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Excerpt from Paola Pivi interview with Jeff Rian, 2006JR: How did you get involved in contemporary art?PP: By chance. I went to the Art Academy in Milan when I was 24. A lot of young Italian artists went there. I went for fun, to learn to draw. I had no idea about contemporary art. Museums were a place to go on Sundays every once in a while. I didn’t finish art school—I hardly finished any school. I’d been copying comic books drawings when one day I came upon a class where the idea was to set up exhibitions. We worked in a pristine white room where we would install our work for a couple hours as properly as a real art exhibition, and we would discuss the work.PP: Contemporary art was a way to go beyond representational content into another way of thinking. It was like something I would do for fun, but began to develop further in 1998, in my first exhibition in Massimo De Carlo’s gallery in Milan. I’d been traveling in China and I got the idea to make a show of Chinese people. On the street, I sometimes saw people dressed the same. Something stayed with me. I felt they had somewhat stronger personalities, stronger preferences and personal choices. Europeans think more in terms of received opinion. I wanted to try and show them as they are. My idea was to dress 100 Chinese in clothes that had no connotation, no message, nothing—blue pants and a gray top. I redid this piece at the Wrong Gallery, during the frieze art fair in 2005, and again the impression was so strong it frightened some visitors. It even took me a while to feel comfortable in their presence. There aren’t really words for such human presence.JR: The title of your show here at Emmanuel Perrotin’s gallery is “No problem, Have a Nice Day.” Did the title come before or after you thought about showing all these white animals?PP: The title came on it’s own, from something Karma told me. The white animals are all—not just the birds, dogs, sheep, goats, horse, cat, but the fish, the donkey, and the llama— show business animals. They do movies, ads, shows, spectacles, etc.JR: Your works are like visual conundrums: photographs of two ostriches in a boat, a donkey in a boat, zebras in the snow, a butterfly on a polar bear; a truck on its side, a plane or a helicopter upside down; people clomping over a mound or dancing in an oval shape; a hundred Chinese people standing in place; even the odd looking objects you make—like the logs with the lights and miniature chairs attached to them, which you’ll show here in the gallery once the animals go home, after the opening. Do ideas just pop into your head?PP: To me something happens in reality. It has to come from reality.PP: ... What I like about art, whether mine or someone else’s, is the feeling that something has entered my experience, without exactly know what it is, but somehow feeling enriched by it.PP: I think man and art can’t be separated. These are white animals, not black or colored animals. I think it says something about our world, in the same way that the Chinese people say something about our world as much as theirs. We are represented in the animals, too. Even if you know nothing about the history of animal domestication they say something about us.