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Floria Sigismondi

The Skewed Angle of Courage

Fucine Mute (FM): You shot videos for David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Tricky, Amon Tobin, Bjork (see videography). Those videos were all dealing with experimental electronic music, or at least with non-mainstream electronic music (jungle, trip-hop, industrial). Do you easily find an inspiration in those particular genres?

Floria Sigismondi (FS): Yes, but I respond to a bigger range of music also, mostly with non-mainstream music.

FM: “Jon Spencer Blues Explosion” is an act who don’t perform electronic music; did you like directing a video for a more rock-oriented band, and what about your difficult relationship with religion, that we can notice in that video and in your past photographic work?

FS: I have done videos for rock-oriented bands before.
I have had a conflicting relationship with religion which has manifested in my work in the past, inspired both by my youth in an all — girls catholic school and growing up with an atheist father and my mother who was going to be a nun. I’m not as concerned with this subject as much now, but some icons do continue to pop up in my work.

FM: From the technical point of view, in the David Bowie and Marilyn Manson videos we can find blurs and accelerations. What are you trying to communicate with that? Is there a relationship with the so-called “broken-beat” of the rhythmical section of those songs?

FS: Yes, I work very closely with the musical rhythms and or beats of the song and try to accentuate sounds that are sometimes hidden in the song and give them strength through the visual language. I played with those techniques primarily because I wanted to create a world that takes us away from the everyday norm and hopefully creating a new language, a new place in which to explore….. a world where rules do not exist…. anything can happen.

FM: It seems that you feel at ease both with narrative and non-narrative videoclips: if you had to choose the ones you prefer workin’ at, which would be your choice?

FS: At the moment I’m working with broken narrative, the process is such that it changes with the subject.

FM: How do you put yourself in relation with music during the creative process of a videoclip? And do you tend to follow the lyrics or do you prefer a personal approach? For example, did you feel more at ease with Amon Tobin’s video, which has no lyrics?

FS: Lyrics can give me a starting point, but I do enjoy instrumental pieces because it’s pretty much an open slate. I can create from a completely emotional place where images and music can morph and can take me places with no specific reference point.

FM: The body, as you develop this theme in the “Come Part Mental” exhibition: someone compares you to Orlan, an artist who said “my body has become the place for a public debate”. What do you think of the extreme consequences of such a kind of art (plastic surgery, etc.)? What is the human body according to you, both in video-art and photography?

FS: The body is there for exploration by the artist. I’m interested in situations where the media and society change the image of beauty and the power it has on people. Young girls are getting plastic surgery at 16 now, when their bodies have not even fully formed yet. That is a problem, because it stems from a place of self-dissatisfaction instead of encouraging young people to love what they have. I’m talking strictly to augment the body to what’s in “fashion” . As an artist there are many ways to get to the same point. In COME PART MENTAL I was interested in what happens to the body if we able to manipulate the gene to augment the human form, where does that stop. Where does it go horribly wrong? I see a future of ordering cloned sex slaves/house keepers to look like the desirable shade of whatever people are into at the moment. In the wrong hands I also see a body of clones ready to be dissected for the body parts. Think about this…how far off is this?

FM: You’re from Toronto, like David Cronenberg, who you photographed and who you have several analogies with. In “Dead Ringers” movie he even shows medical tools used as torture tools, which finally become art. You seem to be aware of the menacing side of that kind of objects: which is the reason of this, and what are the possible relationships between you and Cronenberg’s point of view?

FS: I can’t comment on Cronenberg’s relationship with medical equipment, but I chose to use it in my work, because of the intimate relationship people have with it. Almost every one has come in contact with medical instruments or has spent time in a hospital. The individual has their own memories and taps into their own history and fears. It’s a very personal relationship that we have with our mortal bodies and that is what I wanted to touch on.

FM: It seems you’re afraid by some aspects of progress, but you massively use technology to modify your photographs and you videos. How do you manage to solve this apparent contradiction?

FS: I am full of contradictions and don’t try and solve them, but possibly look at all the sides. I look into the future without forgetting the past. The world is full of contradictions and I am in the thick of it.

FM: The theme of death is very close to you: among others, you named a Neil Gaiman book — American Gods — dealing with death, which Gaiman himself dedicated one of the most impressive comic characters ever. Can you talk about this theme, and about what you know, or you like, of Neil Gaiman’s work?

FS: I believe that in acknowledging death, I acknowledge life.

FM: In “Little Wonder” we noticed some references to Francis Bacon’s paintings. Do you consider him an influence for you?

FS: Bacon’s work touches me deeply on a level I can’t explain or understand. He has managed to capture movement in painting which I have never felt before. I feel his paintings are alive and I feel his energy in them. They are violent and he make no excuses.

FM: You said you’re close to David Lynch’s work. Have you seen “A straight story”? Have you ever thought about a Floria Sigismondi’s “straight story”, to shock your audience the same way?

FS: I would like to do a film that I can put my name on with pride, whatever approach I take.

FM: In “I don’t like the drugs, but the drugs like me” video Marilyn Manson loses an arm, and we can see the big pupils of the children, two recurring subjects in your iconography. But it’s not a video of yours: what was your reaction when you watched it first?

FS: I do see the influence that I’ve had in his subsequent work and I am flattered, but I am not one to repeat myself, it’s just too stagnant and boring.

FM: The loss of limbs seems to be an obsession for you, since your 1997 portraits ’till Amon Tobin’s video, including “Come Part Mental”. What is the aesthetically meaning of this representation of human body?

FS: Artists have been deconstructing things for a long time through, music, art (Hannah Hoch and Picasso did it), architecture, etc. and I think the human body is the last thing to go through this kind of scrutinization. Humans seem to need to deconstruct in order to understand and through bio-engineering man is now really able to play GOD. Through deconstructing of the physical, we can create new bodies, define the new human being and in turn change our view on beauty as a society.

FM: Someone wrote that you could have been the director of “The sixth sense”, because a lot of your photos seem to show ghosts in a real world. What do you think of the mentioned movie? Do you feel it close to your work?

FS: No, why?…. because there are ghosts?

FM: You shot one of the first interactive videos for Bjork. What is your opinion about that kind of experimentations and about the possibilities involved by this new form of television text, both form the aesthetic and the relational (with the audience) point of view?

FS: It is a medium that lays between photography and film, so it is has limitations and can be quite frustrating. The one thing it does offer is interactivity, but I much prefer film.

FM: Web has become the main form of the informational spreading and of a general rethink about contemporary art. Do you agree? And have you ever thought about a project explicitly dedicated to the net?

FS: Yes I was working on a project for the web, but have put it on hold for the time being.

FM: Do you ever think at a definite target for your works? Do you imagine your audience somehow, and do you think to provide them with different levels of interpretation?

FS: Never, it is impossible to create art that comes from a place you can’t explain and think of your target audience. If it is honest it will find people.

FM: Which is the art form which you think you can better express yourself with?

FS: The moving picture.

FM: Thinking about “Come Part Mental” reminds to us William Blake: “What is now proved once only imagin’d”. Do you consider your role as an artist as the role of a seer?

FS: Yes, because I think the artist has the ability or the courage to look at life from a skewed angle, from a point of view that is different and so from that place may raise some new ideas questions that may or not be relevant to the outside world. The artist is the warrior, the courageous seer of what many people may not want to see but goes in at all costs. That is why I think of my work as therapeutic.

all images © Floria Sigismondi, courtesly provided by the Artist
self-portrait form the book Redemption © Floria Sigismondi

Floria Sigismondi (dettagli)

intervista a cura di Fabio Bonetti (dettagli)
Giulia Gabrielli (dettagli)
Fabrizio Garau (dettagli)

Il bisogno dell’essere umano è quello di distruggere. Inizialmente la sensazione si cela sotto la pelle, e aspetta, allerta il momento giusto…per distruggere tutto ciò di più sacro. Immagini di vacche incendiate, costruzioni violate, slabbrate parti del corpo umano, la nascita della clonazione, e la morte dell’umanità, appaiono alla mia finestra. La collettività mi suggerisce di chiudere gli occhi, cambiare canale, accoccolarmi sotto il dolce peso dell’IGNORANZA, ma la realtà si alimenta ai miei piedi in un isterica impazienza.

Mi uccide, mi limita, e mi distrugge . Modella la nostra vita quotidiana, la perdita e la dissoluzione. Adesso navigo con il realismo tra la vita, poiché ho sentito il desiderio umano di distruggere la bellezza. Questi sono i miei appunti e i miei schizzi, fantasmi di un paesaggio urbano. Se vogliamo scoprire noi stessi, dobbiamo distruggerci, la razza umana è interessata all’esperienza?

Text by Floria Sigismondi
Image from the book ‘Redemption’ ©Floria Sigismondi


Il lavoro multi disciplinare di Floria Sigismondi passa attraverso la cinematografia, la video-arte, la fotografia e la scultura. Incorporando film delle origini ed estetiche pittoriche, Floria crea un ipersurrenalismo basata sulla figura, usando immagini che ricava dallo stato di sonno allucinato. I suoi video si mescolano completamente con le sue serie fotografiche, e le sue immagini fotografate si traducono naturalmente in sculture e forme mediatiche eterogenee. Poetiche e a volte macabre, le immagini di Floria si piazzano in uno stato teatrale, che è sia narrativo sia esplicitamente visivo, con influenze che vanno da Hans Belmer, Francis Bacon e David Lynch alla cultura mitologica greca. Floria sperimenta gli effetti della scienza sulla nostra esperienza corporale contemporanea, e propone una visione indefinita del futuro; con i progressi nella biotecnologia, tratta di aspettative complesse, misteriose, agghiaccianti e inesorabili.

Floria Sigismondi è nata a Pescara nel 1965, in Italia. All’età di due anni si trasferisce in Canada, installandosi nella cittadine industriale di Hamilton, Ontario. Nel 1987 si trasferisce a Toronto, dove studia pittura e arte al Ontario College d’Arte (noto anche come l’Ontario College di Arte e Design). Dopo essersi laureata in pittura, comincia quella che sarà una fortunata carriera di fotografa di moda, e dopo un anno diventa una regista di successo di video musicali.

I suoi lavori più recenti la vedono esporre fotografie e video installazioni (Toronto e New York), pubblicazioni editoriali, fra le altre, anche di sue fotografie (Italia, Germania, New York) e inoltre ha diretto il suo primo lungometraggio. La ricordiamo per aver coraggiosamente affrontato il panorama artistico e multimediale, a livello nazionale e internazionale. Alcuni tra i musicisti che hanno lavorato con lei sono David Bowie, Marilyn Manson, Tricky, Leonard Cohen, e Bjork. Ha inoltre esposto in mostre collettive assieme a Cindy Sherman, Rebecca Horn, Vanessa Beecroft,Tony Oursler, Donald Lipski, Roberto Clemente, and Joel-Peter Witkin

Selected Videography

2002 Song Title: “Black Amour”
Artist: Barry Adamson

2002 Song Title “She Said”
Artist: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

2001 Song Title: “In My Secret Life”
Artist: Leonard Cohen

2000 Song Title: “4 Ton Mantis”
Artist: Amon Tobin

Song Title: “I Have Seen It All”(Webeo)
Artist: Bjork
1999 Song Title: “Get Up”
Artist: Amel Larrieux

1998 Song Title: “Can’t Get Loose”
Artist: Barry Adamson

Song Title: “Most High”
Artist: Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

1997 Song Title: “Can You Trip Like I Do?”
Artist: Filter & The Crystal Method

1997 Song Title: “Makes Me Wanna Die”
Artist: Tricky

Song Title: “Dead Man Walking”
Artist: David Bowie

1996 Song Title: “Little Wonder”
Artist: David Bowie

Song Title: “Tourniquet”
Artist: Marilyn Manson

Song Title: “Beautiful People”
Artist: Marilyn Manson


I video di Floria Sigismondi che sono visibili su internet in versione integrale:

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
She Said

Marilyn Manson, Beautiful People
Marilyn Manson, Tourniquet  
Amon Tobin, 4 Ton Mantis

stampa (text-only)


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