In a playful yet pointed counter to the human-centric view of the world, London-based Italian artist Ludovica Gioscia collaborates with her cat, Arturo. I was pleased to obtain an exclusive interview with him just as they opened a major show at Baert Gallery in Los Angeles.
PCK: What does your mistress do?
Arturo: I should make it clear that she is my slave, not my mistress. She gathers stuff, including contributions which I bring in from the garden – my flowers and leaves are particularly appreciated. In the evening, she strokes me and puts my hair in a glass jar. She does the same thing every few days with the crunchy white stuff on the floor, in which I love to play*. She takes all of that into a different space – I’ve never been there but I’ve heard her call it ‘the studio’. So what she terms ‘sculptures’ are pretty much down to me.
Message from Arturo 2, 2020 Watercolour on paper, 25 x 19cm – photo Charles White
Can you talk about the watercolour ‘Message from Auturo 2’?
Yes, that’s a great example of how I exercise my power. When I’m sleeping, she slips her hand under my paw and dozes with me. That’s when I plant my messages into her dreams, to change what she will do. In this case I caused her to make colourful shapes on paper as soon as she woke up. Of course, humans cannot fully decode my meanings – but don’t ask, I won’t be giving my secrets away to you.
Arturo and the Vertical Sea, 2020 – Watercolour on acid free paper, 21 x 30 cm – photo Charles White
What about ‘Arturo and the Vertical Sea’?
That also comes from a dream I influenced: in it my two slaves – her partner Neill is actually Slave No. 1 – were at the seaside with me, when I flipped the sea to vertical. I felt so happy with that, I multiplied myself so that several of me could enjoy playing in the water at once.
Are you rewarded for your work?
I do get full board and lodging and the run of the place 24 hours a day. Beyond that, I like to think that my slave is making work which carries our relationship in her mind. And when she’s doing that, she gives me extra attention, plays with me lots and replaces my favourite white scrunchy stuff more often – the newer it is, the more I like the sounds it makes.
Arturo with scrunchy stuff
* Ludovica tells me that this is tissue paper, which absorbs Arturo’s joy and is then made into the Papier-mâché prominent in many of their sculptures. They also feature his fur, sometimes distilled into a liquid by means of ‘vibrational medicine’. The full list of materials in ‘Gift for Arturo’ is extravagant: Pine cones, dried flowers, ceramic digits, wood shelf made from Horse Chestnut and Southern Yellow Beech from Kew Gardens and papier-mâché made from pulps of: CBD tea, Mary’s handmade paper, distilled joy, Arturo’s purring, natural pigments, distilled affection, Arturo’s hair, cork, commercial and screen printed wallpaper, surface attractor GIF paper, electricity cards, studio draw mixed papers, iridescent and gold paper, The Economist, Fabriano and Canson paper, tissue paper, screen printing ink, Indian ink, glitter, hessian, wood shavings from Seb’s workshop, dried flowers, mica flakes, paper found in recycling bag, wallpaper paste and PVA glue .
Ludovica Gioscia is represented in Europe by Vitrine Gallery
Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head