Serena Ferrario

Serena Ferrario

Lines Fiction: Despite their abundance of material, your large drawing installations seem atmospherically precisely composed and conceived with the element of the moving image in mind. How do you start your project – with paper and pencil or with the camera?

Serena Ferrario: For me, it’s like cross-media processes take place throughout, influencing each other all the time. In that sense, there is no real beginning. I don’t think I’ve ever really liked that – that feeling: I’m going to start thinking about and visualizing a new project.
It feels more coherent to me if I let myself be guided by what is already there, and is occupying me anyway, and then connect that with a space that will soon be available. When I know that there will soon be another “public” presentation option, a dialogue with imagined others begins in me.
From then on, I conduct this dialogue in connection with the social themes that arise in the process, which I encounter at this time, and from then on, images jump through my head at the same time.

Everything I have done and which films are in my archive is stored in me – sometimes I go through sketchbooks and suddenly find an older approach exciting again and try to relate it to current approaches. If then, to make it more concrete, for example, an older drawing finds itself together with a current thought and a video shot by me – that always seems to make more sense to me in the now, to let these different approaches and images enter into dialogue, then I pursue this intensively and focus more and more on this path. Depending on how, for example, the spatial conditions of an exhibition space are, and what possibilities there are to make a work, I think about an installation form adapted to this space. It doesn’t always have to be a video installation. Whereas at the moment I’m still thinking very much in conjunction with the moving image. I’ve simply accumulated a lot of filmic material over the last ten years, and I’m far from finished with it. I’m very excited every time and I still find it exciting to relate my films to the drawn work. When I started moving in this direction, things opened up for me and this approach began to offer me so many possibilities: To explore, to narrate, and to experiment in new ways. I love putting a drawn character next to a “real one in film.”

Lines Fiction: How is your installation developing?

Serena Ferrario: As far as my handling of the material is concerned: I draw at home, on the road and in the studio on different surfaces, scrap paper, cardboard and actually on everything that just appears in front of me. In parallel, I also always draw on larger drawings quite “classically” on larger sheets of paper. I also never throw away a drawing, even if I often times the results do not immediately agree. I then always see pretty quickly a way to deal with it further. A very simple way for me is to cut out the work, for example, the drawn figures and elements. I do that first without thinking too much about it, and then, when I have all the particles in front of me, I start to distribute them in the room or on other works. I let them dance around freely until I have the feeling that they have all found a new good place for themselves. So it may just be that an older work in the frame revives for me because it now has this new “friend” by its side. I enjoy seeing it that way. I am then happy for everyone that they are allowed to have this new experience. Once this process can stand like this, I first devote myself to the digital image and video archive again and make notes on film ideas. In the back of my mind, of course, I still have the experience I just had and the images that were created in the process with the analog material, and that strongly influences my choice of film.

And so it goes back and forth and at the end – the “end” is usually determined by an exhibition date – there is a stage play from all these characters and the stage design developed together. So that’s how I think you could describe my approach and the installations.

Lines Fiction: Does an installation always keep its shape or does it change, depending on the exhibition site?

Serena Ferrario: It has never happened that I have set up an installation somewhere else exactly as I did the first time. I do take elements again and again, as I just described, and bring them together with new or older ones. I understood this for me once in such a way that my procedure behaves so similarly, as it runs in the brain with our memories.
As far as I know, it can be that an old memory suddenly mixes with a younger one and then the story is somehow completely different again. Sometimes darker, sometimes lighter, sometimes one aspect of it is more in the foreground – sometimes another, sometimes the memory has less importance and doesn’t play such a big role for the current moment…

Sometimes I think I should make some kind of construction plan for the installations – so that someone else could also build them and without me. That would probably be a relief for me on the one hand, and on the other hand it would also bore me a lot. Because the construction is an important part of my work. Sometimes it only really starts to make sense to me then and I am always very happy when I can build up alone for a very long time. Then everything really connects with the space and with the events and experiences on site. But I also sometimes envy the artists who sometimes only come for a short time and leave their pictures hanging or hanging. It looks easier sometimes, anyway. I am currently practicing a mixture of these two approaches.