Nicol Vizioli is an artist in the purest sense. We were fortunate enough to have her for an interview. The maturity and honesty naturally came out in her answers. Our heads are still buzzing with the sound of her words. Enjoy reading.
Who is Nicol Vizioli? What do you do in your own time?
I make images and when I am not physically making images I don’t do much more than thinking of how and when to make images.
Tell us about how you discovered photography. Was it always something that was innate and natural or learned?
I never chose to be a photographer in particular. As far as I can remember I have always been creating images, starting with painting which is my first love, since I was a child. My father is a photographer, one day he gave me an old camera so I could play. But that was it, nothing more. In Rome I studied Cinema & Digital Arts and at that time I had a studio where I would only draw and paint (or try to), while starting to take photography more seriously and also wanting to explore the moving image world. Then I had a crisis. All these languages confused me and I felt I had to choose something in order to focus and fully find myself. So I chose photography and I moved to London, where I completed a Master in photography. It is through photography that I shaped my aesthetic, but my work is naturally changing and I am finally able and ready to explore other forms. I feel photography has been my starting point, if that makes sense. I am now interested in exploring different media.
How would you define photography?
Still a powerful medium, too often misunderstood because of its availability, its apparent reachability. Taking pictures is a responsibility and right now, in this time of speed and overload of images, people seem to have lost this very basic understanding.
How does your professional work differ from your personal photography?
There is no clear boundary, to be honest. All I do involves me deeply, it is a genuine commitment otherwise I wouldn’t do it. Regarding my commissioned work, I consider myself brave (or crazy) enough to choose what I do and it obviously has its pros and cons, but what I care the most is integrity and aesthetic coherence: if these two things are safe, then I am ok.
In what area do you think you feel most comfortable in?
At the moment I close my eyes and I see wide spaces filled with images, sounds, and objects, so I guess I’d love to create full immersive experiences, where I can include all the languages I work and I’d like to work with.
Photography-wise I don’t really distinguish areas, my practice is led by a specific vision, a specific need which has always been there. I like the freedom that comes with being an artist, the incredible humanity I meet and I am privileged to work with. What I can say is that I have never been interested in documenting the reality around me: reality is a starting point, a trigger to dive deep in a universe that exists within me. I do collaborate with many people, from musicians to fashion designers, then currently some film projects… so these are all declination of my work, another way of storytelling. It is, again, about integrity of vision; no matter what language I use and what field I explore, as long as I recognize myself in my work.
What’s your favorite subject? Where do you draw your inspiration from? What fuels your creativity?
Humanity. The human body has always been at the center of my work, its flesh, the bones, a body that must be celebrated, contemplated and understood.
The animal and the natural world, or better saying a more primitive, basic way of living and approaching reality, a more simple and bare way of making art. That, more than anything, inspires me because it is where I belong to. Wherever there is a glimpse of feral, of primitive and raw, then I wanna go there and explore it… or maybe I just see it everywhere and I try to reveal it through my work.
How do you come up with your concepts? How do you stay creative?
Ideas come from any sort of place and in the most unexpected moments.
Is there a formula you follow in your work?
Integrity. Of vision, of intention, of thought. And the honesty through which the work happens. That’s the only formula I follow.
How would you describe your style in five words?
I leave that to whoever looks at my work.
In your opinion, what are the characteristics of a good photograph?
I don’t know and I honestly think it is irrelevant to even think about it.
But I guess, as per any work of art, wherever there is honesty then there is good work, photograph or not.
What’s your favorite photograph? Why?
Few images. My mum and dad on wet plate, both technically ‘wrong’, underexposed. But to me, they feel right and true. A portrait of Rocco, a boy I stopped in Rome while walking. I feel my whole world is synthesized in the lines of his face.
What camera/film/accessory setup do you use in your professional and personal work?
My process is simple, I draw a lot, I mainly work on film and I use medium format. I love natural light and photography so far has been my main tool to express something I feel I have to.
Any photographers/artists that you follow religiously?
I will always look at the work of Caravaggio as well as Bernini; I guess it makes me feel grounded and connected to my Italian roots. I love Anselm Kiefer, I recognise his world. Same for Richard Long. I have always looked at Bill Viola as one of my absolute favorite artists. Since I discovered him as a cinema student, his work has never stopped speaking to me in a deep, familiar way that it’s hard to describe with words. Photography-wise I admire Salgado, Diane Arbus, Bill Henson, Shōmei Tōmatsu.
Who’s your dream collaboration?
If I could gather my whole family together (which is quite big and populated by very unique characters) then that would be my dream. Also, I would love to work with Romeo Castellucci. And if only he was alive, then I would say Pier Paolo Pasolini over anyone else.
Any upcoming projects? Please talk about them.
This is a very particular season for me, emotionally and creatively. In the past two years I have been seeing and perceiving differently and as a consequence, my work, my approach to it, started changing. The idea and the direction I am going towards is to create full immersive experiences, ideally in the form of installations.
I am currently working on three projects and all of them are intended to be multimedia. They will involve moving images as well as stills and finally some physical objects. Two of them will be shot in location and one is studio based.
It’s a new chapter of my practice which started over a year ago when I shot my first film, commissioned by the London Contemporary Orchestra, which became a huge full immersive installation and opened up so many possibilities. That experience has been so powerful and challenging that changed everything for me. Work is naturally evolving so let’s see what happens.
If you weren't a photographer, what would you be?
I don’t belong to this or that language. Photography, moving images, drawing or whatever will come: it doesn't really matter to me what I use or will use, I have always been creating art, I started at a really young age and this was just something that I needed to do so I continued doing that as an adult. I want to create images and experiences and I have no idea what else I’d do.
Do your projects impact you in a certain way?
My projects are my life. I literally get possessed by my ideas, I breathe with them and they live and grow within me. I am very much affected, yes.
How would you like your audiences to react to your work?
I believe in honesty and I guess this is what I would like people to perceive when they look at my work. Art is a sentimental experience made visible. My only intent is to share that experience the way I felt it myself.
Is there a particular project that you would like to work on?
Yes, and I am slowly getting there.
How should an artist respond to challenges?
The responsibility of being an artist is already a challenge.
How do you deal with creative block?
I experience many ‘blocks’ all the time, even few times a day… but haven’t had a creative one yet!
If you're interested in Nicol's work, you may head over to her website to see more.