Interview: Isabella Sommati
Luca Curci talks with Isabella Sommati during Venice International Art Fair 2020 at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
I was born in Italy, after study in graphics and advertising, I moved to Milan, where I currently live and work as an art director for fashion and design firms. After several years of reviewing other people’s pictures, I decided to start taking photos by and of myself. The element of water is often present in my shots, whether in the form of rain, tears or humble public swimming pools. Water cleans, soothes and swallows, becoming the only escape.
Luca Curci – What does art represent for you?
Isabella Sommati – Art is my lifeline. It’s an anchor in the chaos of life, where my mind can express itself unrestrained, free from those inherited, unconscious biases that are embedded in our DNA
LC – What are you working on currently?
IS – For the last two years I’ve been creating a visual archive of my memories. Nowadays we tend to not look back, and we would rather choose a life of denial than dwell on previous mistakes. However, the first step to build a future, both collectively and individually, is precisely reflecting on and understanding our past history. That awareness is what saves us from taking reckless decisions, knowing that these may somehow trigger unforeseen consequences, especially if they’ve caused irreparable damage in the past. This is why I decided to create a gallery to display the images of my life. Memory is important. It’s belonging, it’s self-awareness, it’s growth. It’s resolving what was unfinished. It’s knowing that I was, therefore I am.
LC – What’s the source of your inspiration?
IS – Desiderius Erasmus once said “The highest form of bliss is living with a certain degree of folly.” I have a mercurial personality – I am very emotional and suffer from insomnia. It’s at night that I ponder – analyse my feelings – and translate them into imagery. Of course then I am also inspired from literature, music, the news – and from constantly observing the world around me.
LC – Does your work focus on a specific theme?
IS – My focus is the female world and the element of water. I think this is rooted in the need to resolve something in the relationship with my mother, first as a child and then later as a woman. There are failings that only time can resurface. And these failings need to be addressed, so that they will not reoccur again and again through life.
LC – What does it mean to be an artist today?
IS – Perseverance and determination – I can’t really say I see myself represented in these characteristics every day. Maybe that’s why I don’t consider myself as a fully-formed artist.
LC – What do you think about the idea behind the festival? How did it inspire you?
IS – It’s a very relevant concept today. Moved by irrational fears, we are putting up more and more barriers, and we do so often, both as a society – and individuals. To break down barriers we need to know where they originated in the first place. It is important to understand that creating walls against the world outside inevitably leads to constraining ourselves. It is time we realise that these barriers don’t help us live more peacefully with others, but first and foremost with ourselves. The main barrier I put up was caused by something unresolved in my past, and it lived with me a long time before I was able to deal with it. Becoming aware of it allowed me to reclaim my womanhood and to get out of a feeling that was suffocating me.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
IS – People need to be drawn to beauty, poetry and arts, now more than ever before. Each and every initiative that helps reach that goal is fundamental for people’s growth, and the development of society at large.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID platform?
IS – I was familiar with your platform, but never had the chance to work with you. As an artist, I believe this is a great opportunity to make your work known to people who are not from the field. It is also a great chance to connect with other people’s art, and reflect and take stock of other ideas.
LC – Was it good to work with us?
IS – Yes, absolutely. It was very efficient and well organised.
LC – What do you think about our services? Do you think we could do more for artists?
IS – This is the first time I am showing my art with you, and at the moment everything looks perfect. Thank you again for the opportunity.