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Il mondo dell’arte al tempo della pandemia/7. Intervista all’artista Egle Oddo

Intervistiamo oggi l'artista italiana Egle Oddo, di radici siciliane e residente a Helsinki da molti anni. Egle porta avanti una intensa pratica artistica tra performance e progetti legati al mondo vegetale, in particolare ai semi da salvaguardare per le future generazioni. Lo scorso autunno è stata invitata al Macro Asilo di Roma con il progetto The World in Common (ve ne avevamo parlato qui).

Le abbiamo chiesto come ha vissuto questo periodo di pandemia e come sarà, secondo lei, il futuro.

How did you live these weeks of isolation as an artist? What were your projects before the lockdown?

In March 2020 I was preparing my work to exhibit it in Mänttä Art Festival and I was about to fly to Tunis with Roi Vaara to participate to the first International Festival of Performance and Street Theatre called Autrement. Both events were postponed although I keep working on them, and I was initially worried to loose my financial stability related to my ability to participate and show the work in public. After few weeks of lockdown I entered in a state of numbness, and I am not sure if this state have left me already. I was and I am very worried about my family in Italy, and we keep calling almost daily.
As a person inclined to observing, I suspended most activities, my gaze changed and I noticed my present and its colors with transformed intensity. My activity to plant and relocate seeds suddenly became very urgent, and many friends and other artists asked me to make my seeds collections available for public areas, improving the biodiversity range in the city.

You are very active in performances and art projects dealing with nature and communities. How performances could be done in the future? Could you keep your activity going?

I see performance art as a site- and community- responsive medium. So in this case I started to perform in a very minimal way sparing energy, gestures, materials and presence. My performances became microscopic, interstitial, invisible, private, elusive, and my body curled to give space to a liminal lucid dream.
Similarly to a fade in, while restrictions on lockdown are progressively relaxing, my body is finding more energetic gestures. My community during lock down was the insects’ populations I nurtured and the miniature worlds I have been creating for them at home. Recently I have been releasing them back in green areas where they came from, after spending time observing how they interact with plants. I still have at home a community of ladybugs eating the aphids of my salad. They refused to leave even when I encouraged them, and they seem to reproduce comfortably.
In performance art bodily presence is essential in my opinion, so if in future there would be restrictions to perform among humans, I could perform for other life forms, this could lead to a challenging and fascinating conglomerate of cultural affinities.

As an Italian living in Finland you have experience of the cultural societies in both countries. Have you notice a difference in the strategies and reactions to the pandemics?

Judge difference. I recognize that the situation is objectively difficult to handle for anybody; even the experts presented in time at least five different opinions for each of them, which did not help. However, while in Italy we have a vocation with drama aggravating situations that are already difficult, in Finland the attitude is quite opposite: in state of emergency they tend to keep the lucidity, and their inclination for analysis and pragmatism helps providing an effective problem-solution orientation. For what concern strategies, I hope Italy will spend wisely the sum granted by EU to recover. Education, research, culture, they do generate a lot of jobs and revenue; most of all I hope the budget will be spent for a locally meticulous protection of natural environment, for a conversion of highly destructive agri-business, because truly sustainable, productive and ecologically friendly modalities exist and must be introduced. If this chance were missed, after such a global experience as this pandemic, I would see it as a sort of collective suicide. In this respect Italy and Finland are similar to all the world: besides the branding and international image they want to give, Italy for its natural landscapes related to tourism, Finland for the environmentally conscious culture, they are both struggling to leave their condition of denial about the reality: environmental protection is insufficient, and in some cases it is silently by-passed by corporate interests eroding public good and the future of generations. Ok, enough with the activist rant.

Many artists and museums went online and to social networks to keep in touch with the community. Is there some accounts or online project you followed with interest and that you want to share with us?

None, I am bored stiff to experience stuff online, including my own things. I am quite gratified of having five senses to experience the world and I find audio-visual-only an outdated experience for contemporary art.

Last but not least: plans for the future?

Revolution, cooking, sowing, singing to Aldo and Timo, hugging people in pain, and keep historical memory alive.

Thank you Egle!

Immagini: Oddo works the land for her installation in Malmö, 2017. Photo Gunnel Pettersson (foto di copertina)

DIY terrarium for ladybugs, Oddo's activity during pandemic, Helsinki 2020. Photo Egle Oddo.