Body/Cut: In Conversation with Stephanie Cortazzo
Stephanie Cortazzo is an artist, photographer, and curator based in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently the featured artist with the Brooklyn Collage Collective. Her work in the collective’s group show (Summer 2018), entitled “Cosmic Crisis,” is a forceful study on the bankruptcy of love. Below is our interview with the artist in which she discusses her role in the Brooklyn Collage Collective and the process behind her body of work, “Cosmic Crisis.”
Your exhibit section in the Brooklyn Collage Collective’s group show was entitled “Cosmic Crisis.” Can you provide us information about how you conceptualized this body of work:
It is about the trials and tribulations of lovers who are set in a dismal, bleak universe—much like our current reality in NYC one could even argue. They are challenged to come to terms with each other and deal with various issues such as ego, conflicting decisions, and insecurities. “Love” as I see it, is a dance of energy and chance. The subjects in my work are taken, even possessed, by the energetic forces of the universe that attempt to control them and induce love through unexplainable phenomena.
What was the process – beginning with its conceptualization to its exhibition with the Collective?
The inspiration behind the process comes from my personal relationships. While considering the cultural expectations of a monogamy, I became interested in the vastness of the universe.
I obtained materials from publications such as National Geographic, Playboy and color aide and used unknown visuals so that the audience can find a way to insert themselves in a relational sense. My aim for each collage was to invoke visceral, raw emotions related to the idea of romantic trauma.
How did the group show come about?
Morgan Jesse Lappin, founder of the Brooklyn Collage Collective developed and curated the group exhibition for Bushwick Open Studios; the show also included my colleagues Jessie Laura, Joseph Karwacki and Morgan Jesse Lappin. It was presented Brooklyn Collage Collective headquarters in Bushwick.
Were the pieces placed in a specific manner?
I ordered my work to be perceived as a series.
What is your exact role in the Brooklyn Collage Collective? You are the featured artist in the group.
Prior to joining, I was making work with collage but I yearned for a community, which is why I reached out to Morgan – the founder of the Brooklyn Collage Collective. I in North Jersey at the time, where I obtained my BA in Fine Arts from Rutgers, and making collages at home. After moving to NYC in 2018, I contacted the Collage Collective and they wanted to collaborate with me. It was thrilling! In the fall, I fall I presented my latest series Cosmic Crisis, for their group show.
The photograph is an integral aspect of collage art. What does it personally mean in your process?
Sontag talks about a “visual code” that photography provides through its signs and signifiers. The photo can act like mirror and show what is society back onto itself. There is also this aspect of capturing a memory. I see photography as a medium that record truths. The photo allows us look back on ourselves.
Your work has a strong feminist undertone, does it relate to what is socially happening with women across the world in the “Me Too” movement?
My art aims to generate a discourses about the body and women’s violence. I believe the “Me Too” movement is about justice in an otherwise merciless society. The mirror reference I mentioned about photography can be applied here. The media aspects of “Me Too” cleaned the glass for society to look in its reflection yet I believe more action and intersectionality needs to occur. Especially when it comes to the ongoing social and economic disparity of women who experience sexual violence.
For more work from Stephanie Cortazzo, visit: http://www.stephaniecortazzo.com/