Matteo Peterlini


Close. Not here.


When did you realize that the work you were pursuing could be your path?
At the age of 5, I wondered what lay beyond the forest. That’s when I started running through the undergrowth to discover what I desired to know. I found a fence of white stone, the same stone that, years later, I realized Dante had described in the Divine Comedy dedicated to the landslide in the Lavini di Marco area. That little adventure revealed to me the path of my exploration: to traverse spaces to reach their boundaries. It was a performative experience because the fear and courage of crossing that field made me understand that the border was just one of the infinite boundaries I would have to confront.

What are the essential themes of your research?
I am fascinated by humanity as a whole. I am driven by intuitions that lead my work to seek paradox, the unexplored, and the overcoming of duality as the reasons for being in the world.

Strengths and challenges of your work and creative environment?
The strength of my work is being able to realize, in this life, a journey of materializing my intentions through art and showcasing the intuitions I have matured over the course of existences. The challenges are only perceptions of our way of being in the world; in truth, they represent the degree of attachment we have to the form we have assumed.

How do you relate to and see your work within the dynamics of contemporaneity?
I don’t believe my work is only inscribable in contemporaneity (in its sense of living or belonging to the present). I consider myself a traditionalist, in the sense that tradition reveals itself – a state of continuity between past, present, and future. I prefer to think of my research within an unfractionated path, without a beginning or end, like a long thread that connects multiple existences (mine and others’), rather than seeing myself inserted by fashion or interest in the context of those who can read and interpret contemporaneity.

What is your relationship with your native territory, Trentino, and how does this “origin” align with your research and the city where you currently live?
I love my places of origin, the valley and mountains bathed in the morning light; their beauty envelops me whenever I return, even for extended periods. But what fascinates me most is being born in a border area, a place that divides two geographical areas, two cultures. A place that is also a meeting point, an exchange zone between different ways of being and thinking. The state of my person and my artistic research, which divides and at the same time seeks to unite various forms of thought, aligns well with my Trentino origins precisely for this reason.

Interviewfrom the catalogue of the exhibition Vicino. Non qui.
Galleria Civica di Trento, 2018

The concept of the role between space and time

Giovanna Nicoletti

The contemporary forces us to interpret roles and wonder about them. The system of roles tends to break and in Matteo Peterlini’s pictures you can live the reflex of the present and of self being. Born in Rovereto in 1970, graduated in information technologies, in 1996 he founds Quantum, a company for services on visual comunication. In 2001 he founds the study Matteo Peterlini Design for visual communication. It regards the multiplicity of comunication and leads the artist to elaborate a particular attention to the role of the image. As he states, the relationship between man and his existences, his identity, his becoming represent a basis in his search, made by digital instruments. In the project iotualtro, his database of passport photo which people donated willing aim to recreate new identities over the pre-existent ones. The picture is made by superposition of pixel on isolated lines which compose the photos and once recombined, they give a sense of instability and awe. We face a portrait and we’d like to recognise the person represented but his face is made of full nd empty spots and it is actually impossible to recreate a whole picture. What we see instead, is a kind of short circuit which we can compare to the disturbed picture on a digital video. Such an imperfect vision only deceive us to recognise somebody we know but we can only what we have here is paradoxical artificial relationship. The illusion of the face is generated by an instrument, a machine and not by the sensitive gesture of a painting hand. Still, what we percive seems a fragment wrapped by the time, nearly a fractions of an antique fresco which hides a secret identity. In the age of globalization we are suggested here to let us carried away by a variable rapresentation, where my image is blended with yours and the other way round, where the mindful “I” is necessarily confused and obliged to become something different, not just other than us, but a prefect stranger, a different one.

text from the catalogue Economia ed arte.
Dalla bottega al video,
Festival Economia, Trento, 2007

Using pixels as a measuring unit

Cristina Natalicchio

Using pixels as a measuring unit: in photographic works by Matteo Peterlini this is a very real conceptual element, a programmatic choice. Disjointed and recomposed in this manner, the images in his photographic series are the result of a calculating process tending to the infinite, in which the system used for combining the fragments is entrusted to chance and applied with an algebraic function. Peterlini even dares envisaging original sin and focuses closely on the very mechanisms of perception in specially created specific types of software. How are images generated in our minds? chosen by imitation, learning and sharing, the mechanisms we usually use for understanding the world lose their effectiveness when faced with the associative flow generated by the electronic process. Hence, it does not seem to be a contradiction that these are traditional pictorial genres: portraits, nudes, landscapes. In fact, thanks to the frontal aspect of the faces (those required for a standard passport photograph in Meyouother), the silhouettes of the bodies (those outlined in the six poses asked of the models in V6), the fixedness of landscapes that are almost abstract (Backscapes), it is possible to acknowledge the unconscious tendency to recognize what is “already known” (Gestalt, stereotypes) that usually allows us to address the diversity of phenomena. Furthermore, it is precisely the hoax provided by a technique that is only apparently “craftsman-like”, used by Peterlini to give life to his photographic series, that reveals the analytic nature of his work. In fact, if one observes these images closely (actually the result of a continuously creative flow) they work like a collage, while,by the contrast, the process involved in recognizing the overall image is suspended within a virtual coexistence of all possible combinations.

text from the catalogue
Mutations II Moving Stills, 2008
European Month of Photography,
Paris, Berlin, Bratislava, Luxembourg, Moscow, Rome and Vienna

I was born in the countryside, in a place filled with greenery, blue skies, and colorful flowers, all accompanying my summer days. In winter, that field would fill with snow, becoming pure white; all colors subtracted, leaving a sheet that dazzled me in the sunlight as I contemplated it from my room window. Beyond that eastern meadow, there was a forest. It wasn’t populated by tall trees but rather dense shrubbery and medium-sized trees. The ground was a peculiar mix of soil, grass, leaves, and white stones—the same ones Dante mentioned in his Purgatory when he passed through that valley. These white stones seemed placed in the forest like missing objects. They appeared light and ethereal at sight, but once held in hand, they became heavy and sharp-edged. Touching them caused pain, as they were full of edges and sharp points despite their innocent appearance. They had inhabited that forest for hundreds of years, but it was natural to wonder if someone had carved and placed them there with delicacy. One day, I pondered the boundaries of that forest, or rather, what lay beyond the forest. Perhaps that was my first day as an artist? I wanted to see where the limits were, hoping and presuming I could surpass them. Gathering courage, right on the border between the meadow and the forest, I decided to investigate what the new boundary would be when I touched the forest and…? So, I told myself I would run through that forest, almost to experience less of its dark and intricate aspect with those low shrubs that unsettled me. The first step was a long jump with a run, and then off, running, running, running through the shrubs that clung to my clothes, as if someone wanted to send me back, and yet I moved forward. Forward, and still forward, all running until… at a certain point, I saw behind 4 or maybe 5 shrubs a low, harmless wall, a wall outlining another area. Behind this wall, there was still more forest. This boundary didn’t mark the morphology of the place but indicated another type of border: ownership. I returned satisfied and disappointed. Satisfied because that journey into darkness was a bet I had overcome, not won, mind you. Disappointed because I believed I could touch and surpass an unknown limit, and instead, I understood that this journey only gave me the certainty of living within an infinite quantity of borders containing other borders and borders within other borders, and so on

This 2017 piece recollects
a performative action
I undertook at the age of
6 from memory.