Interviews | March 19, 2021 |

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Image courtesy of Irene Kattou

Interview: Irene Kattou
Luca Curci
talks with Irene Kattou during THE BODY LANGUAGE 2021, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.

Multimedia artist Irene Kattou (b. 2000) through her work explores the relationship of the body and culture and how it produces the embodiment experience. Currently also studying Philosophy in Sheffield, she splits her time between the UK and Cyprus, where she was born. Her philosophical interests are phenomenology, feminism, and queer theory which in turn inform her art. Being obsessed with Aesthetics and how things should look, these ideas became an important element in her art practice. Using surrealist influences, she seeks to investigate and destabilize narratives of ‘truth’ by making her audience uneasy. With her work, she actively encourages raptures of subversion to dominant notions, like the stigma surrounding periods, as seen in her series PERIOD, where she keeps her used pads as a visual diary. Her politically charged and daring photo ‘Eat Me’ was featured on the Sex Issue of Phi Magazine. Her interest also took a turn to address the embodiment of motherhood through displacement, as seen in her most recent collaboration with the NGO Visual Voices. In the exhibition Cyprus Queer Perspectives, she is exploring the emotional turmoil of the queer person.

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Image courtesy of Irene Kattou

Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Irene Kattou
– It is definitely my own subjectivity. I am the one person I know best. Through my work, I try to understand and reflect on my reality, my emotions, my embodied experience. But through subjectivity I try to create something objective, I try to create a collective thread of experience and represent it in a way that can be universal. Growing up I felt drowned by my own emotions and thoughts- this has not changed, but this I think pushed me to create. It was a wordless outlet for my experience.

LC – Which subject are you working on?
– Currently I am working on a collaborative project about collective trauma and the implications of the representation of trauma in art.

LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
– I think I am the most challenging part when creating artworks- I am impatient sometimes with the creative process. I am often never satisfied with what I am doing and try like an addict to reach perfection. But lately, I try to push myself to just create the space and time to explore materials and ideas. That is usually when the best ideas happen.

LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
– I am really drawn towards abjection and the female embodiment. I love the grotesque. I am obsessed with beauty. The gaze and the embodiment experience is a subject matter that usually re-appears in my work again and again.

LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
– It can go in either two directions: either, I am feeling a fleeting moment of extreme satisfaction, or I am deeply absorbed in creating the next project and submerge myself in it, not thinking about the project I just finished at all.

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Image courtesy of Irene Kattou

LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
– The concept of the festival is really unique. The carnival is an important celebration across the world and we often neglect the importance of the body and of transformation that takes place within its premises. In a similar manner, the art presented in the exhibition tries to exemplify these transformations and ideas that our bodies hide; its secrets and its desires, behind ‘the costume’. Exactly this is what inspired me; how the vessel’s body hides, but at the same time showcases reality and our truth.

LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
– The installation I exhibited is ‘Venus Vain’. It plays with the duality between real/ surreal and open/ secretiveness. ‘Venus Vain’ is showing her interior body, not her exterior. But even if she is trying to not be objectified, she is regarded as hollow, empty, made from her veins only. Her interior, her thoughts and feelings have no value.

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Image courtesy of Irene Kattou

LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
– It must be quite an achievement to make it all happen during a pandemic! Setting up an exhibition, in general, is a big project, involving many people, so I can only imagine how hard it must have been during a pandemic. Nonetheless, everything seemed to be going great, even if unfortunately, I was not able to travel and see the exhibition myself, but the videos and pictures look fantastic.

LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
– I enjoyed working with the team, especially as they seemed to understand, provided solutions to issues and were open to suggestions! Big thank you to Giulia Tassi and Helin Soruklu too!

LC – What are your suggestions about our services? Is there something more we can provide to artists?
– This was my first international exhibition. I was extremely anxious, I am not going to lie. But everything did go well in the end so I am not sure what else to add to that!

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Image courtesy of Irene Kattou
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Image courtesy of Irene Kattou

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