In every edition of the Prize, the participating artists are invited to record exclusive video interviews, an opportunity for artists to voice their ideas, talk about their creative processes and careers. The video interviews are produced by Matrioska Filmes. This week, we released an interview with Clara Ianni, who is a PIPA nominee for the third time and finalist for the first.
Clara Ianni in conversation with Luiz Camillo Osorio
1 – Your education mixes a bachelor’s and a doctoral degree in Visual Arts with courses on Anthropology of Images and also some curatorial interventions.
How do you perceive the relationship between theory and practice in your work?
Art is a form of relationship. I think of art in its contextual sense, and I guess its subjects and methods are in a constant dialogue with something that is outside the art field itself. It is through life, in its various manifestations, that art is informed. This division in the fields of human knowledge and activity, specialization and distinction in different areas, is a historically constructed way to understand them. I try to see things in a relationship. As to the relationship between theory and practice, I think these are two ways of doing and talking about the same thing, ways to develop and unravel the issues that drive my research. Although they take different forms, they are different ways to place and propose similar questions. It motivates me to explore the variety of forms a concern can take. The critical dimension in her work has, from my point of view, two different possibilities of formalization, either as a poetic displacement or as political empowerment. In the first case, it creates intervals between seeing and saying; in the second, it transfers seeing and saying to something that is given voice through work. As an example of the first case, I think of “Natureza-morta ou estudos para pontos de fuga”, from 2011, and in the second case the video “Mães”, from 2013.
2 – There would be two policies in art – one as an interval/disconnection, and another as awareness. Do you agree with this distinction?
It is interesting the way you see the works. Perhaps I never thought of it in those terms, but I also think of it on two different fronts, although they often get mixed up. One is more analytical, so to speak, and through the recognition, decomposition and montage of a particular material or process it creates an open, critical, or reflective reading. It involves thinking of how images, shapes and speeches are created and materialized, producing a gap through denaturalization. The other more purposeful imposing front seeks to use art as an instrument and platform to create encounters. It is a way of creating alternative spaces of enunciation, sensations, and other possible imaginary scenarios. Producing gaps by approaching. If we take another philosopher – Adorno – he distinguishes engaged art from another which is autonomous, as opposed to Brecht and Beckett. Engagement implies the refunctionalization of art, whereas autonomy assumes that the only possible social function is not to have a social function.
3 – How you position your poetics-policy in there?
I am not familiar with this text, but the idea of art not having a social function doesn’t seem very clear. I think art has many functions, whether each work deals with it directly or not. I mean, art work can be seen as a value, as a commodity, as a sign of social distinction, and also as a political proposition, as a platform to develop other sensitivities, for example. But claiming art as a space which is capable of contesting and negotiating narratives implies understanding its autonomy in a different way. I mean, not an autonomy before society, as if it were hovering above reality, emphasizing its supposed disconnection from concrete social forces. I find it unrealistic. I refer to autonomy in the sense of a critical choice before the social dynamics, the ability art still has to propose different ways to construct and deconstruct thinking and negotiate spaces, and enunciate differences. Of course, by being aware of the many contradictions that this involves, particularly in a world that is dictated by the commodity form. If art is a form of relationship, it is criss-crossed by the strains and forces from outside its field, and its autonomy is precisely in the possibility of announcing them, deconstructing them, breaking them apart. I’m interested in acting and producing based on this contradictory place, which is the field of art. Plastically thinking not only of its forms, but also its structures, its institutions, its mechanisms.
4 – Whom does your work speak to?
I hope it speaks to a heterogeneous group of people, and I’ve worked for it. In addition to cultural institutions, I have also considered and explored other forms of making my work circulate. I’m really keen on thinking of circulation as an element of political aesthetic construction. Especially videos, which allow for this mobility. Submitting my work to other contexts, such as organized exhibitions outside the art circuit, political, legal, academic, and therapeutic scenarios, was a way I found to experience how my work would resonate in different territories.
5 – Who speaks in your work?
This varies from one work to another. Some are collaborative, in which there’s also some co-authoring. Others are not. Anyway, I think of an artist’s work as a job that is capable of crossing different perspectives. Through displacements, juxtapositions and montages of different enunciations, the work of art can affect places and naturalized functions, by exerting some strain on them. It is a work of encounters, relationship, and practice of the senses.
View some of the artist’s works
Access the artist’s page to learn more about her career.
About the author
Luiz Camillo Osorio is the Curator of PIPA Institute, PIPA’s founder and Board Member. He is a Professor and current Director of the Philosophy Department at PUC-Rio. Camillo was the Curator of MAM-Rio between 2009 and 2015.