Berlin-based artist Lorena Florio explores the intricacies of the human body and the volatility of time through her art. She highlights the profound connections and complexities of the human form through her unique visual style. Engaging with themes of nostalgia, childhood, and change, she captures transient moments, portraying their essence by visually reducing her subjects to their core.
Could you take us back to when and how you first got introduced to photography? What sparked your interest in this medium?
I started taking photographs in my teens, around the age of 14 or 15. It was a very natural approach, as I have always been a quiet and observant person. During this time I was also going through a very difficult time and taking photographs was the only thing that made me feel complete. Over time, I recognized that photography was an integral part of my identity, pushing me to persevere in this medium despite various obstacles. Coming from a very humble background, pursuits like photography and contemporary art were often dismissed, not due to lack of interest but because they weren’t seen as a source of financially income. This was never a question of superficiality but of survival.
However, after graduating from the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, I realised that my visual direction was no longer heading towards classic photography. I was no longer interested in investigating reality as such but rather in creating connections and superimpositions using different processes, both analogue and digital.
What is the story behind your project ‘Lacerazione’? Can you tell us about its background and inspiration?
‘Lacerazioni’, being the first work developed after the Academy, is very important to me. It represents a breaking point with my past (in a photographic sense). Developed during the first lockdown, it is a work whose aesthetic is closely linked to the demands of that particular period. Being locked in a small flat with my parents in Pescara, the objects and spaces I had at my disposal were very limited and reality no longer fascinated me. I could no longer identify myself with the concept of the photographic narrative, so with the few tools I had at my disposal I started to experiment.
The first photograph taken in the series was the one where you can see my hand torn in the sky. At this time I listened to a song called ‘Un mattino vorrei’ by Egisto Macchi very often. The song is about a child who would like to wake up in the middle of the sea with the sun in his eyes one day. I think this song influenced the aesthetic dimension of the whole work. It is not easy for me to talk about this project as it is the result of various thoughts and phases that I went through during my years of study, where often there was a tendency to only consider photography in its purest and most traditional form, while I was favouring other, more avant-garde means of representation and this sometimes limited the work that I produced. With the work ‘Lacerazioni’, in some way I wanted to challenge the tools that everyone generally has, such as a simple printer and ordinary paper and above all, by structuring the entire work around a very simple action such as observing the rays of the sun passing through a slit. An action that I link to my childhood, looking at the sun through the fingers of my hands.
The noticeable rips in the photographs of the ‘Lacerazione’ project are quite captivating. What’s the significance behind them? And how do you believe they add to the overall narrative of the work?
The rips in the series can be seen from several points of view. For me they represent a moment of breaking with the past, that is, with photography in a more traditional sense. I wanted to go further and untie photography from a forced narrative. For me, what is often called a ‘photographic project’ can also consist of one, two or three images that contain a meaning, not necessarily a large number of photographs.
‘Lacerazioni’ was created through simple steps, testing quite elementary tools, pieces and gestures, such as a simple printer, basic paper, and the sun; but always trying to generate a new dimension.
Your project ‘Essere per sempre’ captures intimate moments with your young nieces. What was the motivation behind this particular series? What particularly fascinates you about these themes?
‘Essere per sempre’ depicts the synthesis of various childhood memories. What fascinates me most about this theme is probably the fact that I have very few and vague memories of my own childhood and with ‘Essere Per sempre’ I am able to imprint them, shape them and fossilize them. I grew up watching my first niece (born when I was 16 years old) change and evolve. Often when I did not see her for a few weeks, she was already quite different. A part of her was already gone, vanished. The fast, almost violent change that a body undergoes during childhood is what interests me most.
Over the years, you’ve explored various techniques and styles within photography. Are there any mediums or methods you’re eager to explore in the future?
Up to this point, my physical works have consistently been re-photographed. This technique allows me the freedom to choose how to present the sculpture, from what angle, and most importantly, how to recontextualize it. This year, I haven’t produced any new pieces, due in part to logistical reasons and life changes like relocating to a new city and work commitments, as well as my ongoing contemplation about how to structure my work in an installation format. I’m eager to dive more into sculpture as a medium. In many of my photographs, I aim to capture the essence of lived experiences and life stages, and I feel that giving these concepts tangible three-dimensionality in the real world is crucial. For example, I very much admire the work of Rachel de Joode and Felicity Hammond, who perfectly combine image, three-dimensionality and sculpture. This is a source of inspiration for me.
In the past, you have made a comparison between photographs and fossils. Could you expand on this thought and explain the connection you see between the two?
A fossil can be thought of as a portion of energy that has escaped decomposition and thus imprisoned and become a tangible object. In my most recent works, I have implemented this definition through images. By implementing various processes, based on the discarding of matter. An example can be the work ‘Altalena’ where the synthesis of a specific moment is depicted: a little girl, playing on a swing, looks towards the sun. By means of analogue processes performed directly on the image, and the solidification through resin of the same, the photograph takes on a shape of its own, no longer flat, but undulating. It is the synthesis of a past event that, like a wave, unstable and cyclical, resurfaces in a memory. The basis of these processes is a stratigraphic action, performed on the subject, with the aim of restoring its maximum energy.
How do you hope your audience perceives and reacts to your work? Have there been any reactions that surprised you?
So far I have received very positive feedback from people, which helps me a lot in times of crisis. The photograph ‘Losing teeth’ is loved as much as it is loathed, as it depicts a change in a very raw way and an emptiness that everyone goes through. For example, my sister (the mother of the little girl depicted in that picture) hates that image. I find this very amusing and paradoxical, because it is clear that that photograph represents a fundamental passage, in which our body begins to change in a decisive way, and from what I understand not everyone likes to remember this phase of life.
However, I would also like people to reflect on a new way of representing things, going beyond a more superficial vision.
How has moving from Italy to Berlin influenced your artistic practice, and what has been your experience with the art scene in Berlin?
Moving to Berlin was a necessity for me, as in Italy I was experiencing quite a difficult situation both economically and from a production point of view. I no longer had faith in the future. What I liked from the start about Berlin was the certainty that you can really build something here. The art scene in Berlin seems to me to be very thriving and active, even though I have so far remained quite aloof, my head being occupied by other things. In any case, it is very easy to meet and get to know interesting people and artists and this is one of the things I like most about this city.