Interview with Elliott De Cesare

May 7th 2010

Interview with Elliott De Cesare

Part auto-biographical, part social commentary, Elliot De Cesare’s work documents a young artist working out both his views on the world around him and his place within it.

IS:Tell me a bit about what you are working on at the moment.

ED: Currently, I’ve been working on a lot of autobiographical pieces, and working on putting them all together for one larger series. I have also been working on a multitude of smaller series which all together work to substantiate another larger series, in which they would all work cohesively together. This large series which I’m in the process of creating is mainly about human conditioning, and a lot about the irony of what people chose to value in modern culture. The series goes on to touch on many different aspects of this broad topic, such as falling into stereotypes, the competitive nature of people trying to foster different images and rolls in society, and the effects of peoples conditioning on the human psyche, in relationship to other animals.

IS:Your work observes and comments on human behavior.  What are your thoughts on the role of the artists as a ’social commentator’? Do artists have a responsibility to be culturally and socially aware with the work they produce?

ED: Social commentary is just one of many different perspectives to come from when creating a piece of artwork. Though I am saying it is just one perspective to explore, I do however feel that it is in fact a very important one at that. The environment, society, and developing world around you, is the place where your values, ideas, and outlooks on life came from. This is the world where your artwork is materializing out of and being developed from. With that said I personally feel that social commentary, shouldn’t be completely neglected in an artists work, and I think Robert Rauschenberg said it best when he said “the artist job should be as a witness to his time in history.”

IS:When commenting on society and peoples behavior, do you think it is important to exhibit the work and put it in the public realm, therefore give people a chance to respond to your observations?

ED: When it comes to that question, I feel that its very important for people to realize that art can be at times very personal, and that different people create artwork for different reasons. Although a piece of artwork may in fact be a social commentary, the only person who knows the original intent of that artwork is the artist who created it. Therefore I feel that it should go without saying, that like any classification of artwork, at the end of the day its entirely up to the creator, as to what extent their work should be shared with the public.

IS:How important is it to you that the ideas you are trying to convey are fully understood by the viewer?

ED: It often times to me very much depends on the particular piece, or on the body of work as a whole, as to how important that is. Some pieces I create are meant to be open to more interpretation by the viewer than others are. If in a particular series or piece the message behind it is most significant, I would most likely try to develop the piece in a way that my ideas would be more easily translated, but at the same time thats not exactly ever a main concern of mine. My artwork is a lot more personal than that, and I can’t honestly say that I create any certain pieces to be read and understood word for word like a book, thats never something I’m really trying to do. Thats the beauty of making artwork though, and I don’t feel like I need to ever explain myself to anyone, fortunately for me I do know the true intent behind each piece and I can talk about it when I want to.

IS:How do you approach the notion of ‘value’ within your work?

ED: I approach the notion of value (in terms of price) within my work piece by piece, as do most artists. When it comes to putting a price tag on my work it is often times very weird because, I don’t always place a dollar value on something based on time taken, size, etc. Sometimes the piece that took me 45 minutes to make is worth more to ME than certain pieces that took multiple hours of work. So like I said earlier, its all very personal, so therefore what the piece means to me, in relation to other pieces, reflects on making a price, if I even want to sell it. To me, if I where to give away a certain piece of artwork as a gift, in some instances it would mean a lot more from me than if I where to give that person a stack of money or something (not that I have stacks of money at the moment…) but with that said I feel that, that sincerity in that statement, ends up justifying certain monetary pricing that others may not agree with. In all honesty though I would not have divulged as much time in making my artwork as I have in my life if it was about trying to get a certain dollar amount for my work, Im still making my artwork for the same reasons as when I was little kid running around making things out of sticks and paint and whatever I could find.

IS:What was it that attracted you to this project?

ED: With a show being called “art/value/currency” the first thing that comes to mind to me is “value” in terms of “currency”…Whats important to realize is that the monetary “value” of something is essentially based off of a persons “values”, and how they are perceiving the things being valued around them, which really very much relates in many ways to the series I talked about in the first question you asked me.