From Latex to Lacandonia: Anousha Mohtashami's Artistic Journey Through Nature
NCO 051

N: Hi Anousha, how are you doing? I am curious to know what a typical day looks like for you these days?

A: Hi, I'm doing good! Thank you for the invitation. These days, I'm doing some sketches for my next exhibition and also working on custom latex pieces for various artists. Spring is coming, so I enjoy the sun entering the studio.

N: Your creative work seems to blend material research, installation, set design, and fashion. How would you define yourself as a creative, and is there a specific area that you prioritize in your work?

A: I come from sculpture. I spent a lot of time experimenting with different materials such as resin, silicon, latex, and also with colloidal materials like modified gelatin, etc.

I'm interested in materials that are neither solid nor liquid - in a state in-between, where you have to decide their final state, or their 'maturation' if we can call it that way.

My work around wearable pieces emerged at some point as an extension of the organic forms I was creating. Following my interest in the link between matter and the physical body, it was for me a way of incorporating matter in a different way, somewhere between sculpting and sewing. For me, fashion, sculpture, and performance are all related in different layers as tools, with no hierarchy.

N: I am so intrigued by your material research for your 'swamp' fashion. Tell us your secret, what is the swamp made of?

A: To define the swamp, I'm interested in both its scientific and symbolic concept. It is a place where elements parasitize and co-exist together. The swamp is the hope of a better future, a more non-binary and less categorized space of thinking, which questions identity, gender, and transformation. It is an analogical approach. About the use of latex, I learned that as a natural element, it's the liquid coming out of certain mushrooms and trees to protect them as a defense mechanism.

However, we are still not sure about its efficiency. I like the idea of fragile armor and using it in a way other than its industrial use throughout history."

N: Your work appears to be part of a broader movement where creatives are recontextualizing natural decay and finding glamour in the grotesque and the 'swampy'. Do you see yourself as part of this larger artistic movement, or are you mainly focused on your individual expression?

A: I think as artists, we are constantly inspired by different scenes. To talk about 'swampcore', the movement, even if still a bit niche, grew at a scale that was unexpected to me. Even if the feeling of belonging to a particular group or trend is not very important to me, there's something fascinating about what an aesthetic can tell us about current contexts. Also, I relate a lot to Romain Noel's writing about swamps and mushrooms.

N: Nature clearly has a strong influence on your work. Could you share with us a particular aspect of nature that you find most captivating or inspiring, be it an element, landscape, or form of vegetation?

A: I’m recently curious about Lacandonia Schismatica, a transparent plant that subverted disciplinary traditions in botany and reconfigured its geopolitical orders of knowledge.

All images courtesy of Anousha Mohtashami.