flatmarkus is an art space, currently in Zurich.
Gioele Corradengo @sexsdreams
June 9 to July 21, 2023, opening on June 9 from 6pm till midnight at Seestrasse 42, 8802 Kilchberg / Zurich, open on June 10 and 11, from noon till 10pm @zurichartweekend
text by Philip Neuberger @finsterboi1993
Sometimes I feel like Instagram has become the new windowshopping. When at a different time we might have strolled through crowded city centers and browsed for clothes to buy or people to observe, we now scroll through an eternal feed basically offering us the same, only now we can lay our feet up and rest while we do it.
This scenario describes more or less how I first stumbled over sexsdreams’ work: feet on my coffee table, feed on the phone screen. He might have even been suggested to me by the algorithm. No getting up, no putting on shoes and a jacket, no bus ride to the center, no people around, no walking, not even looking around for something I might like, maximum convenience.
And yet it’s graffiti, maybe the least couch potato friendly art form there is. Gioele Carradengo AKA sexsdreams doesn’t seem like much of a couch potato himself. Coming from a humble background, he quit school in his early teens, worked on construction sites, in metal workshops, in bars, all the while spending his nights out in the streets of Milan with his friends; the same friends who also introduced him to spraying.
His work spoke to me like fashion speaks to me, making me want it, crave it, almost like an appetite. Whenever art makes me feel these primal things, I get skeptical at first, feeling manipulated, not fully trusting the hype: Is that guy just another rich nepo baby doing art to justify his fashionable lifestyle, making him an easy target to be welcomed by a corrupted fashion industry?, I found myself thinking, only to stand corrected by Carradengo’s actual biography. This guy is really living his own teenage working-class wet dream – in a country where so many young people from a working-class (and even middle-class or academic) background see no future made in italy for themselves anymore.
Sexsdreams’ written messages are mostly dreamy and cute. They have little in common with the political phrases and rallying cries we might expect from graffiti, especially those of a young guy who has experienced the hardships of heavy physical labour in an Italian metropolis.
Nowadays a lot of sexsdreams’ spraying takes place in a studio, sometimes the medium is expensive clothing by brands like Khrisjoy or ANTONIA, sometimes it’s canvas, sometimes his works become NFTs. On Instagram he still presents himself out on the streets, only now his process of spraying may involve fancy white clothes worn by (exclusively female, skinny) models who then become his canvas. When I watch it, it evokes an undeniable irritation: the gesture of spraying paint on a female body dressed in white that has to stand perfectly still, to then be professionally filmed by Carradengo’s assistant, to then be published on Instagram and TikTok, to then be seen by object-fetishists like me thinking “I want that sweater” or “I want him to spray on me” (no pun intended) while chilling on my sofa.
My sofa is in Zurich, a city that has almost made a new artform out of removing graffiti from walls by washing them off or painting over them. In a very Swiss way, there is never really any outrage, there just seems to be a silent agreement that any painting in the public space will be considered Vandalism, so it just gets quietly erased. And yet I would not be surprised to see one of Gioele Carradengo’s works on a Bahnhofstrasse shop window following this exhibition.