Interview #61

Lisa Dalfino

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

Lisa Dalfino (Como, 1987) studied at Accademia di Brera (Milan). Her work has been exhibited at Abbazia adi San Remigio e Chiesetta di San Sebastiano (Alessandria), Chiesa di San Carpoforo, Motel Lucie, Unicredit Studio, Piscina Caimi, Museo Pecci, Fanta Spazio, GAM, Studio Valentina Garbagnati (Milan); Castello di Nocciano (Pescara); Home-for-Hall (Rikuzentakata), Unicredit Studio (Trento).

It has been quite a while before I got to know your work personally: before your personal exhibition at Fanta I could only weave the threads, insofar as I could, thanks to small fragments, mostly stories of friends. This made me wonder, maybe irrationally, whether this dimension is a part of your practice. Now I have the opportunity to ask you: is that so?

Frankly, I cannot say that it is a deliberate component of my work. However, I think your ‘impression’ is relevant as it is a good consequence, like an echo generated by the work itself. In fact, I do not appreciate that the knowledge of my work depletes itself in a passive fruition (pictures, texts etc …), but I wish that also just talking about it escapes the boredom of a single vision. For example, to resume your reference to my personal exhibition at Fanta, having decided not to make any press release for the event, I was very amused to hear the clarion voice of my mother who went around to lavish imaginative and romanticized versions on my work, by ‘peddling them’ as the most intimate reasons and ultimate truths!

Which are the spaces and the times in that you prefer or need to work? I mean: in company or isolated? Slowly or quickly? Occupying much or little space?

The necessary spaces have always been manifold and dependent on the requirements and constraints of each work. From the peaks of the Swiss Alps, to the garage, crowded and dominion of stray cats in my own home. As to the timing, in the beginning dictated by a naive omnipotence, I can say that in practice it was quite different. But despite the harsh collision with reality, I thoroughly enjoyed that pleasant dwelling that one experiences when devising and learning the thousands of notions needed to implement the projects. Hence to accept and appreciate the contribution of anyone who helped me in this: from the skilfull carver to my “classmate” and so on. Nevertheless, several works required a wonderful solitude.

Many of your works have so far required, and do present, either an extraordinary practical knowledge, or extraordinary patience. What is your relationship with the technical specialization or, on the opposite, with dilettantism?

In the beginning there was a total void. I always had ideas which were never supported by what were my enumerable skills in that given circumstance. However, this donkeyness was the indispensable condition to maintain the ‘primordial soup’ piping hot. Only these premises allow the passage from the initial, but necessary amateurism, as it ignores the limits, the required technical degree. A certain ignorance inhibits the immediate destruction of crazy projects, which see the light thanks to the perseverance in considering a limit only if such it is deemed. A turbulent and unpredictable amalgam between these opposites with endless and indeterminable variations leads to a certain result!

Despite the different formal solutions I read in your works a kind of mythopoiethic will: do they all live in the same world?

Rather than results or components of a story, I see my creations as personalities who embody a strong sentiment. Not originated from a simple fanciful whim, but captured by what most caught my attention in this planet. I extrapolated genuine motions of the soul that I elaborated as ‘beings’ waiting to come to life, in an indefinable dimension, but closer to us than you might think.

When talking about of your work Bobby con Esperanza (2012-15), a raw clay sculpture where a blind girl is guided by a shepherd dog, you told me about the desire to allude to a state of peaceful coexistence between humans and animals. This reminded me of the production of the Quaker preacher Edward Hicks, whose entire work explicitly refers to the concept of the messianic kingdom of peace prophesied by Isaiah in the Old Testament. Do you feel this reign is near?

Yes! Very, very near.

Near in the temporal (coming next) or in the spatial sense (that concerns you, that is part of your imagination)?

If I were a black cat, I could answer this with more certainty, but approximately in a precipitative-swiftly temporal sense. Yes, the Thunderstorm is near!

It seems to me that in some work you attempt to represent and, at the same time, to cancel a distance. A dialectic that seems to hint at a third presence which, beyond your will, makes both the split and the union possible. Is that so? And does this presence have a name?

The contradictory condition that you are rightly referring to, actually permeates the intimate nature of my work. Many have perceived this contrasting status as an element of sadness or negativity. And it is here that the third presence (with multiple names) you mention, takes over, which reveals the reading key, where each humanly conceived mechanism, as in the case of the Coppia di amanti, in which both the separation and the distance appear unsustainable, turns into an expectation alien to the temporal and temporary logics, with the certainty of a reconciliation under the light of an absolute union. Similarly, Bobby con Esperanza come from an imagination that cannot consider terrestrial logics. Their voyage becomes a compass for anyone who wishes to follow them.