Bertozzi & Casoni – Beyond the Vessel – Q&A

What does a day in the studio look like?

We start the day very early because the studio is on average 30 minutes by car for both of us. We work from 8:30 to 18:30 and we work on projects that are on the go at the time.

What is your first memory of ceramics?

For both of us the first memory of the ceramic material dates back to our entrance to the Ceramics Institute of Faenza.

What was your first use of clay?

The first projects that envisaged the use of ceramic material date back to 1979 when we began to make the first sculptural experiments in the context of a group that was formed in those years between Faenza and Bologna called the New Pottery that tried to free the ceramic material from the cage of the traditional. Franco Solmi the director at the time of the Modern Art Gallery in Bologna, and Marilena Pasquali made projects that highlighted this new way of using ceramics that at least in our case focused on art. This brought a wave of novelty, and exhibitions such as Il Lavoro Felice, at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Faenza in 1980 and Terra d’Italia at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Ancona in 1983 were a part of this period.

What is the most challenging element to your practice?

The most challenging element is to be able to continue the thread through which our work moves.

What is your favourite fable?


What thing or person is your greatest influence?

The passion for what we do is the thing that most affects our life.

What is the relevance of myth today?

We can’t quite explain that, but we think that the classical world is the root from which art today should find nourishment, and recognise itself within a historical path to have a base for the possibility change.

Are you an artist or a ceramicist?

What we do is addressed to the art world, but the technique we work with is very important and is for us a language that allows us to shape our thoughts.

What is the relevance of ceramics today?

Ceramics is used by artists today in a freer and more conscious way. When we started it was the 1980s and there was a strong prejudice on those who worked mainly with ceramics; people immediately thought of it as a product belonging more to the world of craftsmanship than to art. Today it is used for its very important expressive and mimetic potentialities.

What is the argument for learning / honing technical skills in today’s world?

We believe that in order to refine technical skills today, constant daily work and the search for new stimuli are important, just as it was in the past.

Have we moved beyond the need to make with our hands?

The new technologies give the illusion that you can do anything you like without developing particular skills such as those you’d need to make things with your hands. The same thing happened between photography and painting, where you thought you could do everything without any use for brushes or drawing. But instead as we’ve seen photography presenting new possibilities as an additional instrument that enabled us to advance even further, pushing the boundaries of our imagination.

Why do you think there is such an international vogue for ceramics today particularly amongst the younger generation?

The popularity of ceramics among young people is due to its nature that is very close to the most basic experience of humankind on earth and to the fact that in art it is a material to be discovered further, with still much to give. We also think that ceramics is a material that is relatively new in its use in contemporary art.

Who is your hero or heroine?

We don’t know, unfortunately our age leads us to think that there are no heroes or heroines, but we all try to survive in a world of distraction.

Name a book that everyone should read and why?

If this is a Man by Primo Levi. We think it’s a book to read and reread for all future generations to keep alive the memory of the horror that humans can inflict on each other.

Why is your studio where it is and what does it mean to you?

Our studio has been in Imola since 1980 because our roots are there. We realised over time that it is also very important to remain connected with the rest of the world, but we think maintaining a firm base in our cultural background has strengthened our work.

What technological or other advances have enabled you to push the boundaries of your material / practice?

The technological advances that have allowed us to overcome some limits come from the industrial field. Unfortunately, today there is no more advanced research done in ceramics as it is a sector that is funded in such a limited way and not as appealing as art or crafts and therefore we necessarily had to turn to the research done in the industrial field.

What is the biggest problem or challenge you see with ceramics today?

The problem we see in ceramics when used in a conceited manner is the trivialisation of technique. The challenge
is to restore its status so it finds its rightful place next to numerous other techniques used in art.

Why do you think ceramics has endured from ancient times?

Because it is the material closest to humans in their most flexible and versatile conditions, even if today the techniques have brought it to unimaginable levels of engineering.

Who would be in your ceramics collection?

We don’t have the spirit to be a collectors but if we had to think about a work done with ceramics to keep with us we would think of some pottery by Paul Gauguin.

What would you make if money were no object?

If we had limitless money we could produce ideas that would be unexpected today.

What is your philosophical approach to making?

Our approach to work is the same as any other work, we believe, we give timetables and deadlines, the only difference is probably that we are never detached from it, the thought is always projected into the work, the senses are all connected to find quadrature to problems that exist only within us, but that perhaps concern us all.


Beyond the Vessel exhibition page…view details

Beyond the Vessel exhibition catalogue…buy now

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