Art as an expression of the contamination and mobility present in the contemporary world: interview with Carolina Ciuccio
*Featured photo: Carolina Ciuccio, Sulle tracce del mio tempo, 2021, India ink drawings on tracing paper, dimensions variable, Castello Reale di Govone (CN)
The identity and cultural aspects of peoples, social and personal dynamics, social and intimate space, collectivity and individuality are themes that characterize Carolina Ciuccio’s artistic research: the artist, through the creation of works of art that mix different visual languages investigates contemporary society and its critical issues. Following training at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples, the artist confronts the complexity of our time in relation to the encounter between diversity and contamination.
In your artistic research there is a recurring symbolic element that takes on different meanings based on the type of work it is part of, it is a fragment of a puzzle. What does this piece represent for you?
The use of the puzzle piece as a symbolic element began several years ago in 2015, at a time of transition. I was in my studio, struggling with so many different ideas and projects… too many.I remember that I was looking for a system to make order among the many meanings that I was simultaneously thinking about and that were causing me a sense of chaos; I began to imagine each concept as a piece of the puzzle and to work on connections, but the more time I devoted to this rational action, the more I felt that it was not the right way to go. It was at that moment that I decided to eliminate the meaning and focus on the form, what it was signifying. Thus, I began to draw white puzzles, or rather, the contour lines of empty pieces, without an image. This operation had a meditative and probably cathartic sense. I needed to order things, to empty myself, to purify myself.
Then the contour lines of the tiles slowly transformed, giving different meanings to the resulting images. This is how the puzzle pieces began to represent emotions, paths, missing parts or parts belonging to a whole,a multitude. Then, in its evolution, I elaborated the shape of the piece imagining it as being assembled from all sides, a sort of universal module, “my” module, through which to focus elements of reality and symbolically connect portions of different realities.
In the series They are only details you celebrate a hypothetical and ideal connection between different cultures through fragments of fabrics, newspapers and other material elements. Can you tell us how this project was born?
They are just details was the key project that led me to rework, as I said, the piece of the puzzle as a “universal” module. In 2017 I was invited to participate in the Floralia Dialogue timeless exhibition at the Case Romane del Celio. For that occasion I was asked to focus on the floral element and, since I have always turned my attention to the identity characteristics that unite or differentiate the cultures and peoples of the world, I decided to investigate what floral motifs were used in the decoration of the traditional fabrics of some populations.I made 9 30×30 cm paintings in which, in the center, the puzzle piece was cut out. Inside each shape of the piece there was a fragment of reality, a portion of fabric. The idea behind the project was to highlight the fragmentation and possible connection of different elements, from distant origins, and imagine a possible unity. As you have already anticipated, the project has expanded with the experimentation and inclusion of other elements, objects, newspapers and various materials taken from places of travel (such as the yellow plaster that characterizes the town of Izamal in Mexico) and is still in transition.
In Migrant Cultures the use of fabric returns, in this case used to cover some faces, what relationship do you have with fabric?
I’ve always been fascinated by fabric and the results of its transformation. It is an element that I connect to everyday life, to the history of people, to identity, to time. The fabrics are, in a certain sense, like a “second skin”.In the Migrant Cultures installation, the fabrics that I used to cover and shape, through the use of resin and light, the faces of the sculptures are traditional fabrics and, symbolically, represent the culture of belonging and the identity of those peoples.
The fabrics, as well as the ready-made clothes, with the infinite possibilities of color, pattern, material and symbolism that they bring with them, are very attractive to me, this is the reason why, over the years, I have chosen to use them for some of my works.
What do you think of Fiber Art?
There is a universe behind the term Fiber art. There is the use of fabric, yarn and weaving techniques in an experimental, but also traditional way. There is a lot of material, assembled, sewn, knotted, superimposed, printed, embroidered.There is a contamination between styles. It is an intriguing world that strikes me for the great dexterity I find in most of the works. Fiber art transmits a feminine energy, soft and incisive at the same time, both for the intrinsic characteristics of the materials and because, probably, most of the exponents of this current are women.
Ready made is a site-specific installation created in Via Sebastiano in Naples that focuses on the gesture of hanging the laundry in the sun. Tell us about this project.
Ready made is an installation conceived and created in collaboration with my friend and fellow artist, Sofia Scarano. It was 2009 and at that time we were working as a duo. Our work focused, in particular, on social and environmental issues.We were invited to create a work for the first exhibition of artist lights in the city of Naples and it was the first project in which we chose to use fabric, or rather, clothing, for an installation.For the occasion, we decided to highlight a characteristic of the city and its alleys, the hanging clothes, giving them a different connotation. We did this by using resin and modeling clothes from different cultures and lighting them from the inside.We wanted to bring attention to two different aspects. The first concerned the city in transformation, its gradually becoming multicultural. The second aspect concerned the gesture of hanging the laundry in the sun, which if in some places is a ritual taken for granted, in others the “right to dry” is claimed, since hanging the laundry outdoors has become illegal.
Fragmenting and assembling, in practical or conceptual terms, are decisive actions of your works of art that always see the approach of two divergent elements, at times opposite. How important in your opinion is the contamination and the encounter between diversities in today’s society?
I think it is essential today, in an era in which cultural and social identities are changing and multifaceted, to encourage the encounter and enhancement of diversity in a perspective of mutual enrichment. Reconsidering one’s consciousness and behavior through knowledge and openness to the different, I believe is the key to harmonizing our identity with that of others, in the current global era.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on the “Imaginary Connections” project, a series of photographic diptychs in which I relate different and distant landscapes, photographed over the years until today during my travels and moves.
The idea is that in diversity there can still be correspondences and in this work I look for and identify them using the piece of the puzzle. The result is a pair of hybrid landscapes in which the piece, moved from one image to another in the same and exact position, connects the points of correspondence of the two different landscapes, creating new possible perspectives and pushing the gaze towards an imaginary “beyond”.