Our “Inspiration Feeder” presents to you short interviews with interesting visual artists from around the globe. Today in focus: Catia Мencacci.
Please provide us with a short biography (place of birth/living, education, profession, accomplishments, how you got into photography)
I was born and have almost always lived in Cortona, an Etruscan town in Tuscany. I have a degree in accounting and I work in a commercial firm; I approached photography by pure chance, following the advice of a friend to enroll in a photography course, which I participated in even without having a camera yet. Since then (about ten years have already passed), I have never left the photography world, becoming more and more passionate each day.
Could you give us a brief description of the project “A meter away”?
The idea was born during the emergency caused by the spread of the Coronavirus, with the intention of creating a fictional project of the epidemic, but which still expressed the discomfort. I was looking at old postcards from the 1920s and 1930s depicting movie stars in poses of tender lovers. One of the rules imposed immediately on the population to limit the spread of the pandemic was to keep “a meter of distance” between individuals, which gave way of my thoughts on the difficulties for non-cohabiting couples to adapt to these directives. The “stretch” effect of the above project is absolutely manual. I scanned the old postcards, being careful to manually drag the “crucial” point of union of the two actors represented. It was a painstaking work, I carried out dozens and dozens of scans for every single print, to find the best result among those obtained. The digital file thus obtained was then printed, and the prints obtained aged, again manually, and then photographed again.
How do you generally come up with a concept or a theme for a project? Is it as with this project an external situation directly related to your life gives you the idea or sometimes it’s solely internally driven?
Usually, if the discovery of a story fascinates me a lot, it can push me to create a photographic project. Then begins, within me, a process of elaboration and study to search for the best possible method of expressive representation, logically with the means and knowledge at my disposal.
We would like to add another project to the interview and this is the outstandingly done “You can’t stop the wind with your hands”. We will use the description from your website, but could you add something else? It seems that a historical fact has grabbed your interest and you have beautifully crafted and transformed it from a fact to a work of art.
The images you will see in the second project you chose are my free and personal photographic reinterpretation of a fantastic phenomenon that fascinated me and whose existence I learned about some time ago, during my research on the various uses of radiographic plates.
In the Cold War Russia, during the 1950s, the communist regime had everything in hand, deciding the lifestyle, what to allow or not to allow the population, including what music should be heard. The advent of jazz and rock’n’roll music in the United States, considered a symbol of contamination by capitalism, was immediately boycotted by any means; listening was forbidden and punished even with arrest.
A group of young rebels, the “stilyagi” (stylish), devised an absolutely original method of smuggling Western music: by using rudimentary recording machines, with instruments obtained from old phonographs, they thought to reproduce very original discs: the grooves were engraved instead of on the plastic material (vinyl, rigid and in any case too expensive), on thin disused X-ray films; the central hole was rudimentary made by burning the plate with a cigarette. The radiographic plates lent themselves very well to the purpose, being composed of cheap material and easily available. Furthermore, radiographs also had another characteristic, that of being flexible: could be hidden in the sleeves of the coats, so that they could circulate rather easily. The price at which they were sold was modest, one ruble against five of the music vinyl authorized by the regime; so it could happen that on painful images (shins, ribs, skulls, vertebrae etc ..), there was dancing secretly in the cellars with songs by Elvis Presley or Duke Ellington. The phenomenon, that persisted until the end of the 70s with the advent of the first cassettes, was called “The ribs of rock” and also “The music of the bone”, causing prices to skyrocket in the collectors market of the now impossible to find engraved radiographic supports.
The images I have produced are the result of the digital union between real X-ray plates and original vinyls, using the covers, or details of them, as labels for the discs. I have reserved and added, however, my personal interpretation which consists in having created a correspondence between the parts of the body impressed on the plates and the images detected on the covers.
We love your other more moody and melancholy work and we see that you embrace the “imperfections” of an image. Can you comment on the trend nowadays of perfect sharp images, pixels, resolution and so on?
I never judge the work of others, I believe that each of us represents himself by following his own way of being, which also changes with the passing of the years. Personally, what interests me above all is that my works arouse a mood rather than show a sharp photograph.
What are you currently working on?
I have just completed a work, which I will shortly put online on my website, entitled “One, no one and one hundred thousand”. For the future, however, I would like to work on a story that happened in Victorian London, intriguing as well as very noir, but it is still too early to go further. It is already a long time since I have found a track, who knows if I will ever be able to complete it!
Who are your favourite authors?
There are many authors that inspired me, but I will mention only three names: Paolo Gioli, Joel-Peter Witkin and Antonio Palmerini.
Recommend to our readers a book that has left a lasting impression on you.
A book that I would like to recommend is actually the book I recently published called “Sogno o am awake”. In it you can actually see the other work I do and using the link below you can go through it and purchase it.
What would you say is the thing that most inspires you? / What keeps you going?
The curiosity to discover new stories and the desire to get involved by representing them keeps me going.
A meter away
You can’t stop the wind with your hands
You can find more about Catia Mencacci here: