Interview with Daniel González, the artist who created the Paper Building

From creative genius to a new way of looking at spaces: a brief exploration of ephemeral architecture.

Blenio Valley, Canton Ticino, Switzerland

#Special Projects


An Argentinian artist who lives and works in Berlin and New York, Daniel González is preparing to inaugurate the Fondazione La Fabbrica del Cioccolato (the Chocolate Factory Foundation) on 21 May with the work, Paper Building. Before the opening, we met him to explore together the dreamlike and engaging atmosphere of his site-specific work.

img.0Daniel González, Paper Building, 2016, study for ephemeral architecture, courtesy of the artist

Your recent work “Paper Building” incorporates a very seductive idea that, with reference to Martin Heidegger’s concept of non-concealment (Unverborgenheit), we can think of as being connected to the idea of the truth of a work of art as a concept infused with a dynamic of revelation and concealment. How do you explain the idea that led you to conceive of this site-specific "device" that tangibly changes the perception of the space?

Every time I am faced with a work of architecture or a space, I have to consider the needs, the functions and the story of that place. In the case of “Paper Building”, the background was the former Cima Norma chocolate factory, which hadn’t operated for several years yet its presence brings echoes and past melancholy. Taking another look at the architecture, I wanted to change its very identity, in other words, go back to ground zero of the story of the factory’s architecture.

Through the act of applying the paper, which could be understood as “adding” but actually means taking away, I cover up in order to discover, that is, by complete covering the façade it is stripped back to the outline of the architecture itself. On the day of the inauguration, I will bring together the people who live in the area, who had a direct relationship of some kind with the old factory, to forcefully smash, in an act of violence, its doors and windows:this gesture will become a symbol of the change, an act of revelation, creating a future in the present by tearing it from history. 

img.1La Fabbrica del Cioccolato, courtesy of the Foundation

Your installations are always a spatial rereading of the “genius loci”. What is most important to you in the relationship between your work and the space it is housed?How does the process of artistic creation take place when faced with a new context?

The assessment of the possibilities offered by the space is always in direct proportion to the surrounding area:its function, the relationship this space has with the community and the symbolism it carries within.At first glance, this mass of information might seem to influence my creative approach but it is actually an input equation that creates connections between thought and experiential information in order to come up with the idea.  You can start from an object within yourself or apply a preconceived idea through which the object reveals itself or it becomes a friend of the creative process.

img.2La Fabbrica del Cioccolato, courtesy of the Foundation

The power of ephemeral architect with all its references to baroque stage machinery, the catafalques of Bernini, certain episodes of land art and Arte Povera, as well as the entire post-modern culture of settings, releases the creative freedom of short-lived objects. Disturbing, unsettling, objects that impose new parameters on a changing identity.What materials do you use in your “ephemeral architecture”, what importance do they have in your artistic search?

In common with Bernini’s works or the baroque period, the outcome of my ephemeral architecture are celebratory machines. The fact of being contemporary, on the other hand, comes from the addition of the excitement of architecture as well as the conceptual values.This ephemeral architecture participates in the creation of spectacle, typical of the information society and virtual connection we are living through today. The materials used are those best put in service of the idea, they may be light, like paper or cardboard, if the idea is called "Paper Building" or "Pop-Up Building”, in which I have to create lightness to carry thought. Ultimately, thought and matter are companions in the same experience. 

img.3Daniel González - Paper Building, 2016, work in progress - courtesy of the artist and the Foundation La Fabbrica del Cioccolato

img.4Daniel González - Paper Building, 2016, work in progress - courtesy of the artist and the Foundation La Fabbrica del Cioccolato

img.5Daniel González - Paper Building, 2016, work in progress - courtesy of the artist and the Foundation La Fabbrica del Cioccolato