As part of his research on the communities of power, including the Church and the Politburo, Antonio Riello’s artistic practice comments upon the issue of national residency as a site for the power of the State.
For instance, a blown glass containing a Residence Permit shows that the State (in this case, the Italian Republic), understood as "a juridical entity that has sovereignty over a definite territory", has the authority to grant or refuse the permit to enter the country. This could be seen as a very topical comment on war refugees fleeing Syria in search of a safer life.
Thus in an attempt to rouse us from the deep-seated indifference that keeps us from realising what is happening to people who need our help, Riello’s artistic practice uses a cruel-and-playful approach. This creative attitude is exemplified by "Italiani brava gente", an artwork in the form of a video game where the player has to sink the boats of refugees approaching the southern Italian coasts, thus echoing the reality of the role of the sea-coast armament in the region, and its effects on human lives. One must read "PerGraziaRicevuta", the rocket missile painted with the stories of Saint-Anthony, and KT WE, the military aircraft where Western and Eastern winged putti fight each other, in much the same way.
Riello’s new project, "Collateral Damage" (CD), deals with the rampage of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or so-called drone attacks and their typically random, thus insidious, process and effects. These are common military tools, as they are considered to be effective and relatively inexpensive. Many military decisions are outsourced to computers and cameras, and are based on algorithms developed to detect "patterns of dangerous behaviour."
Following the seminal research on the aesthetics of war undertaken by such figures as Paul Virolio, Guy Debord and Jacques Derrida, Riello argues, it seems urgent and vital that contemporary art, as a form of radical visual thinking, should deal with this new situation, "A sign of public defiance against the illegal use of these improper weapons should simply be our cultural duty." CD is a low-budget, urban public art project based on a series of outdoor installations and a campaign of visual information and protest. It takes the form of a logo of a giant bull’s-eye to be for instance stencilled on a large scale in open spaces close to social institutions or people in danger.
Antonio Riello is an eclectic artist with various interests, but he works especially with sculpture, installations, photo-montage, and digital art. He delivers courses on Videogames Phenomenology at several Universities. He has exhibited works and installations in art institutions and art galleries internationally.
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