Maurizio Cattelan

Hey Everybody!!

I got another postcard from Vaneeesa! She did an interview with the Italian bad-boy artist Maurizio Cattelan and he sent her a giant crate! She says that now the artist is the art!

Aero Bigboots
100 Bayshore Drive
Biscuit Bay, An Li
Second Life

Hi Aero,
I did a phone interview with Maurizio Cattelan! LOOK at the crazy crate he sent me! I don’t think he really gets the whole “incorporeal” thing. I guess he thought “ascension” meant shipping your body someplace!! πŸ™‚
xoxo, Vaneeesa

I’ll try to post more stuff soon!

— Aero

Maurizio is very fond of his head!

Maurizio Cattelan:
Hello Matthew? Is that you? The phone signal is very bad. Is this a good time for some questions?

Vaneeesa Blaylock:
Ha ha ha Maurizio! You’re so funny! No, I’m not any of the Gospel writers! I was just tired of working within the cultural / artistic constraints of Second Life, so I “ascended” to a higher virtual world plane, but I’m not any kind of Gospel writer or Apostle.

And it sounds like you’re talking through a mask! How do I know it’s really you and not one of your impostors?

Talking through a mask? Well, the Ascension did have some minor effects, kind of like going through an energy field or some sort of transmogrification process or something. My hair got darker and my skin got lighter. As for the bad cell phone reception here in the alternate spiritual plane of existence, that might be due to the electromagnetic effects of my Ascension.

But no, I’m no “impostor!” I assume by impostor you’re referring to our “clone” performances where we had a number of identical avatars share body, skin, hair, and so on?

What is their story?

Maurizio duct taped his gallerist to the wall!

Well, as you know, my work is about Identity and Individuality here in the virtual century. I’ve tried to create pieces that make us meditate on our individual uniqueness, or lack thereof, and on how persona is constructed. So, in exploring those ideas I’ve found the “clone” pieces to really have a powerful voice.

I can still hear you but it’s choppy.

Uggh! I know! The only thing that runs worse than SL… is every alternate grid! But I had to leave. As an artist I really felt straightjacketed by all the authoritarian overtones and the DMCAfulness of the culture in SL. Free speech is worth fighting for, but if you spend ALL your time fighting for free speech, then you don’t really have any speech at all, do you? So I felt I had to ascend to a more open world and just work with what I find in these many worlds.

I can’t understand you very well. Can you call me back on another line?

OMG! Fine! IDK why I thought Botgirl would be a good medium for a seance to an alternate realm! She chugs so much bandwidth on those iPod Night and Day remixes:

Let’s try channeling me thru Aero, she probably has more bars anyway – she has killer satellite internet.

And then he made another gallerist dress up in a penis suit!

…Hello, it sounds good now, where are you?

Oh, thank… hmm… I used to say “thank Philip,” but I guess I can’t really say that anymore. I don’t really think there is a god in my universe anymore. I guess I’m a virtual atheist now. I do kind of think of Philip as that “first boyfriend.” The one who did so many things wrong and kind of pisses you off in so many ways, yet he changed your life more than maybe any other person ever will. Plus it was my own cultural, “virginity,” I was so young and trusting! I’ll probably never believe in any world the way I believed in SL again. I’m happy to be here InWorldz and I’m planning some performances here. But I’m also planning to head over to Reaction Grid, Blue Mars, back to WoW to do something with Ironyca (I haven’t actually told her yet, but Ironyca has a sister here InWorldz, “ObVeeUs Lee”)

Are you at home with the homeless?

Ha ha ha – Maurizio! Just because I’m floating on the celestial plane and warping between temporal anomalies doesn’t mean I’m “homeless” exactly! I actually have a full region here InWorldz, “VB/CO.” And regions here have 45,000 prims and all the megaprims you want to drag out. Actually I made a Level 3 Menger Sponge here. It “should” take 8,000 prims, but I built an “optimized” L2 with megaprims and so I was able to put together a 3,200 prim L3. What a nightmare it would have been to try to make that back in my old SL studio.

Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractals, passed away a couple of weeks ago. So I made a Level 3 Menger Sponge in his honor. I used a cargo container texture for each of the 6 faces of the 8,000 cubes to suggest the cascading possibilities - very "Raiders of the Lost Arc," I know! But still something I think. In the foreground is one of the 8,000 possibilities, "The House with the Ocean View." In the tiny circle is me!

Is your studio very important to you?

Yes and no. It’s more having a place to work. Maybe you’re right to bring up homelessness or nomadic practice. Contact with the street seems essential for forming ideas, but I do like to retreat to a more remote place to work. There isn’t really one specific studio: in SL I shared a space at Angel Beach with Senban, then another space at Angel Beach by myself, then there was the studio at Joshua, then Crystal Ridge, and now I share Biscuit Bay in An Li with Agnes, Smilla, and Lana. I really like remote skyboxes because like poor, dear NicoleX I often suffer from debilitating lag and need a place to retreat to and be able to make work.

Is it a problem of re-aniation?

Shhhh! Maurizio!!! Can’t a girl have any secrets!? If you must know, the thought of a resurrection in April has crossed my mind, but I’m not focusing on that now, I’m really trying to focus on exploring the wealth of Virtual Worlds here in the mid-morning of the 21st century.

But you stay with the dead horse?

One of Maurizio's many "dead horses"

OMG! How many times are you going to make the “Dead Horse” sculpture over and over!? We get it already!!

So, you want me to talk about my obsession with Free Culture? Proselytizers are always tedious and overbearing. Unlike those who have the complacency of a lifetime in the “religion,” the convert is excited about what she’s discovered and insists on sharing it with ever poor soul she can buttonhole. It’s crazy to think that my Free Culture rants are as tedious to others as my brother’s Born Again Christianity rants are to me… but there it is.

We already spend the bulk of our time in First Life in the pursuit of money… does that have to be the focus of our Virtual Lives? Can’t we explore other ideas, values, and cultural creativity?

You mentioned you have rules in the studio.

Maurizio resurrected the famous Spanish womanizer so he could wander around and entertain peeps.

Ha ha ha! You mean the promise I make at the end of every year to shut up about Free Culture and just make art? Yes, I’m making it again this year. I hope I can keep it.

You were in Europe for a long time and then New York and Los Angeles. I saw your work around here and there but then you had a show at Anton Kern in 2005 and suddenly it was all there. You exploded all at once. What happened to you?

Well, Europe, as you know I’ve been working at the Halliburton offices in The Hague. A sort of self-imposed exile from America during the Bush administration. And so far I’ve stayed, it’s become a home for me now.

New York, well, OMG — IT’S WHERE THE MONEY IS!!! πŸ˜›

And Los Angeles, I haven’t really spent much time in Los Angeles, but you’re probably thinking of Palo Alto. I did have a show there, but it’s mostly because I fell in love with Marky Mark. You know, the jerk with the website? So I’ve been doing a lot of commuting between The Hague and Palo Alto. Lots of frequent flier miles. Burning lots of jet fuel. Not entirely green living. I’m afraid to calculate my carbon footprint! But at least I don’t drink Fiji water! And we do spend time together in Virtual Worlds, so when we’re not burning all that jet fuel, we actually may have a smaller carbon footprint than most peeps in the developed world.

As for the obvious question, why is Marky Mark different than Philip, “aren’t they both assholes with websites?” Well… yes… but…

Honestly, the big thing about Marky Mark… is the little things. Like taking the time to make you breakfast even though he’s late for work… or rerouting his day to make sure you get to your friend’s shower… Philip would never do those things.

David by Michelangelo, 1504, and by Bernini, 1623.

It’s kind of like the two famous sculptures of David: Michelangelo and Bernini. If you ask peeps which is the greater “work of art,” most will pick Michelangelo – it’s kind of the definition of what we think great classical art is. But if you ask a different question, if you ask, Who would you rather date? I think you’ll get a different answer. Michelangelo’s David is a pretty-boy! He’s obviously totally self-absorbed! It’s hard to imagine him ever really putting you first. But when you look at Bernini’s David, you know he might piss you off sometimes, but you also know that he’s got your back. He might annoy you, but he’ll never really let you down. When it matters most, he’s always behind you.

What about all these pedestals? I get the feeling that the curiosity cabinet can’t contain you anymore.

Oh! IDK! I guess as corporeal beings we instinctively turn to the physical production of objects. And yes, the art market works hard to reward that sensibility. That was one of the many brilliant aspects of Yves Klein’s Zone of Immaterial Sensibility, that he made the art market consider, respect, and even pay for — in solid gold, no less! — the immaterial.

I do love the Wonder Cabinet. That crazy Untitled, 2007 crate you sent me to ship myself in is like a Wonder Cabinet for one object, or one oeuvre of aesthetic sensibilities. It was SO fun being in that thing! I love Joe Cornell’s stuff and your Untitled, 2007 makes me think about constructing a giant Cornell Box of virtual lives. I suppose we’ve sort of did that last year with VB12 – Landscapes with a Corpse, where we placed the inanimate bodies of the VB/CO Cast as landscape elements strewn across the many worlds of Leto & Steel’s Petruchio. We also created “Memory Boxes” or “Canopic Jars” that the cast members filled with objects, poems, bits of clothing, whatever they wanted to share with visitors.

VB12 - Landscapes with a Corpse -- this is Lyssa and I as the "Valyssa" twins -- floating lifelessly in our watery grave.
VB12 - Landscapes with a Corpse -- this is Agnes, laid to rest in the skypark. To the right, you see her canopic jar with memory items for the visitors.

But ultimately, you’re right. I do want to get past the pedestal and think about more simple, more direct work. In my Previz for VB22 – The House with the Ocean View:

I wrote about reimagining Marina Abramovic with a certain Allan Kaprow sensibility. I’ve been thinking about Allan a lot lately. He invented the Happening, and then when they became a big artworld / media / celebrity fuss, he turned his back on them. Instead he spent much of the rest of his life creating “Actions,” which had a kinship with Happenings, but were much smaller, more personal, more intimate.

Sometime in November I’m planning to do VB23 – New Clothes here in this virtual world of “InWorldz,” where the “VB/CO” region is. It’s a piece inspired by Allan’s 1975 work Match.

You are a good mimic, you could be Gordon Matta-Clark.

Matta-Clark??? I wish I was cutting up houses! I think worship at the IP altar is, unfortunately, safe from my chain saw.

What is next?

Oh Maurizio – you always want more! I’ve already told you that there may be a supernatural event in April, but till then I really want to focus on natural, simple actions in as many worlds as possible. It’s about a sense of place and about community. Like others, I once thought that Second Life was a community, but I now realize that it is a place, and that the people you meet there are the community.

I guess we’re young swallows being shoved out of our cliff-side nests by our parents: it’s scary, it’s not as easy as staying put, but we do want to fly…

Why don’t just go out and beat your dead horse?

Oh Shut Up!!! No one has ever beat a dead horse more or better than you Maurizio! Maybe that should be my New Year’s Resolution: to try to beat the dead horse less.

Cattelan’s questions stolen from his interview with Eva & Franco Mattes, Eva & Franco Mattes, Charta, Milan, July 2009, in which Eva & Franco Mattes stole Cattelan’s questions from his interview with Matthew Monahan, Flash Art, No. 259, Milan, March-April 2008.


I grew up in Friday Harbor, WA, and went to school at UBC Vancouver where I received a BSN in 2003. Now I'm a nurse at Children & Women's Health Center of BC. I wish I could tell you I went clubbing every night after work, but those days are pretty much behind me. My boyfriend is a bit of a gamer, but I'm not fond of battles & killing stuff, so I rarely join him. Sometimes I play Second Life instead: it's fun to unleash my inner cheerleader! :)

6 thoughts on “Maurizio Cattelan

  1. “ObVeeUs Lee” hahaha good one. I’m an only child IRL, so I’m thrilled to have a virtual sister!
    Cattelan seems very unorthodox and experiemental, I don’t think I’ve seen art like that ever, fascinating…

    Your post also made me think of the story about Winston Churchill when England was in need of funding for the Second World War. He was then adviced to take the money from the culture budget, but declined and said “what are we fighting for then?”.

  2. Good one Eric! I’ve never seen that piece before – thanks for sharing! Ha ha – according to flickr, you used 3 different cameras to take those 4 pix – were you camera testing? πŸ™‚

    Update: Ironyca & ObVeeUs are now “friends” in InWorldz… but they’ve never actually been there at the same time & place! There’s a performance there on Sat 4 Dec – so I guess they’ll meet by then at the latest!

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