(HOT TAKE) CREATURE METAMORPHOSIS: An Interview with Livia Rita
On a verdant landscape somewhere in the alpine folds of Switzerland, an assortment of creatures spread their velvety hides and recline. This is Livia Rita's CREATURE METAMORPHOSIS, a fashion show that soars above the valley in a 1960s ski lift. Alice Hill-Woods talks to Livia about utopian practices, the creatural, rogue time and building a personal mythology for the meshing future that encroaches.
In the future (or maybe we should say FUTURA –– Livia Rita's 'safe-space' for creatural entities), form slips open like a shucked mollusc. This is the dream we are offered by CREATURE METAMORPHOSIS, and one that we should borrow/stretch/meditate with. Bearing witness to the figures being carried up against the sapphire horizon of Obertoggenburg is really quite special; I felt immersed in the fantasy before me, despite the temporal and geographical distance produced by the photographs. Livia's work compels us to negotiate humanness, to think beyond the epidermis of what constitutes this entity or that entity. I know the loose hinge of a ski lift and the slicing force of being taken off the ground –– the machinery eats itself in perpetual loop, an ouroboros (see a less elegant version of this process here). The fashion show is a brilliant melding of machine and creature playing out above the dramatic scenery. I also felt weirdly nostalgic for Obertoggenburg, although I've never been there (or even heard of it before this) –– I think Livia's concept speaks to a (my) latent desire to be catapulted above a pastoral terrain, or rolled around like a bale of hay under gently dilating sunlight. To expand, to fly, to change shape, to bend my spine and expose my budding Thagomizer... yes, I breathe, scrolling through the beasts of Livia's imagination. What better antidote for our collective inertia than this strange, disjointed hallucination.
Alice: Mark Fisher talks about the allure of the eerie and the weird as emerging from a ‘fascination for the outside’. How is your work informed by outsideness?
Livia: We are very much caught in human perspectives and attempting to expand it or step out of it can feel so refreshing. I feel very attracted to the ‘outside’ –– I crave diversifying perspectives. I guess the human perspective also never felt lush, so reaching to the unknown has always been a way forward. I think there is huge potential for transformation within that, for empowerment, when it comes to building up one’s own personal mythology or identifying as barely human, as creature.
Alice: How does living in a post-internet reality shape your practice?
Livia: I think the sense of time has gone rogue. Everything is possible at every moment, and short-longevity seems to be very prominent in ideas. I love this sense of post-everything, post-trend, post-style, it can very much feel that we now have so much material available and can try to choose very individual ways. I find it challenging to not get into a short rhythm though, like to create something, share it and move on, but to also be able to peacefully take the time one needs for a bigger piece of work that can tell a bigger story, take on a bigger journey. It’s an active step back in today’s rhythm and needs confidence and trust.
Alice: Could you describe what pulled you towards the Avantgardeners Collective?
Livia: When I started realising my ideas that throughout a project there is a lot of collaboration going on. I also love the sort of social aspect of it, sharing a passion, merging vision and talent. So I really felt like it would be interesting to give this collaboration also a face, and to push this sense of community, I crave for more of it. And that’s how the Avantgardeners was formed. It’s very flux, it is very transformable, but just puts the sense of concretion a bit more to the foreground than just only me as a solo artist.
Alice: Your collection sparks a kind of hybrid thinking. What is the significance of metamorphosis? What do you imagine humans can be after changing our cultural and material –– maybe even ecological –– form?
Livia: Haha not so much in love with who humanity is these days, so really it’s also an identity crisis and a desperate search forward into the future. I’m interested in metamorphosis going past genders, going past the thinking of nature and us being separate, and going into the unknown. Identifying as witch, elves, sirens, etc –– exploring empowerment through superpowers, spells and self-created new rituals….
Alice: There is something profoundly utopic about your collection. Could you identify ways of channelling utopia in day-to-day routines?
Livia: Yes, I think dreaming and real life are two such separated entities. And I find that creating or being creative is very much a bridge between the two. Forgetting about time, getting absorbed, body and mind get carried away, I think that act feels utopian to me to a degree. And specifically, with the in-between world FUTURA, home of all creatures and spells, it’s the idea, that it’s a layer put upon reality. (Although not reduced to utopia, dystopia is as involved, but it’s this layer of future possibilities, dreams and fears for the impatient to already attempt to incorporate...)
Alice: Wolzenalp’s Sesselilift is a work of art in itself. Could you describe the thought processes behind choosing this site as your performance space?
Livia: I grew up in the village next to Wolzenalp. Making my debut album and coronavirus has forced me to reconnect with my home in a more intense way by living at my parents’ for a certain amount of time, and it was interesting to reconnect after having become a proper Londoner. There is a certain clash of worlds on this Sesselilift, it’s an extremely rural, down to earth and traditional, humble little valley –– this location creates a lot of friction and question marks, it feels natural because it’s in nature but also unnatural, and maybe that’s an interesting kind of in-between to pose questions in and try out ideas….
Alice: How does the ‘otherworldly’ create conditions for human intimacy, proximity and connection?
Livia: Hm well I find that society has very much reduced humans, we are constantly trying to fit in and function within its constant judgement and structures. I just don’t think we can all truly be who feels right to us. It took me a lot of work to leave the ‘wanting-to-please-everybody’ mindset behind and feel like I can honestly exist as myself at the edge of this society, where the inner can translate to the outer. And only in this state I feel I can honestly connect, I am truly ready for intimacy and connection. And the otherworldly is really a certain ‘vibe’ that helps me on this constant attempt of liberating from the ‘who you should be’ to a liberated, honest choice of it.
The Sesselilift Modenschau / Ski Lift Fashion Show will be live-streamed on 29th/30th May, or 5th/6th June, weather permitting. Keep up to date on Instagram at @liviarita or https://www.liviarita.com/fashionshow.
Image Credits: ArtFashion and concept by Livia Rita / www.liviarita.com / Instagram: @liviarita
Photography by Cedric Zellweger / Instagram: @cedriczellweger
Intro: Alice Hill-Woods