Interview: Sonia Levesque
Luca Curci talks with Sonia Levesque during THE EXTENDED BODY 2020 at THE LINE Contemporary Art Space.
Sonia Levesque is a multi-disciplinary artist with two floating studios. Her current focus is split between cement sculpting, photography and writing. The reoccurring themes of her work include truth, freedom and play. Sonia’s latest installation incorporates a sculpture from her “Distractions” series and is a meditation on, and a plea to stop the exploitation carried out by those who have power over those in society who are most vulnerable.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Sonia Levesque – Art is life. And we’re living in strange times – this exhibition, this interview is taking place in the middle of (I’m being hopeful here, by not saying the beginning) a pandemic. The world is essentially under quarantine, these are unprecedented times. I have no doubt that our current climate will result in some very intriguing and insightful pieces of art, from artists around the world – all of whom are going through their very individual trails and tribulations, as is everyone who is feeling the effects of the coronavirus. As such, the art created today will be remarkably different from the art that would have been created by those very same artists had the pandemic not occurred. Art is a way to understand the world, to understand others, and ourselves better. And at its best, it’s used as a tool to educate, inspire and entertain those who interact with the pieces. In some ways, art is the most sincere form of historical record-keeping that humanity has access to.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
SL – I’m the sort of person who gets rather evasive when at the receiving end of such a question (even though, I love asking the questions – all of the questions!). However, as I sit here, during these turbulent times which appears have been increasing in velocity for a good few years now (think Brexit, Trump, wildfires, storm after storm and the current virus wasteland, and that’s on top of all the issues we already had). In light of all this, I feel like saying, living in today’s world is the experience that has influenced my work the most – well, that and my mum, who has made me into everything I am. She was a fascinating and tenacious woman. While she was pregnant with me, she took on the identity of someone else in order to leave a difficult situation and start afresh in London. Growing up, my childhood was somewhat unique, and I do believe that the moment she boarded that plane, she set off a chain of dominos which has spilt into my work and I don’t know, maybe I’ve just spent my life chasing dominos!
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
SL – Someone once asked me this in the comments section on my Instagram, so I absentmindedly started to reply (as you do, with lighthearted IG comments), but by the end of it – I had surprised myself, as I had learnt something new about me too! So, my response was something like this: “I think I’m inspired by life, and how the light dances with the world and clouds. But also, textures, music, books, voices, dreams, other artists, random overhead partial conversations, messy beds, hope, fears and the pursuit of truth, freedom and play”.
LC – What is your creative process like?
SL – Going back to the domino analogy, it seems that one thing leads me to another. Almost like my work is working up to something, but has forgotten to keep me in the loop! I’m usually just as surprised as everyone else is when a project or a piece is complete. I started off with photography and somehow ended up with cement and balloons as symbols of the fragility of life and human nature. But then, when you look at the work backwards it almost seems inevitable. I do like to leave room in my life for entropy, and I do feel like it’s important to be flexible and go with the flow, as that’s how some wonderful discoveries are made (and it’s fun!). On the flip side, it can easily turn into “procrastination gone wild” – I guess it’s a bit of a balancing act.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
SL – Current challenge? Well, when it comes down to it, there are only a few basic universal truths. They just play out over and over again with slight iterations. Sometimes I worry that I’m not adding anything new or of value to the overall conversation – everything that needs to be said, has at some point been said, and probably way more eloquently then I could have ever done. But nowadays the voices appear to be getting louder in volume and shallower in substance. So, I guess I’m always striving to at the very least make some sort of meaningful contribution through my artworks without merely adding to the noise. How am I doing? Ah, actually, don’t answer that now. I’ll ask again in 10 years!!
LC – Do visitors’ suggestions enrich yourself and your art?
SL – Absolutely, I don’t believe an artwork has been fully realised until it’s out in the world – and until you do that, in my opinion, it’s just a work in progress. Once out in the wild, an artwork becomes it becomes its own being – one that’s hopefully having interesting conversations with viewers and visitors. And hopefully, fragments of those conversations makes its way back to me. And then I have new conversations with materials which at some point turn into new works.
LC – What do you think of ITSLIQUID Group?
SL – Working on THE EXTENDED BODY exhibition with ITSLIQUID Group has been fun! It’s refreshing being able working with a group who is as excited about my wild ideas as I am – hanging sculptures from the ceiling. I also respect how ITSLIQUID Group has handled being in the business of art at this pivotal time, leading by example – valuing people’s safety over all else. Major kudos.