Artist of the Week: Francesca Capone

Francesca Capone is a visual artist who works with interdisciplinary practices. She is currently exhibiting at LUMA/Westbau, The Last Brucennial, The Gelman Gallery at the RISD Museum, Publication Studio Hudson and The Granoff Center at Brown University. Her work will be a part of Petrella’s Imports presentation at NADA in May 2014. She earned her BFA in Textiles from RISD in 2009 and is now pursuing an MFA in Cross Disciplinary Writing from Brown. This summer she will be a resident at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

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Tell us about your work process and how it develops. I’m an interdisciplinary artist working between visual art and poetry—so I find a lot of my inspiration in investigating the history of where these two art forms overlap. I’m very interested in Conceptual Writing and Concrete Poetry and also in visual art practices that use text like Conceptual Art, Dada, Minimalism etc.  So a large part of my process is reading, studying—discovering things in books—and then scanning, digital editing and manipulating, and eventually printing on paper or canvas —sometimes rescanning, reprinting. Sometimes hand weaving, jacquard weaving, laser cutting, screen printing.  I’m working with textual materials in the same way I might work with an image, using a visual process. As the work develops, I’m critically analyzing it with consideration of the discourses of both visual art and conceptual writing in an attempt to streamline a movement that braids between the two.

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What artists are you interested in right now? Dieter Roth, Guy de Cointet, Carl Andre, Vito Aconci, Patricia Treib, Ethan Cook, Jacob Kassay, Kristen Mueller, Rosmarie Waldrop, Tauba Auerbach, Anni Albers, Kenneth Goldsmith, Erica Baum, Caroline Bergvall, Sol Lewitt…I could continue but I’ll stop myself there.

Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? I’m obsessed with Ubu Web—especially the visual poetry section and unpublishable books—but I also love the videos. Another favorite is Josh Abelow’s Art Blog Art Blog site. Then last but not least, some friends of mine work on Petrellasimports.net (also a web app for phone/ipad) and I can’t get enough of that project. They are going to be at NADA this summer and they’ll have display copies of all the publications on the app—which will include a piece I put out with them, Perhaps Blasphemous.

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What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? Facsimile Compression is a new series where I take every page from a selection of books that I am currently interested in and flatten them into a single visual plane. The texts are reshaped into a practically unreadable form, an almost-image, a dark shadow on a single page of what was once many pages thick with ideas. Attempting a conversation with both visual art and conceptual writing, the selected books bear their own significance to their attributed image. Text is adopted, layered, treated as a mark, lifted from the numerous pages of a book onto a single visual plane. It is an image literally made from writing. It is writing made into material: the physical material of the copied books layered with the intellectual material of the writing itself.

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I have another series that I’m still deciding the name of—Nothing Underneath / Poem Paintings. These are also created on a scanner, but in a much more physical way—I am literally dragging various selections from books down the length of a scanner. Through this process working with a color scanner, CMYK color variations began to bleed from the texts as well, which I love.  Then I digitally manipulate the scans into compositions, digitally print them on canvas and stretch them. It’s a very physical process, and the intent is to use text materially—a theme I consider a lot, but in this case I think the material quality most resembles painting. It has undertones of AbEx. The process is both a painterly and poetic practice.

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Any current or upcoming shows we should know about? I’m in the 89plus exhibition in Zurich “Poetry will be made by all!” at LUMA/Westbau, co-curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Simon Castets and Kenneth Goldsmith. The exhibition is being added to by resident artists in the gallery as time passes, and everything is diligently documented on their blog. I also installed an enormous mural at Brown’s Granoff Center in Providence, RI—it’s a 15.5 x 20ft textual digital print on canvas—it will be hanging until June 2014.  There’s a few other shows that I’m gearing up for as well that I can’t announce yet—but keep your eye out.

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How long have you lived in your city and what brought you there? I’m in Providence, RI at the moment, studying Cross Disciplinary Writing at Brown. I’m almost half way through a 2 year long MFA program. Before that I was living in New York City for five years. Before that I was in Providence studying at RISD. Before that I was growing up in Long Island, NY.

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What are you reading right now? Rosmarie Waldrop, Curves to the Apple.

What’s your absolute favorite place in the city/the world to be? I could be incredibly happy anywhere so long as it’s SUMMER. This winter has been pure torture.

Who is your ideal studio mate? Eventually I’m going to get a dog. I think that will be the most ideal for certain.

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What do you want a viewer to walk away with after seeing your work? I hope that my work provokes the viewer to become more engaged in the process of reading as a visual experience. Often text-based work in a visual art context can be off-putting, depending on how it’s done of course, which is why I admire the artists who have done it well. It’s difficult to convince a viewer to read something without the text being too reductive. I want the viewer to be drawn into an aesthetic experience in the same way that they might engage with a painting—but then experience the text through a sort of personal discovery—pulling out the bits and pieces that speak to them. Ideally I’d like them to walk away with not only an image in their mind but also a poem or a story.

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