Anita Sieff, Venice and New York


Your story in 10 – or in a few more – lines


I was born in Colle Isarco a little village near to the border between Italy and Austria. My family was living on the top of a hill – colle in Italian means hill -, and I loved to be there. The house was surrounded by 4 huge horse chestnuts trees which were perfectly framing the area and I used to roll myself downhill along the soft slope of its South side. I was the oldest of three sisters and I knew how to involve the community of children inviting them to join and play with us the games I was often inventing, rules included! My mother used to invite every Thursdays our neighbours. 5 or 6 couples with their children joined us to listen to a local radio station which was broadcasting traditional and pop music. My father was always very attentive to the latest technological products and had bought a fairly big TV set which was the main attraction in the village. We moved form there when I was 11 to open a Restaurant in Brennero the village on the border. The business grew very fast and we had to help my parents to manage it. I remember how often I felt overwhelmed because all I was experiencing in this new environment was the give and take where money was the value. I therefore decided to search for something else and focussed my attention to study. Soon I moved to Bressanone for high school, from there to Padua to attend University, and finally to Venice where I still live.



Many performers and poets – who are defining themselves visual artists, as Regina José Galindo we recently interviewed – seem to embrace bold and very bloody political statements.

Others, as the younger than her Alex Cecchetti, are indeed mixing with levity and unpublished styles either writing, performing arts and space design in a very different weight and structure, putting the ‘viewer’ in its centre, not the performer.


Your art is either a practice of mixing video and other sources and what I call the ‘art of relation’ – for your choice is all centred on love.


Which has been the inner spark to work in this way?


The desire to share with others and to feel that we belong to the same net. As child I had learned that participation is simple and fun. Participation describes perfectly the event of perception because it always involves at its most intimate level the experience of an active interplay between the perceiving body and that which perceives. There are no real divisions between the two, in many ways the thing perceived is an extension of the perceiver. We are in relationship to the outer and inner world. Communication, perception and environment cannot be separated and words are actions for us human beings. I feel that we all have to express our power in every thing we say or do without fear to be misinterpreted as perhaps aggressive or egotistical, because what hinders us to be actors is this background belief that we are separated and powerless. Value fulfillment is the reason behind the existence of all systems and Creativity is its tool. Conscious participation can really heal our status of disaffection. My art is based on this premise and attempts mainly to perform as trigger to enable others to see such evidence. Often my interventions are not even noticed, other times instead my actions are considered inappropriate for the official line of consciousness of our society is based on rigid cultural assumptions difficult to break down. In my opinion the contemporary artist has to be vigilant and pervasive but able to fill with hope the hearts of people. Love for me is the matrix of all events and is always a protection, in a biological electromagnetic chemical and psychic manner. We must fall in love with life as love is the net which contains us all.



Which has been your first art piece and which your last? Which are your secrets to regenerate your energy?


I did my first art piece when I invited all the children of the village to show them the poop of my beloved teddy bear….. The last one is the one I am working on now which deals with the process of creation as a constant manifestation leading to value fulfilment and therefore to beauty. I am regenerated when I spend time in nature, walking on the beach or in the woods, listening to the sound of the wind the water, the birds or to good music, chatting with a friend while tasting a good glass of wine, eating great food and dancing!



Which is the other occupation in your life apart art? 


I operate also as event manager, production manager, and coordinator especially during the Biennale in Venice.



Which is your city after or with Venice? Which things are you taking from one and which from the other? What do you feel to give back to those towns?


I live between Venice and New York and think that the two cities have a lot in common starting form the fact that their Architecture has melded into Nature, that Venice is built horizontally and NY vertically, that both are built on the water, and both reflect the radicalism of feelings. Both Venice and New York are fundamentally romantic in their attitude, in their fragility they seek and mirror love. My soul loves to be in such environment and loves to reciprocate.



Which encounters do you normally have in your daily work routine? Please make a portrait of one of these


I get up drink my lemon juice and and have my breakfast. I used to have a terrace where I spent an hour or so every morning taking care of my flowers, and writing down my dreams. I miss that ritual and instead now I listen to a good music piece or read what I had interrupted the day before. I go out around 11:00 reach the Rialto market to buy fresh fish and vegetables. When in New York -I usually live near Union square- I’ ll go to the farmer’s market. In both cities I usually meet up for coffee with friends who live in that area, if possible. Back home to cook my meal and work until 6:0/7:00 pm which usually is the meeting time especially now that springtime allows to stay outdoor. Venice has so many wine bars and coffee shops, unlike New York very affordable, where you can indulge yourself in long drinks and conversations. While in New York all is scheduled here in Venice all is up to the chance of bombing into each other and all is played by ear. In New York I am often busier with visiting galleries, Museums, Theatre etc. while in Venice time is often devoted to deepen relationships even with oneself.



Which is the most important achievement (or award) after so many years of experiences?


I have achieved to be proud of myself, in peace so to say, and I am trying to be joyful in spite of my ability to create false expectations. Perhaps the most important achievement is to have been able to camouflage all the emotional peaks in order to metabolize them. I hope that as consequence the subconscious mechanism will allow me more consistently to construct inner data into physical reality.



Describe a fantastic happening you, as person, have had in recent time?


All the insight in my life arrives via dreaming. I have tons of notebooks with my dream descriptions. In ‘98 I took a dreaming class in New York City and learned that dreams are actions. The dream experience itself, is as real as any experience to the basic self. It follows that instructions may be given to the self, so that various problems can be solved within the dream situation. I went to Mexico the year after to join a workshop with a student of Carlos Castaneda and the dreaming was part of our training. When I dream of animals I am immediately aware of the development of similar attitudes and qualities in me, I actually see them being outlined during the following days.



Can you share your favourite cooking passion?


I love cooking and I love to change and learn new recipes but most of all I like to make up my personal ones. I seldom know from the beginning what to cook even if I have to conceive a formal dinner. I look for what inspires me colour wise and by its freshness, usually it is a very spontaneous action when I decide to buy one thing rather than another. I therefore start always by buying the main course product first, say fish, and then I decide what ingredient feels right to match my cooking talent that morning. Among my favourites is octopus. In Venice you get the very small ones you cook them in salted water with a bit of vinegar one bay leaf and a cork for 45 minutes. Then you cut them in two and mix them with boiled potatoes, fresh celery, black olives and dress it like a salad with a good olive oil and fresh ground pepper and the grated peel of quarter of a lemon.



Which is your favourite wine or drink?


I love white wines and my favourite is the Malvasia from Friuli. Among the reds I like the Refosco and the Barbera. I don’t like when the wine is aged in barrique.



Which is your music or the book(s) with you now?


I want to spend some time in Naples and I am reading a fabulous book “Il resto di niente” written by Enzo Striano which depicts the story of the poetess Eleonora De Fonseca Pimentel dealing with her conscience during the Neapolitan revolution in 1799. As far as music I like pop and rock music.



In which way do you try to live “slowly”, if you like to do so, in a city as yours?


By taking care of what I eat, my sleep and generally my psycho-physical health. Choosing for instance which event to attend to avoid wasting my energy, and watching as little as possible TV. In New York I do not have a TV and I see the difference. As Marshall McLuhan was saying what we see through our eyes changes the perception we have of our reality.



Which is a talent you have and the one you miss? 

I am not a painter and would not have the talent to be one, I think. I have no talent for sports, too much physical activity drains my energy.



What have you learnt from life until now?


To let go when I can’t understand the reason behind things. Cause and effects are rarely traceable in life as we are living simultaneously many layers of conscience and have not yet the ability to retain the meaning of the experience.



– – –

Anita’s story has been suggested to Slow Words’ editors by another ‘person from this world’: Susan Wise, writer and translator.

If you still have to read it, this is the right time!


If you wish to meet Anita, she will showcase a new artwork in a collective exhibit “Et in Terra” taking place at the brand new Beatrice Burati Anderson Art Space & Gallery. The exhibit opens on May 10 at 11 am in Venice (Corte Petriana San Polo 1448)

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