(Art by Mirko Smerdel)
Q)So, can you tell me a little about yourself? Full name, age, some
background info, etc?
A)My name is Albert Hofer, I was born in Florence in 1979, and I lived there up until the age of 18; I used to throw small parties and I used to DJ in local clubs and in a few other clubs of the centre-north of Italy. I also worked on a local radio (Nova Radio) for a year: during this period I became more and more involved with the ‘other side’ of the music scene, promoting, booking, organizing…
I moved to London in 1998 to study Criminology. I finished my degree in 2001, and started pondering upon the possibility of quitting DJing (my deafness would have never allowed me to progress much, I realized) and take on more and more seriously the task of working with music ‘behind the scenes’.
From 2001 to 2003 I worked together with three other good friends on a project called “Scar-Tissue” that was based on the idea of creating a mixed environment merging art and entertainment, a ‘club-night with a twist’ to put it down in a few words. Under the name Scar-Tissue we organized two big events in Florence which were very successful, and allowed me to connect to the local underground art-scene. In the meantime I finished my Master degree in Cultural Studies and became more and more interested with doing research focusing on the body and its most radical forms of transformation: butchery.
Then came Channel 83, the empirical counterpart to my academic research project (PhD), and my first solo-project ever. Channel 83 is closely linked to my previous projects but represents, from my point of view, a step forward from a theoretical standpoint: I moved farther and farther away from the discourses focusing on body-modification to embrace a different approach towards the body and the wound, one that did not necessarily link the process of transforming one’s body to the idea of adornment.
Since then, Channel 83 has become my main focus: under this name I am pursuing different projects, such club-nights, events, exhibitions, etc. Channel 83 is first and foremost a website (www.channel83.co.uk), an ‘archive of wounds’ acting as platform for those who wish to bring forth a discussion of the concept of wound in its most contemporary incarnations, but also works as booking agency and promotes the people (artists, DJs, performers, etc) involved in the development of the project. All the different aspects pertaining to Channel 83 work alongside, organically contributing to the development of one other.
Q)What is creativity for you?
A)Something very precious and rare: it’s the sparkle in a person’s life. People who aren’t very creative and active are generally quite uninteresting to my eyes.
Q)What is your personal definition of life and art and everything else in
A)In life I look for nearly-fatal collisions, car crashes, somewhat ‘violent’ encounters putting me in contact with new people, situations, experiences. I am not much of a careful person when it comes to my passions, I need very strong emotions/affects, and I tend to pay the price for my being reckless. I need things that, to put it in Franko B’s words, ‘make my heart go boom boom’ - that’s what I actively look for every day.
To an artwork I ask precisely this same thing: a fist in the face, something that pierces through my chest and provokes a strong reaction, another car crash. Emotions.
Apart from this aspect that I have just described (and that I deem essential to any artwork) I am totally unconcerned with determining what art is.
(Art by Killnoir)
Q)What is your objective and purpose in life?
A)I would be content with producing something that is valuable and with learning as much as I can about myself through others. Find the car crash, get the scars, then look back at yourself: who are you? Your body has the answer. You can probably tell by my first few responses above that I am a Sagittarius. Hahahaha!
Q)Do you think that art is a universal language - transcending all the
different languages, cultures and religions etc?
A)Yes, but only to a limited extent.
Art, as for every other element constituting ‘culture’ has an universal character, capable of transmitting emotions in a way that, for example, language is unable to do; in order for us to decently understand a language and ‘relate’ to it we need to be familiar with its grammar, some of the language’s words, the rules regulating its use, while art is more direct…something always pierces through, independently from any knowledge on behalf of the viewer of the elements behind the artwork.
But we should not forget that art has a cultural element too, and that we shouldn’t look at it through a romantic standpoint: it is not an universal language, it is a language with some universal elements, maybe. A piece by Damian Hirst, for example, is as far as you can get from being universal, it is actually very bound to the period during which it has been produced, and the cultural undertones regulating the art-market at the time.
Then again, I am not sure whether ‘being universal’ is at all something that art should necessarily aim to be…
Q)What are your current projects?
A)Right now (November 2006) my main focus is finishing the new version of Channel 83’s website. This will probably require another six weeks of work: the ‘new’ Channel 83 will be much more interactive than its previous incarnation, both the artists and the users will be allowed a direct participation to the development of some aspects of the projects; I am really excited about it, I invested an eye and a leg in this new website and I hope people will take the chance to contribute to Channel 83 actively.
Meanwhile, I fly to London on November the 10th to work with Kaos, who hosts the after-show to Ron Athey’s new piece at Chelsea Theatre; Franko B will be DJing at the party and Channel 83’s video (which - it is worth adding this once more – features your work too, Claudio) will be on rotation during his DJ set.
On the 2nd of December I finally have a chance to work again in my new ‘hometown’ Berlin, as my video “Channel 83 Presents: An Archive of Wounds” is featured at the Boheme Noir event, a yearly party with a very mixed line-up and crowd.
The Italian launch party for the new Channel 83 website will take place in Florence (C/O Ambasciata di Marte) just before Christmas (on 22nd of December), hopefully it’s going to be quite interesting and intimate, with all the friends and contributors of the project showing up to have a good time.
Finally, I am working on the first proper Channel 83 party in Berlin, I can’t say so much about this at the moment, it will probably happen around February. And after that, I am planning to do a very big event in Italy for Easter, and then to start the production of another video to be finished by the end of next year.
As you can see I am on fire at the moment, but I am happy with being busy after a pretty average summer where so much was meant to happen and it just didn’t. 2006 was a terrible year for me.
Q)What artists, musicians, or writers inspire you?
A)Specifically, Channel 83 has been inspired by the work of people like J G Ballard, Nobuyoshi Araki, Romain Slocombe, David Cronenberg, Trevor Brown, Kiki and LouLou Picasso, Hans Bellmer, Georges Bataille, Gilles Deleuze, Antonin Artaud, Shinja Tsukamoto, Antoine Bernhart, Franko B, Ron Athey...this list could go on and on.
(Art by Cristiana Romani)
Q)Do you have many connections in the underground scene?
A)Yes, indeed, especially in Italy.
I started working as promoter in Florence (my hometown) where pretty much everything is based on the underground; there is virtually no contemporary art-scene, and a very poor mainstream club-scene, so that I found myself relating nearly exclusively to the underground while pursuing my own projects there.
I am not into the idea of ‘keeping it underground’ though, the whole ‘staying true’ thing is just propaganda and it misses the point, lacking a knowledge of what is the actual reality experienced by those who work with art/culture full-time and need to see their work rewarded.
I am underground (if you want to put it in these terms) merely because I didn’t have the luck and the capacities to establish myself on another level yet. I have worked a lot on a non-profit basis, out of passion, with the help of like-minded people, and that has helped me establishing interesting connections, friendships that have proved precious to me once I started working on bigger projects: some people appreciate those who are passionate about their work and are happy to help a little, however one has to count first and foremost on his/her own forces.
That said, I am looking forward to moving on, finally receiving some recognition for my work, maybe earning a little too, so as to be able to invest money in new projects without ruining my finances (as I am doing at the moment). Is that possible? Who knows…
Q)Tell us about a recent dream you had.
A)I very seldom remember my dreams nowadays. Generally I remember the most horrible ones only. I tend to dream about being chased by rabid dogs, about work (yes I do dream of people telling me that the Channel 83 website is down…how sad is that?) and sex. I am a very average person in that respect, I guess.
Q)After establishing your love for art, what different inspirations fueled
your creative energy?
A)I find inspiration in cinema (my favorite directors are Cronenberg, Tsukamoto, Kitano, Hartley, Haneke, Mimouni, Lynch, Chabrol, Noe’, Pasolini, the early Avati), books (though I don’t have much time to read nowadays, sadly), from traveling (and I am always moving these days) and especially from meeting people. I have some very talented friends who are extremely passionate about what they do…having conversations with them often makes me feel inspired to pursue my own projects.
Images are also essential to me, as a friend said to me a long while ago: “you and me are way more characterized by the images we like than by the music we listen to” – absolutely spot on!
Q)What is your definition of the type of work you do?
A)It is actually very hybrid.
I guess I should answer that, first of all, I am an academic: Channel 83 started indeed as a research platform (as part of my PhD thesis, actually), then evolved into a more complex kind of project which requires me to work also as promoter of events and as agent for some of the people involved in the development of its various incarnations.
I scout for people who work around the theme of the body and of wounds, I showcase their work, in some instances I produce them in order for them to create new pieces attuned to my project, and I try to help them connect with other realities which may have an interest in setting-up collaborations with both them and myself.
Q)What kind of projects/shows have you been involved in?
A)Too many to mention in here, so I’ll just pick a few …
On the 11th of September 2004 I organized a 12 hour long marathon dedicated to wounds called “Every Eye is a Hole – A Coronation of Wounds”, the event took place in Florence and saw the participation of approximately 2000 people, with contribution from several local artists and some of the most interesting artists of the Italian underground scene.
In June 2005 I came back to Florence for Channel 83’s second major event “Errata Corpora – Bodies Against Nature”: this time I managed to gather International artists coming from allover the world, we had contributions from Sweden, Ecuador, Greece, Usa, etc. This event expanded the discussion started with the previous one, considering the idea of ‘wrong bodies’ rather than focusing on ‘wounded bodies’ only.
In Winter 2005 I produced the video “Channel 83 Presents – An Archive of Wounds”: this is a video showcasing the progress of the project by displaying works of 33 of its contributors, artists both established and up and coming based allover the world. This work was developed with the help of Mass_Prod, a very intriguing audio/visual project that has been working with me for a long while; Mass_Prod provided me with an original score composed of unreleased material, and took care of the montage and part of the production of the video. This work has been doing pretty well, having been shown approximately 20 times up until now in clubs, festivals, galleries allover Europe.
In May 2006, together with 3 other Italian promoters, I set-Up “E-Day: Mixed Media Festival” – Channel 83 hosted one of the four rooms presenting Mass_Prod latest audio/visual live PA together with videos from Iternational video artists and a performance by MiArtformers.
(Art by Matt Sesow)
Q)Music is always vital when doing work, what tunes get your creative
A)As a promoter, I mostly work with the techno/electro/minimal-techno scene. Lately I have started catering for the indie/rock n roll scene too, it depends a lot upon where I am working…obviously I love all these different styles and listen to each one of them a lot. But I am always looking for new DJs and bands to work with, so that I like to keep myself pretty open to what is fresh music-wise.
I admit that have a pretty a weird taste in music, my favorite artists sound quite different the one from the other…I could mention so many names: Massimo Volume, Death in June, The Hole, Depeche Mode, Franco Battiato, Maximo Park, Die Form, El Muniria, We are Scientists, Pizzicato Five, Massive Attack, Basteroid, In the Nursery, The Organ, Dave Clarke, The Editors, Therapy?, Metope, Ellen Allien, The Knife, Grauzone, ecc...
At the moment I am obsessed with a Swedish band called Peter, Bjorn & John who has a very gentle, retro’ and naïf sound. I also recommend an instrumental project called 65 Days of Static which I find highly original. I tend to have short-lived crushes music-wise, but very intense ones: I can listen to the same song over and over for days.
If I am setting-up an event I prefer to listen to fast tunes which keep me active. Techno is good, rock ‘n’ roll does it too: basically to do this kind of work I need a beat. If I have to write, instead, I listen to more chilled out songs, either minimal techno (DJ mixes suit the purpose of keeping my concentration high, as they flow with no interruption), or acoustic things.
My Ipod contains every kind of music, from Carla Bruni to Skinnyman, Nicholas Lens, Brutal Truth and Carcass. There is no logic to what I like; I like pop and I like underground stuff too. My favorite band is totally ‘cult’ material: Massimo Volume. They are to Italians what Marmite is to the English: “love it or hate it”. Most people seem to detest them unfortunately. I love their music to bits, especially the lyrics written by Emidio Clementi, who is also one of the writers I admire the most.
Q)What does music, in its entirety, mean to you?
A)The same as art, cinema, literature: something that evokes and provokes.
Q)Please tell us a bit of your interest about the body, the
wounds, etc..where and how was this interest born?
A)I have always found the idea of transforming one’s body fascinating and, I would say, compelling. I like to change and I am similarly fascinated by those who frequently change their look, demeanor, interests, style.
When I was younger I used to look at the idea of implementing a radical transformations of the body as something that could be mainly achieved through adornment or body-modification practices, now I prefer to focus on the potential of more subversive and seductive approaches towards the same, as for wounding.
Q)Do you think the body is changing…evolving?
A)I think the word ‘evolution’ is often inappropriate. I believe that the body changes, by nature, constantly, and that this movement towards metamorphosis is what life is really about. But change doesn’t necessarily mean progress: decay is a form of change too. The wounded bodies that I speak of are all subject to this urge towards transforming themselves, but the transformation takes place by virtue of butchery, of wounds. The future of the body – so to speak – is not necessarily located in a ‘cyberpunk body’, it could be the transgender/queer body, the abject body, the sick body. It is bound to technology only as much as it is bound to culture and guts. The body has its own future hidden in the visceras.
(Art by Yuri D)
Q)Are you religious. What do you think about religions?
A)There is an element of spirituality in me, but no, I wouldn’t say that I am religious. Actually I think nowadays it is becoming obvious that religions crossover with politics way too often, and that they are very dangerous because of that. I have received a Catholic education but I am by no means a Catholic.
Q)Is there, in your opinion, a strong influence & relationship today between art & death?
A)I see a strong connection between art and violence, more visible than the one you were referring to, with the former dealing more and more often with the latter; contemporary art is very concerned with portraying violence and its many facets: art often deals with issues that are actual, and violence is a very important component of our daily life, I reckon. I don’t think our lives are more violent than our grandparent’s ones, but I am very interested in the fact that our generation is so obsessed with preventing victimization, and deal with violence in an hysteric way. Funny enough, artists who, just like you, have a violent element to their content, seem to experience a disproportionate following paired with an equal hostility surrounding their work.
A)Albert Hofer can be contacted at:
Channel 83’s website (new version online from end of December 2006) can be found here:
Thank you so much Claudio.