Photographer and Director
City of residence, BROOKLYN, NY
COL: Who are you and what do you do?
SC: My name is Samantha Casolari I am an Italian photographer
and director based in Brooklyn, NY
COL: What characterize you work? How would you describe your personal style?
SC: My work is often seen as dreamy, poetic and evocative. I am a very instinctive person, and I guess that is very much reflected in my imagery which often mirrors an immediate response to the subject. I am striving to tap into the most raw, emotional and sensual side of it and convey them through the visual. That is probably why it comes out as evocative.
COL: How do your own experiences influence your work?
SC: My experiences - like all experiences - has provided me with the framework to explore and live reality, and the vocabulary to understand it as well as added the filter on how I perceive it. That is definitely reflected in my work in a very straightforward way. In regards to content, I have always had extremely eclectic tastes and interests,
and that also reflects on the subjects I like to shoot.
COL: What will you be showing at the uncontaminated festival?
SC: A selection of my past personal and commissioned work.
COL: What do you want to communicate through your work? Is there a message - political or otherwise?
SC: I am trying to show the poetry that exists in everyone and most of what surround us. am personally interested in the most alienated groups of society, my first photo story was on young people coming out of Sing Sing, the maximum security prison upstate NY, and while it is difficult to pursue personal projects while juggling assignments, I am trying to work on more of these stories at the moment.
COL: Do artists of today have some kind of of social responsibility?
SC: Absolutely. Especially considering the current global political climate, which affects everyone, and how we are all so interconnected there is no escape from it. Making art is one of the strongest from of communication and that is what the world needs the most right now, communication, understanding, and dialogue.
COL: What does uncontaminated mean for you?
SC: Pure, real, innocent, free.
COL: What is the most important thing in your life?
SC: My family, my beautiful love and my closest friends. Everything else comes after.
COL: How do you feel right now?
SC: It’s a NYC summer day so definitely very very hot :)
COL: If you could change one thing in the world today, what would it be?
SC: The current US president and the majority of his party. It’s incredibly upsetting to witness what is happening on a almost daily bases in the political arena, the nepotism, corruption and all the efforts made to move backward instead of forwards.
COL: What are the main reasons you are joining us for the festival this year?
SC: When I was invited to take part in the Collective at Festival, what attracted me immediately was the idea of a festival focusing on exploring the connection between art and fashion. I feel that most of the other fashion festival are more leaning towards the mainstream commercial industry and sometimes it is easy to forget what the main source of all of it is.
COL: What is the most important drive for you to create and why?
SC: My main drive is to find the poetry the epiphanies and the mesmerizing moments of life through visual storytelling. When you look at paintings you see what all encompassing split of life the painter had chosen in order to evoke the rest: the gaze of a woman, a landscape, the gesture of the crowd, the stillness of bodies in pain, a mash of color, hands in love, sexuality in motion... They were all chosen as symbols for the bigger pictures, and that is what I strive to capture. Images of poetry and moment of stillness that can stand on their own to summon the whole. That and also the stream of consciousness in which you can get lost and just have the pure emotional journey.
COL: Who or what do you value as a great inspiration for you creatively?
SC: My inspiration comes from very different artists and disciplines: Diane Arbus, all the early Magnum photographers, Ernst Haas, Tim Walker, Paolo Pellegrin, but also Caravaggio, Courbet, Egon Schiele, Yves Klein, Nijinsky, Nureyev, Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes, Max Richter, Mozart, David Lynch, Louis Malle. ...and the list could go on for a while.
COL: Can you elaborate on an important moment in your life where you experienced a big change, chose to make one or another event which altered your way of thinking or your approach to creativity?
SC: I graduated with a Master in International Affairs from Columbia University, which reflected my curiosity for world affairs. But only few months after I had my degree in my hands, I decided to quit that path and just dive completely into what my real passion and love was: photography and story telling. And art. It was a huge change for me, one that involved also changing completely my approach to life and understanding fully what creativity meant, especially on a personal level. Being self taught forced me to become very creative and inventive right away. I think that it was helpful - even if a little traumatic - to have such an abrupt approach but I cannot imagine having dive into this field in any other way.
COL: How does digital and social media affect or inspire your life and creations?
SC: I have a love and hate relationship with social media. I love it as it is such a valuable source of inspiration and ideas. I have discovered great artists and beautiful images thanks to it. However I feel we got to the point that the pressure to produce content for the mere achievement of views is taking a great tool on the quality of the work. Nowadays it is more about quantity and the obsessive production of content than the actual impact and value of the image itself, which disrupt the process of creation. Creating, most of the time, involves taking time off, absence, lone thinking, daydreaming ... and because of the incessant pressure of social media we do not have that anymore. Or it is a rare find. On the other end social media and this constant bombardment of visuals also forces the viewer to go through images with unrelentless speed due to the infinite quantity that is constantly produced. There is no stopping in awe no rewatching anymore as we need to move on to the next. And that is also very disruptive.
COL: How do you define art?
SC: Art for me is a way to portray and experience reality under angles and through senses that are not the usual and the most straightforward ways and surely not accordingly to the more common conventions. It is another type of engagement another mean to see and feel the world we live in, to feel it in a extremely intense, emotional and sharp way, where filters are eliminated and full engagement is required. I feel that the most beautiful and well made art is the one who manages to capture the most pure essence of humanity and nature, in the most simple way. And it is the one very hard to find.
COL: What is your definition of artistic freedom?
SC: Artistic freedom is art made without not only commercial boundaries but also social and mental ones. Artistic freedom not only requires absence of external influences to potentially dictate the creation of the art-work but also of personal ones, such as need of external approval and social success. It requires a deep knowledge of one self and many times it comes from a personal need as well as a deep understanding of what the world around us needs.
COL: Is there a difference for you between art and commercial/commissioned work?
SC: I think the client and his/her needs are the main difference. Sometimes, even if very rarely, you can find a client trusting completely your vision and simply providing with a subject to address according to it, and then you have a commissioned work that turns into art. However unfortunately many times the opposite is true
COL: Do you struggle to find artistic freedom in the span between commissioned work and your personal needs to express yourself?
SC: I do because of time constraints. For me artistic freedom is a very personal state, many times it requires its own timing and its own pace and that does not always correspond to what you have available. It is very difficult to juggle, however I always try to have a personal project in the back of my head to work on, so that I can develop it and research it in the meanwhile.
COL: What do you aspire to? In the near future? In life in general?
SC: I aspire to full artistic freedom. Then any path and any sort of future can lead from there.
COL: What is a great example of a fashion art collaboration in your view?
SC: I love ballet, it’s one of my greatest passions so anything that connect that two will be a perfect example for me: Prada designing costumes for Vezzoli and David Hallberg’s Fortuna Desperate during Performa 15, New York City Ballet and its collaboration with different fashion designers every year, all the costumes of the Ballets Russes are just a few examples.
COL: Where do you think art and fashion is heading in our digital age?
SC: Definitely more in the direction of moving images, especially short films, but also towards more interactive collaborations with other form of digital art, and away from simple pure still image.