Interview with Francesca Fini
Who is Francesca Fini?Video artist, live media and body art performer.
Trained as a digital artist, she has worked as a filmmaker for TV and independent and experimental productions. As an independent documentarist she wrote and directed documentaries about female transgenderism and human cryonics. (All distributed by On The Docks.)
In 2000 she met the American artist, Kristin Jones, and they collaborated on the “Tevereterno” (Eternal Tiber) project, creating multimedia installations for the City of Rome. Included in the project was “Trilogy”, for the Natale di Roma (Birth of Rome) 2009 celebration at the Capitoline Museum and “Solstizio d’Estate” (Summer Solstice) which, with its monumental giant images of the She-wolf created by removing part of the smog stain from the embankment walls of the Tiber River. This installation was called one of the most original works of urban art ever created in Rome.In 2008, she participated, with Kristin Jones, Kiki Smith and others, in the River-to-River Festival in New York, projecting her animation, “Moon Loop” onto the trees along the Hudson River.
She presently participates as a video-artist, live media performer and body-artist in numerous happenings in art galleries, museums and underground sites, and participates in festivals and international events such as the Videoholica (Bulgaria); Experimental Art Festival Biennale Baltica (Russia); LowLives (NY); Cologne Off & New Media Art Festival; Currents Santa Fe’; Moves - Movement on Screen (UK); 700is Videoart Festival (Iceland); Genoa Film Festival; Tribeca Underground; Arcipelago Film Festival; Portobello Film festival (UK); WRO New Media Art Biennale (Poland); Directors Lounge (Berlin); and Contravision Film Festival (Berlin). In 2010 she was one of the winners at the Magmart Videoart Festival (Video Under Volcano), with her CRY ME video performance. In addition, two of her works won the on-line vote in the Celeste Prize section: “Live Media & Performance”. Francesca has exhibited at the “Invisible Dog” gallery in Brooklyn. In 2010 the Premio Termoli selected her for her digital painting works by the Art Shake Festival (exhibiting at the Galleria Mondo Bizzarro and Hybrida Contemporanea, in Rome, and immediately after at the 91mQ Art Project Space in Berlin). Francesca Fini [artist] was invited by the Fondazione RomaEuropa to present her work at the Teatro Palladium in Rome, as part of the videoart exhibition, “Cantieri Temps d’Images”. She also directs the “TEN” Performance Art Festival, a marathon of live art whose first edition took place on October 9, 2010 at the Lanificio 159 in Rome.
In 2011 she participated at the Nappe dell’Arsenale in Venice as an absolute finalist in the Performance Art section of the Premio Arte Laguna; in Lisbon she performed in the “No Performance’s Land?” exhibition; she was a guest artist of the WRO Art Center in Poland, for the WRO 2011, the noted Biennale devoted to New Media. In addition, in 2011 she presented her new performances at the Macro Contemporary Art Museum in Rome, on invitation by the ADD Festival; was an invited artist at the "Omissis Contemporary Performance Festival"; and later in 2011 she performed at the Macro Museum, with all her videoart pieces, for "Visioni Acustiche" videoart Festival.
Video channel on vimeo: http://vimeo.com/channels/francescafini
What is BLOOD about?BLOOD is a reflection over my creative process as an artist. When I think about it I feel like some sort of serial killer, struggling with my own ghosts in front and behind the symbolic space of video-making; a transparent screen that become some sort of prison, where I murder my-self over and over again.
How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?I studied design and graphics at IED (Istituto Europeo di Design) in Rome. I also did an intensive 2 year course in hypergraphics, 3d and multimedia directing. At University I studied Literature. I started working in small video productions in Italy and I learned videomaking while working.
Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?I am a performance artist. I am intimately. I am performance artist when I create videos, because in my videos the presence of the body in action is almost essential. In video performance there is a body that acts in space and time, in a sort of cinematic reworking of a piece of live art, or the image is crushed in formal abstraction and bright explosion of color. The body becomes pure energy, because those spots of bright color (see "Duchamp spinning glass" and "God is a green triangle") still arise from the electronic manipulation of the image of the body in action.
The body acting in space and time is what guides me to essential knowledge and to the final kinesthetic representation of my inner world. Maybe this is the most primitive and primary mode of knowledge and representation, but it is also the only one I know and where I feel comfortable.
I repeat: I am a performance artist. I am intimately.
My performances, especially those in which I use interaction design tools (webcams, sensors and electrodes), arise from an attempt to create a significant dialogue between the body in action and its virtual nemesis, which is a living material made of dynamic images and sounds. I would say that maybe this is the obvious characteristic of my work on the body, which is expressed in the boundary where the kinesthesia becomes synesthesia.
The video and sounds are my alter ego. They look for an interaction with my body, in a real time exchange that takes place through the manipulation of sensors that turn the color into sound, the intensity of light into geometric shapes, the movement of the body into verbal flow (see "Blind", "Western Meat Market, " "The Shadow").
At the heart of this sensual catharsis there is me, in my solemn truth of being a human female who expresses her essence. Nothing more and nothing less. Sometimes I wear a mask to protect myself from the unbearable intensity of the action (see "Blood"); sometimes I’m completely naked. Pure human essence. Once an art critic called me "witch Circe"*, talking about my performance, "Western Meat Market". I find much truth in the pleasant irony of this definition, when a woman who expresses herself by manipulating technological tools, traditionally male prerogative, is still considered a witch.
Am I a witch? I move into a dreamscape populated by ghosts, as if it were my house, evoking and awakening my inner monsters with strange cyberpunk rituals. In "Blind" for example, I transport the audience in an immersive dimension in which the performer becomes the vehicle of an experience of color through interactive sound and visuals. While I paint my face like an ancient warrior, the webcam is programmed in order to recognize the special "wave" emitted by the color and the synth to respond live by activating a sound. To each of the 4 main colors I associated a group of instruments with a well-defined personality; to yellow the madness of the violin, to red the deep notes of the piano, to blue the metaphysics of crystal bells, to green a bunch of acid tones mixed with the hum of the forest. The scientific research on the relationship between sound and color is the starting point of a personal experience in which I discover the connections between the senses. "To smell the yellow, to hear its music, to keep it between the fingers".
I like the essence of primitive raw image, the savagery of the naked body free to express, the wild mixed color, body fluids, blood, and the meeting of all this with technology is what creates my performative work. And in my videos, these elements are creatively reworked, as in small films where my performances are enhanced by macro inserts, 3D graphics, and completely new optical angles.
How long do you usually work on one project?Every work is very different. Sometimes I have an idea that I need to elaborate very quickly; "Blue Electric", made in collaboration with Federico Trimarchi was done in a day and postproduced in a week or so. Blood took a few months.
Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?I work very carefully on the concept and research for each piece of mine. The concept is translated in the harmony of every element involved in the performance. Sometimes I take months to write the plot of a performative piece, especially if I decide to use interaction design devices and visuals (like in most of my works). Then I do the filming of the performance, in a day or two, and the post-production that can last a few weeks. Sometimes, as I said, I have and idea that turns to be very simple, and that can be done in a few days.
How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?The title is always a very important thing. Generally the title comes by itself, If I have worked carefully and properly. What I can say is that when you have trouble finding the right title to your piece it means that the piece isn’t that good or authentic.
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?From everything! It can be something I read in a book, it can be an image that I find in the Internet, a story that someone is telling me, it can be taken from the news on television. Life is a very good source for inspiration.
How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?Sound is also very important. I collaborate with a few musicians that I like very much, like a young talent from Poland, Derek Piotr (http://derekpiotr.wordpress.com/), Salakapakka Sound System and others. A lot of performances of mine are based on interactive sounds that I do live during the performance, using devices like sensors and motion tracking webcams, so that the sound changes every time I perform (see "Blind" - http://www.vasa-project.com/gallery/fini/blind.php). In these cases the video of the performance (that becomes a videoart piece in itself) is very special because it documents a unique sound that will never be replicated.
How does content relate to the form of your work?To me content and form need to be in perfect harmony. I’m a very conceptual artist but form is essential as well.
What possibilities of the web are yet to be explored?Sound should be explored better. We are a very visual society and the Internet is based on very fast visual information. I’m very interested in any research involving experiments on the sounds on the Internet, like "voice" social networks and soundscape archives.
Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?Yes. I’m doing some performative experiments on the Internet, on the social networks and videochats (http://www.vasa-project.com/gallery/fini/dark.php).
Where would you place your work; cinema or art. And what is the difference between those according to you?I really don’t know how to answer this question!
How influential is the reaction to your film by the audience?Very important. When I can I always sit in the audience during a projection to "feel" the reactions of the people. It is also very interesting, since I’m participating to a lot of festivals around the world, to study the different reactions to the same piece in different countries and cultures.
What is your next project about?I’m working on a full length movie.
Francesca Fini - 2011