Adoration: dark sad and sexy self taught musicotherapy for the clubs and beyonds
Recently RitaMaria Giordano together with photographer Gesualdo Lanza have collaborated with CECILIA on the one of a kind photo session. CECILIA is speaking about her new album Adoration, the perception of the self, and the experience of being the subject in the photoshoot.
CECILIA aka Mélissa Gagné aka Babi Audi is a French-Canadian composer whose practice spans music, video, and performance. Active in Montreal, New York and now based in Napoli, Italy. CECILIA recently released her first full-length album, Adoration, the 33-minute, 10-track LP which follows last year’s visual EP Charity Whore. Adoration is her most refined, delicately crafted effort to date.
Read on the interview with CECILIA and RitaMaria.
I’ve worked on a shooting dedicated to an artist, CECILIA, I personally appreciate a lot. She’s a Canadian artist who expresses herself through performance, film and installations, but especially music. Her debut solo album “Adoration” is a mix of deconstructed techno, poetry and intertextual hints.
As she’s currently based in Naples, I’ve had the opportunity to meet her, and create a photographic story that represents her as a woman, since her whole art is impregnated with the honest intention of being able to express the feelings that women are normally used to hide.
What was the main idea for this shoot?
We tried to create a series that could depict the strength and simplicity with which Melissa manages to enforce her presence in every ambience, which is the feeling I had when I met her.
What is the location you shot at?
Excluding the streets of the historic center, the main location is the SS Apostoli Art School of Naples, part of the monumental complex of the Holy Apostles. This place, because of its history, contains austerity and rebellion in itself; both strong peculiarities of Naples as well as of the creative process in general.
Which CECILIA’s track do you feel the shoot expresses the most?
I think ‘House Of Flesh’ because it’s sweet and bold at the same time, like a confused but really honest feeling.
What is your favorite track by CECILIA and what does it mean for you?
I personally love ‘Pagliaccio’ because when I heard it I already had very similar feelings for a man, a clown, an annoying ghost. This track made me reconsider my anger and appreciate the disappointment.
When speaking with CECILIA about this project what was the most important element that you decided has to be present during the shoot to unveil CECILIA as a person, a woman, an artist?
Confidence, related to the contact with a new city, with unknown peeks, with your own body, with your own art. Self confidence.
What is the album “Adoration’ about?
I would say it is about a movement towards. Desiring transport. Vulnerable descent. A fragile attempt to intimacy which is rarely experienced without difficulty, whether it is with others or with yourself to whom we are often estranged.
In that sense I feel it addresses loneliness (not to confuse with the simple fact of being lonely), the pain and violence it can generate. It is about disappointed/sick love, shame, fragmentation of the self.
Maybe the work is trying to repair the broken self by reconnecting its torn apart dismantled pieces, to create and yet recall a sense of wholeness/breadth. The process of its making implied a regression towards a threshold of embarrassment, powerlessness, anger, oblivion. ---cut---
I never imagined or conceptualized the artwork of the album symbolically, but I find interesting to look at what it actually reveals. On the cover, the viewer's gaze trajectory is descending, looking at a scene happening from upstairs: the scene shows an attempt of intimate closeness, but the action is contained, suspended.
What also interests me is a certain etymology of the term Adoration: its relation to orality - oration - from the mouth - to the mouth. In Italian adorare : ad orare : to speak. The album could be a prayer or a kiss.
How would you describe the genre you work in?
dark-sad-and-sexy-self-taught-musicotherapy for the clubs and beyonds
What emotions do you want a person to feel while listening to the tracks from the last album? Which journey should this person undergo?
What are the official listed human emotions again? (laugh) For me, emotion is never experienced clearly as a singular and homogeneous sensation. It is always intertwined, layered with other emotions, sometimes charged of its antagonist. An essential aspect of my interest in composing music is to embrace and play with the disturbing emotional opacity of our different states of being.
If I cannot prescript a specific journey, let’s say I would like to imagine the listener ambivalently seduced, yet hypnotized, adhering to an unfamiliar intensity. Ultimately falling in love with ‘me’ (laugh). Someone wrote the album was ‘disorienting’, an ‘uneasy listening’. I feel like this disorientation is crucial. Probably even the condition of possibility of the work’s efficiency, activation. Why wanting to know where we are? (laugh) As if we even knew where we are in the first place... Maybe, if you accept to be disoriented and join my confused route, something like sensitive resonances, mirroring, echoing could occur. A shared interior experience. Then the work would have succeeded that 'encounter' I mentioned earlier.
What are the 3 most important elements for that without which you wouldn't be able to create?
2. anger (most often from pain - personal pain or pain felt empathically- compassion -no pain is totally personal - nothing is never totally personal)
3. confidence - I am not referring to self-confidence, there is no self-confidence possible without confidence in others - trust, reliance - in French the exact same word means the communication of a secret, of a feeling to someone…in order, to do that, one must have confidence in that someone.
How is the experience of being a model, the main subject in the shoot, different for you from making music? How did you want it to show you as an artist or a person?
The making of music is hidden. Introspective. No gaze, no ears allowed. My hands get dirty. I wear other faces, my body is no longer the one you see. I control everything until the final steps. Modeling can be scary because you have a reduced, relative control. So, it is really important to work with someone you trust and share visions with.
Also, for me a fixed image often feels ‘unfair’, reducing, limited. The experience of modeling is like a treat though, it is interpretation, the composition of character in a sense. For this shoot, I had complete trust in Rita. I asked her in the first place because I like the subtlety, the sobriety, and gracefulness in her work.
If I remember well, my only directive was about wanting to appear under a softer and gentler light than usual. Bright and elegant, contrasting with my typical self-representation which like my sound is most often …harsh, dark…tinged with an aggressive tragicomic tonality.
What is your favorite venture to perform at from all the cities you had visited?
I’d say Milan felt pretty special and for some reasons empowering. I played at Macao, an experimental venue based in the former slaughterhouse. More than just a music venue Macao is a self-organized center for art, culture and research lead by artists-workers from all fields. Macao had that mythic aura for me.
I had been interested to their movement for a while, even before moving to Italy, from abroad. Because of the vision reflected in the curation but also for the social effort underlying and driving the organization. Effort to resist against an isolated-individual-artist logic and propose alternative self-governance strategies in front of the neoliberal governance of the city (and the country).
Shortly after being asked to perform at the concert presented by Haunter Records, I learned Macao was facing an eviction threat ahead of a potential sale of the building they occupied. The city wants to sell it to the bank in order to reimburse debts in which case the future of this fantastic space would be to rot there quiet cold and empty until some private interest transforms it into a dead-money-generator spot. What a counterproductive and damaging move/assault to do to it’s own community. I believe Macao has what it takes to fail them.
What are the upcoming ventures one can attend your gig at?
I am presenting a new live piece in Lausanne/Switzerland at Les Urbaines Festival on December 7th followed the next day by a DJ set for the same occasion. Then I go back to Napoli where I will be part of a group show at Museo Apparente, alongside visual artists Astrid K Nylander and F Cirillo. I will perform live the day of the opening on December 15h, and my visual EP Charity Whore will be screened in a room for the duration of the show.