Interview: Mish Aminoff
Luca Curci talks with Mish Aminoff during FRAGMENTED IDENTITIES, the second appointment of BORDERS ART FAIR 2021, at Palazzo Albrizzi Capello
Mish Aminoff is a London born artist of Persian and Israeli heritage. Originally an art historian researching 18th Century Venetian art whilst living in Venice, Mish went on to study photography at the University of Westminster. She lectured in interdisciplinary cultural studies at The Open University and then focussed on teaching film studies before concentrating on her photography and artwork. Mish is also a musician and, over the years, has photographed singers and percussionists from London’s Afro Cuban Music scene. Mish has had two solo exhibitions in London and participated in numerous international exhibitions, most recently Double Trouble at the Head On Festival in Australia and Women Street Photographers in Paris, July-August 2021.
Her eye is influenced by her interest in art history and visual culture, producing images reminiscent of found abstracts and surreal streetscapes in her everyday wanderings. She is interested in revealing traces of human activity and identity and the ideas of transience and memory in the city. For Fragmented Identities, Mish Aminoff presents a series of abstract yet documentary photographs taken in London’s disused telephone boxes. The images all include fragments of tart cards – these are flyers featuring sexual services. For Mish, these are ephemeral representations that reference the tradition of the female nude as well as 21st-century notions of desire in the city and are an extension of her fascination with urban palimpsests and seeing art in the everyday.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Mish Aminoff – Art for me started as an alternative to the provincial and mundane and felt like an entry to a fascinating and stimulating world of imagination, beauty and meaning.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
MA – I was born in London; my family were from a community of Persian Jews who had settled in England. My mother was a beautiful Israeli dancer and that gave me my love of music, glamour, fashion and sensuality. I studied art history and spent a year researching 18th Century art in Venice, and later went on to study photography and visual culture in London. I don’t think I can identify one particular experience that has shaped me the most. I see it more as a creative journey.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
MA – I like wandering around the city with my camera and photographing whatever catches my eye, with an open mind and no pre-conceived agenda. So it varies each day, it could be a portrait, a reflection or surreal illusion, or even some graffiti or found object on the street.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
MA – Contrary to what I imagined I found lockdown a stimulating time aesthetically. I enjoyed witnessing London in its surreal emptiness and documenting the period. Being an artist in the days of social media has its pros and cons. One of the drawbacks is that I think more subtle works are sometimes overlooked for images that are instantly eye-catching.
LC – Did your style change over the years? In which way?
MA – This is a difficult question for me. When I was younger I did a lot of self-portraiture but am less inclined to do so now because I think the age of the selfie has made this personally less interesting. I know that I increasingly incorporate some aspects of the arts I am involved in my work. So elements of life drawing and painting feature in my work as the influence of music and rhythm.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
MA – I love the concept of Fragmented Identities; it is also something I personally identify with coming from a mixed heritage yet being British. Living in an island which is no longer part of the EU when you are multilingual (I speak French, Italian and Hebrew as well as some Spanish and Farsi amongst others) and adore and feel connected to European culture has been challenging.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the festival’s theme?
MA – I think my work connects on several levels. Firstly although the images are on one level documentary they visually evoke aspects of collage with their torn elements. There are fragments of texts and numbers. There are fragments of naked bodies, both drawing on the story of the nude in representation and functioning as synecdoche. The body parts are fragments that connote a larger world of desire, the sex industry and working conditions in the city, a kind of mini-cityscape.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
MA – Absolutely!
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
MA – Yes it was a smooth, efficient process and everyone has been very helpful. I just wish I could have come to Venice to meet everyone , but I didn’t want to self-isolate; so hopefully another time!
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
MA – I think ITSLIQUID is doing great work promoting art and artists. Thank you!