Art as pre-vision of the time to come: interview with Alice Biondin
*Foto in evidenza: Alice Biondin, ATTESA IV / PANCIA AZZURRA, 75,5×74,5 cm, 2012, opera tessile
At the center of Alice Biondin’s work we find themes connected to the feminine universe investigated under multiple aspects, including deconstructed corporeity, feminism, violence against women. Colors, materials, words and different stories are represented within the same installations, often with a textile character, which become a sort of graphic narrative for the user. Born in Gorizia, she graduated in Graphic Art – Engraving Techniques at the Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, she currently lives and works in Turin.
In your artistic research there is a coexistence of different techniques and the assembly of different objects, such as: letters taken from board games, perfume bottles and wax. How do you choose the materic components of your works?
Sometimes everything starts from the topic and the message I want to communicate, and the rest comes by itself. Other times I can’t immediately focus on the technique or the form I want to create, so I choose two ways. The first is to browse through some book in search of a keyword that inspires me or a previously highlighted passage that strikes me, the other is to rummage through various materials I keep, sometimes it is only junk, but you know … one thing leads to another. Each object contains its own memory, and this has always fascinated me; I remember that since I was a child I jealously guarded my box of memories and inside I put a bit of everything (newspaper clippings, tickets to museums or concerts, ribbons, wrapping paper, buttons and various trinkets). For many years now, I’ve had a passion for flea markets and I love rummaging through the stalls looking for a postcard, a photo, a bottle of perfume, a rusty key, a creased scrap of fabric, or old school books. Each element can become a starting point or an integral part of the work.
Among your reference techniques, we also find textile ones. Some time ago, these were mainly used to create objects of common use, nowadays they are also used in the artistic field to talk about contemporary issues. This aspect was highlighted in the collective exhibition #PENELOPE, recently completed in Perugia, in which you participated. As an artist, do you think art can encourage reflection on the events of our time?
It is not a question of if it can, it must. It is pure avant-garde, it shows us new ways, new solutions, new poetics, new elements, new expressions, often breaking down the “commonplace”.
Art is a fundamental guide that helps us live and understand our present, but it is not only a voice of modern times. I firmly believe that the primary purpose of art is to be a precursor of the future: it must open our eyes, raise questions, move our minds, it must direct us towards what will come, by breaking down preconceptions and mental closures, in short, it must prepare us for change.
Art is a dialogue in continuous mutation, it is pre-vision, it has the task of foretelling the time to come.
In your mixed media collage series titled Bleeding Days (inspired by Jennifer Guerra’s books, Il corpo Elettrico. Il desiderio nel femminismo che verrà – The Electric Body. Desire in the Feminism to Come- and by Liv Strömquist’s, The Fruit of Knowledge), you address the theme of menstruation in a playful and provocative way, how did this series of works come about and what do you want to communicate with it?
Everything originated thanks to these two books. Once I finished reading them, I bitterly realized that in my art I had never dealt with the delicate, complex and multifaceted theme of menstruation; my artistic research has always revolved around the female body, but I had never dedicated the right attention to this subject. And so, I started a reflection by writing some thoughts and in parallel I began focusing my mind on possible projects. This is how the first pieces of Bleeding Days were born; I would like to point out that the series – which to date has eight mixed media collages – is constantly evolving precisely because it is intended as a cycle always open. A continuous flow, to be precise.
Looking at the way you represent organs and break down anatomies in your installations, the Turin-based artist Carol Rama comes to mind. Do you think her work has influenced yours?
Certainly, yes. I admire Carol Rama very much.
Her life was totally dedicated to art until it became her very breath. Faithful companion of life. Light of her darkness.
It was a great revelation to meet her art during my academic years, and I am sure that the analysis of her works has strengthened and consolidated my artistic predilections: an unrefined taste but in some ways very pungent, if not downright sharp.
The themes she deals with as well as her poetics and stylistic choice have been precious sources of inspiration.
A year ago, I had the honor of visiting her studio house right here in Turin, it was a surreal and very exciting moment. I still remember it intensely.
You told me that during your travels by train you sometimes extrapolate phrases from the conversations of others and make them an integral part of your works. Do your works always draw inspiration from the situations you experience?
Yes. During my years as a commuter (Udine-Venice) I used to enjoy eavesdropping on the conversations of others in my same carriage, entering and leaving their dialogues at will. Later on, thanks to a copy/paste job and by transposing the contents, some really interesting conversations were born: #idiscorsideglialtri.
I don’t always draw inspiration from my life but certainly my life plays a fundamental role in my art. In recent years I have focused a lot on the theme of memory, it’s like a backwards exploration, an investigation of my experience, an analysis of what I was.
Red and pink are recurring colors in your artistic research, what do they represent for you?
Red symbolizes blood, therefore both the vital flow in the body and the wound. It is certainly a color of strong impact, direct, evocative, sometimes violent but always warm and hypnotic.
As for pink the issue is less explicit. Surely it is a color that refers to the delicacy, innocence, is soothing, romantic and is linked to the female gender.
For me, pink represents the body. It comes from the union of red and white, from a mixture of blood and milk, two elements that are strongly symbolic and feminine and for this reason I don’t consider it light or inconsistent.
Pink is the color of my skin, my flesh, the membrane that covers and protects me: thin, delicate, exposed to all elements.