Cecile Di Giovanni
LE LUCKY! now exhibiting ‘the slayer’ with the exterior of an upside-down silicone foot in, la mise en scène of Cecile di Giovanni manoeuvres pop culture and myths to deconstruct definitions by body.
So who is Cecile?
Well I come from a really small town in south of France, close to Marseille.
I was born and raised by modest immigrant Italian families from both sides mum and dad. My granddad lived in the country and used to build a lot of crazy stuff and my dad was passionate [about] cinema so I assume it’s where my passion for ‘la mise en scène’ has started… way before I discovered what art was and everything around it. It came up in a a [very] subtle way. I educated myself with popular culture, movies, books... and then later [went to] fine art school, but I didn’t stay long. [Everything] I do is trying to preserve my childhood innocence and mix it up with who I am today.
How do you perceive the evolution of your creativity - how has your work formed into what it is today?
I’d say I’m still dealing with things that struck me as a child and as a teenager. It’s like the same obsessions and references coming back again and again mix up with my present self. I do what I do to dompt my fears and protect myself. I try to explore different medium as sculpture, installations, set design, performances, videos... Without limiting myself. ‘La mise en scène’ remains the common element among all of them.
Do you have any preparatory ceremonies before you begin a project?
I wouldn’t say I’m a person who does rituals even though I’m fascinated by them. I see what I do more as a work habit. It often starts with an obsession. I’m a kind of a fetishist so I usually have an object in mind I want to play with and it’s how it all begins. Then I investigate what it refers to in my own references... And a sculpture or an installation begins to pop up into my mind. It’s kind of the same [as] when I art direct and design sets, except that it’s often a commissioned job that pushes me to play with someone else’s obsession.
Some of your work reminds me of a book I own about styling and shoots in traditional Kazakh wear, particularly ‘HYPERSTITION’. What are your key inspirations or obsessions?
I’d love to see that book. Everything that defines a specific ethnic group - through the body - at a certain time and in a certain culture fascinates me. It involves clothes and accessories. What obsessed me is how the human being uses their body to face the world, their fears, their weaknesses through staging, rituals, costumes, props... I play with the symbols of horror and fear to tame them. My inspiration comes from popular culture, religions, myths, urban legends... From horror movies as well. It comes from my own imagination and the films that forged me as a child and teenager. I prefer to deal with real and serious subjects through fantasy, comic or horror. It’s a playful and humble way that suits me much more than a first-degree speech that terrifies me. I always need filters to understand things, like children because I am very sensitive.
The first thing that stood out to me about your work was your experimentation with body styling. Maybe because this is something that I’m particularly interested in at the moment. What has instigated this?
Experimentations with body styling comes along with a desire to design my sculptures in close connection with the body and what interferes with it. When I use clothes, fabrics materials or shoes it’s always to deconstruct them and play with their meanings and see how they complete, repair, protect, strengthen the body. Or even how they mistreat it.
Can you tell me the story of ‘Internet Ballade’?
I’ve been working as a duo, performing and writing, with Mathilde for almost two years now. We’ve been asked to create a performance for this group show ‘Internet psycho analysis’ curated by Lauren Huret, at the gallery LiveInYourHead at la HEAD in Geneva. We imagined this performance by seeing Internet as what Hell after Death would be. We took inspiration from the Greek myth of Charon, the ferry of the dead. I was a strange version of him with my mask, driving the installation as our own version of the boat, while Mathilde was sitting on it playing the Death. All the screens were showing a selection of videos we specifically chose like Lindsay Lohan doing a live Instagram of herself harassing homeless migrants in Paris during fashion week, or this famous youtuber disguised in Pikachu and filming himself around the dead in the famous forest of suicides in Japan and making fun of them. It was a metaphorically way to drag them with us into the abyss.
Congratulations on your latest show LE LUCKY! How was it to work with such a large number of creatives? Can you introduce your work for this to us?
Le lucky was a blast, my friend and the amazing artist Josep Maynou curated this show and invited all of us. The sculpture I showed is ‘the Slayer’ that presents an upside-down silicone foot with a drawing of Buffy the vampire slayer inside a vintage version of the Reebok Pump omni lint from the 90’s. It started here with my fetishism for shoes that I wanted to link with foot fetishism and fetishism in general with popular culture figures. I chose a silicone foot that foot fetishists use during sex and then, I just played with the symbolism of those objects and created connections and combinations with what they refer to in my mind and popular culture.
What are your hopes for your future horizons?
Going further with my sculpture work. Writing and directing more.
courtesy CECILE DI GIOVANNI
interview KATE BISHOP
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