Lucia Rossi Victoria, Australia
Lucia Rossi works with themes of body, mythology, and relationship to place and object. She often uses herself as subject within her works, combined with methods of performance, and rituals of choreography with landscape and camera. From 1999 to 2008, Rossi worked plein-air in Tasmania, Australia, using her body as a hieroglyph or ‘sign’ to point towards certain sites or natural forms, creating a connection between figure and landscape, and a sense of mystery and modern mythology. She completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Tasmanian School of Art in 2003.
The selected works are from the series “Cradle”, 2008/11. Assisted with funding from Arts Tasmania, and support from Parks & Wildlife Services Tasmania.
Lucia Rossi was chosen by photographer and performance artist Andrea Inocêncio
Laatikkomo’s interview with Lucia Rossi November 27th, 2014
L: Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
LR: I was born in Scotland. My mother is Scottish, and my father is Italian. When I was two we spent six weeks
on a boat migrating from Scotland to the island of Tasmania, in far south eastern Australia. From this
experience I think I inherited the desire to keep moving. When I was sixteen I went to live in Italy for a year
and learnt my paternal language. I feel more strongly connected to the Italian side of my heritage, and feel a
sense of completeness when I stand on Italian ground. I then went to London to work in a photography
studio, and did my apprenticeship with medium format cameras. After five years I started to miss the colour,
the smell, and the sound of the Australian landscape. I went back to Tasmania for fifteen years, did my arts
degree, and became fascinated with the deep time Precambrian landscape. During this time I spent a year in
Broome in far north west Australia. I went there because I wanted to experience a tropical cyclone season. I
lived out doors with a small tin roof for shelter, and the red earth under my feet. I worked with the aboriginal
community teaching the kids photography. They showed me how to be in nature, and how to ‘see’ it. Another
location that had a profound effect on me was a five month residency in Cradle Mountain, Tasmania where I
lived in a small hut with no running water or electricity. In 2008 I spent two years in Paris in residency at the
Cité International des Arts. I discovered a different facet of my work through a mostly studio based practice. I
think I might have had a previous life in Paris as I feel a very strong connection to this city. I currently live in
L: What is your earliest memory of landscape?
LR: In my childhood in Tasmania we lived on a large urban block where my parents grew many fruits and
vegetables to feed the family. I have many early memories of climbing trees to reach the best fruits. For
many years I was convinced that we had a white horse at the bottom of the garden! When I was ten years
old my father took me on a trip to Italy, to visit his village Laurenzana in the southern region of Basilicata. I
remember being quite ‘spooked’ and awed by the de-nuded hills, and scars of mud-slides that had ravaged
the hills and mountains. I think it is my earliest memory of the sublime in nature.
The majority of your images depict a woman’s body in dialogue with the surrounding environment: in poses
that use a visual language reminiscent of dance. What is your personal relationship to performance arts and
I use my body in the works as a symbol or hieroglyph to point towards a natural form or site – to emphasise
an ‘other-worldly’ presence. The process of shooting involves using a twelve second self-timer for shutter
release, and setting up a choreography with my body, the site, and the camera. The physical gesture is
created through spending many hours sitting in the location and feeling a visceral response to it. Throughout
the years I have photographed live performance, theatre, dance & music, which I am sure has also
influenced my artwork in some way.
L: This depiction of the female body as part of the landscape is evocative of romantic myths of “Mother Earth”.
Could you create a similar series using a man’s body? Would you be interested in expressing the same
thoughts with a male body? How would gender change the story: or would it?
LR: When I use my body in my work it is very much connected to a process and state of ‘being in’ rather than
‘looking at’. I work with intuition and visceral response. The works come from tuning all my senses into the
site. I don’t think the work would have the same impact if I was directing a ‘model’. I would use a man’s body
if I were a man, and yes I think it would change the story.
L: Myth and timeless story obviously play an important role in the conceptual composition of your images. But
your images also document an action or interaction with nature. What are your thoughts on documentation
photography: are you interested in making documentation photography?
LR: To me myths are stories that have sprung from an origin of truth, and are created to state the archetypal and
to show us certain facets of the human condition. Different cultures use them in different ways. Photographic
documentation does a similar thing. In some ways my works document a private performance that existed
between me and a site, however the resulting image is meant to represent a mini-mystery, ‘other-worldly’
character, or superhuman being. Another facet of my photographic work is live performance and social
documentation. Depending on how you frame a situation, you can change the context of meaning.
L: Your work in both colour and black and white (film). What are some deciding factors in making that choice?
LR: Subject and intended meaning. Composition and tonal emphasis.
L: The earth plays a main role in your imagery. I was recently in a discussion that put Humans up against the
Earth. Your images seem to indicate a kind of symbiosis between the Earth and those who inhabit it. What
kind of future do you foresee for the Earth?
LR: Humans are a strange species. There are a small number, say 1%, that really have lost touch with nature,
who want to use and abuse it, and want to make the rest of the human population slaves to their ideas.
Politics, in most places, is working for the 1% and not working for the rest of humanity. We need a new
model. I think getting back to nature is probably an answer to that. Humans are part of the earth. We don’t
own it. The earth is stronger. It will out-last us by far. We are, however, causing great injury to it, through too
much desire to control it. There is a strong correlation between this, and the gross prevailing problem of
inequality between genders on this planet. I think both of these problems are greatly linked. I think the key to
the survival of the human species is to work with the earth, and not to try and dominate it.
L: Could you list 5(or more) words you were thinking about when you made this work?
LR: Sublime, nature, strength, persistence, weather.
Thank you so much Lucia!