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Fernanda Corsini

Interview with the recipient of the June edition of MyMA Artist Grant, Fernanda Corsini.

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Congratulations on winning the June MyMA Grant! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?

Yes, of course, thank you for inviting me. My name is Fernanda Corsini and I'm a Brazilian visual artist. I actually graduated with a degree in Architecture and Urbanism. I got into photography while I was a student, and for the last two years of school I decided to go to Austria to study at the Institute of Contemporary Art. I studied analog photography for a whole year. When I returned to Brazil, about three weeks later, the COVID pandemic started and everything closed. I lost all my photography jobs and it forced me to stop looking outside for inspiration and start looking inwards. So I decided to start portraying myself. I didn't immediately feel comfortable being photographed, so I found ways to be comfortable in front of the camera. I began to perform a persona, like producing myself as if I was in a fashion editorial. I photographed multiple versions of myself and began to make collages with the pictures that I took. I decided that I had to sew them together to create this Frankenstein. I realized that I was talking about identity and about ego. At the same time that I began doing this research, I got back into therapy. Therapy was really important to my research, there's a lot of psychology and analysis in the works that I do. I use my art to talk about topics about my daily life, about sexuality, and about identity.

My first thought after hearing you talk a bit more about your work is the connection to Cindy Sherman. The way she builds personas and then becomes them in her photography.

Yes, she is a reference, but in a different way. I think that's the same idea of representing myself, but what is different is that I was all of these versions but in a really dramatic and expanded way. I photographed myself many times. Then, a year later, I realized that I was putting on the same makeup as one of the photos. I was pretending to be someone else, and then I realized that I already was that person.

Your photographic process alone is very psychological, but then you go one step further and cut the photographs and sew them back together. It becomes a very physical representation of pulling everything together.

Yes, that is the intention. Sometimes, I say my art is collage so people can understand what I do. But I want it to be really clear that it is a process of reconstruction. When you glue, it is even and flat. When you sew, it is just awkward. You can see the stitches and see that it is constructed. It's like a scar; there's pain but there's also healing.

It's almost like treating the photograph itself as a body. Can you tell us more about your process? For example, do you know what your images are going to look like before you start?

I think because of my architecture background I like to have a plan before I start. Sometimes I rearrange while I'm making. But I start all of the projects in Photoshop, and I try to simulate how I want it to look. Then I create it.

That's amazing. How did you first get into art?

I have always loved art. I went to museums a lot as a kid. I travel a lot as well. When my brother was living in Paris, I went there for my birthday. I went to Pompidou and was really inspired. I started to research a lot while in Paris. Study groups and other artists helped me find my path. There's a Brazilian artist, Rosana Paulino, she works with stitching pictures, and when I saw her work at a museum, I was just enamored.

What do you like to do outside of the studio?

I love walking around. I just go to the city without any plans. I think because I have so many plans in my work that I like to have flexibility and just hang out. Sometimes I put on music and chill.

What are you listening to in the studio these days?

All types of music, it depends on the day! If it's a really sunny and warm day, I like to listen to MPB which is Brazilian pop music. Sometimes I like to listen to indie music, even rock or punk. I'm really eclectic in my choices, I just open my Spotify and decide what I want to listen to that day.

What is the best art advice you've received?
I think the best advice I received was more career advice than art advice. Don't give up, you'll get a lot of 'no's' and you just have to keep going. I think I applied for 15 opportunities before I got my first 'yes'. Now I have a lot of yeses, and I think if I gave up because of the 15 rejections that I got, I would not be here. Now it's quite funny to say that I was crying because I didn't get any group exhibitions and now I'm on my third solo. I think you just have to keep going. Nowadays when I receive a rejection, I just think of it as being closer to the next yes. For me, in art there's no good or bad. When rejections come it just means it was not your not my time. Just keep going and stay true to yourself and what you make.

Great advice. Okay, one last fun question. What's your go-to karaoke song?

Misery Business by Paramore.