Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique  discovering  thesis and processes behind the work.








Conversation between Carlo Cesta and Olivia Ramos.


Carlo Cesta

Monsterhome, 1992

Steel and Plexi-glass

36 x 36 in.

CESTA:  ‪Hey Olivia, Carlo here, is this OK?


RAMOS:  ‪Hi Carlo, thank you for joining me.‬‬


‪Are you the right person, from Work Untitled?‬‬


‪what do you mean?‬‬


Sorry, I was trying to contact another person with the same name, for a g-chat interview.‬‬


This is Carlo Cesta, in Toronto Canada.‬‬


‪This is Olivia Ramos, editor of Work Untitled, you are in the right place. However, this is not an interview, this is a conversation.‬‬


Great, lets get started....‬‬




before we get into your latest work, I was wondering about this series..


‬‬specifically this piece... 'Deepspace'‬‬



Carlo Cesta

Deepspace, 1996

Steel, Paint and Plexi-glass

12 x 12 in.



Wow, its a very early piece, i thought of it as an abstracted "contaminated" Donald Judd!


should I keep on talking about it?‬‬


‪are you still there?‬‬


yes, my apologies, I sometimes get lost looking at the references...


was checking out some of Judd's work‬‬


yes I am definitely interested in Deepspace


Laughter at this end!‬‬


it has a strange nostalgia‬‬


The piece is vernacular architecture, vs modernist absolutes of pure color. And it references a protective exclusion of strangers trying to break in.


Its a form of homemade modernism.‬‬


‪vernacular modernism‬‬


seems like an oxymoron


‪It is, its more about the idea of how modernism aspired to integrate art into daily life, but ornament was considered to be a crime.‬‬


‪ornament is crime‬‬


it is excess by definition


more laughter. That window could be like a prison cell for ornamenters.‬‬


‪i think if prison cells would have ornament then the ornament would serve a function‬‬


and no longer would it be an ornament but an instrument to massage the experience of the prisoner


The negative connotations of ornament were associated with being primitive and perhaps feminine, an add-on to the structure but in my work I try to question this, and even make the ornament into the structure. Ive tried to mix them up, so its not obvious which one is which.‬‬


‪i've never heard that before - being primitive - I would think it's the opposite.... Ornament as it relates to modernism, as I understand it has everything to do with function - if it doesn't function, it has less value and therefore it is mere ornament‬‬


modernism came from a strict fashion reform by German governments during the early 1900s.‬‬


‪in a way, modernism is a fashion devoid of ornament‬‬


‪Some deep thinking going on....


True, anything that wasn't functional was considered ornament, but then again even modernist purity evolved into formalist painting.‬‬


Ornament was considered bourgeois, related to the past.‬‬


‪yes, first by the eyes of fascism‬‬


and the attempt to "normalize" social systems


i want to change my mind and say that ornament can be as functional as beauty


OK, I'm with you now. This is a weird experience for me. But I confess to being intrigued by some fascist architecture. Like balconies for instance.‬‬


‪what about balconies?‬‬


‪I'm thinking of an isolated balcony with a person on it making a speech, to a large crowd.‬‬


‪Opening beers over here.‬‬


one of my favorite fascist architecture is Palazzo Terragni by Giuseppe Terragni under the Mussolini regime



this and early 1900s German reform, i believe, is where modernism came from


Yup, that's the guy, know it well. Also did roll call to the martyrs, "Presente" more like a hypothesis, temporary, in Rome...   I think.‬‬


so it's difficult to be against ornament when the movement came from such foundation


ornament in a way is a form of individualism


and in a way I would say that formalist painting is an attempt at a lack of individualism


I totally agree about ornament expressing individualism, and vernacular ornament has its own language, it undermines the modernist absolutes.‬‬


‪Casa del Fascio was modeled after rural Italian farm houses.‬‬




where did you get that info?


‪if I am not mistaken, Casa del Fascio was modeled after the International Style which was being cultivated by the Bauhaus in Germany and the movement De Stijl in Amsterdam


it is the antithesis of vernacular and that's why i wonder about the Italian farm house precedence


The rationalist architects found inspiration in rural architecture, farm houses, connecting to the plain, the utilitarian, clean basic geometry.


I've got the book at home, could send you the ref. later.


I'm a scholar. Just give me a dollar.


Of course it was, true, it was referred to as contextual architecture, this distinguished Italian modernists from the Germans (sort of). They were linking their past with the glorious future.


Parts are going missing...


The rationalist architects found inspiration in rural architecture, farm houses, connecting to the plain, the utilitarian, clean basic geometry.


sure but there is a difference between rationalism and modernism‬‬


when i think rationalism i think of Louis Boullee






to be continued...