N: Hi Ambra! It’s a pleasure to chat with you today, how are you doing?
A: I’m good, trying my best!
N: I really enjoyed your work in the Compost G¥rls exhibition. Your sculptures had this timeless quality, like looking at ancient artifacts. It's not just about the present; there's a sense of history to them. Can you tell us more about how time plays a role in the context of Compost G¥rls?
A: I feel like those bodies kind of live in both a timeless dimension but also are very anchored to reality in a broad sense.
My perception is that they could be ancient icons as well as futuristic genderless pioneers.
I don’t really like the notion of post-apocalypse, even though I am highly inspired by it. But I mostly relate to the solarpunk kind of philosophies. It's as if I invoked hybridization and antispecist metamorphic transformation. My view on the future is bright; it's only a matter of understanding how to compost reality in a different configuration.
N: Your practice is also about an active fight against society’s patriarchal perception and judgment of the body in relation to gender identity. I've read online that you have taken inspiration from Nancy Scheper-Hughes’ concept of a “Mindful Body”, which I think is really key to understanding your work as a whole. This makes me think of how a lot of your art seems to revolve aroundcreating a new context for the body to exist and break free.
Do you feel this liberation when creating and presenting your work? If yes, how so?
A: I learn a lot from my works because they are so "solution finding" based that it naturally occurs to me how to create proper hybridization and what they need to exist and make sense. Through the representation of shapeshifting bodies, I can bring up different sociological and identity themes that, in a way, speak for themselves. It's also much easier to talk to a broader audience, not only those involved in gender theories and queer culture. I can use empirical examples like, "Okay, if you're born human but inherently you feel like you want to grow flowers from your limbs or honeycombs on your back, there's nothing wrong. It perfectly makes sense, and it's beautiful."
Art can help us to understand and explain deep political and philosophical issues through the tool of imagination and I think that’s a powerful weapon if used in the right way.
N: In the same train of thought, I’m curious to know how you see your art contributing to the larger cultural shift towards a post-humanist understanding of the body. And what do you hope to achieve through this shift?
A: I think in a way what I’m fighting for is normalization and representation in a broad sense. I am very bound to the idea of community and of chosen family, which right now is a very hot topic as well, especially in Italy, where we still have powerful political institutions fighting against it.
What artists do is create images, images that can shape the collective perceptions we have of things, and that can maybe highlight specific issues or bring up different topics.
N: As an artist, you might find this question irritating but, I definitely perceive a sense of fashion in your art... your personal style is also very much on point! Have you ever considered making wearable art? Getting into fashion?
A: Mmm not really, I mean, sometimes I design my own clothes or jewelry, but it’s mostly because I don’t like to buy clothes and I prefer to upcycle the ones people leave at my apartment (yes my house it’s almost a warehouse for all my friends’ stuff because I live in a studio that I share with many people).
The reason why sometimes my works get mistaken for fashionable is because I did some wearable sculptures in relation to a performance I created as collateral work to the Biennale installation last year.
The performance was focused on identity, and how the props you can wear (clothing, technology, sex toys) can change the way you or others perceive yourself. When I enact a performance, I like to think that I am creating a living sculpture, with all the environment around them, and of course, anything you put on a body in a way becomes “wearable”.
Apart from that, I am a lot into costume design and in general into creating some kind of immersive and cinematographic view of the imaginary I am creating.
I think visual culture should be mixed up with different disciplines, and if this involves sewing and sculpting pieces of leather or fabric or ceramic on a body, of course, I’ll do it.
All Images Courtesy of Ambra