Veronica Santi talks with the artist Beatrica Scaccia. Pursuing the incredible world of Eve, an evasive creature of many forms that has become a hit in both Italy and the United States.
Veronica Santi: The Little Gloating Eve project began during months spent at Residency Unlimited who then produced a conversation-exhibit with Jodi Waynberg, about one year ago. From there, the exhibition in Milano at Galleria Effearte and finally, the recently concluded exhibit at Cuchifritos Gallery in New York. Could you please share with us how this multi-form creature was born? Is there a detail, an anecdote, a fact that ties into the moment of its emergence? .... And what existed before the advent of Eve?
Beatrice Scaccia: The character of Eve already existed but had not been developed yet. The two months spent at RU helped me to understand the direction I needed to go in. I had never had to deal with so many intensive studio visit sessions, all concentrated within the span of a few weeks; as difficult as it was having to speak out loud and repeatedly about my ideas and artistic process, the exercise actually helped to clarify my ideas. I have the bad habit of forgetting the evolution of an idea, so I am unable to exactly describe what took place; it feels like certain details, certain ideas have always been there. It was a few months of constant brainstorming. At the time, I was working a killer schedule and was getting very little sleep and I believe that this too played a part in my eventual “surrendering”, my letting go and allowing the genesis of the character to occur.
VS: How was it working with Jodi Waynberg?
BS: With Jody it was love at first sight. I remember right after my first studio visit with her; right after our initial meeting I announced to Nathalie Anglès, RU’s director, “I am going to work with Jodi”. She advised me not to make quick decisions as I would be meeting many more artists. It turned out that my intuition was spot on, Jodi joined me in my work shortly afterwards, contributing in a delightful manner.
VS: On your video “At least a snake” (2012) the off-camera voice says: “For years, she has been focusing so much on the thought of death that she forgot about old age”. The statement is very strong, and its power seems to follow in the same dynamic with which Eve “lives” and “feels” the world, fragments of events (Eve eats, Eve plays, etc...) yet itdoes not follow a rectilinear path nor does it span a continuous time frame. Can you talk to us about your narration technique?
BS: My narrative style arises from what I see and think. I avoid excessive elaboration. I spend a lot of my time recalling memories and the images those memories hold. What is enduring in our lives, what stays with us, is always the ordinary: habits, repetitive and comfortable behaviors that lull us into feeling immortal. For me, highlighting Eve as she eats, sleeps and plays ball becomes a way to examine life and its attendant fears with irony and nimbleness, but also with a good dose of anxiety. Growing up, I read poetry and fiction much more frequently than I visited museums or attended exhibits: I think my approach to my work will always be personal and intimate.... like a book you carry in your pocket so as to be able to reread a part of it every now and then.
VS:In fact, I believe that one cannot help but feel a strong sense of intimacy when one gets to know Eve. In presenting stories, feelings, and specific personal details, one can’t help but be drawn onto the same emotional plane, and lo and behold, once there, your deep feeling for “x” projected onto Eve becomes my feeling for “x” that Eve has been able to express. One ends up being almost morbidly invested in some of Eve’s words and gestures. How do you experience the fact that others stake their claim on Eve’s stories? And how much of this gives you pleasure and how much frightens you?
BS: On the whole, I am very happy when someone manages to claim a little Eve for themselves; something peculiar happens, almost as if, through others, I renew my proprietorship but am able to re-experience it in a new way. I am able to see her from another perspective and understand how to proceed. The risk of a process like mine is losing touch altogether with the initial vision and finding myself limited to talking about myself, a counterproductive and potentially dangerous thing: I work with obsession and finite spaces, rooms that are not rooms, movements that are not movements; that is scary at times, people who collaborate and contribute are nothing less than welcome anchors in Eve’s world.
VS: Personally (as we were just saying) as soon as I saw Eve I felt a familiar sense of discomfort yet also an innate sense of redemption/resurrection..... and shortly afterwards started thinking about her as a second cousin of Tommy from the Who.
BS: Well.... what you say pleases me. I like the discomfort, the anxiety she elicits but I am happy there is also a positive side to the feelings she provokes, it makes me feel relieved. As far as Tommy from the Who, I had never thought about it, but the idea makes me smile. I will listen to the album again, as it has been quite some time, keeping in mind what you have told me. Can I ask you a question?
VS: Of course.
BS: What was the first thing that struck you when you entered the gallery? What was your first feeling? Discomfort? Did you feel welcome? Confusion? I think that there may have been many different waves of feelings, but I am curious as to what you perceived first not knowing me, my work or anything about the project.
VS: The first thing that affected me was the space. I didn’t expect the gallery to be inside the Essex Market, then coming upon the corner where your art was displayed, with its small ceramic objects piled high and Eve with her bottle in hand, I felt as if I was at home, comfortable in my “hideout”.... I started thinking about when I sometimes wake up with my pajamas on backwards, when I don’t feel like seeing or dealing with anyone and I find refuge under the covers, or conversely, when I see, feel and listen to everything and feel completely alive, ready to explode with life. No confusion, no discomfort… better, discomfort and confusion but experienced in a way that feels familiar and not the least bit threatening.... as I was alluding to, “See me, feel me, touch me, heal me” from the Who.
Continuing with the interview, to tell Eve’s story you make use of different mediums, video, writing, painting on various structures and you utilize various techniques, collaborating with other artists whose mediums range from music to ceramics. Have you ever thought of letting Eve talk through you, in a performance where you play Eve?
BS: Thank you for your answer. Turning instead to your question.... yes, I have thought about it but I think it would not make any sense. Eve is interesting exactly because of the character’s ephemeral nature, she is not concrete, she is a drawing. My animations and narrative style, going back several years now, have moved closer toward the idea of a performance: the character’s movements have always been portrayed in confined spaces, with an absence of background, having to hunch over to get dressed (like in the exhibit “ he, she, it” at Ugo Ferranti). However, I think my work derives its beauty from her strength precisely because she is not real, but dreamlike. Eve cannot really exist, if I attempted to really bring her to life, even for just one performance, it is likely that she would probably die entirely.
VS: You have even asked 96 children to draw Eve based solely on a brief description. What prompted this idea?
BS: Before asking the 96 children, I had asked my young nephew to draw 10 pictures of “Eve” doing different things. His drawings surprised me; all had no background, and the only things drawn were strictly related to whatever was Eve’s “chosen action” in that particular drawing. In “Eve sleeps”, only a free floating bed was pictured, with Eve asleep and her scarf splayed perpendicular to the bed, as if she were in reality, free falling. Another picture showed “Eve eating flowers” which had a definite magic quality. Obviously for my nephew it was a spontaneous and simple idea, but for me it communicated many things from the rejection of the ideal of womanhood, to the attempt to swallow the beauty of a flower, and so much more. The idea for other designs followed.
VS: Will you tell us about another special drawing?
BS: Well....... all of them! Stylistically they are all very engaging. For some, Eve is a boy and for some a girl. Changing the character’s sexual identity posed no problem for the children. But they did all find it extremely difficult to conceal the face with the scarf. Almost all the children’s drawings alluded to a pair of eyes, a smile.....
VS: You dedicate half your day to creating your art, so intimate and “real”. The other half of your day is spent producing art for someone else (that of J. Koons), commercially oriented and “artificial”. A very sarcastic comment of Eve’s comes to mind, “The disgusting wine served at some gallery openings in Chelsea like her virginity”...
What is it that you like about contemporary art?
BS: My everyday life consists of two worlds that are completely different: my Chelsea world and my work for Koons. At the beginning it was challenging to switch from one to the other; lately, I must say, it feels as if I my work remains with me throughout the entirety of my days. Sometimes my most interesting ideas come to me as I am riding the subway, on my bicycle crossing a bridge or painting for Koons...
VS:... and your thoughts on the contemporary art business?
BS: With regard to the contemporary art system... I find it uninspiring but it is a reality that cannot be ignored, navigating it is best accomplished by finding a personal method that works for you. There are many things that are wrong, incomprehensible, but there are also many people who have an authentic passion and who are genuinely open to new ideas, to being surprised; these encounters are the ones that interest and enrich me. Oh dear, if we sat here and went into an in-depthanalysis of the business practices of the contemporary art world we would end up paralyzed or caught in some endless loop, like Eve. Better to proceed at times aware, at times less so.
October 30, 2014
Eve’s tail. Beatrice Scaccia in Milan
EFFEARTE Gallery, Milan - runs until 31 October 2014. Beatrice Scaccia’s exhibit is an illustrated and cohesive story. A generated universe that gives life to an outlined pseudonym. A land of words fashioned from a mixture of paper, ceramics and music
Beatrice Scaccia -- Little Gloating Eve -- picture from the Effearte exhibit, Milano 2014
Beatrice Scaccia conceives Little Gloating Eve as an implied construction of an epiphany, with archetypal characteristics. An apparition whose essence skims the reality of fable, a narrative effigy, a metaphor and a timeless fairy tale alter ego. Eve, character without a face that moves in an imaginary world, who rolls from the lines of a pencil and from a celluloid storyline set free from a figurative shell to, finally lay claim to a sequential logic, repetitive and imaginative. A material aura belonging to the realm of the unreal.
Among drawings, paintings, projections, musical soundtracks and a clay installation, the exhibit explores the ending phase of a project born following an exhibit-conversation between Jodi Waynberg and the artist, deepened during a recent residency at New York’s Artist’s Alliance. After the dates in Milano, the project will end in New York with an exhibit at Cuchifritos Gallery in the Lower East Side. Delivering a new insight, a new visual peek into the secret life of a fairy tale being, revealed only in fragments of clothes, a face with indistinct features, and the evolutionary movements of a long, pointy red tail.
published October 23, 2014
AN AVATAR AND COLLECTIVE PROJECT FOR BEATRICE SCACCIA, ATTENDED AND FOLLOWED BY LARRY “SHARK” GAGOSIAN
Currently showing in Milan, and most recently at Effearte. Since Exibart has an on-line edition in addition to its print publication, we do not miss an opportunity to feature
rising stars on the art world horizon, and we are placing our sights squarely on Beatrice Scaccia.
For several years a New York resident, her own Little Gloating Eve now showing in Milan is the result of a project she began last year in the Big Apple, after two months spent at Residency Unlimited, additional time spent at Artists Alliance, another residency program, and further pursued through a partnership with an Italian school where 96 children imparted their imaginations on behalf of Eve, a character created by Scaccia, an animated avatar with recognizable actions, who is basically the artist’s alter ego.
“Certainly Bea is Eve herself, the first lady of her interior world, born from the rib of her pencil to enact the nightmares that she herself cannot overcome. Do not consider this though, an exercise in euphemisms, because Eve represents all of us collectively as we grapple with the anguish of lost childhood innocence, worn away by our tears, our pain and our delusions.
Eve is the regret we feel over the losses we have sustained, what the world has ripped away from us; it is the emptiness that needs to be filled with the power of art”, explains Marco Bussagli, History of Art professor at the Academy of Belle Arti in Rome. And so Eve lives in works on canvas, animation and in ceramics created in collaboration with Japanese artist Toshiaki Noda, and also in drawings, sketches, and even in a musical soundtrack written by French musician Lionel Laquerrière. In short, Eve is almost a global phenomenon, or at the very least, a character in search of multiple authors who can bring her to life. For all this, even Larry Gagosian has come to Milan to buy an Eve. And if he has thrown himself into the mix... we will be sure to keep a keen eye out for future developments.