Never say never
How many times has someone warned you to “never say never”? I’m wondering if those are the same words Angela Loveday heard when, as a child, she used to say she hated photography. And, who knows, maybe she even thought of the same phrase as she ventured into the world of photography while in high school, then again in university in Urbino, and finally as she earned her Master of Arts at the Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (NABA) in Milano. I had the chance to ask Angela this question and others when I spoke with her recently at the Erotica exhibition at Bergamot Station Art Center in Santa Monica.
How did you get started with photography?
My father was a photographer, even if he was affected by color blindness. Of course the illness influenced his career especially when newspapers and magazines started asking for color photography more and more and he lost his job. That was the beginning of a very difficult moment for my family with the loss of my father’s job, fights, and my parents’ divorce. This is why photography is painful for me. I hated it with my whole heart until I understood that it was part of me, the kind of art that best adapts to my character. I try to spend as little time possible at the photo shoot and behind the camera because of this.
During high school I started studying photography techniques and analog photography while during my university years I spent my time learning the language of photographic communication. I learned the rules first in order to then break them.
What are the characteristics of your style and what do they say about your philosophy of photography?
I define my style as surrealist and symbolist, sometimes grotesque (in my opinion a very subjective perception). At times people find it perturbing. The philosophy of my photography is “the aesthetic of martyrdom” because often my works have a message of sorrow and suffering.
What photography or art do you have hanging on your walls at home?
I have paintings of the Venetian artist Saturno Butto, whose works are dark and gloomy, a mixture of religion, eroticism and pain. Among the classics, I prefer Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi.
Do you remember the first photo you ever took that you were proud of and thought of as art?
I’ve never thought of my photos as art, the public usually tells me. I am photographer for myself and my biggest dream is to have an exhibition where you cannot buy my works. The ones you can’t buy are usually the more requested ones.
What are the best and worst aspects of the way photography is perceived in Italy?
I don’t like the approach to art in Italy in general, especially when we’re talking about photography. In our country we have cameras everywhere, phones, tablets, computers, but there is not a real culture of photography. In Northern Europe every single collector has his own personal culture of art while in Italy we only carry on with trends…
Your father is Nigerian and your mother is Venetian. Has the union of these two worlds influenced your art?
Rather than the union, I would say the separation. In my father’s culture, families have a typical patriarchal structure and women occupy the lowest step on the social ladder. My mother and my grandmother raised me, in a matriarchal family. My grandmother especially showed me what privation, duty and strength are. The discrepancy between these two cultures shaped my character, my art, and formed me as you see me now.
In all you have 14 tattoos. Why do you get tattooed? Can you tell us about the meaning of one or two of them?
In school and university I always had very good grades, I’ve always been a typical “good girl.” Getting tattoos is my way of being a rebel, the way I claim my creative expressiveness. The world can have my intellect, but my body is belongs only to me and I do whatever I want with it. I have a Japanese geisha tattooed on the side of my waist because they are figures that have always attracted me since they are versatile, artistic, and wise. Another one among my favorite tattoos is a Japanese carp or koi, which is a symbol for people who are very determined and who try to reach their goal at any cost, even their life.
As an Italian artist, what do you consider eroticism to be?
In my opinion, eroticism is control, empathy and interpretation, but every person perceives it in a different way. Many women go along with the standards and symbols like high heels or lingerie; while for me, nothing is more erotic than control.