[originally posted on Kickaction.ca]
Dana Dal Bo created buzz in 2005 when she collaborate with Alexandre-Nicolas Soubiran to create a suggestive interpretation of the Grimm Fairy tales (think the Little Red Riding Hood whipping the Big Bad Wolf) for Divers/Cité. Since then she’s done a little bit of everything, from crafts to jewellery to miniature handwork. I talked to her this week about her future projects, her favourite artists, and her decision to pursue a second BFA.
What is art, in your own words? What is art’s function in today’s world? (or, what should art do, if it’s not doing it right now?)
Such an enormous question. Especially with my background in fibres, there is always this debate about art vs. craft. Ultimately I would rather not say what art is or isn’t because the definition never holds true for long. I think it evolves. To me it is an experience and I am not sure how you define an experience.
As for its function, I believe it is meant to challenge tired ways of thinking- to create pathways for new ideas and connections, and of course to inspire more art.
In your artist statement, you describe how your current project explores women’s “deep longing to become a free agent.” Do you think that’s ever possible for women to be free of all the constraints and expectations of society? Why or why not?
I don’t think anyone gets to be free of social expectations and constraints. Men are also trapped in them. They are the foundations and parameters of our society. The best we can do is try to redefine them in a way that makes sense for us. Make your own rules and live by them. My latest project – “How to Draw a Girl Drowning” – looks at a young woman trying to escape limited definitions of femininity while paradoxically embodying them. When I use myself as the subject of my work it opens up a whole new conversation. People react strongly when they figure out that I am the model. Even within the art world there are boundaries – typically the artist is not supposed to be the model.
Who are your favourite female artists and why?
Louise Bourgeois’s work has profoundly affected me on so many occasions. Standing underneath her Maman spiders is unnerving. Her sculptures seem so visceral both in their execution and how they are experienced. She confronts the complications of sexuality, masculinity, femininity and family. And she does this with such a profound honesty. From her writings and interviews in Destruction of the Father/ Reconstruction of the Father, you get this feeling that she is really open and sincere and letting you in. I love how she manages to integrate the telling of her life story into her work.
Of course “the grandmother” of performance art, Marina Abramovic has also really influenced me. She pushes notions of ritual and the body, often violently, and I really admire her bravery and stamina. Her decade of collaborations with Ulay are particularly fascinating, they shared a birthday and identified themselves as twins. This resonates so strongly with the work I have done with AN Soubiran, calling ourselves Anadama. We also share a birthday and have made a decade of work losing and finding ourselves in each other. There is a strong mystical energy in her work that I find powerful and captivating. And both of them have such extensive careers. It is inspiring to see women creating over decades.
I also have to say that right now I am really loving Diablo Cody. I think she is creating these complex female characters that are so refreshing. Jennifer’s Body was hated by most critics as a lousy horror flick, I think it was even nominated for a Raspberry, but I think she touches the nuances of female adolescence beautifully and with humour. And I love the fractured Tara in United States of Tara. It’s great to see such a multifaceted female role.
You went back for a second BFA in Fibres recently, after your first BFA in Art History and Studio Art. What compelled you to go for a second degree, and how was going back to school after spending some time in the “real world”?
The “real world” is what compelled me to go back to school. I wasn’t ready to be part of it. Plus, I really wanted to have access to the facilities at Concordia. Working in textiles requires space and equipment that is expensive and hard to access. The fibres department there is unbelievable. I was extremely fortunate because my return lead me to become a research assistant for a phenomenal artist, Ingrid Bachmann. Working with her at Hexagram, in the Institute of Everyday Life, has been an invaluable learning experience. And as an added bonus they have a jacquard loom at Hexagram which I love weaving on!
You seem like a real Renaissance woman – so far, you’ve been involved in creating a jewellery label, performance art, miniature handwork, to name a few. What’s next for you? Can you give me any hint on your next project?
Oh, everything. I am attending the École De Joaillerie De Montréal to learn some soldering techniques to improve the jewelleryry I make with MaryAnne Petrella as Misssoka. I am going to edit “How to Draw a Girl Drowning”. For that project, I have been documenting myself for a year inhabiting all these characters- Alice, Persephone, Augustine, Ophelia – and now its time to sit down and edit all the material I’ve collected/acquired. Like many artists, I like the making of things more than the editing of them so I have a few new projects lined up too. A series of nostalgia based jacquard weavings using retro reflective thread acting as a dysfunctional mirror. And I really want to just have some fun playing with Lego, my boyfriend, is an AFOL (adult fan of Lego) and we have this idea to create…
Where can people find your work?
Dellacolletta – coming soon