Camilla Alberti


“I would like to probe hybridisation to the bone”

AT: Where are you from and how/why did you start engaging with art?

CA: I am Italian, born and grew up in the suburbs of Milan. I approached art in a gradual way, in a slow process that perhaps began because of my attempts to interact with my surroundings. I have never been a very easy person to approach and art was something I used to make the space around me a common ground, viable for me and for others.


AT: When did it become serious?

CA: For me it has always been serious, because it was a process that allowed me to get out of my “bubble” or rather to expand my “bubble” towards others and other things that I did not know. So it is a vital necessity, but I then reasoned on the possibility of making it a career during the last years of the academy, when the artistic research started to have a solid structure.


AT: Are there any person who has been significant in your breakthrough as an artist?

CA: I don’t know if I could identify a specific person. I have never had a mentor or key figure who has been central to my journey. However, there have been and are many encounters that have encouraged, diverted, pushed, renewed, supported, undermined my work, all of them fundamental and significant.


AT: What is your first approach to the work? How would you describe your practice?

CA: My first approach to the work was to search for ruined material, and then to wander around, always keeping an eye on my surroundings. It is the first phase, perhaps the most important one because it is the one from which all the rest, reflections, forms and attempts, branch off. There are times when the search for material is “quick”, because friends or collaborators point out interesting materials or deliver them directly to my studio. At other times it takes me months to find something that is interesting and also usable, and therefore not too degraded. I always try to accumulate objects that I arrange in the studio.

Unbinding Creatures – La sala delle rovine | Installation View Alter-Eva at Palazzo Strozzi | ©photo Ela Bialkowska OKNO studio

AT: What do you aim to reach with your work?

CA: I would like to probe hybridisation to the bone. To build organisms that are inhabitants of this world but inhabitable in their own right, that are not recognised by observers but gradually become known. To define this kind of corporeal spatiality, which is also at times destabilising, in order to move the human being from the land to the centre of the ‘world vortex’.


AT: What are your favourite tools and materials for working?

CA: In general, I love working with any material that has ‘lived’ its own history, such as wood eaten by woodworms, hollowed out by insects and manipulated by water. I like to discover and interact with forms that someone else has created out of necessity of life or simply because of a temporary passing.


AT: What do you feel while you work? Do you usually think about the final outcome beforehand?

CA: I experience the practical work as a sort of ritual, cadenced and fairly methodical in its development. Once the starting material has been chosen, I start work by grafting and shaping the aluminium wire with which all the structural parts of the sculpture are joined. It is a moment where I seek a continuous resonance with, and between, the materials I have available in the studio. There are no right or wrong choices during the process, there are infinite combinations of form and every object could be fixed in every part of the structure, but there is a strange feeling that takes hold of the bowels, and that somehow guides the choices. A feeling that if I follow leads me to the resolution of harmonious forms, however intricate. Sometimes I fantasise about the final result of a work, but I always imagine figures with very blurred contours because the variants of the result are too intertwined with the physicality of the material.


AT: How do you understand that a work is finished?

CA: Following that feeling I mentioned earlier. I reach a moment when I understand that the object or material I am putting into the sculptural body will be the last one because I feel it viscerally.

Unbinding Creatures – La sala delle rovine | Installation View Alter-Eva at Palazzo Strozzi | ©photo Ela Bialkowska OKNO studio
Unbinding Creatures – Organismo 5 | Installation View Alter-Eva at Palazzo Strozzi | ©photo Ela Bialkowska OKNO studio

AT: Where does the inspiration for the work come from?

CA: Books, scientific articles, video games, films, anime, organisms and spaces. There is no one thing that inspires me more than another, but I am open to the stimuli of all possibilities. The reflections I draw from books (from novels to essays) permeate through the images of a dystopian film, are refuted by the eyes of my dog or come back to me as I “run” through a ruined city trying to make my avatar survive in the video game of the day. The search for the Unbinding Creatures, a sculptural series that I have been pursuing for just over a year, was born after reading a book by D. Haraway’s book, has grown in my mind after finding a sentence written when I was a child “Save the dragons and not the princesses”, has been fortified by the emotional load experienced with the videogame “The last of us”, has drawn from the extremophile creatures of the docu-series “Alien Worlds”, has learned the “melting” from the refraction of the film “Annihilation”, has known the importance of the ruins with “Le temps en ruines” by Marc Augè… and so on towards a list to which I have not yet stopped adding entries.


AT: Are there any artists who influenced your works? Why?

CA: The influences and therefore the evolution of my work have been the result of encounters, rather fortuitous in some cases, with artists but also, and perhaps above all, with intellectuals, architects and scientific researchers. Encounters and direct exchanges are the two ways in which my work has always undergone strong shocks, positive or negative, but always useful for taking a step forward. Nomeda and Gediminas Ubonas, Can Altai, Stefano Boccalini, Marinella Senatore, Isabella and Tiziana Pers… these are some of the artists I have met and whose formal or stylistic interest I have always been struck by, in addition to their “attitude”, the dynamics of the creative process, their determination and involvement in research. Having said that, I study and look with interest at the work of many artists and architects: Pierre Huyghe, Michel Blazy, Anne and Patrick Poirier, Anselm Kiefer, Stefano Canto, Evan Roth, Nils Norman, SelgasCano, Jorge Eduardo Neira Serkel..


AT: How important is the role of social media for you?

CA: I personally use them as a connection tool in relation to my work. My Instagram page tells about my research, shows some work in progress, communicates exhibitions but is not synchronised with my private life.


AT: What is your opinion about NFTs and their impact on the art world?

CA: Organic materials, objects and industrial waste are the basis of my work. I work with a very physical practice closely linked to concrete manipulation and modelling. The world of NFTs is quite far away from the dimension of my research, but I think they open new fundamental scenarios for the practice of some artists and undoubtedly for collecting.

Mostri dalla terra profonda, 2020, Acrylic on canvas, 100×80 cm | Courtesy the artist

AT: As an artist, what is your point of view about the contemporary art system?

CA: Fateful question. It is not easy to answer, it is as intricate as it is fragile and because of this fragility it has sharp thorns.


AT: What do you find to be the most challenging or daunting thing about pursuing art? What is the most rewarding part of working as an artist?

CA: The most discouraging part is perhaps the job insecurity, which adds a veil of difficulty to the lives of artists, especially at the beginning of their careers. The most rewarding, I cannot choose between two moments: the first, in the studio, when I finish a work and it is only me looking at it. The second, when the work is exhibited in a show, left at the mercy of an audience, and you can see how the interaction happens, how much time people spend on the work, how they move around it.


AT: What do you do besides art?

CA: A large part of my life is dedicated to and occupied by art, and it is difficult for me to detach myself from artistic practice, both in my free time and in reference to other work moments. My studio, however, is located within the family business, a textile embroidery factory. It is a space full of boxes and crossed by the constant noise of large embroidery machines, when I can I help with production or simply manage and tidy up the space. Besides that, I take care of animals that I was lucky enough to save from the street and some plants that now live in the studio/factory in a chaotic but in its madness balanced ecosystem.


AT: What are your goals and expectations for the future?

CA: First of all, to continue my work by going deeper and deeper into research through residencies, study programmes, exhibitions and any dimension in which I can test myself. To increase the space available to me so that I can work on larger sculptures in which hybridisation can not only be observed but become an immersive experience.

Unbinding Creatures – Organism 7, Steel, aluminium wire, plaster, ceramic paste, wood, 110x95x139h cm | Courtesy the artist
Camilla Alberti (b. 1994) is an Italian visual artist currently living and working in Milan, Italy.

“Through artistic practice, I reflect on the concept of building worlds, on the roles and relationships that each inhabitant (human and non-human) defines with his being in the world. I collect abandoned objects, industrial waste and organic fragments in a process of urban archaeology. I use to investigate ruins as active and metamorphic spaces to create hybrid spaces where materials dialogue with each other in decentralised structures inspired by plant interconnections and fungal reticles".