Robert Pettena, Penbury (UK) 1970.Artist-cum-traveller probing the wonders and inconsistencies of the world, seizing conflicting aspects of reality in a manner both poetic and a provocative. 

What’s your background? . I had a very alternative childhood, spent between England and Italy. Society was changing radically in the 1970s. Individual independence was becoming more important than the idea of the family unit and compromise between family members was no longer considered important. Utopian ideas were strong at that time and left wing intellectuals were not keen on sacrificing their independence for the greater good of society. People wanted to change things drastically without considering whether it might have been better to make compromises, for in the 1970s compromise was frowned upon. I had the opportunity to experience the squatting movement in Brixton with all the subculture that this entailed. I was also taken to the Albion Fayres, small, alternative festivals in East Anglia, where young people had the chance to develop their creative potential. In Italy too I experienced an alternative culture in the country side. Our parents encouraged us to express ourselves creatively right from an early age. . Actors: Daniela Pettena, Angela Paine, Sylvain Jamois, Lori Lako, John Butler, Jane Guarducci . #contemporaryart #nyrmagazine #robertpettena #art

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How has your practice changed over time? . My practice has always combined my desire to understand society with memories of my childhood. I can take a theme such as libertarian education and work on it in depth, but whatever the theme it will always be connected to my childhood experiences in some way. Libertarian education was something my parents believed in passionately. When I started working on Nobel Explosion I was fascinated by Alfred Nobel’s laboratory where he invented dynamite but where he also grew orchids. As a child I wanted to be an inventor – I loved inventing things – including explosives. Nobel was full of contradictions, a meta-example of corporate power. Over time my art has changed outwardly from being apparently introverted to becoming apparently more extroverted, but how real is this change? Some of my later works, such as ‘The Torture of Meditation ‘ at the Venice Biennial could be seen as something inward looking, though on the surface it may be critiquing society. . Actors: Daniela Pettena, Angela Paine, Sylvain Jamois, Lori Lako, John Butler, Jane Guarducci

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