Interview Sonia Cillari

context nick @ 6:58 am

Annet Dekker in conservation with Sonia Cillari

NIMk, Amsterdam

2 February 2010

We talk about the background of Sensitive to Pleasure and what the plans are at this moment.

There are many subjects and ideas that inspired me to make this work. Sensitive to Pleasure comprehends most of the subject matter that aesthetically and psychologically has interested me over time, and it is at once a compendium of my previous research into expansion and bodily compositions, both in terms of installation and performance art.

On the one hand, my own experience of showing Se Mi Sei Vicino. It has always been a very emotional piece for me but, especially because of the number of people in the audience, I felt often very disconnected from it. So this new piece comes from a sort of frustration.

At the same time, this work speaks about pleasure and pain, something personal, selfish even. It looks like an artist should not question or think anymore about pleasure and pain as an idea in the visual arts.

It also reflects my critique to the way we understand interactive art. Often people perceive interactive art as if it belongs to them, just because they are part of it. I’m more interested in participatory art, it is a different thing. Driven by a fascination for our emotional world, with my work I like to create particular atmospheres in order to stimulate psychological situations which might generate different, and some times contradictory, emotional states and mental dispositions; I use technology because it allows me to create illusions in an attempt to transcend the local events.

In Sensitive to Pleasure, the artwork belongs to the artist, it doesn’t belong to the visitor. Actually I use the visitor to gain a physical experience from my work, an experience which is recognized as painful but which might be pleasant for me. I revert the relationship.

But then I started wondering – why am I so attached to my work? I reread the beautiful Greek legend, the Pygmalion story about the sculptor who made a female statue of ivory and at last fell in love with the statue, with its own creation. A statue that does not move, cannot kiss him and cannot talk. This feeling is making him almost crazy. The beauty of the piece was so overwhelming that he couldn’t let it go. Feeling pity for him Aphrodite decided to bring the statue to life.

Lately, I have been very interested in a kind of narrative underlying my work, a starting point to reading the personality of the characters involved.

The fairy tale of Sensitive to Pleasure tells about an artist that has created her piece for her own physical pleasure. I act as myself, the artist, dealing with the ambiguity of being in love with my own piece, a creature inside an ambisonics cube capable of revealing the sound of her body when in contact with other human beings. I created it to be pleased with but, as the creature has human-like thinking behaviors, my ideal lover has left me behind. I’m standing still outside the ambisonics cube. I become the doorkeeper of the interaction between the visitor and her. I am condemned to see a visitor entering alone and having pleasure with her without looking at it and what I get back is a very physical pain, which might be also pleasant for me; this is part of the piece. This is a reflection of an event that everybody can recognizes. And beside this human life aspect I like to transport this feeling into the artworld. Of course I’m not speaking of a lover but about my artwork. This is basically the underlying idea behind this piece.

The intimacy between the visitor and the creature that is happening inside the ambisonics cube will not be documented in order to give the visitor the possibility to fully experience it through involvement and exposure. I’m very interested in exploring in which way visitors may interact with the creature knowing that their interaction is provoking outside a strong physical reaction into my body. It might be that they will never feel totally free or comfortable.

I will experience the physical interaction between the visitor and the creature through electrical pulses. I like the idea of the public being in a voyeuristic situation looking at me experiencing the piece.

A restricted path on the floor made of lights guide the visitor to the entrance of the ambisonics cube; the lights’ subtle changes reflect the encounters between the visitor and the creature, enhancing the sensuality of the piece, as well as implying one’s own perceptions of my physical experience on stage.

Sensitive to Pleasure connects with my latest research into working with and exploring the body as interface.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.