Meet Lea Sorrentino!
Project 387 recently caught up with Lea Sorrentino to learn more about her work and artistic process. Check out the interview below!
Tell us briefly about the focus of your work. What are some of the themes you are exploring these days?
My practice is an auto-ethnographical investigation of my life in pursuit of understanding contemporary American identity and culture. My practice is about calling attention to the constructs of American success and the emotional investments we place in possessions and entertainment to create individuality. Or, in not art speak, I am interested in why we eat too much, spend too much, and cry at reality television.
Right now I am focused on the concept of status. What does it mean to have status, what dictates gaining or holding onto status and how does having it or not change access. I am also interested in understanding how place and time determine or effect the way people perceive other's status.
What are you looking at, reading, or listening to right now that is influencing your work or process?
I think I have spent most of my time these past few months looking at my Facebook feed. That can sound trivial but because of the election season (and overall transparency to contemporary global news) I feel like I have been watching friends from different parts of my life implode on each other. Having a primarily liberal collection of friends on my newsfeed is demonstrating how nuance being "woke" can be and how that can feel overwhelming.
As far as what I am listening to, mostly podcast like Death, Sex and Money or more recently 2 Dope Queens. I have also just finished reading Dodie Bellamy's When the Sick Rule the World and Daniel Clowes' new comic Patience. Both were good.
What does a typical day in the studio/office look like for you?
I have to admit that my studio life involves a lot of binge watching videos, whether on Netlfix/Hulu, Youtube, Vine, Periscope. I normally need to consume enough content that it inspires me to make my own. From there once I am motivated to make something I spend a decent amount of time researching other artists/people who have anything similar to the concept I have decided on. It is important for me to see the similarities of what others are creating and determine what will be different about the conversation I create.
I like to dissect and edit my work and I feel like there is no time like the last minute to make effective choices.
What's the best advice someone has given you about your work? The worst?
I think the simplistic answer is "less is more". I used to make large scale installation (and I might again someday who knows) but I was questioned by a mentor if the concepts I was working with really needed to be immersive or is it just because I had the resources at the time. This made me question what I was doing and what did the audience really need in order to understand the dialogue I was trying to develop. His questioning my intentions is how I started making video.
Another piece of good advice is to not get consumed with rejection. There is nothing objective about art. Often time when I apply to a show, grant, residency if I am not accepted I don't take that as a direct reflection of the work. Most of the time panels are made up of people with specific interests, and those panels revolve. One year a panel could be focused on Social Justice art the next Abstract paintings. You never know who is going to respond positively to your work, so you just have to keep putting yourself out there. It can feel like crude sometimes but if you make yourself vulnerable something eventually works out.
I can't think of any "bad" advice off the top of my head. I grew up in Jersey and Philly where there is a wealth of people giving you there opinion. Then I moved to the Midwest where it felt like people were often afraid to be direct. Now I am in California where it feels like people are more into being laid back than telling people how to live.
Are you involved in any upcoming shows/events/happenings?
I am pretty excited to be teaching a course for the School of Making Thinking this fall in New York. It is on Cyberformance which I have been super interested in both historically and as a contemporary way to address the diminishing audience of performance art. I also took a little hiatus from a podcast I produce call Lea and the Internet and I am starting that again in July. I have had some really great guest on the show and excited to see who will join me this year.
What are you most looking forward to at Project 387?
I always look forward to meeting new people and the stimulating conversations that happen during residencies. Since I make the majority of my work digitally, I find that it can be really isolating. Having the opportunity to engage with other artists and get feed back on my ideas is really beneficial for my work and growth (personally and professionally).
I am pumped to be outside. I grew up and primarily have lived in cities. I didn't know hiking was actually something really fun until moving to San Francisco. Most residencies are set in remote areas and as much as I love being on the computer it is fun to get the mental break of the outdoors. However, I should probably set realistic expectations for all the other residents, as much as I am looking forward to being outside, I still will probably do a hefty amount of searching for wifi.