Whitehot Magazine

Interview with Ak2deru: The Sound of Rome

Ak2deru, monosema, 2019. Ash on paper, 140 x 250 cm / 55 x 98.4 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Ak2deru: li molti e molti

Hyunnart Studio, Rome

May 12 through June 30, 2021

By LARA PAN, July 2021

The focus of this interview is Rome-based composer, painter, and sound artist, Ak2deru. I discovered his work accidentally on Instagram, and felt compelled to ask him, are these visual pieces somehow related to sound? He answered that they are, and so we struck up an exchange of projects and ideas during the pandemic. The work itself consists of several stages of research related to various forms of sound perception and its motion. This interview offers a general overview of the exhibition Li Moliti e Molti and some insight into his creative process. 

LARA PAN: Ak2deru, I discovered your work during Covid lockdowns last year. Before knowing much about your work, I asked you if your drawings bore any relationship to sound, and we on to discuss it for hours. Please introduce yourself. Who are you? And how did you get started with drawing and painting? 

Ak2deru: Since childhood, both music and painting have been ubiquitous in my life. Stimulated by a house full of paintings and by a great family sensitivity towards art, I spent most of my childhood drawing and coloring, becoming more and more passionate about art and starting to produce my first works. Always in the family, I learned from my father (himself a musician and drummer in a well-known band of the sixties) the first rudiments of drums and percussion. Later I attended the artistic High School of Tempio Pausania, where I was born and raised and where I lived until the age of 23. After high school, once I learned the technical basics of plastic and pictorial disciplines, I decided to independently continue my research in the field of visual art. In 1998 I moved to Rome (the city where I currently live) to continue my studies in composition - which in the meantime, I had already started in Sardinia a few years before - with Gian Paolo Chiti and later with Alvin Curran, with whom I later worked, as his assistant for several years. 

LP: Who is or what is Ak2deru? Why do you refer to yourself in this way?

Ak2deru: Who or what: good question. In effect Ak2deru - www.ak2deru.org - is not simply my stage name, the pseudonym that I’ve been using for several years. It comes from a reworking of my real name, Francesco Careddu: it’s basically an alphanumeric decomposition and recomposition of my surname. At the same time it’s a kind of self-baptism and a declaration of autonomy and independence from common practice, even in the artistic field. It is a witness to a search for uniqueness within the variety that represents one of the fundamental pillars of my creative activity. In practice, it’s a concept and as such, it is an integral part of the corpus of my work.

Ak2deru, monosema, 2017/20. Inks on printed and shaped paper, 17 x 27.5 cm / 6,7 x 10.8 in (each one 8.5 x 5.5 cm - 3.3 x 2.1 in). Courtesy of the artist.

LP: Tell me more about your relationship to sound and your interest in ritual in sound. And how did this relationship develop in the context of your classical music training? 

Ak2deru: I’ve always conceived sound as a means of connecting with the dimensions of invisibility.

This awareness has matured through the practice of musical improvisation - started around the age of sixteen and never interrupted - and at the same time through a long series of listening, experiences, studies and research that I have been able to deepen over the last three decades. The relationship between sound, ritual practices and transcendence is one of my main fields of interest and all my production is deeply influenced by this. With the guidance of Gian Paolo Chiti and Alvin Curran - also thanks to their extreme open-mindedness and freedom of thought - I had the opportunity to deepen and develop my interests and the peculiarity of my approach to sound without detracting from the learning of classical and contemporary techniques and compositional thinking and from the study of the various disciplines of composition: harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, etc. 

LP: l am curious about your exhibition at the HyunnArt Studio in Rome, entitled li molti e molti. What does it mean? 

Ak2deru: The curator of this show, Mario de Candia, proposed to me to look for a title that had a link with my native land given the influence that my Sardinian origins have had on my work. The chosen title, in Gallurese dialect, is the name of the ancient tradition of commemoration of the dead in the all soul’s day,  on November 2. In addition to the small autobiographical note (it is the day I was born) and given the so particular historical period that we were experiencing - in relation to the daily count of deaths related to the pandemic spread by the media all over the world - I opted for this title considering also the importance of this theme within my production, in relation to the process of continuous creation and destruction that characterizes my creative action.

Ak2deru, monosema - ellipse (detail), 2020. Pyrography on paper applied on plexiglas, 46.5 x 75 cm / 17.9 x 29.5 in. Courtesy of the artist.

LP: I’m personally quite interested at this moment in your older works. What was the source of inspiration there, and how and why did you choose the materials you worked with? 

Ak2deru: I consider my production as a kind of unique work, in which each piece is intended as a part of a wide mosaic. I work by pictorial cycles, linked by the presence of this unique sign that characterizes and gives the title to all works: monosema (from Greek mònos and sèma). I develop a process of perpetual variation that concerns all aspects of the work: from techniques to the supports and materials used. For several years I have been attracted to materials with a strong symbolic content, such as ash: a powerful symbol of transmutation. I also love coal, earth and clay, tar, various metal powders, of gold, steel, etc… Another fundamental element for me is fire, as a tool for the transformation of matter. In addition to canvases and papers - often treated to become irregular and imperfect - I have worked and continue to work on recycled leather, cork and wood. The influences on my work are manifold and the need to reduce my field of action to a single sign I think depends precisely from the necessity to manage this multitude of influences.

LP: I saw recently in NYC at the Fridman Gallery and exhibition of the fabulous Milford Graves. Once you told me about your fascination with his work and research, and also about the influences of Sun Ra on your artistic development as a composer. Can you elaborate on this?

Ak2deru: Graves' approach to sound, improvisation, performance and rhythm represents an extraordinary model of freedom and rigor and an ideal kind of connection with the musical and cultural heritage of Africa. 

The strength of his connection between sound and spiritual research, the irrepressible energy generated by his rhythmic motion, the use of his body and voice that together with percussion create a kind of single sound organism, make his work unique and fascinating. I also find very interesting his relationship with the visual arts in relation to his creative universe and his research.

I discovered the music of Sun Ra and his Arkestra at a very young age and even today, after about thirty years, I look at his work always with renewed interest. His visionary cosmogony developed with a very personal reworking of ancestral mythologies, the creation and organization of his legendary group of musicians almost in a sort of sound sect, his charisma and above all the power of his music, all this definitely influenced me, in relation to the mindfulness about the possibility of creating infinite new sound worlds still unexplored. 

Ak2deru, monosema, 2020. Triptych: ash, clay, soil, metal powders and resin on canvas applied on board and polyurethane, 140 x 245 x 15 cm / 55 x 96.4 x 5.9 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Finally, what are you working on in your studio now? 

Ak2deru: I’m currently working on some new series of works somewhat connected with the tradition of sacred art, in reference to some of its characteristic forms: altarpieces (both classical and upside down), triptychs and polyptychs, and at the same time I’m trying to develop the concept of gilding derived from ancient art.

I am also continuing a series of elliptical and rounded works, which explore the borderline between the two-dimensionality of painting and its opening to the third dimension.

Finally I’m completing the first audio of a new series of sound installations, realized through the creation of amplified microtonal choirs, with particular techniques of unconventional vocal emissions, in which the words are totally absent. WM

Lara Pan

Lara Pan is an independent curator,writer and researcher based in New York. Her research focuses on the intersection between art, science, technology and paranormal phenomena.

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