Born in Italy, Davide Grassi moved to Ljubljana in 1995, just after the breakup of Yugoslavia and Slovenian independence. Shortly after his arrival, he worked on a project that could be described as an “urban action” or intervention. He created a number of white mailboxes with the phrase “I need money to be an artist” written on them in four languages, and installed them on the streets of Ljubljana. The project was an examination and study of the relationship between society, money and art.
Despite the seemingly simple appearance of the project, it was actually quite labor-intensive for Davide. Once he installed the boxes he had to keep checking on them. At first, they were broken into and the contents stolen, so he had to not only ensure that the boxes were locked, but had to check them regularly. When he did, the results were surprising – in addition to money, he found a number of other deposits in the boxes, such as rubbish and cash, personal items, and letters, because people mistook the boxes for actual mailboxes. He also discovered other items in the boxes, such as a paint set – to get him started as an artist. Davide regularly collected and inventoried these items, and then displayed them in an exhibition at Kapelica Gallery at the end of the project, which lasted from 1996-1997.
The artist has worked on a number of projects that focus on the intersection between art, the viewer and the market, as well as examining virtual reality as well. From 2002-2003 he worked on a project with multimedia artist Igor Stromajer entitled problemarket.com. The two artists set up a stock exchange online, where people could buy and sell problems. The project in effect problematized problems, and aimed to create a platform where they could be reconceptualized as opportunities.
In 2007, Grassi changed his name to Janez Jansa, in a project that he continues to work on together with two other artists. While he currently works as an artist under that name, the man behind the name Davide Grassi continues to exist, and I met with him when I was in Ljubljana, although I did not call him Davide.