The following interview forms part of a series where I invite a number of contemporary artists to each reflect on their personal history, meaning and philosophy, and how those are expressed throughout their creative process.
This week I talk to Ian Bertolucci, an Italian visual artist whose inspiration is drawn from scenes of old Hollywood.
Ian tells me how they perceive new Hollywood, their experience as a non-binary person in the art world, and what it means to them to be truly authentic as an artist.
You have written, “One of my biggest inspirations is old Hollywood, an environment in which the archetype of the construction of beauty lives in a world of its own, covered with a golden patina, far and unattainable.” How do you perceive new Hollywood in that sense?
I believe that the world is changing, and that the role that show business has in this sense is really important. In the old Hollywood era, the archetype of beauty related to the person in question was always and in any case linked to his gender identity, which could never be non-binary. That’s one of the reasons I associate a lot my persona with this aesthetic, I find it empowering.
In recent years we have witnessed a sea change regarding the position of trans or non-binary actors and personalities in show business, just to give an extremely recent example we just need to think of Elliot Page and his cover for Times. Not long ago his coming out would have been condemned. In the old Hollywood environment it would have meant losing any career opportunities, today we are seeing a big change about that.
Do you think it’s possible to find beauty in anything?
I think the idea of beauty is an artifact. Like good and evil. I believe that its essence resides a lot in the conception of the person who perceives it. I think everything has a dimension of it own and can be perceived as beautiful – or not.
How would you describe your experience of being a non-binary person in the art world?
It’s very related to circumstances. There are contexts in which my gender identity has a negative influence, while others in which it opens a debate. My main mission/life goal is to being a presence and a voice for queer/trans/non-binary community. What I see is that very often there’s not a conversation about that, and the non-binary/trans presence in art world is almost non-existent.
As an LGBTQ activist, what changes would you like to see in the art world?
I want to see respect, gender equality and fair treatment for any human being, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, social class etc., to be present in every work and social environment, not only in the art world.
Who are some other LGBTQ artists you think we should be paying more attention to?
I am a huge fan of the work of artists like Arca (Alejandra Ghersi), Sasha Velour, Violet Chachki, Hungry and many more.
What does it mean to you to be authentic as an artist?
For me, the idea of an artist is something more related to the perception that one has of the world, rather than to actually creating something. I believe that creating an artwork is not mandatory for an artist, their interpretation of the world is already art. So it may mean being able to tell a story. To having a presence, a voice. There’s many ways to do that.
If you were to design a new piece that emulated your current experience of the world, what might it include?
I recently had to do spinal X-rays. Seeing the position of my bones was kinda weird somehow. Having scoliosis affects my experience of the world a lot. These days I’m thinking about how to translate this image into an artwork.