Interview #60

Natália Trejbalová

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

Natália Trejbalová (Košice, 1989) studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Bologna and Scuola di Nuove Tecnologie di Brera (Milan). Her work was featured at 16a Quadriennale di Roma (Rome); Kunststiftung Baden-Württemberg (Stuttgart); Enclave (London); Oblastní Galerie (Liberec); L’Esprit Nouveau (Bologna;, Galerie Charlot (Paris); Fotomuseum Winterthur (Winterthur); ISEA 2015 (Abu Dhabi).

From Bratislava to Bologna to Milan. Can you tell us what happened?

In hindsight I would say that it went well, it was a mixture of many lucky coincidences and some rational decision, like the one to move to Milan and not to leave Italy. Let’s say that it was never easy to leave one city for another one; fortunately I visit Bologna at least once a month as we continue to organize concerts at Euphorbia; I always go back for Live Arts Week organized by Xing and other events often at Localedue. (I am also now on the train to Bologna). Unfortunately I do not return very often to Bratislava.

It can be said that your work reasons, among other things, on the topic of exoticism in which representatives of your culture mingle with those of other cultures, up to losing their original identity to get a new, alienated one; how did they influence your vision, movements and settlements?

During the first years at the Academy, I worked a lot on the references from my cultural area, also I felt a real homesickness (more linked to the landscape and nature, in Italy everything seemed much more cultivated and acculturated). Unfortunately, there is no one in my family who was born and lived in the same place; Slovakia is somewhat the crossroads of various ethnic groups and has the identity of a place in the midst of many bigger realities. I began to think about it only some years after I was already living in Italy. My work is certainly fuelled by exoticism: I am fascinated by everything that has strong cultural foundations, and I am afraid of nationalism. This is precisely what the stock is, as it summarizes everything in a few key concepts without taking into account the many nuances and differences that lie within a larger state structure. Let’s say I’m afraid of slow and decisive homologation; strong cultural or religious roots make you dodge it.

Which specificities of Milan do you think need to be protected and developed, without which your work would not be the same?

I do not know how much Milan has influenced my work, but it has definitely accepted it well. It’s a city that is attentive to what is happening, where a project like Bellagio Bellagio can exist. It is essential for me that in the place where I live exists a community of people who are working on similar projects and who confront themselves, who not only exchange information, but also critics. To me this seems the only way something can spring up. I must say that I found this dimension in Milan, Milan is very interconnected, maybe it should work a little more on sincerity.

In Bellagio Bellagio (2015 – ongoing) you divide the visual and sound aspects of the performance with Matteo Nobile. Is it clearly separated? Is there a common purpose?

Bellagio Bellagio is our common project in which the performance is only one part, I wouldn’t say secondary, but it is certainly not the complete fruit which instead will be an installation setting. Bellagio Bellagio is a kind of long-term audiovisual platform that investigates imaginary influences and stock coding in popular culture. Our division is clear as regards the manual work: Nobile is a musician and I’m a visual artist, but the entire project, starting from the title, was conceived together. There are not so many differences in terms of production or conceptual work between the two areas in which we are moving. Even if music seems a ground free of certain patterns concerning art, the limits that Matthew sets himself with the various pieces for Bellagio are fairly close and determined.

Is there an ideal spectator or an ideal response to the performance, at least in your intentions?

No. Bellagio tries to provoke different reactions, we want it to be a multi-layered work, and we want the more superficial part to entertain and make dance. We are not pursuing an educational aspect on image criticism, but after a live event there are always people who tell us they were disconcerted. I enjoy it doing the research for the Bellagio videos, but what I find, usually scares me.

What is your emotional relation with the visual material that you seek and manipulate? Does it tire you? Does it amuse you? Does it require a disconnection or an immersion in its world?

in its world?
It is difficult to conclude anything without completely immersing myself in the world of the videos I am working with. When I’m assembling the various videos for Bellagio, I work unconsciously. At first I do a lot of video content research and set the limits within which I move very freely afterwards. It amuses, disturbs and tires me at the same time. Only a few days after I finish editing, I rationalize all its contents. If I did it before, it would never be fresh; the result would be a visual essay and that’s not what we want.