Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio
DROME: It seems to me that your work has to do with the duo theme in three different ways. First of all, the most obvious thing is that you are twins and you work together. What is it like for you to grow together as people and as artists? How does your partnership work, both in terms of planning and in a practical sense?
GIANLUCA + MASSIMILIANO: As far as we’re concerned it’s normal to view artistic expression as a collective affair. We do have some existential confusion and perhaps that’s why the real theme of our pieces is identity. Our projects are often the result of random encounters. During the next stage we almost always have an in-depth discussion. If an idea stays with us for a few days, it must be the right one. The work comes from a perfunctory division of tasks. The good thing about working together is that the end product is always something better than something we had imagined individually.
D: Another point is that your way of working is halfway between what are considered two separate expressive forms: film and so-called video art. Can any parallels be drawn between this relationship and the one between different cultures (a theme that is often present in your pieces)?
G+M: The theme of our work is not the relationship between different cultures but rather the identity crisis that individuals have to struggle with during their life. It’s an existential problem. We believe that the real problem in contemporary society, which art has to draw on, is the impossibility for people to find their own identity. The relationship between film and art does not concern us. We don’t formally adapt our pieces so that they can be shown in a cinema rather than an art gallery. Where there’s a coherent study path, there are also the necessary conditions to direct the work in both directions. The thing we’re interested in, though, is laying down a challenge to the viewers, testing their level of freedom in terms of the piece and their responsibility towards what they see. The “fluctuating” vision in a gallery offers interesting and alternative points of observation, which the head-on nature of cinema does not allow, and vice versa.
D: One-on-one relationships dominate your work (the Arabic teacher and the boy in “Zakaria”, the “new” brother and sister in “Mio Fratello Yang” or the two “Ensi and Shade” characters). Does the dialogue between two people have a special value for you? Is it possible that this linguistic choice might be a projection of your own status as twins?
G+M: The use of duets allows us to focus on the duality that has always been a part of us. The fact of always seeing things from two different points of view, of being in front of and at the same time behind the reality we see, conditions our work at a formal level too. In addition, a duet is the prototypical figure of an encounter. Our films are the result of encounters (with the characters), they are developed through an encounter (between us) and they end in an encounter (between the film and the viewer).
Published on DROME 9 – the DOUBLES issue