Paolo Cirio

Expanded Documentary

“My interest is the advancement of contemporary art through socially meaningful artworks. I always look at how society forms and shifts politically, economically, and technologically.”

Paolo Cirio is an artist, activist, and cultural critic based in New York. His practice considers how society is affected by the control over information. He engages with legal, economic, and cultural systems to investigate social issues impacted by the Internet, such as privacy, copyright, democracy, and finance. His techniques of exposing, appropriating, and re-contextualizing sensitive information aim to stimulate new ways of understanding and challenging complex processes and dynamics.



Regarding the aesthetic aspects of his work, Cirio uses popular language, irony, and seductive visuals to engage a broad public in his research- and intervention-based pieces. His approach embodies hacker ethics, such as open access, privacy policies, and disrupting economic, legal, and political models.

“Beyond conceptualism, social documentary, and visual art, my real interest is the social engagement and impact I can have on both the public and the subjects of my projects. For this reason my work is often participatory, interventionist, or revelatory,” he says.

Paolo Cirio, OBSCURITY, installation view at MIT Museum in Boston
Paolo Cirio, OBSCURITY, installation view at MIT Museum in Boston

Cirio recently coined the term Evidentiary Realism, which initially manifested in two exhibitions in New York and Berlin featuring artists engaged in investigative, forensic, and documentary art. The coinage denotes a particular form of realism in art that reveals evidence from intricate structures, for example in the work of artists such as Hans Haacke, Mark Lombardi, Jenny Holzer, and Harun Farocki.

He also recently wrote on the Aesthetics of Information Ethics, “in which I articulate the ethics of representation of technology in our society and what role art can play in it. The evolving languages, strategies, and potentials of contemporary art are what inspires me.”

Open Society Structures by Paolo Cirio
Paolo Cirio, Open Society Structures

Cirio is interested in mentoring artists who engage in research-based practices and work toward creating social impact or awareness. The proposals can be about any subject and scale, as long as the purpose is to reveal, inform, and engage while being in dialogue with contemporary art discourse. As the use of new media can enhance this practice and its outcome, the projects’ tools and media could play a key role. He encourages artists who are economically or geographically removed from traditional art centers to apply.

“I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experiences as a working artist. I believe in alternative education, especially for contemporary art, which is a very particular field of study,” he adds.

Find out more about Paolo Cirio’s art and cultural criticism