"Find your own voice, something that belongs only to yourself" Interview to Silvia Gentili

Interview by Rossella Forle’

I met Silvia when she was living in London and from that moment I became her fan.

Silvia Gentili’s practice explores stories that belong to the personal and political realm through the use of photography, film and performance. Her work can be a punch in the stomach, you can love or hate it but for sure you will never be indifferent. Silvia way of working is profound and meaningful, she lives her art through her life.

She is now based in Rome after few years in Reykjavik and I’m happy to share her beautiful mind with you.

silvia art2.jpg

1. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?

 It is something I realised in my late twenties. I started taking picture when I was 27 years old. It took me a couple of years more to understand that there was nothing I could do to prevent me from being an artist. It felt as a curse at the beginning. Now, I know it is a privilege.



2. Tell me how your creative process works

Usually something gets my attention and opens a new world. It could be an image, a word, a sound or something I have been reading. If I had to describe it, it would be like a sudden constant noise that never stops until it takes a form of an artwork. It captures my attention and thoughts constantly. From here, it is all about researching and trying things out.


3. How confident are you of your abilities?

I am getting more confident with age and experience. Being an artist is a parallel journey to being a women. Ten years ago, I was so shy and insecure. Nowadays I know what I desire and have the strength to achieve it.


4. What do you regard as successful audience engagement?

My artwork is successful when it is able to communicate something to the audience. It is not really important if the message behind it is comprehended. What is essential is that the viewer is able to feel an emotion, and that this will lead to a small change in them. It does not matter if the reaction is positive or negative. I just want them to feel and be alive.


5. Can you measure what effect you’re having with your art?

It is a love and hate effect. My art is direct and rough in a way. Not everyone likes that. 


6. Women artists get a raw deal in historical collections. Will that ever change?

Things are changing although it is a slow process. It depends on the country as well. For example, there are more women artist in the Tate Collection, but I am not positive that the same changes are happening in Italy as well. There is still a long way to go.


7. What means being a woman in the contemporary art industry?

The art industry is not easy neither for women nor men. In a way I think women have a little advantage, they have to learn to fight earlier in life.

For sure it is not easy to break thought in the art world. That is the reason why I became more active. I started curating, organising events and now that I moved back to Rome I have many projects that I am working on. I like the idea of being an artist, but also being able to help other artists and create a community. It is utterly important to share. This is the spirit behind Political Bodies exhibition project.

8.  What’s your latest project? And What has been your inspiration for the current exhibition?

My latest project is Synthetic Skins. It is an ongoing project that deals with the theme of violence. Through the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water) I research for means to reflect on and comprehend violence. 

The two-channel video installation I showed in Padua, Italy, as part of Political Bodies exhibition, promoted by the Arts and Culture Department of the city of Padua and supported by CIDP (Italian Centre of Personality Disorders), focuses on violence on women.

In Italy the number of abuses against women increased over the last two years, but it is the savage killing of Sara di Pietrantonio in 2016 that shocked me deeply, triggering to create this piece.

I am actually working on the second part of the project for an event organised by UNICEF Basilicata in Matera in October 2019. In this case it is about violence and children.

Synthetic Skins

Synthetic Skins

 9.  What lessons do you try to pass on to young women at the start of their art careers?

The one piece of advice I would give to young women at the start of their art careers is to do what you love, research, read, document yourself as much as you can. The most important thing is to find your own voice, something that belongs only to yourself and define yourselves. That’s why it is important to get out of your comfort zone. Explore, try new things out and never stop. No matter how difficult it is.


Silvia Gentili’s practice explores stories that belong to the personal and political realm through the use of photography, film, and performance. Her research investigates the concepts of trauma and memory in connection to the body, landscape and storytelling.

Find out more about Silvia >>> http://www.silviagentili.com/