Prehistoric tribes, wandering the earth, often relied on a single individual to determine the direction of their journey. This individual, seeking wet and fertile land, came to be known as a water-seeker, or seer. One of these vessels of water is borne by interdisciplinary artist and designer Barbara Bologna.
You take the energies in your recent collection to their extremes. The sweetness of sugar becomes putrefaction; the thrust of desire becomes unfamiliar, even threatening in its intensity. Crisp linen is invaded by gaps and flies surround those lacks, attracted by the missing sugar. Sex, sugar, blood: what attracts you to these extremes?
They attract me because they are identical to each other. As three mirrors.
Are there any energies you've yet to explore as an artist that you feel excited to at some point?
I really hope there are, otherwise it would be a sterile life.
You have said that you feel limited by the label of "fashion designer," and understandably so! Your background in performance art and sculpture gives you an odd perspective on design. How does your interdisciplinary practice as an artist emerge in your design process, and what is it that draws you to fashion as a medium of expression?
I don't like the term "fashion designer" simply because I am not. Clothes are important works, complex and devastating. Like artwork, each piece is strong by itself; like a sculpture or a painting or a movie or a song.
Your designs have always felt very liminal to me, always poised between several energies at once: the elegant in conversation with the absurd, the sexual with the virginal, the floral with the grotesque. Do you find yourself caught between ideas very often?
Each time I am trapped, because I am trapped between my opposites. Sometimes it is beautiful being in that middle.
But most people, unfortunately, are too tired to try it, so I do it for them.
I know that you are an active performance artist as well as a designer, and I love that the common thread is the human body. I always think of your designs as indivisible from the body: even hanging, they more eagerly await a living form than other designs I have seen. What is your relationship to the body as an artist and designer?
Thank you, what you said is beautiful. I love and hate my body. I love and hate other bodies. Inside love and hate there are many shades. I express these shades through my clothing designs to explain how I would want you to kill me or how I would kill you, or how I would want you to fuck me or how I would fuck you.
When thinking about the idea of "missing sugar," stolen from us like candy from a baby, I can't help but think about stolen time. Time, like sex, exists in both its pure and measured forms:" there is time and desire as they are experienced, in their unadulterated forms, and as they are measured, divided, understood. What is the time of Area di Barbara Bologna? Are the images and ideas you bring into the world visions of a potential future? Do they exist in a time outside of time? When is Barbara Bologna?
For Barbara Bologna, time is sugar. The time that Barbara Bologna tells is past, present and future. Maybe a time outside of time, yes, but very real. I hope your time with Barbara Bologna will be forever. Barbara Bologna is now.
Your most recent collections have taken such dramatic conceptual leaps: from aliens and UFOs, to fetish and blood and sugar, you draw from such a diverse pool of concepts. Where do you find your ideas? Do they come to you, do you seek them out? Have they been with you all along?
I find my ideas in the back of my eyes. They come to me and stay with me forever because I gave them birth.
What's your astrological sign?
A vase full of water.
Share with me some of the artists and designers who you feel have influenced or inspired you most. Musicians, filmmakers, sculptors, dancers: whose work do you feel closest to?
In this period I like watching simple things. For example: how a supermarket aisle is ordered, how taxis are parked, how interesting is the disposal of the meat inside a showcase. For me there is a music and an artist for each different moment. But they didn't definitively mark what I am, they're just moments. Who really marked what I am are my mothers. Maybe the next time you will ask me who they are.
What are your current obsessions?
I can't tell you otherwise you would already understand the name of the next collection. But it will be very hot!
Click here to see our collection of Area di Barbara Bologna