Silvia Gentili: Still from Synthetic Skins

Silvia Gentili: perceive, trigger, feel

Silvia Gentili’s research investigates the concepts of trauma and memory in relation to the body. Recently her research has moved towards the field of medical humanities. She is developing a methodology to find a language that can express the emotions and physical perceptions of the sick body.

Silvia is a multidisciplinary artist, independent curator and workshop facilitator. Her practice explores stories that belong to the personal and political realm. She does so through photography, film, performance, sound and text.

Silvia seeks to erase the stigma of illness

Victoria: What would you say are the key issues addressed by your art?

Silvia: My research and art practice focuses on the body in relation to illness and physical pain. My aim is to overcome the fragmentation of communication. I’m elaborating a methodology to identify a language that can express embodied emotions and perceptions of the sick body. Accordingly, I’d like to free the patient from the stigma of being ill.

My research moved into the field of medical humanities and I also opened a center of medical humanities, MAGMA hub. We focus on interdisciplinary researches, workshops and events.

Victoria: Production of art is not without limitations. What are some of the limitations in your country that hinder production of your art?

Silvia: My country is not responsible for the limitations of the production of my art. Usually I am the one responsible for them. Actually, I’ve been more productive ever since I moved back to Italy. However, the issues that I am facing regard connection – sometimes I feel out of place. Especially in Rome – where I live – one has to go and look for the different realities and what is going on. Clearly, interesting small realities exist here, but they are kind of hidden. I guess because  I’ve lived abroad for so many years, I have to rediscover my home country and what it can offer.

Silvia uses her body as a canvas

Victoria: What was the best show/performance you feel you have ever put on? Why do you think it was different and what did you learn?

Silvia: I would say Political Bodies, an exhibition I co-curated with artist and friend Dionysis Livanis. We were both curators and practicing artists. Moreover, the show was promoted by the Arts and Culture Department of the city of Padua and supported by CIDP (Italian Center for Personality Disorders).

The exhibition displayed 10 emerging artists through photography, sculpture, video and performance. They placed the human body into the centre of their practice, either as a physical entity or as a metaphor. We explored contemporary issues around identity and representation, sexuality and gender, society and media. I learnt a lot from this experience. It meant working for three years, developing new skills, risking and connecting to one’s own strengths and weaknesses.

images supplied by the artist

Victoria: Why does your work rotate around the body? And how do you want your audience to perceive it?

Silvia: I started using my body by chance.

Now I am the canvas that I shape with gestures, movements, sounds and text. And I could not work in any other way.

Indeed I’d like the audience to perceive and feel, though sometimes it is more important to feel and to be moved than getting the message. If my art can trigger an emotion – doesnt matter if it’s positive or negative – I have already succeeded.

Victoria: What do you hope to get out of this art residency program at Pilotenkueche?

Silvia: Being part of the residency is such an enriching experience. It is leading me to new spaces and possibilities that belong to my practice. Its important to be part of an environment that pushes me to explore, collaborate, experiment, connect and risk. Finally I’ve learnt so much and feel way more confident than before.

written by Victoria Nabulime

Silvia Gentili is currently taking part in our Online Residency Program. Find out more about her work through her website or Instagram.

blauverschiebung performance festival no.14
Galerie KUB
16-25 July

Silvia will be performing via livestream
18 July 4PM-5PM

18 Kantstrasse
04275 Leipzig
and on Zoom

The author of the interview, Victoria Nabulime lives in Kampala, Uganda and is currently participating in our Remote Culture Journalism Internship Program.