Paola Pivi’s equestrian assault on the Eiffel Tower
The Italian artist will be presenting her work until August 1st at the Perrotin Gallery Paris. Hallucinatory shots of horses taking full possession of the Eiffel Tower’s various spaces.
For Paola Pivi, art is ultimately just a massive playground. Where she can stage performances that are all about unforeseen experimentation. One can’t forget her leopard stalking along 3,000 cappuccino cups or her alligators emerging out of whipped cream. The artist’s incongruous couplings reveal the oneiric dimensions of reality. For each photograph captures a reality that really once was, however briefly. No montage, no hasty Photoshop fabrication.
Numéro: Where did this idea to put horses in the Eiffel Tower come from?
Paola Pivi: Virginie Coupérie-Eiffel’s invitation was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. I had already worked with animals, like when I photographed zebras amidst snowy mountains. But such previous works hadn’t the same historic or symbolic dimensions as this project. The zebra was just a zebra, the mountains, simple mountains. In this case, the Eiffel Tower conjures a human history, the idea of technical progress. Equally it’s one of the most heavily visited monuments in the world. Then, the horse evokes nature’s force. Two conceptual worlds clash, physically and symbolically.
Numéro: The photos present a fantasy world, entirely unreal. Had you envisioned the series in these terms before you started?
Paola PIvi: No, absolutely not, and in fact the ‘real’ quality of my photographs is something I strive to maintain. I spent two days photographing the zebras in the snow, and two mornings in Paris with the horses. Generally I have a very precise idea of the desired result. But here, on the contrary, I wanted to just see what happened when you set four horses loose in the middle of the Eiffel Tower. It’s a performance, a happening – all I do is put the ingredients in place before observing the result…even if ultimately we made a very strict choice of shots.
Numéro: What took you by surprise the most during this performance?
Paoloa Pivi: I had never really worked with monuments. And so I came to realise to what extent human constructions fascinate me. They bring many layers to a performance or an image: historical, social, economic, cultural…More than anything I rediscovered the beauty of the Eiffel Tower which is all too often reduced to a simple tourist attraction. We tried to capture as much of it as possible in the compositions taken with photographer Hugo Glendinning. I see something very futuristic in these photos, even if the central elements come from centuries past.
Numéro: As though civilisation had disappeared and all that remained was the monuments, vestiges now inhabited by nature and animals?
Paola Pivi: Exactly, like a sci-fi film…
Interview by Thibaut Wychowanok
Paola Pivi, Yee-Haw, jusqu'au 1er août, Galerie Perrotin, 76, rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris, www.perrotin.com
Longines Paris Eiffel Jumping, du 3 au 5 juillet, Champ de Mars, Paris, pariseiffeljumping.com