THE NEW TIMES HOLLER! INTERVIEW WITH JAMUZE
©AMIR BEY, 2008
: What are the themes that your work engages in, and where do you work?
: My work happens to have a strong connection with music. I began exploring photography and listening and going to Jazz concerts. I started experimenting with black and white, and listening to Italian Jazz musicians but also listening to giants of the past. Some years ago, it happened that I literally crashed into some contemporary afro-American musicians, and decided to follow that path… explore the use of color, the digital medium and trying to go deep into their music and getting to know them.
I can say that photography is something that you do, I did not plan to do it… it happened. And it is still developing… an evolving project mainly around music, around some artists, around stage. Other themes I am working on are portrait, dance, women, spirituality, children, urban areas.
Mainly I do work in Rome, and when possible I attend other festivals in Italy and Europe.
: In an earlier communiqué, you said that "Officially there is a lot going on"; In what ways does the government, and the social environment at large help and restrict artists?
: In general the institutions, sponsors and foundations provide funding and contribute to events, theatres, academies. Especially for big venues of course they prefer to have big names, well known artists and shows.
For independent artists, especially the ones who do "avant-garde"or "creative" and "experimental" work is always a challenge. And the challenge is also to get the new generations to know other kinds of music and art in general.
: Are you surviving solely through photography?
: This is a good question. Personally I feel lucky to have a job and photography is my passion. Not enough money that allows me survive at the moment. Whether to and how to make it a profession is another question. I have many friends who are photographers for many years; some of them have a studio, some of them work for agencies, others are artists and strive to survive. Their work may vary from advertising to weddings, art, architecture, industrial photography reportage… some of them are linked with clubs, associations or institutions for music. Nowadays it's more of a challenge to jump into the market or the "professional" arena. Also in addition I feel the need to have a group of people who work together and around a common ground or intent, not only for me.
: You have worked in New York a number of times. How would you compare the New York City art scene to Rome?
: Actually I would need to see and explore more of what's going on in New York…and Rome itself.
The feeling I had is that NY is still a place where an artist can get more chances to develop and realize themselves, NY seems to be naturally open to new things.
I may be wrong but Rome has so much art, heritage from the past, it is hard for the "new" to come out… what I have seen takes inspiration from American pop-art or Italian artists from the 70's.
Still I believe some interesting things may develop, because Rome and Italy are finally "mixing-up" people from everywhere… young generations, mixing art and science… ancient and modern, they have less burden from the past and are willing to enjoy and create things.
: How does Rome differ from other cultural centers in Italy?
: Well to answer this question might take pages. Rome is the Capital, Rome has the beauty from the ancient Romans, to the baroque, to modern age. Rome has grown a lot in the last ten years, they invested to increase the value of monuments, museums, and put more attention on event production. Also there are associations and artists collectives who strive for their independence and work in the area.
Milan is back to event and music production, it is fashion-modern art and business oriented… Florence, Venice… Indeed it is hard to say, I live in Rome. Each of them has something different.
There are many little towns, "Jewels of art" themselves that are now starting to open up, and put more attention to the importance and the role of art in our lives. There are interesting things happening also in the South of Italy, in Naples, Bari, and Catanzaro and last but not least Palermo, Cagliari.
LAWRENCE "BUTCH" MORRIS
: What kinds of work do you do outside of Rome and New York?
strong> JAMUZE: What I have done are some exhibitions in Palermo and Bologna.
: What kinds of projects are you working on?
: Lately I am playing around new possibilities with digital graphical elaborations and motion, still based on music.
I am exploring other expressions on stage, making new contacts with other artists and "figuring-out" how to find a good balance between life, work and photo-projects.
: Who are the artists that you admire in Italy?
: Amir, Well it is hard to say… which artists ? I feel embarrassed, there are so many.
I live in Rome and even Rome is huge.
Anyway for me it is hard to say, I am a kind of person who is curious and open, what happens is that I am more into exploring the past than the present.
In fact I love art in general, as for painters. I have a long list …. Caravaggio, a master of the XVI century, for the dramatic use of light and darkness, to me his art has a revolutionary power.
As for contemporary living artists, - once again there are so many- I like Carla Accardi and Indeed I would like to explore more of her work.
On the other hand, for his luminous pictures, I like Giuseppe Cavalli a photographer who was from Puglia.
Indeed I would like to cite some visual artists I met in Rome, Alfredo Anzellini, Maristella Campolunghi, Cristina Cerminara, Paola Ceci, Fulvia Leoncini, Francesca Vitale.
: What models or visions do you have for artists to have and or maintain?
: Well I am not sure I can give models or visions for any other artists…
Follow what you love. If possible, be independent. Stay open…. Do not give up….
Indeed I am questioning myself… as for the meaning of art.
My feeling is that we all need to rethink this concept of art… work together to find new ways… for the art of life.
: What was your evolution as an artist/photographer?
: Since I was a kid I was into drawing, paintings, collages, creative things. I used to spend hours looking at old pictures, such as my parents' wedding black and white pictures, and playing with newspapers and magazines. Only many, many years later I got a camera from my uncle, and I started to take pictures.
Indeed it was more natural for me to shoot perspectives, empty streets, trucks, ships, statues, buildings…
Then simply walking on the street, trying to catch anything that drove my attention, anything that I liked… from flowers to places… from objects to the clouds.
In any case I was not aware of what I was doing… I was just happy to go around taking pictures. When I moved to Rome in 1998, after being "shocked" and fascinated by its beauty, it happened that I was able to combine, spare-time, passion for music and photography.
I met Andrea Semerano an editor from "La Camera Verde" who encouraged me to continue on this path. In 2005 I came out with the first exhibit and publication: Me, myself and jazz. I am very proud of it, because it was work entirely shot, developed and printed by myself then because it was like giving birth to a baby… As I am a bit shy, it was difficult for me to get closer to people. Jazz music and some friends, musicians helped me very much in this sense.
Then also because it has a special meaning for me. Also, at the beginning there is a portrait, of Charles Mingus (made on a video) and the closing is William Parker. Indeed these years I tried to follow him whenever and wherever I could. Indeed it was a bit crazy, I have been criticized for it and now I smile at it.
But I feel he is, in a certain way the spiritual continuation of Charles Mingus, as if his spirit finally found peace.
William Parker is also a poet, and he has a graceful delicate way of being. I really learnt a lot from him.
On this path I met so many great people who are of inspiration for my work and life. And I deeply believe that his message is something that goes beyond…
It will take time to truly understand and appreciate it.
Then my first time in New York, at the Vision festival was an explosion of joy, I felt like Alice in Wonderland, falling down the world I had always dreamt of… my world, the world I was part of… thanks also to my friend and photographer Peter Gannushkin and his wife Judy for welcoming in NY.
Back to Rome, I met some photographers at the International Festival of Photography and they helped me to better define my way of working,
to focus more on aspects I wanted to develop. As result my latest works are part of "Black Series", series that I have been developing as an homage to the greatest artists of afro-American tradition I met along the way. Still this is also part of a larger project around music…. Improvised music and surely there will be other colored "Series" ...
: What kinds of companies, such as Black Saint Records, do you feel are doing the most interesting work with musicians in Italy?
: An independent label in the South named, Auand records, http://www.auand.com;
In 2007 a new label was born: "Tracce" by Rai Trade, managed by Pino Saulo, radio conductor and director of Jazz programming at the National Radio. It is part of a project that deals with the Jazz archive and productions of the Radio 3 Jazz and, among its notable releases William Parker's The Inside Songs of Curtis Mayfield - Live in Rome, and the beautiful "Conduction/Induction" by Lawrence D. "Butch" Morris.