„Architecture is the mirror of every historical moment, we can see our time reflex on the buildings of our cities.“ | INTERVIEW with Daniele del Nero

Strangely colorful, green, brown, yellow, white, the little houses seem overgrown with moss, covered in cobwebs. An odd little town is spreading out in front of us, keeping our eyes locked – between fascination and “yuck”.  

Daniele del Nero’s “After Effects” consists of a series of architectural maquettes made of black paper and covered with flour. After a couple of weeks the entire model was covered by mould „enhancing“ the effect of old abandoned buildings.

With deconarch.com the young Italian artist, now living in Munich, emailed about his work, what fascinates him about architectural forms and allows a very personal insight in his current working situation which could be considered paradigmatic for the changes taking place in Europe at the moment.


Your installation „After effects“ caught my attention first – it is both appealing and shocking at once. With it, you said, you wanted to talk „about the sense of time and destiny of the planet after the human species, through the sense of restlessness which abandoned buildings are able to communicate“. Could you explain it to us a little further?

„After effects“ is probably my most well known project. It consists of a series of architectural maquettes made of black paper which I covered with a thin layer of wet flour. After a couple of weeks the entire model was covered by mould. The final outcome of this installation can change from time to time. After the natural process dead mildews look like dusty spider webs.

Ideally I’d like to maintain my work into a moister environment, in order to keep the mildews alive, but unfortunately I didn’t have this chance so far… For the project Genoa-Zug in 2010 for instance I created a special box, shaped like a big black house. Through a peephole you can have a look at an completely moulded landscape. I developed this project through pictures and installations. This way I created a sort of „post-something“ landscape, a rather disturbing scenario where humans are wiped away by something we don´t know. I´m fascinated observing how fast nature takes back its spaces. To me ruins are more fascinating than many buildings.

Why the interest in architecture and buildings? What do you like about working with architectural forms, with the form of the house?

I guess for biographical reasons, first of all – I´m a remorseful building engineer. Even though I abandoned this field, I am still interested in architectural shapes. I like the human tendency to build up and manipulate spaces. Architecture is the mirror of every historical moment, we can see our time reflex in the buildings of our cities. Despite their definitive look, buildings are temporary. They are doomed to expire like everything else created by man.

A house is a very interesting object to observe, It´s a crystallized conventional shape that communicates an intense degree of feelings, from safety to uneasiness. It´s the perfect stage for both a happy family portrait or a horror movie.

„Brockenhaus“ is another work of yours which combines an urban situation with the destructive impact of time …

Brockenhaus is sort of a „After effects“ twin. The topics are more or less the same, but in this case I developed a different environment. I made numerous white paper models which I then tore apart to make them look like bombed buildings. The scenery reminds us of the second world war disaster. The white pureness of the paper is contrasted by the loneliness of these little devastated buildings.

Furthermore I´m interested in highlighting the double aspects of this operation: on the one hand the carefulness of the model carvings, on the other hand the „no-rules“ destructive operation. I guess I’ve found a way to communicate my feelings and my anxiety about the flow of time and the frailty of the human condition. This universal topic is current because we live in a world that looks more and more unstable and dangerous. Society is dominated by a growing sense of vulnerability and decay which I want to portray with my work.

Let’s digress a little from your work for a second. Your current working situation could be considered paradigmatic for the changes taking place in Europe at the moment …

I studied building engineering first, and after the degree I achieved a Movie Design Master at the Polytechnic University of Milan. Paralleling this professional course, I started to approach the visual arts, working on different media in 2003. I lived in Milan for five years, then moved to Rome where I stayed for almost an year. Since past October I´m living and working in Munich. I met a lot of Italian people here, they had to leave our country due to the economical crisis. There was a time when it was possible to work in the place where you wanted to live. Now you live in the place where you have work …

We already mentioned the main interests of your work. Where and how do you find your topics?

Basically I try to observe what surrounds me and to connect to things that aren´t close. I try to keep myself informed on what is happening. Sometimes rather unpredictable events hit me – creativity processes are often unpredictable. I love photo reportages and architectural photographers, naturalistic documentaries, that provide me with a lot of reflections topics. I also read a lot of novels – yet I don´t create a narrative sequence in my projects because I´m particularly interested in what happens when every possibility of narration is over.

Space and time and their relationship to the human species are the focus of my research. I´m interested in society, in urban science and the development of human environments. People are always absent in my works, but at the same time they are the protagonists. I try to analyze different kinds of spaces, to recreate places where the human absence drives us to a sense of loneliness and anxiety.

Do you prefer certain media to work with?

I switch between different kind of media. I always try to focus on the idea first, without any preference, and then I try to find the adequate media to express these ideas. Sometimes I also choose different platforms to develop an idea. For a while I worked on video, but nowadays I feel more attracted by installation in order to create a more direct contact between my work and the viewer.

Yet, my latest works are some big paintings which I made for my new apartment here in Munich!

How is your working process?

As I´m not a full time artist, I don’t have rules – it is pretty difficult to define my working process. Sometimes it´s very slow and I can wait for long time before giving a shape to an idea, putting some suggestions into the cellar for months and years. And sometimes something I feel is urgent and unstoppable. It goes back and forth, really.

Are there role models, influences which inspire your work?

Above all I’m interested in artists that explore links between the human environment and society, but I couldn´t indicate one particular artist or a photographer to influence me more than others – there are too many!

Any hints what you are currently working on?

At the moment I´m very involved in my job, luckily I have a creative one, so I´d like to develop a communication project with a hint of art. After a huge amount of time I’ve come back to painting and drawings in the past months. Usually I go back to drawing when I need to go forward in a different direction, so we´ll see!

Daniele, grazie tante per condividere i tuoi lavori con noi!

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