Reconnecting Fragments, An Interview with Micaela Lattanzio
As a photographer and an artist, Micaela Lattanzio has created a unique artistic identity by exploring the idea of fragmentation and reconstruction, implemented within her photographs. Micaela takes photographs, predominately portraits, and then gives them a completely new personality by cutting them up into abstract pieces. She then pins the fragments together onto a new canvas, playing with light and depth, to create original works of art. Through her work, Micaela weaves entirely new stories, creating new perspectives and limitless boundaries within the imagination and consciousness of the viewer.
Were you always interested in photography? What made you want to transform the portraits you took into fragmented works of art?
MICAELA LATTANZIO: I made a very unconventional path. Initially my studies were related to painting and especially to mosaics. When I was 16, I started working as a mosaic artist and then I studied painting techniques – first at the Art Institute and later at the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome. Photography, however, accompanied me as a child under the teachings of my father who delighted in making analog portraits. Photography has always been a constant companion but, initially, it was like diary notes or a preparatory study for my paintings. I have always liked the immediacy with which the image conveys a lived moment, capturing moments of my day as metaphors of reflection, turning them into simple visual thoughts. But when I deepened my studies related to audio visual media at the University of Valencia, I began to conceive photography as an expressive medium, considering the possibility to add in my artistic work. I felt the need to synthesize and unify my experiments, absorbing the techniques learned in a unique formula. In my work, there isn’t boundary between painting and photography, they are the expression of the same face, a way to describe an idea. I am a photographer, but also an artist. This is what prompted me to break up my pictures. If I look at my work under an aesthetic point of view, photographs are also pieces of a painting palette, each piece hand cut becomes an integral part of a pictorial method.
What is the process like when fragmenting a photo and creating something completely new?
MICAELA LATTANZIO: Before I create an artwork I delineate a clear idea in my mind. First, I work with photography looking at the perfect subject, who later I dismember cutting by hand each piece that I put in boxes, creating color palettes. Finally I shuffle the image according to the pre-established pattern in my mind. There is a planning in my work but my images come to life at the exact moment in which I assemble. Sometimes I create them as I had imagined, in other cases it is the same composition that reveals new insights, creating the possibility of an evolution. Another key component of my work is the three-dimensional element, each fragment is placed on pins of different lengths. This method also creates a movement dictated from the shadows that changes depending on the light, giving an inedited aspect to the work.
Light plays a fundamental role which creates a link to reality. Light is what creates our reality, the images exist because they come to our eyes thanks to the light. I let this phenomenon also comes in my work. There’s a constant link between the idea and the reality, an interaction that produces a continuous dialogue.
What other projects are you working on?
MICAELA LATTANZIO: I’m working on multiple projects. If the picture is an intimate vision, installation becomes a way to extend my research into the environment. The picture has a value more introspective and intimate, installation interacts directly with the environment that hosts it. When I do an inspection, I always try to create a dialogue with the work through the analysis of environmental history. I imagine the space as container but also as a content. In my opinion, it’s important to link the work to the essence of a place. While in “Fragmenta” my attention focused on the human dimension, in other works the key component is the nature, my installations are almost always made up of thousands items, pieces of different shapes cut by hand. There is a preparatory phase very long, rigid and repetitive – I see it almost like a meditative state. In some installations, I have been brought to the people who hosted me to create a work associate. Although my research spans multiple contexts, the common element is nature. The common element in my work is also a molecular system that reveals, through a metaphor, the microcosm around us.
“Viewers can feel free to identify themselves in my work”
What do you hope your audience will feel or think when looking at your artwork? What message are you trying to convey?
MICAELA LATTANZIO: In “Fragmenta,” the faces have no real identity, they are mentioned but not revealed. In this way the dialogue with the viewer is redirected. It doesn’t speak of a single identity but talks about human beings. Viewers can feel free to identify themselves in my work. The topics are varied, the disintegration of the ego is the loss of a deep contact with our unconscious because of the speed that requires us to be in our contemporary society. I invite the viewer to meditate, to extend their scope and to consider the fact that we are the result of the same matter, to seek their own balance in this world. Molecular explosions refer to the extension of ourselves into a system more complex. Today we have the tools of science and technology in order to develop the world in the direction of balance between ourselves and this system. For thousands of years human beings have been custodians of the world while maintaining a balance cyclical, the modern age doesn’t give us much time to make a real evolution of adaptation. This is the concept on which I deliver. I also like to leave the viewer’s free to draw their own conclusions.
Where do you take inspiration from? Do you have any muses for your photography?
MICAELA LATTANZIO: It is difficult to determine from where the inspiration starts. For me, it is important above all to be receptive: I analyze my surrounding, I read books about science and philosophy, and, above all, it’s important the contact with nature. I believe that this creates an articulated mechanism that turns into true visions that appear in my mind. I don’t have a muse, I don’t use professional models. I like to portray people seeing those special traits that distinguish them. When I create a commissioned portrait I’m always gladly to face this challenge, the physiognomy of a person inspires me and defines the molecular decomposition.