Matilde Sambo


“I feel like an ‘artistic breath’ was always with me, I think I start engaging with art walking with my parents through the streets, ‘calli’, where you have to pay attention to every details for remember your way”

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

MS: I’m from Venice, the city that you have to “feel with your feet”, as the Venetian writer Tiziano Scarpa wrote. The beautiful bubble full of contradictions, where even if you live there since you were born you can lost trough hidden streets. There is always a new corner to discover, a refraction on the water that give at the same place multiples faces, always vibrant, calm in such a way, but never still. I feel like an “artistic breath” was always with me, I think I start engaging with art walking with my parents through the streets,“calli”, where you have to pay attention to every details for remember your way. I always played to find faces and forms on the the peeling walls. That sense of continue discover push me also today. Let be your self lost, is a fortune.


AT: When did it become serious?

MS: It was more or less three years ago when I received a call from Giulio Verago, from Via Farini in Residence, Milan. That was for me unexpected, I had just finished my BA at IUAV in Venice, and I was trying to work with video but in a such commercial way, and I felt that my head and heart were a little bit sacrificed in my hometown, Milan for me was a completely new era of my life, in many senses. In that reality of shared spaces with artists from all over the world, where I could concentrate and focus on my own practice, but at the same time connect every day with a group of people that sees the world in a similar way, well I felt home immediately. Two mouths became one year, and in there over many studio visit I had one with my actual gallery, aA29 Project Room, they propose me to join them at the beginning for a little collective, and after that we start work together. In May 2019 I had my first solo show “Falsità in buona coscienza” in Milan, and with that project I started my collaboration with Fonderia Artistica Battaglia. Everything changes again. Before that moment I only worked with video and photography, but those media give me the feeling of something missing, l needed to work with sculpture, create something you can touch and see from all the prospectives, with which you can have interaction.


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

MS: Yes, first of all my parents, both of them worked in art. My mother was a costume designer for theater and cinema and she made works with paper, stuff that she never exhibit but that I always says that she made something in the 70’s that I see now in exhibitions. And my father too, he is a great painter, sculptor and musician. Later I had the fortune to get in touch with many different people, not only from art world, that give me the purpose, the energy and different view on world.

Vita come saliente avidità, 2020-ongoing, Print on Hahnemuhle paper, 40×60 | Courtesy the artist and aA29 Project Room

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

MS: I need to tell stories. Narration is the spine of all my projects. I don’t think that I have a method for start working, I let the things flow from many sources, I read a lot, mostly essays of anthropology and philosophy but also encyclopedias of insects and botanics. Then I use my body a lot, I try to open my senses everywhere I go and taking notes of what I see and feel. If I have to describe my practice, I find dots that came on the surface after periods of collecting inputs and in a really natural way I slowly start to see narrations forming. I think that stories are the food for the mind and soul, since ancient times. I want to create environments where who experiences them can be immersed, finding themselves even in small parts and details. I work in a very organic, holistic way, where the parts have potential and are more than the sum. Lots of my projects are formed by many layers, from video to sculpture, to sound and performance, and all the elements can live separately but together they form scenes and stories that intertwine each other. I work a lot on the idea of fragment, contrasts and overlaps that in cyclically and organically way add and remove forms.


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

MS: Since a year and half my favorite material is wax, it is such a versatile tool, that can always change and transform. In contrast, it can be one of the most eternal material, bronze. Right now I’m working on some performance projects that interact with video and sculptures.


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

MS: The feeling and sensations are always in contrast and I let my mind works in such a way. I like to have always a sense of tension that push me, a flame to control…and the final outcomes, it is for sure an important step but it is not the goal. For all my project time is essential to define an outcomes, and I like the process, the evolution and the changes, there have to be a control but I also like to be open and elastic based on the context. I really like to work site specific.


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

MS: This is a difficult question. I work with series of works, in a sense of projects and even if they reach a sort of conclusion, I feel, and need, that all the projects have to remain open. Maybe I can let rest for a long period of time a specific project but it is always there…as I learn and grow so they are and can.

Animo Convulso”, 2020 | Installation view at Cappella dei Notai, Palazzo della Ragione, Museo Achille Forti, Verona (IT) | On view till November 30, 2021: Bronze, iron, dried Harpagophytum | Courtesy the artist and aA29 Project Room

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

MS: Insects, plants and people’s postures


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

MS: Bill Viola first of all, for for the direct impact of his work, and ability of powerful connections and ripping visions. Pippilotti Rist for her capacity to be ironic and gentle while entering in the deepest and most hidden folds, corners forgotten with childhood but that lie in every adult. Laurie Anderson for her voice, for her strength and ability to move in different environments but always connecting them with extreme lucidity and harmony. Pierre Huyghe and Matthew Barney for their ability to create other worlds permeated by real creatures intertwined with collective imaginations, anxieties, and fantasies. Well I can continue with many others…


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

MS: Social media are tools, really useful tools, that are the powerful and that can really help to create contacts and find new worlds and ways, but at the same time I don’t want to put too much energy in them because the risks of being sucked into insane vortex are high. I need to maintain a direct contact with people.

Still from UNTITLED – MONITORS AND MATERIALS, 2018 | Installed at VIR open Studio, Via Farini, Milan

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

MS: It is a complex web of connection and fluxes, as all the creative system it is a structure that have rules and steps…I feel like something it is really changing in such ways…I’m not entirely sure of what changes are in course but I feel, as many other things of daily life, something is boiling. I’m glad of it, even if it means living in a more precarious situations.


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?

MS: Works with artisans, be in contact with studious, collective, foundries, it is always real oxygen for my projects and my mind set. It is in a way to be outside of my head and think and visualize the elements. Understand the materials, develop skills with them, learn techniques and be able to visualize the drawing phase it is something that give me the fuel and the motivation to continue working and improve my self.


AT: What do you do besides art?

MS: I mostly work as a freelancer in video editing and filming.


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

MS: Create a web of trusted people that believe in my works and with whom be able to let born my projects.

Stato Sottile, 2019 | A project made for Art Encounters at Volvo Studio Milano, Six Steps Forward for One Step Back
"I work with sculpture, video, performance and sound. In each project, a narrative is articulated and expands across multiple layers and languages. I’m interested to explore the relationship between the natural world and human being, a relation that swing between instinct and rationality. To understand this relation I use the “fragment” as poetic figure the fragment acquires validity in and of itself, so I examine how the different fragments are added or subtracted from each other starting from a common root"

Matilde Sambo (b. 1993, Venice) is an Italian visual artist currently living and working in Milan, Italy.