MASHA MITROFANOVA ON HER FAVOURITE BOOKS & ART
Woman with an incredible sense of style, Writer, Artist, Feminist, Founder of Hangover Box startup and co-founder of Femme Formation (a first female collective in Milan) Masha Mitrofanova answered our questions about her influences and creative process.
Do you see your work as autobiographical at all?
I paint what I know. The way writers write about what they know best.
How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?
This is a hard question to answer, always. Not because I am embarrassed, but because people ask about it so often, I already cringe for the reaction. I usually dive in (where appropriate) and say it how it is: I paint vaginas. Not the way The Vulva Gallery does it (an instagram account everyone should follow @the.vulva.gallery) but in the more timid, abstract way. I add a funny quote here and there, or a red stroke for a period (a depiction of a tampon in watercolour is always a good idea). What I really try to do, is display femininity in a very romantic notion. My goal is to make an experience as bloody as menstruation a very adorable or appealing. If I can laugh it off, so can another girl. If my work brings out a genuine smile, I am satisfied. Lately with the feminism acquiring such a broad coverage, I am trying to branch out into other themes. Femininity will be always at the core of my work, but I am also looking forward to making something a little bit different.
What mediums do you work with?
I paint with acrylic paint and watercolours. I do a lot of collages - it is a hard medium to screw up. That is why the latest is my ultimate favourite. I am also trying photography, I enjoy shooting film. It is hard, it is not immediate and it is nostalgic. There is so much imagery out there, so it is nice to take my time to produce something special.
What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
I am in a constant research mode. If I am not reading, I am reading something else. :) I have a never ending list of books to read, and the minute I finish one I add another three. Honestly, I should not be allowed at the bookstore for the next couple of months, but I know I will slip. I have been researching feminism at crossroads with art like a proper school girl. If you are at the beginning of your feminist journey I would strongly recommend Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. It truly fuelled me. Women who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes is another good one (females in crossroads with fairytales, it is fascinating). Currently I am indulging in The Female Body In The Looking-Glass by Basia Sliwinska, parallel to several others. I cannot read one book at once, I am a cheater like that.
What does having a physical space to make art in mean for your process, and how do you make your space work for you?
I work at my apartment and it is pretty small, which drives me semi-insane. I make it work for me. The floor is my natural habitat. It is a mess. I don’t invite people over, they’d get lost. I usually light up a candle and put some fresh flowers to look at Crystals. I am basic like that.
Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?
At the beginning of this year, a couple of my girlfriends and I started a new venture - Femme Formation. It is a first female collective in Milan. We do networking events, workshops and just empower ladies in the city, I guess. We did our first event at the end of April, which was a handful for just three of us, but I am very proud (of my girls too! Hi Stacey and Poly!). We do a monthly theme, and naturally our first collective was about sex. We got Frida Affer as a speaker - a founder of the conceptual erotic store in Milan (WOVO) and a frontier in sexual education. She is a rockstar. I am girl crushing her to the moon and back.
Which other artists might your work be in conversation with?
Georgia O’Keeffe is a strong influence, although she always denied the feminine connotation in her work. As cliche as it might be - Frida Kahlo. Visually, my work is nowhere near to hers, yet when I went to recent retrospective in Milan, I was mind blown by how close I am connected to her internally. She has that power over women, still.
Out of contemporaries, I have discovered Chloe Wise a year ago and I genuinely appreciate where she stands. I would like some of her ballsiness. Addie Wagenknecht did these self-portraits where she used a Roomba robot around her nude body with Yves Klein shade of blue. I have read her interview on Lenny Letter this winter and only later realized her impact on myself. I respect it. You always stand on somebody’s else's shoulders.
Masha Instagram: @wanderfeeds https://www.instagram.com/wanderfeeds/
Masha Website http://wanderfeeds.com/art-portfolio/
Femme Formation Instagram: @femmetv https://www.instagram.com/femmetv/
Femme Formation Website: http://femmeformation.net/
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