Wednesday 15th January

| BY Dino Bonacic

10 Questions with Giovanni Vetere, The Blue-Haired Conceptual Artist Who Walked in Gucci’s AW20 Show

With each new season, Gucci continue to push boundaries of what role casting for a show actually plays in telling the story. It’s all about finding the right people that represent the ethos and mantra of not just the brand but also the subject of the collection. For AW20, Alessandro Michele turned to tackling gender roles we’re all faced with while growing up with his clothes exploring the childlike equality of traditionally boys’ and girls’ silhouettes under the campaign of #RaveLikeYouAreFive. In casting terms, this also meant finding people that exemplify the fluidity of masculine and feminine traits and personalities regardless of their age. One of the key looks in the collection was no 34 – Michele’s interpretation of a school uniform, completed with a trunk stating the words “NOT” and “FAKE” on each of its sides.

But what about the person with the shaggy blue hair who brought this idea to life? It’s Giovanni Vetere, an Italian conceptual artist living between Rome and London, whose practice directly puts to the test the public’s awareness of the environment and their ability to adapt to new climates in a multitude of ways. Through sculptures and performances, the Camberwell College of Arts graduate explores the inter-relationship between space, audience and performer. Gucci first got in touch during Vetere’s solo exhibition Squid Dinner in Rome. “Their interest in my artistic practice brought them to invite me to participate in this season’s show,” Vetere explained. As soon as we saw that set of blue curly hair walk down the catwalk, a manic googling session ensued. Who? What? Where? Instead of frantically trying to hunt down all information on who Giovanni Vetere is, we asked the artist-cum-model 10 essential questions that will help you meet the poster child of Gucci AW20.

Dino Bonacic: What’s the difference between doing an art performance and walking in a catwalk show?

Giovanni Vetere: I think the main difference is that in my performances, I am performing within a world that I have created while on a catwalk, I am performing in someone else’s world.

DB: Is there anything in this experience of walking in Gucci’s show you will take away and use in your own practice?

GV: Starting to work with Gucci made me understand the importance of creating a working community in which different elements come together to create harmony. They have also shown me the importance of bringing together like minded creative individuals, because when we create collectively, we distance ourselves from the terrain world and come closer to our human nature.

DB: How was your experience of working with Alessandro Michele?

GV: Working with Alessandro was very surprising. His honesty and kindness made me feel at home within his team. Through his way of being he has created a family rather than a brand.

DB: How do you describe your own practice?

GV: Using performance, installation and ceramics, I create immersive habitats that question the human body and its relationship with the sea. Through placing my body in an environment that is unnatural, my work brings the viewer on a journey towards his roots.

DB: Did you ever feel pressure of behaving a certain way because of your gender?

GV: First of all, I am not a man and reading this word makes me feel uncomfortable. When I was younger I definitely felt this pressure because I didn’t know how to handle my fluidity. I didn’t know that I was free to not classify myself with standard gender notions.

DB: Do you see a big difference in masculinity today and when you were a child?

GV: Now there is certainly more fluidity and freedom of gender performativity and gender expression but not in Italy where there is still a very heteronormative conception of family and gender because of this things haven’t changed that much. Unfortunately, in my country we are grown to prescribe to a machismo ideology.

DB: London or Milan?

GV: I have a special connection with London because it is the city in which I felt free enough to truly start to develop my artistic practice. I do like both of them. I can’t say which one I prefer because I still need to discover Milan. On the other hand, London is a great place because of its dynamism, stimulation and young creative energy that inhabits the city.

DB: Who are the people that inspire you?

GV: I am inspired by a lot of people. One of them is Luigi Ontani because his performances and sculptures interpret and create mythological stories. Obviously, Jacques Cousteau not only because of his marine biology research but also for ability of creating stories from and for science. Another inspiration for me is Donna Haraway because through her writings she evokes the necessity of creating “speculative fabula” in order to reshape reality.

DB: If you could choose any piece from Gucci’s AW20 show to take home, which one would it be?

GV: I really loved my look and every piece of it because I felt like I was going back to school.

DB: What’s your favourite part of your look then?

GV: I really like the cross pin with the feather.

Backstage photograph by Jason Lloyd Evans. // @giovannivetere