Interview: Isabelle Catucci
Luca Curci talks with Isabelle Catucci during the LONDON CONTEMPORARY 2022 – 4TH EDITION, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.
I’m Isabelle Catucci, I was born in Paraná, southern Brazil, in 1986. I am a graduate in sculpture and a master’s degree in Social Anthropology with the theme Public Art. I work as a professor at the Department of Arts of the Federal University of Paraná in the areas of three-dimensional poetics, sculpture and ceramics. I am doing a PhD in sculpture at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon, in theoretical-practical research about the earth and art. Since 2004 I have participated in several collective and individual exhibitions and since 2015 in artistic residencies in Chile, Brazil and Portugal. I am currently researching the relationship between land, territory and processes of signification of matter in discussion with social and contextual aspects of the presence of land as a concept in the arts.
Luca Curci – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Isabelle Catucci – My interest in ceramics arises from its plastic, but also organic, possibilities, close to the sensitive, from reactions to temperature, from the adjustment of hand gestures, from the memory it records of materials and from its continuity in everyday uses. At the same time, the relationship we have with space, delimited by Cartesian and logical reasons, is closed in inscriptions that only allow readings about property, territorial limits or even as an abstract element separated from the drives and variations of life. My work seeks to tension these limits, to broaden possible understandings about the earth and with the earth.
LC – What are you currently working on?
IC – Currently, I have also developed works with raw earth, an interest aroused by my previous practice, because I have been working with ceramics since 2004, but this raw earth involves a different understanding of the process, which does not seek the perennialization and condensation of matter as in the case of ceramics. When questioning myself about the understanding of the earth as an object of research and manipulation, I have been looking for ways of working that do not result in just one object (in the reading of the artistic object), I have sought to better understand the relationships between words, circuits, the ways of understanding and inhabiting the land, inheritance of the artistic works carried out by different currents since the 1960s. In this sense, the works in progress are like devices, elaborated in different techniques and practices, such as video art, installation, artist’s book, diary of vegetable gardens and collaborative work that allow new approaches to the material and the meaning given to the earth.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
IC – In several places, as in the practice of the studio, in the garden and vegetable garden, in teaching and in the reflection on contemporary studies on the earth in the epistemological, social and literary scope. These four spatialities move my work, as it is possible to transform ideas that were already sedimented in some way. Atelier practice involves all other fields, as it is my starting point, which feeds the cycle for the other fields. As a researcher and university professor, I am interested in interdisciplinarity, especially in social sciences, philosophy and issues related to the earth (such as archaeology, earth sciences, geography) with contemporary art, as these debates are fundamental for a critical and creative appreciation of space and practices. In the garden and vegetable garden, inspirations are also spatial, but in this case, temporality and the sense of being alive is sharpened, it is a daily, seasonal and generational care.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
IC – As I said earlier, research in the field of ceramics, initially concerned with mastering a technique, unfolded to other works concerned with the notion of space and the implication of the material. Although I continue to dialogue with questions specific to sculpture and ceramics, I am also interested in expanding the possibilities of exploring the questions, without having to restrict them to the specific field of fine arts.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
IC – I rarely feel this, especially when the works are kept in my personal collection. Rediscovering a work from ten years ago brings me a new look at it, and possibly, because it is close to me, I will have the freedom to change it, even with this temporal distance since its first completion. The work, in this sense, bring me a vision and a question, independent of time, therefore, I only consider it to be temporarily finished when it stabilizes the issue listed at that moment.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this exhibition? How did it inspire you?
IC – The proposal to exhibit in London stemmed from an invitation to exhibit at the Anima Mundi – Visions exhibition in Venice. I believe that the relationship is literal, as the video art focused on the image of plowed earth and eyes protected by lenses connects perceptions about territory and about life.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
IC – The video art Era Tudo [It was all] was made during the period of social isolation of the pandemic. At that time, I was able to participate in Portugal, in Seixal, in a municipal program of community gardens for a year. My daily contact with the land was exercised within the logic of planting, climate, neighborhood and sharing. In the community garden, the act of plowing and organizing the land into regular, linear bushes made me think of the constant images that were broadcast in the media about my country, Brazil, with daily scenes of thousands of ditches dug in cemeteries. These associations, although they seem absurd, ended up showing a side of the earth that I preferred to ignore until then, of the earth as ultimate space, over the grounding of perspective. When I was invited by a friend to participate in an online vigil in honor of the victims of femicide, I decided to make a video about this look that is being interrupted, grounded. Video art is a self-portrait of the recognition of this process.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
IC – Yes. I was very happy with the possibility of sharing the research I have been developing with more people and your invitation was very important, as I was able to continue thinking about my production, to develop new works based on this incentive.