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Lito Kattou: Crystal Tears

Interview by
Federico Sargentone
26.11.2019

Conceiving sculpture as a terminology to describe forms of expression limitless to the term’s constitutional understanding, Athens-based artist Lito Kattou (Cypriot, b. 1990) has just opened a solo exhibition at T293 gallery in Rome.

FEDERICO SARGENTONE  Your sculptural objects are quasi-two-dimensional, as they are often formalized through the use of ultra-thin materials such as aluminum, steel and plastic. It’s almost as if they exist at the same time as objects, and as images of objects.

LITO KATTOU  I’m fascinated by how three-dimensionality transforms into two-dimensionality and vice versa. It is how I capture my interest in the relationship between the digital and the physical world. For a shadow to exist, there has to be light—the Sun, fundamental to life and simultaneously our biggest enemy. I like to think of sculpture as a terminology describing forms of expression limitless to the term’s constitutional and primary understanding.

FS  In your work, the refusal of anthropocentrism is key. Can you explain what drives you to question the binary between humans and other living organisms?

LK  It has always been a matter of hierarchy, which I find crucial that we abolish and rearrange. Racialization of species is very much embedded in the way we think, although everything around us is changing. Since the ‘60s, post-structuralist philosophy has problematized “the death of man,” both literally and historically. This “death” could not be understood as extinction, but as a preface to a new beginning. I believe that when questioning the power of the body as an agent for change, we need to consider what kind of bodies we got used referring to. Will there ever be a neutral understanding of them? Who are eligible to have a “body” and under what image?

FS  Many, both in the art context and in the theory sphere, have produced literature on the ethics and aesthetics of post-humanism. I think of Donna Haraway’s A Cyborg Manifesto (1984) or Suzanne Pfeffer’s entire 2013–2017 exhibition program at Fridericianum in Kassel, among others. How do you position your work in relation to such a contextual body of theory?

LK  I am a passionate reader of the post-feminist, Neo-Spinozism thinkers, and am particularly intrigued by how non-dominant understandings of the other might be a way of dealing with the present and future time. Lately I’ve been researching “Solarpunk,” an eco-futurist, speculative fictional subgenre focused on envisioning a positive future promoting decentralized infrastructure and community engagement.

FS I’ve been reading quite a lot on Solarpunk as well lately. Do you consider yourself or your work optimistic?

LK  A dark optimist, I would say! If ever such an oxymoron could exist. I could think of a future gone wrong down the dark path. But there is a “what if” I tend to think more and more lately, as I hate scaremongering at the end, brightening up the scenarios of alternative paths society and technology could take.

FS  You’re working towards a solo exhibition at t293 gallery in Rome coming up this fall. How are you envisioning the show?

LK  The show, titled “Crystal Tears,” deals again with the issue of the body under metamorphose, its representation and its abstraction through mental or physical states of change. Five shadow-like silhouettes, shaped as an assembly of human, technological and natural parts, come together to form beings that could represent a new form of environmental creatures. Digitally fabricated parts are processed with hand-painted drawings of symbols, natural elements, fragments of language—indicating that those characters carry equipment, skills, adornments and places they have lived and cherished.

Images courtesy of the artist and T293, Rome.

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