To Aurora Passero, quality is characterized as a recognizable continuity in an artist’s practice. Fitting, as once you’ve seen one of the Norwegian artist’s site-specific woven pieces, her work is forever recognizable. Constructed from meticulously woven nylon, Passero’s installations interact with an architectural space, sometimes extending from a gallery’s ceiling to graze its wooden floor and other times suspended in midair. Sometimes her works are dramatically draped and sometimes they’re pulled taught, threads dangling in perfect straight lines. But however her pieces are installed, however they are dyed, whatever the size the opacity or the site, they are always undeniably Passero’s.
Though Passero has had several solo exhibitions in her native Oslo, her inclusion in last year’s Untitled Art Fair during Art Basel Miami has sparked interest in the young artist on this side of the pond. We expect to encounter her recognizable works again and again, as they effortlessly transform whatever space they grace.
First, an annoying question: how would you describe your “aesthetic” to someone who has never seen your work and does not have access to Google (an alien, basically)?
My works take place in a span between sculpture and painting – I am interested in the resistance and balance between material, form, color, space and content. Lately I have been working with nylon thread that I weave and later dye before composing the pieces together as whole spatial installations.
At what point did you know you wished to pursue art professionally?
I realized it gradually through my adolescence. My mother work as a costume designer and her nonstop orientation towards and curiosity for different artistic expressions has had a huge influence on me. Since I was a kid she has been dragging my brother and I around to visit different museums and collections, especially in Italy because I am half Italian. It took me a while to realize we were so close to the ocean – the only thing we saw were churches and palaces. Otherwise I have always loved making things and I was always drawing when I was smaller. I also remember I saw Julian Schnabel’s Basquiat movie when I was fifteen – perfect for a longing teenager.
When or how do you know that a piece is finished and it’s time to step away?
It’s based on an immediately good feeling and experience.
In what ways would you consider yourself a perfectionist in terms of your practice?
I would not say that I am a perfectionist but I am very concerned with having control of the whole process, from beginning to end. At the moment I finalize something, regardless if it’s a text, a piece of work or an exhibition, I need to I’ve worked it through down to every detail so it will be exposed precisely the way I want it.
When it comes to your practice, are you good at delegating tasks? This can encompass both the physical creation of your work as well as activities that surround it, such as installation and PR. Why or why not?
No, and that can be a problem, especially when I have a lot to do. Working as an artist it is not only about making the art itself, it’s everything else: office work, applications, documentation, text, PR and so on and so on… When it comes to making the work I prefer to be alone, but when I mount the pieces I always need assistants because of the large-scale of the pieces.
Is there a time of day that you feel most creative or inspired? Is there a time of year?
I like to work in the mornings, when everything is fresh and new. Otherwise I’m happy about the long, cold winter months because it gives me a lot of time to stay inside and work without a bad conscience.
Are you deadline-oriented?
Yes, I like to work under pressure.
What does your studio or work environment look or feel like?
My studio is essential for my practice; it was the first thing I started looking for when I graduated. I have always had a lot of visual material around me: photos, books, magazines and other inspiration sources that I rearrange all the time. It reminds me of the starting points of different pieces, like a visual language or mind map.
Who is the first person you show your work to? Do you show people your work when it’s in process or do you wait until it’s finished?
I like to be alone when I work, trying to avoid interruptions. I’m not very found of other’s comments during my process because it is important to me that I make my own decisions. I have a few people I show it to when it’s completed – most importantly, my boyfriend, Robin, who also works as an artist. We discuss each other’s works all the time and he functions as my extended eye.
How important is failure to your artistic process?
I try to be as open as possible when I work. It’s often when unexpected things happens new ideas develop. I think it’s important to not be too safe within the work, but to push it forward as soon as you get to comfortable.
To what degree is your work pre-planned or considered and to what degree does it manifest itself as you’re working?
It is a mix of both. I usually get an pretty clear idea of what I want to make based on information I get out of the space I will be working with. I often start with one piece, then the others follow in relation to one another. I like the public to experience the pieces both individually and as a whole composition. I can be thinking about something for a long time, but it is what I physically do in my studio that tells me whether it will work out or not.
Can you recall the first piece of art you ever made?
When I was a kid my friends and I made a city inhabited by mice made out of Plasticine. It was extremely detailed and was built on an old door shelf we got from the day care facility we went to after school. As we grew older, the mice developed along with us, gaining interests like NBA merchandise and skateboards. My friend still has it.
What was the last great piece of advice you received in regards to your practice, and from whom?
“Remember to breathe”- from a taxi driver.
How do you handle criticism?
It depends on how the criticism is given and if it is constructive or not. At its best, criticism can give one drive to develop the work.
Would you say that your art making is ritualistic – is there a standardized process you follow when producing work, or does it vary from piece to piece?
When I set up a loom and weave the pieces I follow basic technical rules. It’s a logical repetition and I guess you could call it a kind of ritual. The dying process is much more risky and physically exhausting. Here I’m interested in chance and the result of more impulsive actions. I like the combination and dynamic of those two aspects together.
If you ever feel creatively blocked, what do you do to overcome it?
Travel is a very good way to find inspiration – you get a break from your usual routines and a chance to think about your practice from another point of view. Also seeing other art and reading about other artistic practices always inspires me a lot.
In what ways, if any, do you alter your approach in response to context? This can refer the gallery a work is being shown in, the city or other cultural contexts.
My works are pretty much site-specific. They first take shape when they are hung up in the space and I always relate to the architecture I’m installing in. Otherwise I see my works as a response to my surroundings and everyday life. The works become a concentrate of all of my impressions; like a physical language.
In what ways has your practice has changed/evolved/improved in the time since you first started? Is it still changing?
I have built up a confidence in what I am doing that comes together with experience.
What is your personal definition of quality?
A continuity in someone’s practice.
Can your recall a definitive moment or turning point in your career – perhaps a specific show or the realization of a new method or process (or one of each)?
When I was studying I was working with site-specific installations that I had built up with all kinds of materials like plaster, rubber, pigments and plastic directly in the space. It was always destroyed after a period of time and I was missing a more intimate way of working and making something that could last. I started to examine nylon and when I started to weave with it I realized I could build up large-scale elements in an easy way. It was interesting to take up space with such a cheap and superficial material and at the same time mix classical handcraft and painting traditions.
For more examples of time well spent visit Levi’s Made and Crafted