* The following text is an excerpt from an interview made in 2016. The original version is published in PANORAMA (DIORAMA editions).
Lucia Leuci (Bisceglie, 1977) studied at Accademia delle Belle Arti (Aquila), Hoge School Sint-Lukas and Università degli Studi di Bari (Bari). Her work has been exhibited at Museo Civico Storico and 63rd-77th STEPS (Bari), Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto (Biella), Localedue (Bologna), CRAC (Cremona), a+mbookstore, Careof, Fondazione Pini and TILE Project Space (Milan), Unit110 (New York), Curated by Lolita (Paris), Polansky Gallery (Prague).
In recent years you have given life to some proper characters, giving them not only a physicalness, but also a story. We are talking about Rose, Kyoko, and other ‘girls’ you have created.
The description of the characters is an narrative operation. Rose’s Portrait stems from the observation of external circumstances, rendered plastically in the portrait of a young woman. To make Rose was a complex process that took some time, and living in a studio-home I grew fond of her. Every morning I had breakfast with an ‘arrangement’ of her beside me, lying in her own mould. In those particular moments I began to think about who and how she might have been, if she had been a real girl. In the text I described her attitudes and desires, the reasons that had driven her to make certain choices. Instead, Kyoko sulle Alpi has a more abstract and gloomy personality. By using the black colour I wanted to outline the sense of alienation of a second-generation immigrant teenager from her origins. Kyoko is a Japanese name which literally means ‘city girl’. I finally tried to interpret the misapprehension that often arises when a Western hastily mistakes a Chinese for a Japanese and vice versa. Andrea, Nina e Denise is the title of a work composed of three bum-bags filled with flesh-coloured resin and hair that glides over the zip: they represent the three girls who have worn them during the closing of a workshop, held along with Michele Gabriele, in the Art College in Cremona. In this case, a work created to be exposed on the wall, has become ‘something else’, thanks to the curiosity of three students who by swapping their bum-bags gave me access to a different interpretation.
Starting from the project for the exhibition of Fanta Spazio Susy Kulinski & Friends, you worked on a series of drawings, greatly developing your technique and research. Would you like to tell us about it?
Beatrice Marchi invited me to take part in this collective project; her parameter was the technique of drawing. I have always designed, but for some time I did not use this skill, except for the planning stage of my work. To start again to consider drawing as a work of art, and not only as a preliminary sketch, was like re-embarking a journey. I’ve definitely gained some freedom of expression.
Let’s tackle your relationship with sculpture, and in particular with resin, mentioning some examples.
I learned how to use the resins in recent years and I fell in love with them. On one hand it is a very ancient manner of proceeding, according to the logic of positive and negative, on the other hand the available materials are constantly changing and full of ‘surprises’ from a technical point of view. Sometimes it may happen that the original project is modified during the various stages of processing, adapting it to the characteristics of the material. These ‘obstacles’ which I encounter, turn into a creative drive, giving me the opportunity to reconsider the work with different criteria.
You started your practice with photography. Can you give us some more explanations about how and why you chose this field as a starting point? And which results you achieved?
I studied at the Academy of Fine Arts of L’Aquila, where teachers were very well trained and ‘professorial’. Those were also times when certain situations come to the surface: for example, the role of the women-artist who was reconfirmed through the use of the photographically documented performance. These circumstances pushed me towards photography. It was a very important time to reflect on the body, and what is left now is a more detailed view of reality. Perhaps it is due to this aspect that I basically define my work as an observational work.
Your works are mainly based on the female body, in which way has the feminist doctrine conditioned you?
I don’t think so, although we undoubtedly owe the gained freedom and everything we are now to this movement. Anyhow, between the late 90s and the mid 00s many women artists began to do research on themselves, I talk about the generations of women older than me, such as Sam Taylor Wood, Pipilotti Rist or Giulia Caira and Ottonella Mocellin, but also Elke Krystufek’s painting was important to my development.
Your works include both technical materials and accessories found in shops. Where do you go to buy the material for your work?
I definitely prefer small family run businesses to the large, increasingly depersonalized Chinese malls. The research of the objects is an excuse to transfer the personalities I meet to my work: during the continuous hunts through the town, you can come across those existences which are subsequently transferred in my work by means of the purchased things.
What do you like of the neighborhood?
At one time Porta Venezia was considered a peripheral region and was inhabited by families of immigrants who started their activities there. I live in an old galleried house and have established a friendly relationship with the condos and the shopkeepers of the road: for me, it means to deal with different realities. What I like most is the human dimension and the idea of a circumscribed neighborhood where everything seems within reach.