On Matters of Touch – Interview with Rosa

At the beginning of September I attended the Verzasca Foto Festival in Brione. The festival offers photo-exhibitions in the mountains accompanied by talks, great food, and music. This year the festival’s theme was “touch”, the importance of physical exchange and the connection between human beings.

Touch implies a particular form of mutuality: we cannot touch without being touched and maybe, just for this reason, touching helps us connect to other humans and the surrounding elements. Through gestures such as caressing, holding hands and hugging we can communicate, comfort and support while creating and sharing mutual well-being. 

Verzasca Foto Festival

I asked Rosa, a photographer from Bologna who was a finalist in one of the contests, a few questions about her art, curation, and the emotions she explores in her work.

  1. Share with us the art works that touched you at this festival.

I could share a few words about every work exhibited in the festival, but the truth is that the festival itself is what touched me during this weekend. After so long without travelling because of the pandemic, being here gave me the chance to breathe some fresh air again. And I’m not talking just about the mountains but mostly about the atmosphere here, even if it’s not so far away from where I live. 

What fascinated me these days has been the warm welcome from the organisers, the volunteers and all those working at the festival. I think I needed this, being for a few days in a small village where people greet you with a smile and at the same time being in the company of people from different parts of the world. Everyone is here out of honest love for art and photography and to exchange thoughts with strangers who become friends. 

The poet W. B. Years once wrote: “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet” and I think this can resume my feelings about being here.

  1. What do you do when you have an impatient heart?

Music is the key, even before photography. I’m not a musician, I’m not able to play any instruments, but music is what I need during my creative process. When I need to talk about a specific atmosphere I listen to a couple of tracks which help me a lot to get into the mood. Different music for different stories and artworks. Then there is always a moment when I start a loop, listening to the same song for the whole day, as if it is a mantra in my mind. It makes me focus on a specific melody and part of the lyrics I want to translate into images, communicating what I feel.

  1. What emotions do you explore in your art?

I remember a quote from Paolo Sorrentino during an interview, who said: “Having a feeling of sadness for something you don’t know, is a good reason to start creating something.” 

I feel very close to what he said because this is what connects all my works so far. I am often a pendulum between the concepts of Saudade and Sehnsucht, so the nostalgia for something that happened in the past or even for what didn’t happen yet is the mood I keep exploring with my art. 

All is then surrounded by a “visual silence”, silence not as the absence of noises, but as time stopped for a few moments. The lightness that my photos often communicate to the viewer is my own desire for that same lightness I think we need during our difficult moments. My work entitled Sana Sana is an example, as it is a series I realized to be able to go further after living some difficult moments.

Also, my research is connected to the presence of an absence, of someone, some place or something in any case. For this reason people, places and objects tend to return, to alternate and repeat themselves when this lack becomes more defined, while the search becomes more complex when it comes to something not yet well defined. 

  1. Do you curate your work and, if yes, how?

Every artist should keep in contact with a curator or an art consultant because you always need a different point of view on your work. Being so much into what you want to communicate makes you look at your art in a totally subjective way. This is why it’s important to get in touch with an expert. In my case, as a photographer, the photo editor role is fundamental too. However, I often send part of my work to close friends of mine (photographers, illustrators, musicians) to get an idea about my work through different eyes so I can understand if what I want to tell is really reaching the viewer. But in this case I cannot talk about curating because it would be more about the editing phase. Of course a curator or a photo editor, as an expert in this field, would always add value to the artwork but so far I’m still curating my work by myself, trying to improve and to learn more and more about this practice.

  1. You live in Bologna, Italy. How does Bologna influence your art?

Bologna has always been an important place for me. When I moved from Apulia, around ten years ago, this city gave me the chance to feel at the centre of the world even being just 600 km away from my hometown. 

Since the beginning I saw Bologna as a mix of different cultures, a “not too big” city where I could follow the artistic flow, meeting people from different regions, countries, continents and where no one will judge you.

Also I had the great opportunity to study at the Fine Arts Academy with a great teacher who made me get passionate about handmade books and that’s the reason for my love for binding books, self-publishing, different types of paper, all things connected to my photographic practice.

So, even if you don’t really see Bologna inside my photos, it’s always an invisible part of my art and I have no regrets about my choice of moving there. 

  1. What themes do you want to further explore in your work?

As I described before, my work is based on a nostalgic feeling. During the years I became more and more conscious about this spontaneous research and I started developing more in depth. It’s a theme I cannot avoid as it’s part of me and I would like to explore it more with new works (something new it’s already in my mind and I have already started a huge research) to show a particular atmosphere where time seems suspended.

Website: www.lacavallarosa.com

Instagram: @rosalacavalla

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