Interview #63

Cristiana Palandri

* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).

Cristiana Palandri (Florence, 1977) studied at Accademia di Belle Arti (Bologna) and University of the West of England (Bristol). Her work has been featured at Bangkok Art and Cultural Center (Bangkok); Horton Gallery and Liebig12 (Berlin); Bosisio-Sabot Gallery (Cluj-Napoca); Museo Marino Marini (Florence); Museo del Novecento (Milan); Scaramouche Gallery (New York); MLAC and Museo Bilotti (Rome); Museum of Art Seoul National University (Seoul); Fondazione Merz and Ex Borsa Valori (Turin).

Let’s start with Cosmogonia. Thanks to the use of lots of Indian ink on glossy paper, your work is practically three-dimensional. What other techniques have you used to achieve this? How does the drawing become autonomous and tend towards three-dimensionality? How do you make it float in the frame once it has been installed?

I often use the term ‘light sculpture’ to talk about this series of works because the paper I use crinkles after it has been soaked in black Indian ink and the spatiality of the media completely changes, abandoning the flatness of the surface. I like to think that my drawings are self-creating. That is, I prefer to draw without a definite plan. And listening to certain types of music, I distance myself as much as possible from what really happens in the studio. If everything goes in another direction, the drawing becomes a spontaneous genesis.

On the topic of sculpture, we have the one produced especially for Oversight at MLAC in Rome that you use in your performances and, 1931. Both seem to be linked by the presence of bones. Can you tell us about the creation of each of these works, and your interest in this part of the human body?

Oversight is a performance in which I used an assemblage of animal bones that I applied to the body of a woman, in an attempt to show my sculptural practice in front of an audience and away from the intimacy of the studio. Whereas 1931 is a sculpture that I made by carving a tiny bar of soap into the form of a small bone, fueling the rumor in which bones are said to have been used in the manufacturing of soap in concentration camps. I have always been fascinated by the form of bones and the possibility of combining them as I please to create imaginary creatures. They also tell us something about life and death.

Diatomee is a series of drawings of algae made using Indian ink that, like in Cosmogonia, tend towards three-dimensionality thanks to the layer of wax covering them. How is seaweed related to your aesthetics of floating and especially to the ‘figuration’ of drawing?

The title Diatomea is a metaphor for the work, because the forms that transpire from the layer of paraffin can resemble organisms that float below a layer of ice, and more specifically, this category of unicellular algae, which is characterised by a transparent siliceous shell.

You produced wearable sculptures – pieces for the Marsèll brand – including hats and collars decorated with feathers. You have also created Marsèll’s latest advertising campaign. How did this collaboration begin and how is it proceeding?

We’ve known each other for a long time and I have often worked with Marsèll on the sound for its fashion shows and presentations. Meanwhile, I have been creating wearable sculptures for five years – Sic Itur Ad Astra – which are also linked to the world of fashion. When Mirko Rizzi saw them, he proposed that I collaborate on a snap series for Marsèll.

You have also always been involved with music. You produced an edition for T.A.M. that brought sound and the practice of drawing together in 50 unique samples, whilst this year you produced an EP Sub Umbra on tape based on the same principle. Can we take a deeper look at how you see the relationship between sound and drawing and your experience in creating editions?

In my research I have found that sound and drawing are perfectly intertwined and require each other. They are strictly bound. The T.A.M edition consisted of a series of 50 samples, entitled L’Homme Face à la Nuit Reconnaît son Incomplétude. I wanted to combine a sound recording produced by me and recorded on CD, with a woodcut in a zoomorphic form, printed on black cardboard. I tried to create a process based parallelism between these two languages through the repetitiveness of minimalist music and the slight differences of woodcut. I wanted to make these two aspects coexist in the one work.

Your home studio with high ceilings is in a semi-hidden courtyard not far from Porta Genova. You said that after Fine Arts Academy you needed a studio in order to develop your work. How important to you is the space that you have at your disposition as well as elements such as space, light and time?

I spend most of my life in the studio and for me, in a sense, it is everything. The fundamental aspect in a studio is natural light. It is what makes it everything so ethereal and intangible that you can imagine anything inside of it, making it a tabula rasa out of which anything can arise… or rather, a blank slate.