Interviews | April 4, 2023 |

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Image courtesy of Monica Sarobba

Interview: Monica Sarobba
Luca Curci talks with Monica Sarobba during the 16th Edition of VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2022, at Palazzo Bembo.

Italian-born, she works in Verona and Berlin where she finds a great source of inspiration: here she transforms herself into a serial and compulsive photographer of posters and cracks in the walls. She studied painting at the Fine Arts Academy in Verona and Bologna. Later obtained a specialization in art teaching according to the method of Bruno Munari. She has been fascinated by this artist since her adolescence greatly influencing her need to constantly experiment. Due to a serious illness, she abandoned her artistic career for a few years but still expressed her creativity through the composition of collages finding peace. After a very long period of recovery, she resumes the Munari art workshops, in schools, museums and private laboratories. In 2020, during the Italian lockdown, she finally decided to devote totally herself to her art. It is precisely at that time she resumes the collage technique. These are rarely finite compositions but rather “temporary collages” with reusable images: small objects, flowers, sections of watercolours or drawings and other mixed media techniques. Sometimes fluo markers are used to create textures on the human figure. With the help of photography or a scanner, she switches to digital elaboration. She lessens in the observer the perception of the collage technique, giving it a more illustrative aspect. Every single creation is printed in one piece on glass, acrylic glass, aluminium and innovative materials that she is constantly looking for.

Currently, her work is focused on the female figure and its ancestral connection with the natural world. In her research, she elevates the woman from object to subject giving her a spiritual nature, sometimes dreamy, as belonging to a supernatural world. With the Headless Women series, she wants to represent the detachment of the feminine from the natural world: the inconsistencies of modern society which, while proclaiming itself democratic, still inexorably tends to press women, to reduce their acquired rights, and not sufficiently recognize their social value.

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Image courtesy of Monica Sarobba

Luca Curci – How did you get your current artistic practice?
Monica Sarobba –
I had classical academic training in Verona and experimental training in Bologna. In addition, my studies on Bruno Munari pushed me to look for different ways of expression. Suddenly two years ago I resumed the collage technique to which I devoted myself several years earlier during a long period of illness and recovery. This time, however, I felt the need to supplement this technique with elements created by me: cutouts from drawings, watercolours or coloured inks. I need time to sketch out the composition in my head, but I like the immediacy and speed during the practical implementation. They are “temporary collages” that I can disassemble, put away and remix with other cutouts in later works. Sometimes I add natural elements or small, randomly found objects. The last step is the photography and the digital processing of the composition. I like to lessen the perception of the collage in the observer, giving it a more pictorial or illustrative look. The final work is printed on Aluminum in a single copy plus one for me of course. The analogue composition is “destroyed” each time and no trace of it remains. Being a mixed media collage artist allows me not to need a large space to work, not to be physically tied to my studio. This is important to me. Besides being creative I have a lot of practical sense. Being able to fit my studio into a travel bag is important to me.

LC – What are your thoughts while you paint?
MS –
I have no particular thoughts. As I said before, I need some time to figure out the composition in my mind. The search for the right pieces for me is quite long, sometimes a bit painful or even frustrating. But once I know I have the right pieces, composing the work is a liberating, relaxing moment. My mind is cleared and my favourite music accompanies me. When I switch to the digital process, it is always a very relaxing time, even though my attention to the slightest nuance of colour is utmost.

LC – Do you have any habits or rituals while you work?
MS –
Before physically starting a new work, I must have my space perfectly tidy and clean. Otherwise, I easily fall into a sort of mental fog. During the creative process, my studio can become a pile of clippings, only seemingly meaningless. No one can have access to my studio at this stage.

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Image courtesy of Monica Sarobba

LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
MS –
A balance between creativity and entrepreneurship. Being an artist is a job in its own right. A concept that is still not widespread, especially in Italy. In Berlin, I learned that it is possible to make a living from my art. Only during the pandemic and at the hardest time of the lockdown I understood the potential of the network for an artist. I had to study, I am still studying to subvert outdated concepts about the artist’s life, with which I came out of the Fine Arts Academy. I feel perfectly comfortable with the concept of Entrepreneur. At the same time, I think an artist should also be a spreader, getting out of the studio and exhibitions to have contact with the street. That is why I devote a small part of my work to mini paper installations or small format copies to leave around the city.

LC – Do you use art to express something in particular? Is it your medium of expression?
MS –
Of course. But it is difficult to talk about it openly. It often concerns a deep private sphere, painful or beautiful experiences, sometimes never told to anyone. I think it is very common among artists, not only at a young age. Telling myself through images is very powerful and regenerative. I prefer to leave a free and open interpretation to the observer.

LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
MS –
I have two opposing trends of inspiration. The plant world and the urban world. I am constantly photographing every little thing that catches my eye. A true obsession that began several years ago in Berlin and has never ended. My image gallery is pleasantly disturbing. Also, when I am approaching a new job I read books by opening pages randomly. I always find the right sentence at the right time.

LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
MS –
My work focuses on women. I have two trends. One represents the feminine in ancestral communion with nature, the Mother Goddess – and one, depicts the woman who has lost this connection. She is represented with her head cut off, against an architectural background with no particular connotations. The urban environment can also represent institutions: those who govern and have the power to rule over women and their choices regarding their bodies; who can enhance women’s rights as well as restrict already acquired rights. The organised world has always attempted to shape the female world, with disastrous results that we still see today.

LC – What is the message linked to the artwork you have shown in this event? How is it connected to the theme of the entire exhibition?
MS –
Women’s rights are very fragile, even in Western democracies. In the majority of the world, women have little or no social recognition and societies that deprive themselves of women’s input or limit it are doomed to failure.

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Image courtesy of Monica Sarobba

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