Federica Ricotti: When sculpture, light and spirituality merge

Paper Art artist Federica Ricotti uses “paper pulp” to create sculptures where light and music form an integral part of the work. She holds performances and exhibitions mainly in Italy, Switzerland and Brazil. In 2005 she won the special “Jardin” prize and in 2011 First Prize at the Triennale Internazionale Du Papier, Musée de Val Charmey, Swizerland.

Martina Giusti

A fter graduating from the Liceo Linguistico, the Italian high school specializing in languages, Federica studied Communication Art at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, and then specialized as Advertising Technician at the Istituto Europeo del Design in Rome. She spent the first years of her career in Milan, in the world of advertising, working as a copywriter. In the 1980s she created and published the Lupaski comic strip series. She continued working in the realm of advert text writing, until she realized that her attention was captured by the visual and the material rather than by words. She felt the urgency to create something. And this is how she approached the world of sculpture. Initially, she worked with polyester resins and then began working with a more natural and pure material like paper.

HER PAPER SCULPTURES ARE ALWAYS SUPPORTED BY LIGHT that, based on how it is turned on and off, gives a different prospective of the work. She likes to do everything by herself, that is why she studied lighting technology, and it perfectly autonomous in creating every installation, both as far as the creative part comprised of paper and gluing agents is concerned and the more technical part that has to do with the lighting aspect. But her “creations” are not limited to this. The installations become performances accompanied by different types of music. Music is an integral part of every experience of hers. Federica has a wide knowledge of music that scans the beat to every event, spanning from Mozart to Zen music. Federica’s intention is to communicate, to reach people’s internal world. And she succeeds very well at it. During her performances, we are captured by a magical and spiritual atmosphere created by the sculptures themselves, by the lights and the music. A very suggestive scenario that touches the spectator’s most intimate soul.

THE SENSE OF SACREDNESS IS PERCEIVED IN EVERY INSTALLATION OF HERS. But not sacred because tied to one religion or another; sacred in the awareness that it is part of something magical. In Federica’s works we can perceive a particular attention for bas-reliefs and for the cathedrals typical of the medieval period. However, it is not an interest for this period from a historical point of view, but rather for its artistic production. For this reason her representations become more meaningful in sacred venues where the surrounding environment is an integral part of the work, to the point that it seems that the work itself actually belongs to that venue. Every performance takes place behind closed doors in order not to disturb the enchantment, the perception and emotions that come in sequence, like a journey with a destination in a precise location, different each time according to the theme being treated (each performance lasts an average of about fifteen minutes). The spectators are never more than 12, to create the intimacy necessary to establish a real contact with the work and with the location itself.

HER INSPIRATION DOES NOT COME FROM ANY ONE ARTIST IN PARTICULAR, but she loves authentic artists like Kandinsky, who in his productions at aims to establish a close bond between the work of art and the spiritual dimension, creating a physical effect based on momentary and personal sensations. Looking at Federica’s works, the viewer embarks on a sensorial and emotional journey where he or she can find personal contents. Her research hence spans in-depth throughout the artistic-musical and symbolic fields at the same time. Like all artists, she feels a bond with every sculpture she creates and each reminds her of a particular period of her life. One performance to mention in particular is “Cattedrali”, where ten paper sculptures come to life thanks to lights, shadows and music. The theme of this performance is verticality, interior, upward-moving tension. The viewer is compelled to raise his gaze and dive into a suggestive journey into the sacred. Mozart, an Indian flute and Shostakovich concert together with the lights, supporting the triumphant entrance of the works. Her performance is suggestive and powerful, a mirror of an artist “outside the box” who proposes an experience that reflects her innermost soul. Sculptures and music blend in a quarter of an hour that make one want to return, to have more. Another performance having particular impact is “La città sacra”. The viewer finds a work inspired by the mystical tradition of kabbalah and the tree of life that represents the interior world. And no less interesting is “Bestia illuminata”, a performance on transformation. It is the journey that each one of us makes to discover, face and triumph over our more obscure side.

AFTER TOURING THE WORLD, SHE CHOSE TO SETTLE WITH A STUDIO-LABORATORY IN CARRARA, the city of marble at the foot of the Apuan Mountains and just a few steps from the sea, feeling it was the right place, with the right atmosphere, to create her works. Enchanted by Carrara, she defines it “a noble location” where true art is created. Full of sculpture workshop labs, it is a city whose streets heard the footsteps of Michelangelo and Bernini, surrounded everywhere by marble, and where people look at artists with particular respect. “In every upward motion there is a sense of conquest and of attainment, even if it is just climbing stairs” are the words written above the door to her studio-laboratory. A sentence that embodies the essence of her art.

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