by invention and by freedom, and neither can it exclude those creative fringes of being which are measured daily by the loneliness of the desert landscape in which their ego languishes..."

Mariam Cristaldi & Claudio Costa

[Dal catalogo "Africa" di Claudio Costa, A.P. editore, 1991]