Interview with Skye Ferrante

Interiewed by Olja Yala, Photographie par SERGE-EDOUARD

Moscow, 31th August 2016

He`s lounging on the couch listening to Tchaikovsky. Dressed in blue mechanic jumpsuit paired with neckerchief. Ballet past makes you ready for the stage moment in any time of your life.

When it all has began?

After my ballet career i was writing, playing sax, trying different arts, and i`ve always make things out of junk. I started sculpting from wire 15-20 years ago.

Self-taugh?

Yes. To do this in three hours i need a lifetime experience. There is no way to make it without my ballet past.

You work in small forms mostly? i mean it`s not big format.

It was very large as well

Yep, i `ve seen your big NY landscape

I work with large aluminum wire, so i can do a very very large works, the portrait in 7th feet, but there i do in rough for three hours if it`s nude maybe, more if it`s clothed and to do in 3 hours i work in a sketch mode. This (A4) is my prefered size for doing portrait of a person i know. I work in three hours for a reason… Because i have only 3 hours of creative focus in me. I suggest that any good artist has only 3 hrs of strong creative energy a day. After that it`s all downhill. I try to capture the portrait in three hours in the same way like Van Gogh do a painting in a day. I want to do one scene to capture the movement we find in life. If it works — it moves. Art is movement. I was a ballet dancer so everything i do is consequently influenced by dance. Hazel Honeysuckle, burlesque dancer She arrived in my Paris apartment and i`ve never seen her without stage make-up. She wore her cat retro glasses. In person she is really very bookish and nerdy, very different from her stage persona, which is like total bombshell. I said, “Keep your glasses on.”

 

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My fav model Yaelle, she`s French. She interdicted me to turn lights on while it`s getting darker. Insisted that we go back like in a time mashine, and use only candlelight to create a portrait. Hot wax dripped between her legs. It was really distracting, but i love her, she always gives me a great story. And french models it`s always defiance, challenge, they do everything to keep me from being professional. I have to do 30 portraits in 30 days, no exceptions. My hands are bleeding, and if i have to work in a candlelight or with model`s foot between my legs during a creative process — i have to do it.

But i see you prefer curvy models…

I work with skinny fashion models too. I love form. Sometimes big model is amazing: when they take clothes off, it`s like a landscape, it`s an abstract. You don`t know where you are in her skins, it`s an absraction. It`s like curly hair.

Whats your inspiration? Because i see there traces of Picasso graphic works.

I appreciate his works, but, no, I definitely more inspired by dance.

 

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picasso WAS A PRICK

French cabaret culture? Burlesque artists in your oeuvre…

No, i inspired by people i work with, performers in NY, artists of neo-burlesque movement. This is not the same as in Europe. In NY its pro-female, subversive, political performance art. We were doing a show in NY with these women who`s having a 10 000 $ a night side job. When they`re naked — they becoming very sincere, it`s just talking and nudity go together. She revealed to me about this 10 K side job and offered to sell her portrait to one of her client. I`d really rather give to her 50 percent than to some gallery. And a week later she brings me 5 K. Then she started introducing me to her friends. So turning a model into an agent it`s like getting the best of both world. As a working artist i`ve done gallery shows, exhibitions for years. Solo, group. After the economic collapse of 2009 i stop doing lot of gallery shows: it`s too much of the risk. I have major expences in New York, i have a daughter. I need to make sales immediately. So i started doing private cocktail party shows in rich people`s apartments, working with my burlesque friends, performing live jazz. And we did like 15 — 20 000 $ in each coacktail party for 3 hours. So, when i discovered the opportunity of model turning agent if it`s possible, i didn`t hesitate. To be with certain gallery is to be exclusive with it, is to give a show for few years. As a working class artist, i can`t afford it, i need to sell tomorrow to pay the rent.

There is basically 3 types of artists

  1. Who comes from money. And today we don`t live in an age of patronage, so most artists actually come from money. It`s a privilege to be honest. Those artists can afford do to an exhibition of dead birds nailed to the wall.
  2. Who has a really good day-job or partner with a good day-job. And they might do a video installation.
  3. And then there`s artists, who have to sell everything they make. And that`s me.

That`s why i wear this costume. It keeps me professional. And the second reason: i am exposed to temptation, so this costume helps me playing my role. I am the sculptor in this costume, now (removes neckerchief) — i am a man!

 

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PORTRAIT OF ELENA, SKYE FERRANTE, MOSCOW.

 

Whats the main thing in your work?

It`s all about the story, i want people to know. It`s not sculpture alone.

The most famous painting in the world — Mona Lisa — was not really known until 1911 when it was stolen from Louvre. For one year the international headlines about the thieft of Mona Lisa was a big story, so people found out what Gioconda was. It was fairly known painting back then but not super famous. And guess who was wrongly arrested for the thieft? — Pablo Picasso! Who was known in an art world, but not world famous. So that`s the story what made Mona Lisa and Picasso most famous. It`s story that created value.

My works takes 3 hours to create, but it`s 3 hours, and a lifetime to create this story. Because sculpture is a way to finally combine a writer and artist in me.

 

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PORTRAIT OF AGATA, SKYE FERRANTE, NYC.

 

Who you would like to work with or worked in the past? From pop culture, musicians, any establishment person?

In my scedule, when i get back to NY, i have a portrait of Amanda Palmer from Dresden Dolls to accomplish. I`ve done a portrait of President Obama. He didn`t pose for me, but i was given him by one Jazz musician so now it`s up in his collection.

But you prefer nudity either way?

I work with line, i capture movement in line and i do want to see nude lines even if they`re clothed. Because in wire you see behind the clothes, but i do clothed portrait. I have people that commissioned me all the time to do clothed portrait. I am an art whore. I need to make living.

 

Any videoart works?

There is also another part of this exhibition — the reading of a chapter of my book “The

naked and the nude“ called “The killer blowjob“. It`s an incredible story, which actually took place in London. Model invited me to her boat, we made a really good piece and i need it for some exhibition which is the selling show. And i need to sell it for 5 000 $. But she insisted to keep it for herself. I don`t want to sell it to her tobe honest, furthermore, she doesn`t have that much money. So she said that she is a master and would give me a killer blowjob in exchange for the portrait. And i was stuck onto the adjective:

— What do you mean “killer“?»

— I`ve had an ex boyfriend with an aneurism. In the middle of one…

— You`ve killed him?!!

— I Literally blew his mind! I actually saved his life

— If someone else owns this artwork, would you blow them for it?
— Yes i would!

That`s a way i`ve got this idea for an exhibition about the killer blowjob. I wrote this whole chapter of our ridiculous conversation, it`s a 30 minutes read. And i invited lots of my friends performers to film `em reading it in NY. And i was thinking, “How boring! To be on camera reading for 30 mins. It`s a good story but still. How to make it more interesting?“

So i`ve had a really bad idea. And i did it. The camera is waist-high and i`m not going to say what happened and what didn`t below the frame. But after the secound paragraph i was so nervous and then… i was really relaxed… When the audience will see it, i don`t think they gonna know, what happened.

It was always her, that model from London?

In NY the film wasn`t with this particular model, but i did the reading with a small crew…

Have you ever worked with porn stars? The renown ones?

No one is one thing. I have performers who might also be a sex workers, dominatrixes or they might do porn work. They live by their stage names.

But anyone genuine professional porn star?

Yes, Justine Joli. I met her while she was trying burlesque out.

If i am working with a fantastic performer, or 10 000 $-night call-girl, they`re still my friends, and our relationship is as artist and model and collaborators.
I also work with men, transexuals. Miss Rose Wood, she made this infamous The BOX club in New York, she is 6 ft something, big breast and penis. I`ve done her portrait too.

Did you have an idea to capture sexual intercourse?

I worked with multiple models together at once. The idea of sculpting active sex is one thing, the action is very challenging. I work fast, but not that fast. I`ve had models played with each other, played with themselves, i don`t stop them, it`s their thing. I`m doing my thing. I work with some people in Paris very sexual libertine and opened, some of them are exhibicionist for the stage but very quiet at home.

So the bottom line about art?

Intention is irrelevant. Whatever i tell you means nothing. What matters is that after we walk away this piece is still good, the quality live, exist and i don`t think it`s in the eye on the beholder. If it`s good — it works.

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i would fuck me

 

THANKS TO GALLERY ART-CONSTANTIS, CURATOR19.90 AND VIKA LATISHEVA.