INTERVIEW WITH ALEXANDRE ARRECHEA
“For me, working in mosaic was an idea that was not in my range. I have mostly been working with photography, representing the Corners series I developed using architecture to create the faces of the city. Shiro thought it might be interesting to work with mosaic - I thought this was a challenge, because how can you represent a sort of abstract photography in stones? She brought me to this school, the Scuola Mosaicisti del Friuli, and I immediately fell in love with the space and the place."
Arrechea and Muchiri with mosaic students in Spilimbergo
“One of the things that, for me, is interesting about being here in the Mosacisti Scuola building is learning the process of how the students are educated here in the love of mosaic and the fact that the building itself is a work in progress. You can see how the students hang or display their work, whether it is on the floor, the walls, the windows, the ceiling. With every new group of students in the school, their display of work becomes the history of the building.
This somehow entwines with my idea of how to use architecture in order to do a new representation of a building. With my recent works of photomontage masks, I have been using the corners of various buildings to create a face representing several neighbourhoods in Havana. [...] I have been photographing these building corners, but now I am using actual stones. This is talking about architecture in its own terms.”
Detail of mosaic inside the school (left), Corner of Spilimbergo building with mosaic motif (right)
“Visiting the Tagliamento River, you can really understand the reasons why the school was founded in this place because you have plenty of resources there. All of these stones are how the school started somehow - by picking these stones. The colours are limited, but you have so many different types of grey, and they use it. It is so spectacular and beautiful to be able to be at the source of all the stones, to look at them here at the school, and bring space into my work."
Alexandre Arrechea walking along Tagliamento River bank
“The relationship that any culture has with a corner is something that I am trying to grab. A corner is a place, the more prominent side of architecture, but also a place that people gather around. When you want to meet someone, you pick a specific place and that place is generally a specific corner. Somehow, corners define a space or places and I am taking advantage of that in order to bring that information to my work.
What we are working on at the moment is the blue eye, from Corners, that will feature in the Collector furniture piece. This is a very elaborate process of mosaic. The different tonalities of the greens and blue is something that is new to me. I worried about how the photography was going to be translated through these stones, but it is magic. [...] I didn’t want the colours to look flat. I want the colours to have the richness of the photograph, and the students have been able to translate that.”