Young colombian artist Rossina Bossio does not hesitate to challenge boundaries with her work. Raised in a conservative environment, she questions trough her art the standard of beauty and femininity and the paradoxes of women stereotypes in today’s society. We talked with her about "The Holy Beauty Project", a series of artworks merging paintings, videos sound and performance and inspired by religion, fashion and art. The multi-media project juxtaposes catholic and contemporary imagery, masculine and feminine and questions taboos and stereotypes trough the seductive power of images.
By setting a parallelism between ancient and current icons, women’s identity and representation becomes a really complex and interesting issue, going far beyond our expectations.
I was born and raised in Bogotá. I lived and breathed art in all of its forms since I was very young. I practiced dance, theatre and drawing since a very early age. I focused mainly on painting since 2006, but I’ve done works in other media such as video and drawing from time to time. I lived in France from 2008 until 2011; it was a beautiful and very significant experience and it has made me mature as an artist. I’m now back to my hometown, where I’m enjoying a very creative and peaceful life with my partner, in a nice home with a lovely garden, until I move on to my next destination.
On a personal level, at first it was about overcoming my past and finding myself. Today it’s more about embracing the imperfections in life and exploring the paradoxes of human condition. My main inspirations are my life experiences and the people and things that surround me. I’m currently obsessed with images of abandoned buildings, ravaged cities, constructions sites, landfill sites, car crashes, messy rooms, etc; there’s a lot of inspirational material in my city. I’m also inspired by art, design and fashion images that I find on magazines or the Internet, and the work of artists such as Lucian Freud, Jenny Saville, Yinka Shonibare and Matthew Barney.
My ambition was to give life to my paintings in order to make their message even louder and more vivid. I wanted to transform them into sound and movement, to paint through sound and movement. There is a pictorial side to these other ways of artistic expression and I wanted to explore that.
After several years doing only two-dimensional work, I started missing my artistic roots, dance and music. But my intention wasn’t to abandon painting. Hence I felt the need to bring them together. The idea of movement is very important to me also, literally and metaphorically speaking: I see movement as change, for instance the movement of beliefs and values that once were considered true and now aren’t. Physical and intellectual movement sets you free…
Both. I was brought up in a very religious and conservative environment, within the boundaries of an overly stiff view of women and, in general, humankind. Since religion and issues around femininity had been a deep part of my life, I saw the performance in the video as a kind of liberation for myself. Indeed, the issues explored in The Holy Beauty Project are complex and universal: it is about women’s identity and representation, plus the impact of advertising and religious iconography in our behaviour and the way we conceive our bodies.
If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I would say that I’m questioning our inherent and sometimes pathological need to create idols in order to shape a sense of identity. Each era has its own gods and idols and values have changed throughout the centuries. The message of the Catholic church has been replaced by another one. Today we’re no longer persuaded to be chaste and submissive as the saints and the virgins, we’re encouraged to follow the ideals of our time and thrive to be beautiful, seductive and wealthy: this is the formula to become a ‘unique’ person. The promise of individuality accompanying our current icons is just another facade that yields new mass behaviours. It’s the paradox of “Mass individuality”, so characteristic of the XXI century.
Yes, I think there are. But I don’t think there’s such a thing as being completely free. There are always constrictions, either from society or your own self.
Gender systems and traditional conceptions of sexuality are also questioned in this project. In all societies, women and men are pressured to conform to a certain set of rules and role behaviours. The thing is, women are usually the most disadvantaged of the two genders. Also, women have been more present in images that sell products and ideals; they are the symbol of beauty and seduction and that is why they’re the protagonists of THBP. However, men are not exempt from strict and sometimes absurd ideals around their manhood. This is also a subject examined in the project, through figures that are not completely female but rather androgynous.
Yes! I’ve thought about it a lot. I’d love to do that in the near future.
Last year I started a new multi-disciplinary project involving painting, installation and video-performance, entitled Extraña (Stranger). In Spanish this word can be used as an adjective (strange), a verb (to miss or to surprise) or a noun (female stranger) and it serves to describe the atmosphere of my new works. Again, I want to examine the interaction between static and moving images, but I’m no longer dealing with the subjects of femininity and religion: since the day I came back to my country I want to explore chaos and precariousness. I’m focusing on the relationship of human beings with the space they inhabit and the objects they possess. I’m painting architecture and space, which is something that I had rarely done before. This time I’m going to be working with a group of professional dancers from a contemporary dance crew. For the moment I’m in the painting stage and we’ll start composing the music for the videos soon. I’m very excited!