VALENTINA DE' MATHÀ | FLASHBACK
Solo show 16.11—14.12.2014
FLASHBACK. A CONVERSATION WITH VALENTINA DE MATHÀ by Paolo Cappelletti
PC: What are you trying to achieve through your artistic practice, Valentina?
VDM: A higher awareness of human existence.
PC: Your art is imbued with your research on the concept of the simultaneity of cause and effect. How are you narrowing down this theme in the Flashback series? Moreover, as I think that some works from this series evoke essential nocturnal landscapes — topographically ambiguous, yet cinematographically vivid —, I would like to ask you one more thing: which technique do you use in order to let their light emerge and to harness it?
VDM: These works were created in my darkroom through the mixing of chemicals, and through their temperature changes, as well as water and light temperature variations on emulsified paper. It is a long and complex creative process, which has to be realized speedily and dynamically while considering the right amount of chemicals, movements, and time. This technique is based on the concept of cause and effect and on the dialectics between my action on matter and its reaction to it, but I also give vent to a high percentage of non-deterministic mechanisms and to the typical uncertainty of quantum mechanics, which is another cornerstone of my research. These works are narrating bright, fantastic landscapes, psychological distortions, epiphanies, déjà vu, dreamlike visions, as well as flashbacks, of course. They are undecided, imbued with light, even though they are paradoxically realized in the total absence of light.
PC: Some other works resemble the widely known inkblots that Hermann Rorschach used in the homonymous psychological tests. I don’t think it’s a coincidence…
VDM: Well, it’s no coincidence, because I dedicated this series to the Rorschach test. But, in this case, the ambiguous pictures are created through chemical processes. I am fascinated by human psyche and psychology in general — even though I don’t believe in psychotherapy. In particular, I developed an interest in some inner workings that are uncontrollably sparked off in the human mind. Some time ago, while interpreting Jacques Lacan’s theory on the lack of being (manque à être) that he called béance, I created an installation and two video art works (Trip and Il godimento è una tensione che non raggiunge mai la sua realizzazione, poiché può avere luogo solo quando non ha luogo) based on mental journeys, on addictions, on loss of mental acuity, on OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and on unresolved desire.
PC: Through your work, and for a long time, you have been analyzing human reactivity that individuals put into play when they are facing inexplicable and apparently inevitable events. Do you think that this series is dealing with this subject?
VDM: Absolutely, both through the technical implementation and the concept on which the whole exhibition project is based. To a certain extent, flashbacks, dreamlike visions, déjà vu, psychological tests represent the manifestation of something that already happened, the consequence of a past event that suddenly, inexplicably, and uncontrollably, comes back to the present.
PC: And to what extent do you think the theme of psychological resilience facing the increase of disorder (entropy) of the social system affects your work?
VDM: Basically, I am not a coherent person and that is one of my greatest strengths. Incoherence gives me an opportunity to put myself out there on a daily basis, and to be dynamic and grow as a person. It nourishes my need for questioning myself when necessary and to adapt to all the events that happen every day. Inevitably, those events affect me, nourish me and get me involved, despite the fact that my path has been set and my nature is well-defined. My work can make progress, enhance and grow when it keeps pace with me; it has to be resilient, as well. I generally create artworks taking into account both the available materials and the environment that surrounds me in a particular moment; never the other way around. I try to indulge myself with nature, its phases, and I try to live, as far as possible, in the present.
PC: At the end of Belye noči, White Nights, Fëdor Dostoevskij’s dreamer sums up his torments of love and gratitude to Nasten’ka with these words: “Good Lord, only a moment of bliss?” Do you think that the creative process and its outcomes could equally lead us to that moment of bliss?
VDM: I am glad that you quoted Dostoevskij’s White Nights, which is in some way related to the nocturnal landscapes featured in Flashback. I am very attached to the Russian masters, particularly Andrej Tarkovskij and Dostoevskij who are so inspirational. Yes, I think that the proper opening of the right cerebral hemisphere during the creative phase, and consequently the contemplative phase, gives us the chance to be projected into a state of bliss and ecstasy, which is only reachable when you feel connected to everything.
PC: What is the ecstasy of art, according to you? Is it leading you to new visions?
VDM: It is a bond between me and everything else. It has to do with feeling real through a sense of identity that is achievable by creating.
PC: I usually find something special in you works, a kind of sacredness or hierophany, i.e. the awareness of the presence of something sacred. Is that so?
VDM: Work is sacred and it should be handled with care. It has a soul. It has its own soul. It needs time and perfect timing; it needs to be contemplated and admired by sincere eyes, respected and preserved above everything else, because it’s the innermost part of yourself. It’s the revelation of your catharsis.
PC: You are always showing the ability to manage your practice according to the well-known motto ne quid nimis, nothing in excess. How do you reach such essentiality?
VDM: Through the rituality of work.