Sharing and combining the experiential power of experimental performance art is what distinguishes Flora Deborah, a Franco-Israeli artist who has been living between Europe and Tel Aviv for years. Among the boundless diversity of materials and techniques, the artist investigates and deepens the cultural, anthropological and hidden themes of the human being as such, in its attitudes and in the relationship with its fellows. “SEMI”, the artist’s new exhibition curated by Sabino Maria Frassà, is a poetics of perception, based on the integrity and reality of Being in all its most disparate nuances, which will took place between 9 May and 30 October 2022 at Gaggenau Design Elements of Rome. The exhibition offers an articulated journey through the apartment-space of the German luxury appliance brand, which integrate with the artist’s works (videos, sculptures and paintings) to create a refined short circuit, a story within history.
In this regard, let’s read what the young Flora has to tell us about the Roman appointment and her next projects.
Antonella Buttazzo: How did you come to art and in what circumstances did the “SEEDS” project have its genesis?
Flora Deborah: I don’t think there is a specific moment in which I started making art, I have always drawn, painted, photographed, like everyone else, as a child and I never stopped. I cannot imagine life without the “game”, putting one’s hands in the dough and asking questions that range from how things work, to what the meaning of existence is. I cannot find an answer, but I think that asking questions is perhaps what distinguishes artistic research. The adventure of the “SEMI” exhibition with the curator Sabino Maria Frassà began in 2016 when I was a finalist for the Cramum prize with a series of ceramic sculptures of the cast of my mother’s navel and mine, symbolizing the physical and spiritual bond that unites every woman to her ancestral origins. From there our collaboration has continued over the years and my work has evolved, but it has always had as a preponderant part the exchange between individuals, putting themselves in others’ shoes and modifying each other. In the Gaggenau DesignElementi space in Rome, I reconstruct this path in what Sabino rightly defined as a Gothic-contemporary fable, a stage on a journey.
What attracts your attention in the audience and what influences you and your artistic research?
I remember that a professor of mine years ago told me “I shape you and you shape me”: I had just started a collection of stones sent to me by my family, stones that I brought with me to “SEMI” and that are growing in number thanks to the visitors who bring with them a stone from their garden, which is chosen, transported and held by them. The stones are placed on a plate engraved with a blessing in Spanish Judeo made by my grandmother against the evil eye and the visitor is offered a tongue made of chocolate, a cast of the artist’s one, in exchange. The viewer’s story becomes part of mine, and mine part of theirs, an eternal dialogue that feeds us one another.
What approach do you have with the subject and what content and conceptual aspects do you associate your performances with?
The materials have a life of their own, I try to modify them, heat them, fold them, melt them, but there is basically a dialogue there too. At what temperature does the fiery red liquid gold become solid and with the appearance that we associate with gold? Alchemy is a transformational physical act, but also a lyrical alteration of the soul. The project dictates the material to be used, but the material responds.
Would you like to tell us about your next projects?
I am currently an artist in residence at the CCA in Tel Aviv as part of the GINO group for “Tights: Dance & Thought Shelter for Calibrating Frequencies”, while in late May I will have a performance followed by a collective release of the group members due out in July. The project is experimental as there will be no photographic documentation, but only a trace made up of words and drawings made by the “public”. I am also working on a book, this time personal, which describes through texts and drawings the dreams and hallucinations I had during the first months of the pandemic, while I was stuck in bed with Lyme disease. This bacterium manages to pass the barrier with the brain, thus creating nightmares and very vivid images, from there a series of pastel drawings (on which I still work) were born and which will be part of the publication.
Flora Deborah. ‘’SEMI’’
curated by Sabino Maria Frassà
Promoted by Gaggenau, Cramum, DesignElementi
from 9/05/2022 to 31/10/2022
Hours: Monday to Friday 10:30 am – 1:00 pm / 3:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Lungotevere de’ Cenci 4, Roma
+39 06 39743229, +39 371 1733120
Flora Deborah. ‘’SEMI’’, installation view at Gaggenau DesignElementi Roma ©Francesca Piovesan, courtesy l’artista, Cramum, Gaggenau
Flora Deborah, Le coppe Erranti, 2022 ©Francesca Piovesan, courtesy the artist, Cramum, Gaggenau
Flora Deborah during the performance “SEMI” at Gaggenau DesignElementi Roma ©Francesca Piovesan, courtesy the artist, Cramum, Gaggenau
After obtaining the high school languages diploma, she continued her studies graduating in Art History at the University of Salento, with a bilingual thesis on the Pre-Raphaelites. Since then, she has been actively contributing as a columnist and collaborator with national blogs and with local magazines and TV programs.