Talisa Lallai


“What I feel or how I imagine things is what I want to communicate through my work”

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

TL: I was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, and moved to Düsseldorf a few years later. After leaving school I had in mind to do something with photography, but didn’t want to use it as a trade, but rather as a sort of expression. Being aware of that, I was quite sure that studying art would help me do that.


AT: When did it become serious? 

TL: Actually it became serious when I started allowing my work to become personal. As the daughter of two Italians my origin has always played a big part in my life. Although I have never lived in Italy, I always felt something like homesickness towards it. Trying to translate this feeling into images made me feel that I found what I wanted to display in my work.


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

TL: Both my professors Rebecca Warren and Georg Herold had a big impact on me. They both taught me to see my work as sculptures.


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

TL: The first step is having an idea. Sometimes it comes during a journey, sometimes it comes when I find or read something interesting. After that I start searching for material on flea markets and on the Internet and start collecting. I also have a huge archive of negatives I took during trips, on which I often rely, although only a small part of it eventually becomes an actual artwork.

Post Tropical, Museum Kurhaus Kleve, 2019.

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

TL: On the one hand it is important for me to bring back certain feelings and memories of places I went to. On the other hand I want to display my idea of places I have never been to, but have a clear imagination of how it may look like. To do that, I combine found footage like slides, postcards, old engravings, magazines etc. with my own analogue photographic and film material. When it comes to displaying I use different forms of presentation like frames, wallpapers, prints on newspaper etc., but also old devices like slide sorters and projectors, to evoke a time which no longer exists. It impresses me to see that in the last decades the photographic techniques changed massively, but that the motives basically stay the same.


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

TL: If I had to choose I would say negatives. Not only when it comes to my own photographs, but also in terms of found footage. To find old negatives or slides from journeys of people unknown to me is very fascinating, because they reveal their personal view. I try to take their view and convert it into something, which could be called an overall view of a place like Italy or the South in general.


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

TL: When I start to work on a certain project or a show I feel excitement, with all the research and collecting it feels a bit like being on the hunt. Once I start working it does not take long for me to have the final outcome in my mind. How to display the work and how to put all the pieces together in an installation plays a big role in my work process.


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

TL: Strictly speaking the work is only finished, when the show is installed. Of course most of the artworks work separately, but for me it feels completed when you can look at the installation as a whole.

“Lina”, inkjet print of a scanned found postcard from 1915, 79×119 cm, 2017.

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

TL: I have lots of sources like books, old travel reports, documentations etc., but most of all I would say that my main inspiration are feelings and imaginations. What I feel or how I imagine things is what I want to communicate through my work.


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

Definitely Luigi Ghirri, because his view or close-up of Italy is basically the same as mine. Also Jean-Jaques Rousseau, because although he used to say that his paintings resulted from his journeys to South America, he never left France and used only botanical gardens and his idea of the jungle to paint his surreal sceneries.


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

TL: I use social media as sort of archive or diary: to show what I like, what inspires me, where I travel and on what I work. It is somehow an insight into my work process.

“Monte Benedetto”, inkjet print of a scanned 35 mm negative, 30×23 cm, 2019.
“Bosi (1989 – 2017)”, inkjet print of a scanned 35 mm negative, 72×54 cm, 2018.

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

TL: Sometimes the art system makes me feel constricted, because there is too much of everything. Too many artists, too many shows, galleries, art fairs etc.. Due to the Internet you are exposed to everything what is happening in the art world, and sometimes I have to refrain from it in order to be able to concentrate on my stuff.


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?

TL: That you never know what happens next. Sometimes I find it exciting, sometimes frightening. Also the fact that you never know how your bank account is going to look like is annoying.


AT: What do you do besides art?

TL: I spend time in nature.


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

TL: I’d love to have a cat!

 Time is the longest distance, Nathalie Halgand, Vienna, 2017.
"For me photography is a form of expression to constitute space and merge fleeting impressions by using multiple forms of display. I try to create certain atmospheres when I use it in my installations". 

Talisa Lallai (b. 1989) is a German visual artist currently living and working in Düsseldorf, Germany.