Briefly describe the work you do.
In my work I combine different media and strategies to investigate how the construction of space influences contemporary life. By examining the relationship that architecture establishes with its environment I want to understand the effects that it produces on our social and private sphere. Residential urban sites, abandoned places, and virtual spaces were among some of the source of inspirations of my most recent projects.
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
I grew up in the city of Rome, in Italy, where the simultaneous presence of ancient and contemporary urban landscapes triggered my interest in both the historical and transitory nature of architecture. Being exposed to this particular environment I developed a sensitivity toward space that is very connected to time. In my work this is reflected in the way I often approach architecture as a construction in a continuos process of transformation.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
Since my work involves both documentation and fiction I usually spend some time outside before starting to work in the studio. However I certainly need the comfort of a familiar space to make the work. Once I’m ready to start the material production of a project I have a very consistent studio practice.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I didn’t imagine I would be constantly teaching myself new techniques. As my work has started to incorporates different disciplines I find myself having to quickly pick up new skills each time I develop a new project.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
When I have the possibility to work full time in the studio I usually find myself working from the afternoon until late at night. The quiet of the latest hours of the day helps me to focus better.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
Over the last years my work has become increasingly multi-disciplinary and larger in scale. Coming from a straight photography practice I have progressively expanded towards sculpture, installation and video. Photography remains a central role in my production but it’s always in conversation with other media.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
More than from specific artists I found myself to be influenced by certain historical moments where art and architecture were strongly intertwined. Early modernist movements, like Russian constructivism, De Stijl, Bauhaus, as much as the minimalism and the Land art of the sixties, are some of my biggest source of inspiration.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
In my early years of studies I took classes of architecture before transferring to humanities and graduating in film studies. I’ve definitely considered pursuing a career as an architect or a film director but neither of these directions seemed to give me the same amount of freedom of expression as the visual art field.
In her work Ilaria Ortensi uses both different media and strategies to create images that viewers are encouraged to question. Recent works have investigated iconic residential urban sites (Windows, 2014), and ideas implied in the creation of virtual space (Variations, 2015). Ortensi’s work has been featured in New York in exhibitions at The Jewish Museum, Fisher Landau Center for Art and Judith Charles Gallery. Born in Italy in 1982 she received her MFA from Columbia University and in 2016 she will be part of the Hercules Art/Studio Program in New York City.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.