Interview: Marina Liesegang
Luca Curci talks with Marina Liesegang during MIXING IDENTITIES, the third appointment of CANVAS International Art Fair, at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.
I was born in São Paulo in 1997. In 2016, I enrolled in the architecture program at Escola da Cidade. Since then, I have sought to work at the intersection of art and architecture, since both fields allow us to resignify a space. I participated in exhibitions at Galeria da Cidade with the works “Flutuante” (Feb/2019) and “Lugar Nenhum” (Jul/2019). I was also part of the exhibition ‘Japão à Deriva’ at Japan House in São Paulo (Feb/2020). During the pandemic, I was in the research team at Escola da Cidade for the Bienal Panamericana de Arquitectura de Quito (BAQ2020). The paper my group wrote was chosen as one of the best in the event. I also developed the work “Analogic”, which was chosen to be a part of MIXING IDENTITIES International Art Fair (Apr/2021).
Luca Curci – How did you get to photography? Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
Marina Liesegang – I think a lot about communicating with a future version of myself, about how I could represent what I’m going through so that I can revisit it afterward. Coming to think of it, I believe a great part of my artistic work emerges from that. I always carry with me my sketchbooks, ink, pens, diaries; whatever allows me to record what I’m seeing. I ended up approaching photography because it was the quickest way I found to capture a moment. In actuality, this is the first time my photos are being exhibited professionally (my previous participations in exhibitions consisted of installations and drawings). The joy I got out of participating in MIXING IDENTITIES has made it very unlikely that I’ll forget it.
LC – When you take photos, are you usually inspired by the situation or do you find inspiration in yourself?
ML – I think I’m much more inspired by the situation, but this is quite a tenuous border to trace. I’m not used to taking a lot of pictures, actually, there aren’t that many situations that inspire me to do so. Still, there’s a very subjective dimension in any inspiration: that which I find inspiring does not necessarily inspire whoever is witnessing it alongside me, and vice-versa. Furthermore, the same situation can be depicted in various ways, depending on who is doing the depiction. Seeing and discussing each subjective depiction is one of the things I enjoy the most in dealing with art.
LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it like your medium of expression?
ML – Art is definitely the best way I found to express myself, though I often don’t know exactly what I’m expressing at the moment. I rarely begin a project fully aware of where I’m going, there’s a certain delay until I figure out what I was trying to say. It can take days, weeks, years, whatever. I always need time to better understand my work. This understanding usually comes along with writing: only after the work is done, can I come to conclusions about its meaning.
LC – Which is the role the artist plays in society? And contemporary art?
ML – This is a complicated question. I think that the main role of the artist in society is to provide a different perspective to what we see. A bottle, for example. A bottle can be only a bottle, but it can also be imbued with whatever meaning we assign to it. The artist is the one to imbue those meanings, be them a painter, a writer, an actor, and so on. What I appreciate the most when visiting an exhibition is, without a doubt, to see how someone else could see something I’ve always known in a wholly different light. For this reason, it sometimes bothers me how to select and how exclusive art can be. What is deemed worthy of being art is still highly influenced by the interlocking of whiteness, colonialism, patriarchy and class. The more people are perceived as agents in the field of art, the biggest their capacity to transform it. I think that would be the main role of contemporary art: democratize its own discussion.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
ML – When finishing a work I get a bittersweet feeling. At the same time, I feel excited about seeing how the process turned out, I feel a certain emptiness once it’s over. Every time I develop a project, I’m completely taken by it. My world seems to freeze, it seems as if my whole life depends on that one thing I’m doing. It’s close to an obsession, I think, and I cannot rest until it’s done. When I finally finish it, I get relieved at first, but I soon start to wonder what will become of me now that the work is completed.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
ML – The name of the festival caught my attention. MIXING IDENTITIES relates to the idea I have about the social role of contemporary art: it gains a lot by bringing different perspectives and identities to its spaces. Picturing myself in the same space as artists from around the world inspired me to submit my works to the event. Being selected made for it made me truly glad.
LC – Can you explain something about the artworks you have in our exhibition?
ML – “Analogic”, the work I’m exhibiting in MIXING IDENTITIES, was developed between August and September 2020. In 2019, I spent a month in East Asia, on the other side of the world from Brazil. Exactly one year later (in July 2020), I could barely leave home. Looking at the photo I took with a cheap disposable camera, I realized how analogic our memory is. I remembered taking most of those pictures, but I couldn’t arrange them chronologically. I remembered those moments and not the exact order in which they occurred. Our memory is truly analogic: we cannot remember the time in digits, rather in flashes that, through analogy, fit into the time. We are never going to have the same precision as digital technologies. In our heads, the images we remember are never going to be totally complete. The most we can do is try to arrange their parts. Thus, I created the work using exclusively analogical materials: I developed the pictures I took in Seoul one year before, cut them with a boxcutter and placed them in the millimetric paper which not only highlights the photos and what is missing in them but is also often used for hand drafts and sketches.
LC – What is your idea about ITSLIQUID GROUP?
ML – I didn’t know ITSLIQUID GROUP until the open call for MIXING IDENTITIES. As soon as I saw your Instagram page, I started admiring your work. It is first very important to see the opportunity you represent to artists by promoting events and exhibitions during the whole years in a lot of different cities. Furthermore, it caught my attention the way the group expands the definition of art. You do not only promote paintings, drawings, photographs, or whatever is commonly understood as art, but also architecture, design and fashion projects. It is enriching to see how those fields connect.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
ML – I sure do! This is the first time I’m participating in an exhibition of international scale. The other exhibitions I was in were mainly targeted at the people of São Paulo. I imagine that, just like myself, other artists propel their careers with your help. I’m truly thankful for the opportunity.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
ML – Yes, a lot! Again: as a young artist, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to participate in an event of this scale. Answering this interview, sending my works to London, is all a completely new experience for me. Unfortunately, due to the terrible situation of coronavirus in Brazil, I couldn’t personally attend the event. I hope I can attend next time!