Richard Bright: Can we begin by you saying something about your background?
Micaela Lattanzio: Being an artist has never been a decision as much as a conscious direction. Since I was a child, I loved to express myself through various artistic forms, for me the creative language has always been the most concrete way to express my thoughts and my ideas. It was not difficult to start a proper training, first at the Art Institute and then at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. I chose the “Decoration” section on both occasions, in order to shape a multifaced language. I was passionate about different techniques that I could apply in site-specific projects and installations. I soon started working as a mosaicist, collaborating with some architects and later as a photographer and video maker. During the Academy my style was divided between pictorial and photographic research, but I felt the necessity to find a language that was more personal and that represented me in a profound way. I was based for a year in Valencia with the Erasmus project and immediately afterwards I chose Cuba for my thesis, focused on the anthropology of travel, supported by the lessons that were held at the University of Habana. Thanks to my thirst for knowledge I was pushed to travel to various places in the world under the pretext of immortalizing new mental and photographic images, it was in that period that my current photographic archive was born.
RB: Have there been any particular influences to your art practice?
ML: My path was marked by searching a kind of experimentation through new techniques and through my studies ranging from philosophy, to sociology and science.
I was born in Rome and I immediately assimilated the art history. Probably I was influenced by the archaeological sites, also mosaics, sculptures and fragmented frescoes have always captured my attention. I have always been fascinated by the fragments because for me they represented an instrument aimed at stimulating the imagination. Through the indefinite, we access those invisible realities that became the incipit to create a story.
Indeed, the Fragmenta series takes its name from the Fragmenta Picta, which is the particular technique that reassembles fragments of frescoes, decorations or classic sculptures without entirely reconstructing the work in an artificial way, in a game of full and empty spaces.
The other language that has influenced my research and that has always been part of my life is photography. Since my childhood I immortalized thoughts and people in a sort of visual diary.
At some point in my journey I felt the need to find a language that represented me, something that was the result of my personal journey, so I tried to merge all my experiences into a single technique, including, at the same time, painting, photography and mosaic, this is how what I now call the molecular aggregation, or the technical matrix that recurs in all my work, from paintings to installations.
RB: What is the underlying focus of your work?
ML: I believe that the work of an artist is the reflection of several experiences and the vision he has gained towards the world, and the ability to project an inner journey outwards. In a certain sense this is what gives uniqueness to a work, its personal digital fingerprint. This passage necessarily translates into an analysis of the world and the era we are living in.
In my work there is an in-depth research that investigates nature, and the deep relationship that man has with it.
My aim is to make visible the multifaceted reality that surrounds our existence, trying to simplify this complexity through my works in order to trigger and stimulate in the viewer his personal inner interpretations.
Fragmentation represents cells and molecules, to underline that all animated or inanimate matter is made up of tiny molecular aggregates in order to underline that there is a glue that binds us to everything.
It is like looking in a microscope to observe molecular structures, we need to observe the world and life in its complexity.
RB: Can you say something about your working process when fragmenting a photo and creating something completely new?
ML: My work is almost always born from a well-defined vision in my mind, which takes shape at the moment of the realization of the work, in a very instinctive way, a bit like when you paint.
What I do both in the paintings and in the installations is to overcome and integrate spatial boundaries, especially taking into account the light. Indeed, my work has a strong sculptural value which undergoes a transformation according to the light to which it is subjected. In fact, with direct light, the work undergoes a multiplication thanks to the projected shadows, instead with a diffused light the molecules decrease and there is a completely different perception.
When I create a work, the first phase is the research of the subject to be photographed, a second phase is the preparation of the material which becomes a pictorial element as well as a piece, once my “palette” has been prepared, what I do is practically paint in an instinctive way more than anything else.
Fragmenting a photograph represents for me a chemical-material transmutation, the possibility of transporting our reality into the suspended space of the imagination.
RB: Can you say something about your series Fragmenta which centres on the fragmentation of female identity?
ML: The Fragmenta series was created to narrate the particular condition of the individual in the contemporary era by placing the theme of the body as an immediate means of communication and expression, both individually and collectively, for a re-appropriation of one’s rights.
For most of the portraits I have used the body of women as a symbolic image of all humanity in order to overcome the gender boundaries between male and female identity.
Being fully in the world and consciously coexisting with it is an act of consciousness. It means recognizing one’s own body and that of others, in this sense fragmentation is for me an act of extension of our social boundaries and union with the world. Opening the body is equivalent to revealing all that is hidden in the depths of ourselves in order to overcome the surface of things.
We live our existence in a system that always wants us perfect, always young, always skillful, always at our best, these utopian “ambitions” make us distracted and distant towards the other, our natural environment and towards our real feelings.
Even contact with nature becomes an external system to ourselves, considered as a means at our disposal for the exclusive benefit of our needs. Thus we move away from nature and the symbiotic relationship we have with it, excluding it from our lives. By detaching ourselves it happens that for our forma mentis, marred by the judgment in terms of economic value, we find ourselves judging a person and our life on the basis of the role we play, rather than on the intrinsic value of our potential and our uniqueness.
Fragmenta talks about this, it is a praise to beauty and an exhortation to overcome those epidermal boundaries that separate us from the world. To open the body for me is to reveal the deepest part of our feelings, but also to expand our boundaries to return to live in communion with our environment.
RB: In terms of spectator, what do you hope to communicate with his work?
ML: When I create an exhibition or an installation, I always start from the concept that in some way the viewer must be included in an active and participatory observation.
My work is based on the concept of the relationship between micro and macrocosm, in this sense the viewer becomes the measurement scale in relation to the work because it is through his point of view that a double perception is defined. A global, (macrocosmic vision) constituted by the whole where a new form is perceived and a perception of detail (microcospic vision) where the matrix of the photographic detail is perceived only approaching the work.
RB: Can you say something about your recent work, Corpus Imago, which includes and expands on the Fragmenta series?
ML: Corpus Imago, curated by Alessia Carlino is my current solo exhibition in Rome (on view until January 31st at the Galleria emmeotto, Palazzo Taverna).
This exhibition is a journey around the body and a reflection on social relationships, on the specific weight that our presence has in our environment.
The exhibition is divided into 3 chapters that represent the genesis of my work, each room introduces the viewer on a defined journey within the cycle of life through the metamorphoses of matter and spirit.
In the first room Fragmenta highlights the individual in an external observation, shows the transformation of the body through the identification of the spectator, the bodies reveal our deepest nature in a suspended and timeless space.
In the second room we find Florilegio, an “extraordinary” garden, which is composed by several anthropomorphic flowers whose petals are extrapolated from female portraits. This room is an invitation to meditation, a spiritual garden where the viewer is invited to actively participate in the transformation of the body since each bulb contains a different fragrance that the spectator must smell. Through the different scents of earth, wood, moss and flowers, the viewer, like in a powerful time machine, has access to his personal memory.
Finally, in the last room we find Cosmogonia, where the material undergoes a molecular transmutation, it loses its original connotations transforming itself into cosmic and biological matter. Here the photographs are portrayed, but the cells are assembled in a totally abstract structures. The viewer is therefore free to imagine, new worlds, new possibilities. In an imaginative journey within the cycle of life, here the circle closes, in the metaphor of rebirth.
The path that I propose in this exhibition is aimed to stimulating an empathic system through awareness and contact with one’s own body and the body of others.
RB: What other projects are you currently working on?
ML: 2019 was an intense year of work where I designed two great personal shows, one in New York and one in Rome. In 2020 there will be other appointments group exhibitions, art fairs, but at this moment a new phase of design and experimentation begins for me, indeed my goal is to dedicate myself to brand new works not yet realized.
All images copyright and courtesy of Micaela Lattanzio
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