mercoledì 9 ottobre 2013

CLET ABRAHAM, the hijacker of road signs in Florence

Clet Abraham

 by Ilaria Gelichi

1. Can you tell us something about yourself? You are French, so why did you decide to move to Florence?

It wasn’t a real choice, let’s say fortuity. I lived first in Rome, then in Arezzo, where my son currently lives. I wanted to live in a big city, but also close to my son, so I chose Florence. Even the neighbourhood I chose for my studio, San Niccolò, is a random choice. I walked here once, I felt at home and I decided to settle down here.

2. How did the idea to change road signs with stickers was born?

As every idea, this one too is the result of a route. I define myself mainly as a sketcher, and I like communicating through drawing. Road signs are the synthesis of communication, visually they are the symbol par excellence. I tried to use the language of signs and the style is born directly from them; therefore, the idea came from the sign.

3. Which is the message you want to convey with your stickers?

The message is putting into question the principle of obedience. We are not here to obey, otherwise we wouldn’t have a brain. I cannot stand those who say "if there are rules you have to respect them": this doesn’t mean anything to me, it means not to think with your own head.

4. Could we define Clet as a militant artist?

Yes, definitely. Clet has a rebellious character, but is also a philosopher. He doesn’t create only stickers for road signs, but also art in other forms: sculpture, for example. I try to create different works, for not too strictly bind myself to road signs. It's all part of a philosophical and research journey on how helping society to change towards freedom. Some call me a conceptual artist.

5. Is it different being an artist in Florence or in France? What are the difficulties?

There’s no difference between working in Florence or in France. I think that Florence is a sleeping city: I have been so successful here precisely for this reason, which is a desire for openness and change. The idea of road signs was actually born in Florence, which despite being a city of art and attentive to beauty it’s invaded by signs. Then I expanded my "working range" to other Italian cities and, in some cases, abroad.
One difficulty surely is that my work is not recognized as legal by the institutions. I wish I could formalize illegality.

6. Which are the positive and negative aspects of your work? And which are your plans for the future?

My main target is searching for fresh ideas, and avoiding to be linked only to road signs. My success is surely something positive, since I finally had an economic equilibrium and the possibility to invest in work. Now I travel a lot and I can create expensive sculptures. Negative aspects are not so many: one is surely the envy of the others, but honestly I don’t care. Then there is the fear that a day might come, when I have anything more to say - similar to the writer’s block. It would be very sad to find myself without any subject or content, it’s a status of anxiety that I feel very strongly.

7. If you were to give advice to a young person who wants to become an artist, what would you say?

Originality is basic for an artist. I would certainly suggest him/her not to conform himself/herself to standards, if not felt as own, even if you are alone against the world. The one who doesn’t give up in the end gets the best results. Of course, it also takes a bit of courage, obviously.

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