In conjunction with Coline Marotta’s current exhibition, Brigade’s Artistic Director, Michael Bank Christoffersen sat down to have a conversation with Marotta about her practice, what she feared the most during the preparation of the show and her thoughts on being a slow painter.
Your new exhibition ’Keeping in Touch’ seems to not only be a personal and heartfelt exhibition, but also a development of your practice. Could you put words on how this exhibition has come to be conceptually and how you conceived it?
I think I started to work on that exhibition even before I knew there was going to be one. The moment I was done with the paintings I realized that the process had started while I was on residency at the Danish Institute of Rome in October last year. There are always a couple of key-elements that follow me such as the idea of belonging, building intimacy, finding a slower pace or acrobatic communication, but I think the development can be seen in the fact that I really focused on feeling freer with the medium. The palette opened up, got more intense, I dared more. The paintings stood longer in the studio, I had time to look at them for weeks without touching them and then work on them again. There is time in them, they are patient.
The theme of the exhibition is a state of non-emergency. How would you describe this state yourself? And are you able to find it on a regular basis?
I would describe it as sometimes accepting the place we are at and stop being constantly on the run to be better, to be a different version of ourselves. It’s about letting go of the over-business of our lives. I’m also thinking about our very much constant need for distraction and entertainment. I see the state of non-emergency as a moment when we get deeply and sincerely connected to our environment again.
I find it very hard to find this place but for example when I am in the studio painting or doing something else that’s creative, I do feel that I’m getting more engaged with my surroundings afterward, and that I'm learning to get to know it better every time. I think it has something to do with letting go of being in a rush and I’m a slow painter.
I love the emotion and sentiment streaming at me in ‘Never Ending Pasta’ - how did the piece come about?
It was a recurring dream I had about a year ago and it really got stuck with me, that specific scene of eating a never finishing pasta dish for many nights, in this case in order not to face the person seated on the other side. I was interested in what it says about the denial of communication but also in the enormous absurdity of it. I think this work resonates with “Stopping until the rain stops”, it has the same childish feeling, maybe immature, sucking a forever spaghetti up, drinking the rainwater, actions that are purely playful with very little point.
The paintings in the show also include a lot of different perspectives and views and frames within frames. How do you manage and guide these painterly interactions - they seem very specific to each canvas?
I’ve been painting windows, or space that can be seen as windows, since the last year of my master's degree. I think of them as escape rooms, as a moment of respiration and as a way to open up the picture in order to unfold other narratives. To look at a window is a way of pausing, taking a moment. Some years ago, I painted shutters and while in Rome I took a lot of pictures of windows with curtains; these elements attract me. They create different grounds, deepen perspectives, and talk about the said and the unsaid, what’s shown and partly shown, what’s real and what’s dreamed, desired, hoped.
The painterly elements of your pieces are all very deliberate and nothing seems out of place. Is there a process as to how you choose what to include - from rain to objects?
When I moved to Copenhagen many years ago, I stopped buying anything or even being seduced by any objects, the feeling of not really feeling at home kind of prevented me from building one. But lately I started to collect more and more objects and to pay more and more attention to them, and quite naturally they end up living in the paintings. Some elements are parts of other paintings, some are domestic, some were seen here and there, in different contexts, in the street, in a movie, at my parent’s home, in a memory. They come from different sources, it’s a way of mapping, of creating a space composed by different times and impressions. None are random, they are all there to nourish the story.
When you made the exhibition was there anything you were fearful of or wanted to avoid including in the pieces?
It was a bit of a shock to see the paintings outside the studio, I had a very good time working on them for many months, but it also created a protected bubble that was a little hard to break. I really wanted to be happy and satisfied with all of them, so I was maybe fearful to not have explored enough. I think there is always a part of me that is frustrated with the paintings, but it’s also just the way I see my process, a long line of experimenting and solving previous problems by creating new ones.
How has your work process with Brigade been and what are you working on next?
I really enjoyed that we got time to get to know each other during the preparation of the exhibition and that we exchanged texts, ideas, had regular conversations about the show, the paintings but also about art history and various concepts. Since graduating I’ve been having a hard time finding the discipline of keeping in touch with theory, so this was and is very precious. In the very near future is a group exhibition titled “Animal Show” at Acapella in Napoli and a month-long residency in Havana thanks to Brigade with my friend Martin Gallone where we will both work on our own stuff and improvise a collaboration together under the sun.