Sarah Lloyd interviews Rebecca Youssefi
Rebecca Youssefi’s new exhibition ‘Origin’ at Source Park opening 2nd September, from 6.00pm, is a selection of paintings and a live performance with aerial dance by Youssefi and soundscape by Shamic Healer Gabrielle Lewry. Catch it before it transfers to Milan.
SJL: Rebecca, I want to ask you, after taking us all on a kind of esoteric journey through archetypes in your last body of work, why you are choosing ‘Origin’ as the title for this new exhibition?
RY: Origin resonates with ideas I’m exploring about perceiving the world from wider perspectives, and to a reoccurring dream I have, where I am looking at the world from deep space. That’s also why the aerial dance is part of this new phase. It’s about making flowing transitions from sky and space to earth and ground. Following this very strong dream experience, I feel I want to explore this idea of shifting perspective. I’ve had a strong meditation practice for a long time, and often paintings emerge from that space without too much thinking. Lately I’m feeling a strong urge to reflect deeper on what is the human and where we stand within all that exists.
SJL: I can see how the aerial work is a great vantage point for experiencing the alive embodied moment differently. In your Major Arcana series, you seemed to be morphing through kabbalism in a reflection on how symbolism occurred in your own imagination. This time the work seems much more outward and based in your body, rather than abstract archetypes. It feels as if you’ve absorbed the qualities you contemplated and now you are taking vibrant action in the world with them.
RY: Yes, just being present in my body, experiencing, creating and feeling what an honour it is to be alive, and knowing that many people for different reasons don’t have this opportunity to exist so freely, that’s also a powerful motivation for me.
SJL: I was thinking of other contemporary artists like Dana Schutz or Jaimie Warren who also use the morphing self as their subject matter,, and it set me to thinking about how your process differs. Both of them seem somewhat cynical and use a kind of staged snapshot frame to mock and question performed identities, but usually the identities of others, not their own.Your work seems much more about experiencing fresh perception within yourself and connecting with the raw elemental forces in specific locations in the living landscape. It feels potent that you are prepared to train so hard to have frame-changing experiences in your body, there is a committed integrity to not just looking at life, but to really becoming alive.
RY: Well, as a human being alive now I do feel I have a responsibility to be conscious and expressive about the world that I’m living in. Painting and movement are the ways in which I do this, and also what I love, so it’s easy to be committed.
‘Origin’ at Source Park continues until 1st October.