Interview for Queef Magazine

20200520_asc_queef magazine_o1

Would you like to read a couple of things about my work (in italian)?

https://www.queefmagazine.com/apollonia-saintclair/

 

Here is the english version of the Q/A:

Q: When I first saw your images, I immediately thought about some issues that concern the artistic gesture, its motivations, the relationship each artist has with his or her drives and instincts. You portray women who are the expression of desires and nightmares, they excite and disturb. The black and white of your works increases this effect, seeming the most suitable means of expression for your art. Can you talk about the choice to not use other colors, which your motto “Ink is my blood” clearly expresses?

A: “Excite and disturb” is exactly the area that interests me particularly, “Demons and wonders” would be another version of this pair. I conceive my work as a personal exploration of still uncharted territories. My drawings are as many maps where the empty voids are filled with fantastic beings, which invite us to travel and scare us simultaneously. This undertaking requires a form of representation which is a balance between realism and abstraction; too much realism and the image becomes “flat”, leaving no room for the imagination of the audience; too much abstraction and it becomes illegible. Black and white allows me to achieve this. I believe that the reduction that this implies activates a primitive layer of our brain, used to recognizing patterns in low light situations and to create meaning from incomplete information. A place where our most primal fears and desires reside. A part of our brain formed during evolution by danger and the need to reproduce.

My motto is an plain observation: I decided to separate my private life from my work, so I only exist publicly through my drawings which are my body, and therefore ink is my blood…

 

Q: I know you come from writing and your affection for surrealism is quite clear, but the feeling your images leave me is also very close to the “disturbing”, meaning the estrangement you feel towards what should be “familiar” in everyday life, but worries and sometimes frightens instead. An animal, a demon, a place. A disturbing element appears in some images. Why these elements? What is your reference imagery?

A: Do you know this situation where you rehash your fears at night in your bed? This tendency that you have to obsess, to lose your bearings? When, little by little, small things becomes threatening mountains, impossible to solve? I try to capture this feeling in my drawings, when an innocuous element becomes obsessive, when the fantastic bursts into everyday life, and to translate that into a feeling, something physical that you can experience almost epidermally. And I’m looking for what allows me to get the most intense reaction in this specific setting. Demons, animals, objects: all of them are totems from our animist past.

 

Q: Female bodies are shameless. They impose themselves to the eye and are subjects of desire. You take to the surface the most extreme desires, but it’s impossible to perceive violence in your works. Your aesthetic is both abstract and vital. How did you find the balance?

A: I try to avoid the platitude of the usual pornographic imagery. But I do not agree completely with you, I think that some of my drawings could be perceived as extremely violent, depending on who is looking at them. In fact they are designed to accommodate radically different interpretations, to reflect our own projections. This is btw what irritates me the most when I am attacked by censorship: when I receive criticisms which obviously come from people who have not taken the trouble to really look, to wonder about what there is to see and on what it says about themselves, people who take everything at face value and refuse to question the complexity of reality.

 

Q: Female desire is even more radicalized in the images dedicated to self-pleasure, a practice full of malice, which never appears trivial. Even in this case I am impressed by the balance you found in making the desire completely exposed. There is something profoundly political in this aspect, since the female desire is central in your works. Have you thought about the fact that your images would have this kind of impact on the public? Did you think someone could give it a political reading?

A: The female body has become one of the symbolic battlefields of our time, so it is inevitable that there is a political dimension when you represent it in all forms. But my research is purely artistic. Perhaps this balance of which you speak is simply the expression of a respectful observation, without overly caricatured biases. I try to represent women and their desires as I perceive them personally, and this is only my opinion, there is no specifically political injunction or agenda there.

 

Q: Erika Lust shot a film inspired by “Ink is my blood”. Can you tell us about this collaboration? What was it like talking to those who were inspired by your imagination? What was it like talking to another means of expression?

A: At first I was fascinated to see how Erika took possession of my universe to transfigure it on film. I had the privilege of seeing how my drawings are seen through the eyes of someone else, and moreover by an artist herself. There was no need for preliminary exchanges because Erika knows my work since she wrote the preface to Ink is my Blood and I also gave up being present on the set, because I did not want to interfere with the creative work of another artist. I also appreciated being able to start from a movie to create new interpretations of these images and to be able to give them a different life through animations.

 

Q: Does the choice to remain anonymous give you greater freedom of expression?

A: Of course: being anonymous allows me to be undifferentiated, to be able to get out of myself, to escape the identity that everyone and society impose on each individual. It allows me to be simultaneously free from myself and from others.

 

Q: What are your next projects? Have you ever thought about animation?

A: The project with Erika Lust rather convinced me that I am rather a “laconic” creator: I continue to prefer to create singular images, which concentrate a complete story into a single frame – so no animation for the time being…

My next project is the publication of Volume Four from Ink is my Blood, which is scheduled for Fall 2020. I am also working on two personal illustrations books, one for adults and one for children; I hope I will find the time to move them forward, as both would be the closest thing to graphic novels I have ever done.

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