Joe Zorrilla

Below is an excerpt from Luciano Fabro, DRAWINGS AND PROJECTS, Lecture, Ecole Cantonale d’Art du Valais, Sierre, March 2001


This lecture of mine introduces or should introduce, within the limits of a conversation, two crucial subjects for the person who takes up a creative profession; that of creativity and that of designing.

These two terms, in our time, have gained in use as much as they have lost in content. I will make this premise only: as long as the role of creativity remained in the hands of the Gods, we (the creative types) felt like curious people who tried to understand some of the God’s secrets in order to design, in a very modest way, something similar. When we were successful at something, whether it was a painting or a machine, we would hear people say with admiration: “You are an artist!” Today Leonardo da Vinci still represents this. This modesty however did not spare the ancient creative person from the revenge of the Gods, as documented by all of mythology: remember what happened to Prometheus?

Once the Gods no longer had the exclusive rights to creation, everybody wanted to personalize the question and change the rules of the game: from DNA to an omelette, the search for creativity no longer knows any boundaries.

So therefore today we can affirm that creativity has become part of the bill of rights of all citizens, and up to that point we are happy. The question immediately arises: it seems obvious that once creativity is guaranteed, its process of designing should also be guaranteed.

If we leave behind the logic of theoretical speculation and observe the reality of facts, the possibility of designing opens up in front of us like an abyss, and on the other side of the abyss creativity appears like a mirage, a Fata Morgana.

Let us remove our gaze momentarily from this dizzying vision. We could, on the other hand, deal with the “housewife’s accounting”, creativity on its own does not cost anything, what counts is the designing.

Thus it is the designing that holds court. And who controls the designing? The economy, or better said, finance. Thus designing enters the bill of rights of finance, so that, by making creativity available as a democratic right (as I said above), creativity cannot only take place in the abstract but also in practice (nothing is easier to demonstrate!)

And with this one could end this lecture, but instead I would like to give you the illusion that there is an escape route of liberation, by taking advantage of the fact that in our time the two terms, creativity and designing, have gained in usage as much as they have lost in content.

Creativity should mean working on harmony, in harmony. This is a concept that by now is totally removed from our mentality, and it means this for three reasons. One, because it presupposes natural morals or revealed morals. Two, because it presupposed a humanistic, global vision, thus a naïve one in our analytic eyes. Three, because ours is a competitive mentality, which rewards personal interests, it is therefore “compensatory.”

Thus today the real and true concept of creativity returns to Olympus, given that it is unthinkable for our mentality.

Once the mirage has been erased (the creativity-mirage that was beyond the abyss-project), we can think of kinds of projects that are no longer mythical but simply practical.

We will examine three of them: bureaucratic project, political project, instinctive project.

By nature, we are all more or less capable of changing in part, and maintaining in part, that which falls into our hands.

This modification travels between two extremes: destroy and create. These two extremes are in direct communication with each other: destroy in order to create, create in order to destroy. Both bombing and sculpting speak by using dynamite.

To destroy something means to annul, even before the idea of the person who wanted it, the effort and thoughts of the person who constructed it.

At the same time, to construct places the question between opportunity and abuse. In substance, everything resolves itself in the type of aesthetic ideology called consumerism.

Let us now speak about the political project We design by reason of a social State. Every society is dialectical by nature, our project will be engaged in this dialectic. In order to be put to work, the project will have to resolve itself in a choice of field; the choice of field presumes an ideological choice.

Aesthetics, in a political project, are nothing more than giving visibility to an ideological choice.

This project is also called promotional.

Then there is the bureaucratic project, it could be subspecies of the political project, while it really has more to do with metaphysics, that particular form of metaphysics that tends to promote laws and regulations and is the most advanced moment, or consequently more sophisticated, of every civilization, whether it is religious, political, mechanical, economic or other.

Even if it presents itself under the form of a pragmatic project, the political project is fundamentalist, totalitarian, it voids every instinctive project, like every other dialectical process. Its moral code is a self-referential, its aesthetic is self-referential. This is the project that characterizes our time in all forms and latitudes.

Why do I call project this forest of laws and regulations? Why does this mark the path, even if the forest developed in an impenetrable way and has been made inaccessible?

In this way, whomever takes over the forest becomes master of the project!

Who, in our case, is the master of the forest?

One would think of the engineer, but it is not like that. The engineer must submit to function, his power leads up to the structure.

The true master of the forest is actually the architect, he is the master in virtue of the rules, he has decreed the project with relative regulations, he has decreed the model with its regulations, he has decreed the implementation with its regulations; and he has called the whole of these regulations Aesthetics.

Today the only person who possesses the regulations of Aesthetics can make the drawing, after the drawing itself has become regulation. Thus, only in the case of the architect does the project become at once aesthetics and regulations. With this the interest of the architect connects up with the interest of the political man in the designing in order to regulate.

The most culturally attentive nations such as France are already running for cover, impeding architects, or the bureaucratic designers, to participate in competitions for the realizations of artworks.

To conclude: for now there is no way of escape and salvation, I would say that there is not even a line for reflection but I, in any case would like to maintain a line of curiosity, in order to be able to glimpse what could happen beyond the abyss, even if it seems like the act of a sycophant.


Joe Zorrilla was born in 1982. The artist received an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita, California in 2012 and was an artist in residence at The Watermill Center in Water Mill, New York.

Zorrilla’s work has been exhibited at Galerie Greta Meert in Brussels, Belgium and Hannah Hoffman in Los Angeles, California. The artist’s work is in the permanent collections of several institutions, including: the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles in California; the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, California; and the Watermill Center in Water Mill, New York.

Zorrilla lives and works in Los Angeles, California.