“I can dance for a pretty insane amount of hours, even days.”
I’m a multi-disciplinary artist with a few side hustles until I can afford not to 😉
Where are you from?
My roots are in Rome but having grown up in between places and always traveling I would say I am a bit of a nomad.
Your style in 3 words?
Cosmic-voyages and earthly-delights… hmmm tried to make it 3 words 😉
Your weakness? Your strength?
Over-thinking. Over-thinking. And many more for sure, curiously they are most often two sides of the same medal.
What makes you different?
I can dance for a pretty insane amount of hours, even days.
When did you decide to become an artist?
I really always put my creative energy into everything I did, what I wore, and every space I lived in. While I was in school, and university and then hopped from one job to the other I always had my creative side projects; I started writing articles, then co-created this magazine, and later launched a collection of fine jewelry which I still produce on commission, started an accessory brand with a friend and made-to-order fashion designs. The art stuff happened every now and then, but it would take me weeks to get anything out of me and when I finally did, it felt good for a second before everything ended up piled in a corner or hidden away in sketchbooks stacked on some shelf. I valued art and artists so highly that my inner critic just went nuts every time I tried to sit down and work… I used to take myself so seriously! Even if it didn’t make any sense deep down I just always knew I was an artist, and I was going to be able to free myself from whatever was blocking me at some point, so I never stopped trying. On my 31st birthday, I gave myself the book ‘The Artist’s Way’ and two years’ time to really give it a go. I took courses at the Accademia di Belle Arti, worked as a part-time studio assistant with Rolf Sachs, and just allowed myself to play, experiment, to reconnect to the pleasure of creating. Without the expectation that I had to achieve anything specific or make any money from it. This changed the deal completed and I am slowly but surely becoming more courageous, comfortable, and confident about my work as an artist and not looking back!
Do you choose your art form, or does the form choose you?
I immediately got the image of a pendulum. I think it constantly goes back and forth between the two.
What do you find most fascinating about the creative process?
The previous answer. Being at once the creator and the channel through which things make themselves manifest. It’s a beautiful dance between control and surrender.
A few words about your favorite creation?
Sacra Conversazione was a touching experience and kind of my coming out as an artist. I created this participatory installation, or I also like to think of it as a ritual, for UNA VETRINA in Rome in April 2021. At the time we were still restricted from meeting in groups or being out at night and a year into never-ending lockdowns. In the solitary confinement of my apartment, I had recurring dreams of losing myself in a group of sweaty bodies moving to the sound of the beat. I really craved such moments of ecstatic energy, togetherness, and freedom in those days of separateness and disease that smelled of hand sanitizer. And I frequently found myself thinking about how our relationship with the night had changed, especially after I unexpectedly had to venture out at midnight to pick up my father from the hospital. It was wild to suddenly feel so scared of the dark when it had always been a comforting place for me. The realm of darkness, dreams, desires, and debaucheries is after all, the side of the day in which we are a little more allowed to play, be wild, break the rules of everyday life, and be ourselves. Not for everyone of course but things had been different and, love it or hate it, it had become an even more ambivalent space during the pandemic. What happened to the night? I wanted to use the window as a non-virtual space for social interactions in which we could communicate and co-create without coming together physically. Rome was the perfect place for it if you think of the ‘statue parlanti’, as well as all the poems and words that cover its walls but also because I think it’s a city that really embodies the duplicity of light and dark. Cosa è successo alla notte? Laser-cut into colorful plexiglass circles floating inside a big window like planets in the cosmos or colorful lights in a club, the question reverberated in different languages, endlessly changing direction. Just outside the window, I set up a little table with black cards, white pens, and tape. Day after day drawings, dreams, hopes, complaints, fears, and fun facts started appearing. Sometimes people left notes, sometimes objects. Some people stole things, others came back twice. Over the month, the entire window gradually turned black from the answers people had stuck on it, and, totally unexpectedly, on the last day of the show Italy’s government lifted the curfew. We had all together brought back the night.
What surprised you most about your first art shows?
The inner void that follows. It also really pains me to write texts to go with the work, it somehow always sounds so blablabla and says too little or too much. Context is good, but I feel the information also distracts people from feeling into the work and understanding it for themselves.
Someone else’s work that inspired or inspires you…
Too many artists, writers, thinkers, books, myths, and civilizations to pick a few. Possibly no work inspires me as profoundly as that of Mother Nature.
Who would you like to work with someday and why?
It would be so fun to work with Johanna again, after so many years… perhaps on a special edition print magazine or on a new side project. A revival of the good old and completely mad # Horst und Edeltraut days.
A new project coming up or an idea you want to work on?
I’ll speak of a project I just finished instead. In February I was working with Meuli AG in Sils Maria (a magical place where Nietzsche lived for a long time) in the Engadine Valley, Switzerland. It’s an artisan workshop that produces anything out of metal foils, however, it specializes in building roofs. We really share a passion for this ancient, malleable, and conducive metal and I absolutely love working with artisans and matching my ideas with their expertise. Observing how materials can transform through the power of the human touch, as well as the technologies we have developed, is a process that makes me so aware of how we can be both the creators and the destroyers of worlds. Anyways, I was allowed to use their workshop and they taught me a few basic techniques which already really helped me to refine the construction of a series of copper sculptures I started in 2021. Called Ecdysis these sculptures start off as a ‘costume’ that I wear over my naked body and move within. Through my movements, the shape of the ‘costume’ changes and I eventually extract myself from it leaving behind the final sculpture. Once I finished building the ‘costume’ I performed and exhibited the resulting sculpture, and a few smaller pieces made during my time there, at NOMAD in St.Moritz. It was powerful to close a cycle then and there because I partly grew up in the Engadine and it is a very emotionally charged place for me. It is deeply connected to the personal transformation I went through in the past 10 years, the experience of which has a lot to do with this piece. It felt like the end of an era, a real rebirth.
Finish the sentence „More important than my career is…“
Friends, flowers, Freedom.
2023: Where are we going?
rEvolution… Johanna, maybe this could be the topic for our next print magazine?
Do you think about time as an artist?
Apparently, my first word was TICK TACK or TICK TOCK. I wish I could remember what I was thinking but it clearly has something to do with time or rhythm. Rhythm has always played a huge role in my life as I love music and dance, but I guess also growing up in Rome makes it kind of impossible not to think about time. It’s a place that has incessantly transformed and where traces of transformation and the passing of time are visible everywhere. A place where the past and the present peacefully coexist… while the future chaotically tries to find its place but doesn’t get much space at all. No one really cares what happens or where the time goes because it feels like everything has and always will be there. It’s a sometimes comforting, sometimes daunting perspective.
I picture time as a circle or rather a wave, in fact I kind of think of it as a spiral… well probably it can be all of those things depending on where you are observing it from. Well anyways, I think about time quite a lot now that I think of it. In the project Ecdysis I leave copper in its natural state for it to oxidize. This means that every day the surface changes, first showing where the body touched it, until one day it will become completely greenish black. The passing of time is made visible underlining the idea that transformation is the only constant in life… omnia mutuantur, nihil interit as Ovid put it! In another series, I’ve been experimenting with layering glass and clays which simultaneously melt and solidify according to the temperature in the kiln. I think of these works as a sort of Natura Morta, while usually these depict flowers and fruits, I juxtapose the different stages and qualities of a material’s life. As I was working on these ‘meltings’ I came across a poem by Swiss author Gottfried Keller that really spoke to me:
“Die Zeit geht nicht, sie stehet still, wir ziehen durch sie hin; Sie ist ein Karawanserei, wir sind die Pilger drin. Ein etwas, form- und farbenlos, das nur Gestalt gewinnt, Wo ihr drin auf und nieder taucht, bis wieder ihr zerrinnt.”
What would you do if you could change the World?
We can all change the world! My way is being as present as possible, making choices that align with my values, showing up as the best me I can be, never stop learning. I am a firm believer that change happens within us first and then ripples through our family, community, and so forth. Start with what is personally relevant to you, even small actions make a huge difference, especially in the long term, and do it without expectations. And never forget to dream, as Arnold Mindell put it “Dreaming together is a new kind of social activism”. And yes get together with others.
What does freedom mean when it comes to art?
For me art is freedom!
If the universe is everything and it’s expanding, what is it expanding into?
The nothingness that contains the whole universe.
Tell us about your future plans…
Research and random adventures are a very, very important part of my creation process during the conception and gestation phase of a new project. I can’t say I ever have a precise plan or know what the outcome will be… it’s a mix of images, concepts, feelings, and experimentations that eventually just come together into something that suddenly makes sense. For now, I am exploring Ibiza and soaking up the island’s spring sun. I write every day and am reading about goddesses and prehistoric art and starting to experiment with different ways of putting marks onto a surface (paper for now) through different gestures and different natural materials, such as earth, lemon juice and blood. Other than this I am working on a performance called THE RESISDANCE that I will present in autumn as part of a collaboration with Universo Maglia. I am also finalising the program for a long weekend get-away with Reconnect Retreats… it’s taking place 19th to 22nd of May in the beautiful Es Raco D’Arta in Mallorca – movement, creativity, inner work, rituals, nature and delicious food. Few spots left if this speaks to you!
Your city’s favorite spots?
When in Rome these days I hang out at Ruma for a glass of natural wine and delicious buffalo cheeses, then a few streets down to Baronato4Bellezze for the rest of the evening. Osteria Dar Belli is my go-to Trastevere lunch and Rocco Ristorante for a cozy dinner in Monti. Contemporary art spots are Villa Lontana and Studioli, Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Basement, Sant’Andrea de Scaphis, Macro. If you had time for one church travel through the ages at San Clemente. Get tripped out on the light and shadow of Eur’s clean-cut travertine architecture on a sunny day. Sunset at Villa Medici.
A book that everyone should read…
Listen to the podcast Overmorrow’s Library by Federico Campagna and choose which book you should read for yourself.
Last but not least: what is your favorite Song?
Nina Simone, Feeling Good? really, it’s impossible to choose one song…
One last statement please: „Wood or stone, gold or art?“
I would love to see what happens if one poured fused, incandescent gold into a piece of wood perhaps balancing on a stone plinth or sphere.